Jay is one of 12 finalists for Season 11 of Food Network Star! Tune in for the premiere on June 7!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Brandi Lauck: Warden of Whiskey

by Blair "B-Rex" Loup

Born in Virginia and raised on a farm in North Carolina, co-owner of Lock and Key Whiskey Bar Brandi Lauck transplanted to Louisiana to be a part of Playmakers of Baton Rouge and to be close to family. The little girl who grew up showing horses discovered a passion for theater in her teen years.

After working in theater companies in Charlotte, North Carolina, and in Baton Rouge, her focus shifted to teaching art classes to at-risk youth in the Capital City.

“I come from an art background, but I’ve always had a passion for whiskey," Brandi said. "My family is Irish, so it’s in our blood.”

Brandi eventually formed a one-woman show in the form of a small marketing and design company while raising her first child. She enjoyed running her own business so much that when she and her husband Arthur Lauck decided to open Lock and Key Whiskey Bar, she knew they made the right decision.

"It’s always been Arthur’s dream to own a bar, but what’s really cool is that it’s become an outlet for the creativity and the passion that I have for women and their understanding of whiskey," she said. "This has been a great opportunity to ‘be on stage’ and bring my knowledge of whiskey to other females that are interested.”

Brandi Lauck hanging out behind the bar while Arthur rambles on about whiskey
Brandi Lauck hanging out behind the bar while Arthur rambles on about whiskey

Brandi stressed that charity work has also always been an interest of hers and the venue has given them the opportunity to host events that benefit the community. They’ve already hosted some food drives and silent auction events, but Brandi has future plans to gather donations to support the Baton Rouge Crisis Center at her Women and Whiskey events. The Baton Rouge Crisis Center has helped Brandi through some tough times, and she’s hopeful the ladies who attend these free events will be willing to help her give back.

Brandi said Lock and Key is thriving and getting more attention every day. Brandi is as much a part of that as “Whiskey-pedia” Arthur. She’s a respected figure among women in the industry, and she knows her stuff, but it wasn’t always so easy. Like many women in the industry, Brandi had to earn the respect of investors and distributor reps overtime.

What’s unfortunate (I’ve also had the displeasure of experiencing this) is that male counterparts are trusted and respected immediately while women are required to build up trust over time.

“We run our business together, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve had my own ladder I’ve had to climb," Brandi said. "Arthur has been nothing but supportive, and we make a great team.”

Nevertheless, Brandi’s Women and Whiskey program has grown tremendously since its beginning. Now is a great time for women in the whiskey industry. There are more and more women being appointed to master distiller positions all over the world. It is a scientific fact that women have more taste buds and can therefore taste whiskey better than men. That being said, if you are a woman in the Baton Rouge area, head to Lock and Key the third Wednesday of every month and taste some delicious whiskey for free!

This post is part of a monthly series highlighting Louisiana women in the business of booze. Previous features include:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Grandstand Julep and the Derby: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Lock & Key

The Grandstand Julep
The Grandstand Julep
As the 141st annual Kentucky Derby approaches this Saturday, the Wild Turkey family is excited to transport everybody to one of their favorite events of the year. Whether at Churchill Downs or in your living room, Master Distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell encourage you to enjoy the most exciting two minutes in sports with the most classic of Kentucky Bourbon cocktails – the Mint Julep.

This take on the Julep was inspired by the daring fashion of the Kentucky Derby and will deliver an unexpected twist to your guests when hosting a Derby party. With the use of bright flavors like grapefruit and lemon and a little Cynar®, an artichoke liqueur, Wild Turkey has taken this classic drink to a whole new level.

Bourbon is a personal passion at Wild Turkey. They have the only pair of father and son Master Distillers in Kentucky who bring their combined 95 years of experience at the distillery to every aspect of crafting our whiskey. Also, they use only the deepest char no. 4 barrels that achieves a depth of flavor rich with vanilla and caramel, with notes of honey, brown sugar, and a hint of tobacco.

The recipe for this refreshing Bourbon-forward drink calls for our premium Wild Turkey® 101 Bourbon, fresh fruit juice, lots of fresh mint from the garden and a little bit of time to sit down, sip up and enjoy.

Grandstand Julep

1 ½ oz. Cynar®
¾ oz. Wild Turkey 101® Bourbon
½ oz. Simple Syrup
½ oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
½ oz. Fresh Grapefruit Juice
12 Mint Leaves
2 oz. Soda Water
2 Dashes Fee Brother’s Grapefruit Bitters

In a Julep cup or rocks glass add mint and all ingredients except soda water and bitters. Gently muddle, add ice then soda and top with bitters.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Munching on a Monday: Mole at Mestizo

by Blair "B-Rex" Loup

Mole (mow-lay) is one of those foods on a menu I can never pass up. It's a personal rule, you know, like when a Spice Girls song pops up on my playlist, I listen to it. Last Monday, Jay and I were talking about a green mole dish that Jim Urdiales' Mestizo presented at Crawfête and decided to head there for lunch. Jim happened to be there and we all started talking about moles. One thing lead to another, and Jim wound up putting us in a food coma for the rest of the afternoon. 

We tried a green and red mole with two different proteins and I honestly can't tell you which one I enjoyed more.

The red mole, served over a grilled chicken breast, had that slightly bitter ever-so-sweet sweet balance working with a velvety texture; in the words of Jay Ducote, it was "money." A mound of Spanish rice, pico, and sautéed onions laid on the plate, but who has time to think about rice when there are pieces of fried plantain all over the place? The sweetness of the the fried plantain combined with the bold flavors in the mole left me satisfied...but wait, there's more!

Mole con Pollo at Mestizo
Mole con Pollo at Mestizo

Just like Jim, the food at Mestizo is fun. The green mole topped this crazy fresh stacked enchilada/Mexican lasagna-type dish. Instead of being rolled inside of the tortilla, the flavors were stacked: fresh spinach, chunks of feta, and succulent shrimp. It was all so fresh and light, totally different from the richness of the red mole, but totally flavorful. I loved the fresh spinach inside, it just brightened the entire dish with the zesty tomatillo in the mole.

Green Mole at Mestizo
Green Mole at Mestizo

Jim and his executive chef, Stephany Novoa are creative, fun, and full of personality, and you can taste it in the dishes they create. Sometimes it's nice to step out of the Tex-Mex slump and try some of that same "south of the border" flare fusing with Louisiana cuisine.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Provisions and Traditions: The Beginning of a True Louisiana Collaboration

by Blair "B-Rex" Loup

Great Raft Brewing out of Shreveport cranks out some of the finest beers in the state. Their new collaboration with the John Besh Restaurant Group is something I’m particularly jazzed about.

Co-owners Andrew and Lindsay Nations, along with their brewmaster Harvey Kenney, have released their first beer in a series of four to go with the different styles of cooking at each Besh restaurant.

This is all being done in the spirit of bringing together the two things Louisiana loves most: food and beer. For every bottle sold, Great Raft Brewing will donate one dollar to the John Besh Foundation, which helps preserve the rich culinary history of Louisiana.

Volume One: Provisions and Traditions, A Chef Brian Landry Collaboration
Volume One: Provisions and Traditions, A Chef Brian Landry Collaboration

Volume One: Provisions and Traditions is a collaboration with Borgne’s Chef Brian Landry. The dry-hopped Kölsch made with Louisiana Cajun Country Rice pours with a thick white head that doesn’t disappear. Like a good Kölsch, there’s a bready maltiness up front, but the hops come through on the back end. I like that there’s a sort of muted citrus pop with some grapefruit notes after the cracker-like malts in the beginning. All of the flavor notes are balanced well, and the beer is well-carbonated which offers a slight effervescence.

I’m looking forward to the next collaboration release, which shouldn’t be too far away. Until then, you can enjoy Chef Brian Landry’s dishes at Borgne in New Orleans with this delicious Great Raft Beer!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sharp Dressed Man: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Lock & Key

Sharp Dressed Man at Lock & Key
Sharp Dressed Man at Lock & Key
One of the newest cocktails to grace the menu at the Lock & Key Whiskey Bar is the properly named Sharp Dressed Man. The simple but refreshing take on an Old Fashioned begins its life with a house-made ginger simple syrup. The ginger adds a touch of floral spice that takes the drink in a unique direction. A few dashes of Angostura bitters and a generous pour of a peppery bourbon make this whiskey drink the real deal. It is then garnished with an orange peel and served over a new hand cut crystal clear ice block. Lock & Key is getting fancy!

You may notice that there is no muddled orange and cherry at the bottom of this glass. Not to worry, though, as this is really the appropriate way to make an Old Fashioned. Bitters, sugar and a brown spirit do the trick. The rest if just lagniappe.

The Sharp Dressed Man is definitely worth a try next time you're at Lock & Key!