Impressions

How I Get Undone with Brianna Bitton

How I Get Undone with Brianna Bitton

We are constantly bombarded with productivity hacks – tips and tricks on how to cross everything off our to-do lists while also being a person/partner/colleague/parent. Here at AMASS, though, we are far more interested in how people get undone. We want to know the nightly rituals that happen after 5PM, from the cocktails drunk to the books read. To us, it’s those small moments behind the scenes that really count, because in them lies a glimpse into who we want to be.

This time around, we talked with Brianna Bitton, Co-Founder of Flo Vitamins and an LA-based Interior Designer designing AMASS’ HQ here in Los Angeles.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in a suburb of LA. I’ve been a California girl my whole life, and I love it. I’m an Interior Designer, and also cofounded a vitamin company with my brother. My favorite way to enjoy AMASS is in an espresso martini.

What rituals do you practice to take care of yourself?

I love a PCH drive. I love to take a drive down PCH, open my sunroof, and blast music. Everytime I do that I just feel like a fresh new person. So that’s a ritual I do. I love to light a candle and take a bath – that’s fantastic. And I love love love to bake treats. If I just want something fun to do, I’ll bake cookies or cakes or something. I actually haven’t made them in a little while, but all during quarantine I made these brown butter sprinkle cookies. They are so good. I would make them almost every night in the height of quarantine, and… it was troubling. I had to have a cookie every night [laughs].

You’re an interior designer. What does your ideal space look like for a relaxing night in?

So for my personal style, I love to keep it as neutral as possible. I love warm creams and whites, and really beautiful natural woods and walnuts. I do love a sparkle of gold though. My place is pretty natural – I love natural materials and linen, and those really nice warm colors, but I love to pop it with a little gold shimmer.

What music do you put on when you want to chill?

I have a playlist of all of these oldies. I call it “cutie romantic nostalgia,” and it’s all Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and Billie Holiday – all of these super old school songs that when I’m just chilling or cooking dinner I love to put on. It just makes me feel good. I love to listen to Dean Martin when I’m drinking wine and making Italian food. It’s just so fun, and puts you in a good mood – it’s almost like Christmas music playing when it’s not Christmas. That’s my way of having that warm spirit all year long.

Where are you hoping to travel next?

I’m going to Nashville next week actually, so that will be really fun. It’s my first time and I’m really excited to go. And then this summer, I’m doing a little European trip with my family. We’re going to go to Tuscany for the first time and also do the English countryside. I’m really excited about that. The EU just announced they’re opening travel for vaccinated Americans on June 15th, and we’re supposed to be going on June 29th. We’re really just jumping in [laughs].

What does an ideal day off look like for you?

I love a coffee walk. I’d start the day with a walk to coffee in my neigborhood and maybe a little pop into the farmer’s market, or a fun, casual shopping day around my neighborhood. Maybe some brunch with friends going into a really yummy dinner and a fun night out. That’s kind of a full day. I love a brunch that fades into a night out.

It’s the end of the day and you’re vegging on the couch–what are you drinking? Reading? Watching?

I’m definitely a TV girl. I’m probably rewatching some CW teen drama, if I’m being honest. Probably like a little OC, One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl moment. And definitely drinking AMASS, obviously. I have a four-pack of Faerie Fizz in my fridge right now waiting for me.

Get to Know Your Bar Instruments

Get to Know Your Bar Instruments

Let’s be real: you could use a pair of chopsticks to stir a cocktail and still end up with a downright delicious drink. But for those interested in upping your bartending game, we’re breaking down all the tools you need to shake, stir, and strain in style.

Beginner

1. Shaker.

When it comes to shakers, there are two kinds: Boston-style and cobbler-style. The pros prefer the Boston, which essentially is just two metal cups that fit into each other and form a tight seal. It’s faster and a little more secure than the cobbler-style, which instead offers convenience through its small size and built-in strainer. Personally, we prefer the Boston shaker, mainly because of its precision and control, which requires a bit more finesse but is ultimately a much more elegant, specialized tool.

2. Hawthorne strainer.

If you opt for a Boston-style shaker, you’ll need a strainer, which keeps ice out of your drinking glass so as to not dilute your cocktail. Any old strainer will work just fine, but what you really want is a classic Hawthorne strainer that snugly fits your shaker.

3. Jigger.

For jiggers, we love a classic double-sided metal version, where one side measures one ounce and the other two ounces. But if you’re a novice, it can be tough to clock more precise measurements in one of these, which is where a small measuring cup comes in handy. Decidedly less chic? Yes. But good to have on hand as you’re getting started? Also yes.

Intermediate

4. Mixing glass.

For when you want a stirred cocktail, look no further than a mixing glass or beaker, a large vessel where you can pour all of your liquor and give it a good stir. While these are a pretty fairly simple tool, they’re also not the most necessary, as you could easily use a French press or other spouted glassware to stir together a drink.

5. Bar spoon.

Like with mixing glasses, bar spoons get knocked down to the intermediate level simply because you can get on just fine at first without them. But when you are ready to level up, nothing stirs a cocktail better than a nice twisted bar spoon. We favor the Japanese style, which is a bit heavier than American and European bar spoons.

Expert

6. Muddler.

If you’re a fan of cocktails like a berry smash or simple mojito, it’s also a good idea to have a muddler on hand. The blunt tool is used like a pestle to muddle fruit, herbs, and spices in the bottom of your glass, releasing their flavor for a more delicious drink.

7. Pitcher.

Once you’ve mastered your at-home bartending game and are ready to serve a crowd, it’s nice to have a big, beautiful pitcher, perfect for batching negronis, martinis, or any other large-format cocktail. You can turn to our batch cocktail recipes here for inspiration on cocktails to make en masse, with AMASS.

How to Recycle Your AMASS

How to Recycle Your AMASS

 

Hard Seltzer

Our aluminum hard seltzer cans are wrapped in labels. To improve each can’s recyclability, remove these labels by cutting down their seam with scissors or a knife. Crush the can and toss it in the recycling bin, along with the cardboard case packs.

Dry Gin, Botanic Vodka, & Riverine

Our spirits bottles are made with quality materials so you can continue to reuse them around your home, whether as flower vases or candle holders. If you’re going through quite a few bottles though (we know the feeling…), you can recycle the ones you don’t need by simply tossing them in the recycling bin, no label removal necessary.

Hand Sanitizer

Our hand sanitizer bottles are made with PET, one of the most widely used and therefore most recyclable plastics. Recycle them once they’re empty, or if you’re using our portable 2oz sprays, stock up on refills.

Soap & Forest Bath Salts

Made of tinted glass, the vessels for our botanic soaps and bath salts are made for reusing. While totally recyclable, these containers would love a second life, whether to house your reusable cotton pads (for Forest Bath) or as a small bud vase (for our soaps).

Candles

The first step in recycling or upcycling candles is to remove any remaining wax. Pour boiling water into your candle vessel and let it cool until the wax on the bottom begins to rise to the top. Remove the hardened wax, pour out the water, and you’ve got yourself a clean vessel perfect for holding makeup brushes, pens, or your toothbrush. On the off chance you’re ready to part with your candle, the matte black glass is totally recyclable.

Build Your Bar Cart with AMASS

Build Your Bar Cart with AMASS

In about 2010, households nationwide underwent the Mad Men effect. Living rooms everywhere were striving to capture the zeitgeist of the 1960s through velvet armchairs, oak furniture, and perhaps most lastingly, the bar cart. Embraced by drinkers and nondrinkers alike, these liquor cabinets on wheels were carted into a new generation and outfitted to fit the times. What was once a fixture in the stylish, mid-century modern homes of the 1950s and ‘60s had suddenly returned, although with some notable upgrades.

These days, bar carts are a standard interior design element, used to house booze just as much as they are to display tchotchkes, coffee table books, and bowls of editorialized fruit.

Here’s how to build yours:

1. Pick your poison.

It’s a no-brainer, but the spirits that take up shelf space on your cart should be a reflection of what you like to drink. For us, that means a bottle of our gin and vodka, as well as whiskey, tequila, and rum. Come winter, cognac and brandy are helpful additions to have for mulling wine and stirring up hot toddies.

2. Include a non-alcoholic option.

For evenings when you want a less potent potation or are entertaining friends who don’t drink, it’s nice to have a non-alc option on the table so you can sip on something a little more sophisticated than a Diet Coke. Riverine, our non-alcoholic distilled spirit, is fit for an array of cocktails. Use it just as you would your favorite clear spirit.

3. Add your add-ons.

Bitters, vermouth, Luxardo cherries; these are the building blocks to a number of classic cocktails. Keep it simple with some Angostoura bitters and a bottle of Dolin, or do it up to the nines with green Chartreuse (for Last Words), Campari (for Negronis), or Cointreau (for Cosmos and Margaritas alike). To start, make a list of your favorite cocktails and arm your cart with all the fixings to shake or stir them up at home.

4. Get your gear.

You don’t need an extensive toolkit to make bar-quality drinks at home. A shaker, strainer, jigger, and bar spoon are all you really need, plus some glimmering glassware to make your drinks look as good as they taste. A coupe, rocks glass, and a tall Collins-style glass will cover just about every cocktail you want to make.

4. Style it.

Start by framing your liquor tray with structural elements like a coffee table book, a lamp, or a floral arrangement to create height and fill up the space. Keep your chicest bottles on display and put the rest in a cabinet for a classy, never cluttered look. Then, from there, accessorize with glassware and smaller items like candles and fruit for a dynamic, lived-in space.

Vodka Sauce

Vodka Sauce

When Charles Eames said “take your pleasure seriously,” we’re pretty sure he was actually talking about vodka sauce. And what makes vodka sauce more pleasurable than adding good vodka?

The delicate floral notes and bright lemon zest in AMASS Botanic Vodka lend depth and complexity to this otherwise simple dish. The result is a lusciously silky, shockingly easy, and delightfully decadent vodka sauce, best served in a deep bowl alongside a 50/50. Bottoms up.

Vodka Sauce

Ingredients

¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup tomato paste
4 tablespoons AMASS Botanic Vodka
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lb rigatoni, or pasta of your choice
Parmesan cheese

Recipe

In a dutch oven or large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring until fragrant. Add tomato paste and stir occasionally until the paste begins to caramelize, about five minutes. Carefully pour in the vodka, scraping off any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat to medium-low and slowly whisk in the heavy cream, stirring until the sauce is smooth and uniform in color. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in a knob of butter for a velvety texture.

Meanwhile, in a separate pot, bring heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta of your choice according to package directions. Drain, reserving one cup of pasta water.

Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to the sauce. Stir, then add the cooked pasta to the skillet and coat with sauce. Add additional pasta water as needed to reach your desired consistency. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Botanicals in the Bedroom

Botanicals in the Bedroom

Throughout history, countless spices and herbs have been touted as love potions, placed under pillowcases and swallowed as tinctures to attract romance. While the efficacy of these natural aphrodisiacs has been debated for centuries, more and more scientific studies have proven the power of plants to boost libido.

Here are the botanicals we turn to in the bedroom:

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) There’s nothing sexy about stress. That’s why we love ashwagandha, a powerful adaptogenic plant that regulates cortisol levels, keeping stress and fatigue at bay. In fact, the word ashwagandha in Sanskrit loosely means “the smell and strength of a horse.” While the smell is rather literal, the strength winkingly refers to the plant’s aphrodisiac qualities.

 

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) Researchers aren’t quite sure what makes basil such a pleasurable plant, but we’re thinking its naturally heady, sensuous scent has something to do with it. A common botanical in aromatherapy, sweet basil has the power to stimulate and uplift the senses, making it a perfect food for getting in the mood.

 

Cacao (Theobroma cacao) You can thank cacao for the tradition of gifting your lover heart-shaped bonbons come February 14th. Used in the production of chocolate, cacao is rich in anandamide, otherwise known as the bliss chemical. While its feel-good effects are diminished in the roasting process, raw cacao is downright titillating.

 

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) During the Medieval and Renaissance periods, coriander seeds were often added to wine to increase desire and stimulate passion. The plant is famous for its mention in Arabian Nights, where it was used to cure a merchant of impotence.

 

Ginseng (Panax ginseng) One of the most powerful natural aphrodisiacs, ginseng has long been held up in traditional Chinese medical practices for its ability to enhance sexual behavior. In addition to upping desire, it’s purported to support reproductive capabilities and treat sexual dysfunction.

 

Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) Like ashwagandha, Reishi mushroom is a potent adaptogen that works wonders in mellowing the mind. The magic mushroom increases fertility and overall sexual performance, even supporting the kidney and urinary function, which in Chinese medicine are believed to be the homes of one’s sexual power.

 

Dry January Is a State of Mind

Dry January Is a State of Mind

It’s February. Which, if you’ve been keeping track, means that Dry January – the month of mocktails – is long gone. But unlike the lofty resolutions that we’re happy to leave behind, low- to no-proof cocktails are here to stay.

Dry January has existed in some form or another for nearly a century, when the Finnish government launched a “Sober January” campaign in the ‘40s as part of the war effort. After that, the years came and went. Drinks were drunk. And then, some time in the late aughts, the movement reemerged, this time as a way to make up for the excessive imbibing of the holiday season and start the new year off right after the last drop of the New Year’s champagne was drunk.

In 2014, the British nonprofit Alcohol Concern officially trademarked the term “Dry January.” The name and concept stuck, and today millions of people around the world pledge to stay sober for the first month of the year.

This past January felt different, though. Of course it did.

In a Nielson poll from this year, 13% of American respondents said they were skipping the spirits this January. Unsurprisingly, the number is up from last year, following the trend of the growing sober and sober curious movement. But it’s more than that. While in years past Dry January has served as a time to undo all the eggnog from the month prior, this year it’s an answer to nearly 10 months of over-imbibing and overindulging at home.

We’ve been drinking a lot. Our nightly cocktail has served not only as an escape, but as a ritual, a celebration, a way to demarcate day and night. We order to-go cocktails when we’re craving community, we drink glasses of Pinot when it’s isolation and introspection that we seek. The close of our laptops at 5pm is accompanied by the now very familiar crack of a can.

For many of us, Dry January this year gently pushed us to call into question and reevaluate our relationship with drinking. It spurred us to check in on ourselves – really – by asking questions like, How does my body feel? My mind? Am I taking care of myself? How do I find moments of peace, calm, and even pleasure?

That’s all to say, we’re not not drinking necessarily, but maybe just drinking a little less alcohol, a little less often, and a little more thoughtfully. That means cleaner cocktails, zero-proof spirits, and low-abv alternatives to our typical boozy fare.

We’re making Dry January not just a month, but a state of mind.

How I Get Undone: Jason Eisner

How I Get Undone: Jason Eisner

We are constantly bombarded with productivity hacks – tips and tricks on how to cross everything off our to-do lists while also being a person/partner/colleague/parent. Here at AMASS, though, we are far more interested in how people get undone. We want to know the nightly rituals that happen after 5PM, from the cocktails drunk to the books read. To us, it’s those small moments behind the scenes that really count, because in them lies a glimpse into who we want to be.

This time around, we chatted with LA-based Restaurateur, Bar Owner, and Chef Jason Eisner about how he unwinds after a busy Saturday shift.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Cleveland, raised in Brooklyn, and have lived in LA since 2007. I am a restauranteur, brewery owner, bar owner, and chef.

I love an AMASS negroni. I have a home carbonation system, so I'll stir it nice and cold with a little residual water, and I'll force inject it with Co2, which I find really opens it up and makes it lively and bright. I call it a Negroni Pop.

What rituals do you practice to take care of yourself?

A great stress reliever I have found over the last 20 years is practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which is a grappling martial art. I often refer to it as meditation in motion, because it’s really like human chess. It works out your body, but it also puts a nice tax on your mind. Over COVID, I haven’t been able to practice as often as I would like since it’s just too close-contact with people. So, what I've been doing, which has essentially diverted all of my energy from martial arts, is I’ve gone back to the process of making homemade pasta and pizza.

I have a plant based diet, so I’ve been working on a lot of Southern dishes, both Sardinian, Calabrian, and Sicilian. Last week, I made something called malloreddus, which is also sometimes referred to as gnocchetti sardi. It’s a Sardinian pasta that’s about three centimeters in length. It’s rolled onto an old ancient wooden board to create a pattern of texture in it that captures all the sauce. I made that with a vegan version of a sauce called alla campidanese, which is like a sausage sauce. I made homemade fennel and seitan sausages, caramelized some onions and garlic, and then peeled some San Marzano tomatoes. It was delicious. I made some cashew parm to go on top of it. It’s a really gummy, bouncy noodle, so that’s one I’m super proud of.

I also made a black sesame raviolo with homemade almond ricotta and sauteed spinach inside. Then, I made a very simple browned vegan butter sauce with that. With pizzas, I’ve just been going off. A friend of mine, who’s from Oaxaca, his grandma had an amazing mole negro recipe, so I made a Mexican-inspired pizza. It was black mole with cashew lime crema and homemade flash-pickled jalapenos and onions, some micro cilantro, and a whole lot of hot sauce. It was really yummy.

How are you finding connection in the midst of this period of isolation?

I have a 6 year old daughter. Her name is Maxine, and she’s the light of my life. Through COVID, being able to connect with her has been the silver lining. As you know, kids aren’t in school right now, so they’re doing school online through Zoom. She’s done by 10:30 in the morning every day, so afterward we’ll go on nature walks and try to identify birds in the part of LA where I live. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Cooking with my daughter and going on little nature hikes in the neighborhood has been amazing.

I also bought a vintage motorcycle, and I've been zooming and zipping around through the twists and turns of Los Angeles just to see trees and see people at a distance as you’re cruising by. That’s been a nice way to connect with myself.

I feel like one of the things COVID has done is send people spiralling and getting depressed. It’s important to find ways to stay connected to ourselves and stay grounded.

What does an ideal Saturday look like for you?

I love to make people smile and feed people, so I definitely spend a lot of time in my restaurants. Right now, I have two plant-based Nashville hot chicken restaurants called Wolfie's Nashville Hot Chicken, with one in Highland Park and one in Atwater Village that’s opening. I’m a partner at Nic’s on Beverly in West Hollywood, which is a plant-based restaurant that serves California cuisine and regional American cuisine. We’re opening up a pizza concept that does Grandma-style square pies as well as Neapolitan-style woodfired pies. And then, the brewery Party Beer Co in West Adams that makes craft beer and hard seltzer. I like to spend time working, getting my hands dirty. It doesn’t matter if I’m working a register or serving or bartending or managing a floor or even washing dishes. I just love to be in a restaurant working, so that is part of an ideal Saturday, especially since those are the busier days in restaurants.

But also, just spending time with my family. We recently got a goldendoodle puppy, so playing fetch and watching my daughter run around in the backyard playing with our dog while I’m sipping on a cocktail is pretty nice. Then of course, getting in the kitchen and making some food [laughs].

It’s the end of the day and you’re vegging on the couch–what are you drinking? Reading? Watching?

These days, I’ve been kind of obsessed with going back and watching all the classic cooking competition shows. [I’ve also been watching] a lot of travelogs – anything Anthony Bourdain, since he’s for sure one of the greatest of all time. I love watching adventure shows with people that are willing to climb massive mountains and go to extreme lengths to live a full and complete life.

If I'm not drinking something simple like a pilsner, then I'm definitely enjoying a classic, like a single malt Islay Scotch or a Gibson with AMASS Gin. Something super simple, and clean. I love Paulo Coelho, so I love to go back and reread all of his books. He’s one of my favorites. I also have been reading a lot of business books about how people have built heart-based businesses and grew them and were able to scale up and achieve dreams and give jobs to lots of people. I find stuff like that inspiring.

 

Our Guide to a Soothing Soak

Our Guide to a Soothing Soak

The beauty of a bath is greater than the sum of its parts. Sure, there’s water. You’re naked. The lights are dimmed. But beyond the logistical elements that accompany tub time, a long soak can be truly transformative if done right. Here are our tips to give your body and brain the rest they need, all with the help of a little warm water.

1. Use salts.

Bubbles are fun, but they also strip the skin of much-needed moisture. Instead, use some bath salts. The benefits of swirling a handful of salts in your bath are threefold: rich in therapeutic minerals, natural sea and Epsom salts relieve tension, relax muscles, and gently exfoliate. Meanwhile, nourishing oils like sweet almond and apricot kernel help quench the skin, while soothing essential oils of eucalyptus and amber create a mind-mellowing environment.

2. Light a candle.

You know what’s not part of the bath time vibe? Fluorescent lights. Turn them off and instead strike a match on your favorite candle, letting the slow flicker of candlelight lull you into a meditative state. Pick a scent that suits the mood – notes of lavender, chamomile, and palo santo can help you relax, while brighter botanicals like grapefruit and vetiver can stimulate your senses.

3. Turn on the tunes.

Or a podcast. Or an audiobook. Or your go-to meditation app. Whatever rhythmic voice sets you into a slower pace and helps you disconnect from the world beyond your bathroom door is fine by us. Maybe skip the true crime podcast, though.

3. Drink up.

Last but not least, offset your steamy soak with an ice-cold drink. Pour yourself a Riverine and Tonic for ultimate herbal refreshment minus the booze, or keep it classic with a Spanish G&T, a Gin and Tonic adorned with a bevy of garnishes, like rosemary, grapefruit, and mint.

The Art of Forest Bathing

The Art of Forest Bathing

Getting out into the great outdoors does our brains and bodies a lot of good. The sights, smells, and sounds that accompany a trek through the woods have the ability to ease stress, clear the mind, and release feel-good endorphins. That much we know. But what is it about time spent amidst the trees that soothes the soul?

The Japanese have a term for it: shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. The term essentially means to take in the forest atmosphere through your senses. It arose in the 1980s as an answer to the tech burnout culture that was just beginning thanks to the advent of the personal computer. By the ‘90s, Japanese researchers were conducting studies into the science behind this form of ecotherapy.

Their findings elucidated a lot of the hunches we already had about the power of plants to heal, and included these three main health benefits:

1.  Bathing boosts our immune system.

Beyond providing a soothing smell, coniferous trees like cedars, spruces, and firs release phytoncides, airborne oils that, when breathed in, increase activity of virus-fighting white blood cells.

2.  Tree time reduces stress.

The power of plants runs so deep that even looking at a photo of trees has some mind-mellowing effects. But actually getting out there in the green can help lower stress-inducing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline even more.

3.  Immerse in the forest to focus up.

Giving our eyes a break from our screens and instead taking a gander at some good old fashioned flora can help give the cognitive portion of our brains a much-needed breather and cut down on attention fatigue.

Moral of the story: the practice of forest bathing is an important, potent salve. That said, some of its benefits can still be achieved within the confines of your apartment (we’re looking at you, house plants).

Our latest Forest Bath Salts allow you to soak in the forest from your tub, for moments when the mountains are calling, but you actually can’t go.

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