If McDonald’s had a liquor license, I think they’d have the perfect pairing for the Big Mac.
This inspired cocktail was created by Chef Javier Castro and his band of spirituous brethren at Casino Del Sol, but the venue for its debut is neither the casino nor your friendly neighborhood Golden Arches. It’s the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona’s House Party on Sept. 20, an evening of music, wine, craft beer and culinary creations by local chefs.
As eager as I was to learn more about this mysterious libation, I was completely unprepared for the moment when Castro pulled back the curtain to reveal his concoction.
He called it the McRussell. A cocktail that he said was named for this year’s House Party emcee. Yours truly. I asked him to tell me the story once I wiped away my tears.
Castro’s personal relationship with the Ronald McDonald House Charities dates back more than a decade, when his son was born premature and required a stay in the newborn intensive care unit. It was then that he learned about the critical services the organization provides to nurture the health and well-being of children and their families, and he immediately enrolled as a volunteer.
Castro’s favorite volunteer project is the House Party, and he’s played a significant role in the event’s culinary component for several years. He routinely invites me to emcee the event but, regrettably, we were never able to synchronize our schedules. This year we did, and he told me that he wanted to mark the moment with the McRussell.
I’m not crying, you’re crying.
“We decided to use two of your favorite things in this cocktail concept,” said Castro, certified sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers and banquet chef at Casino Del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road. “We know you’re a whiskey fan, so we went with a twist on the Old Fashioned, and we know you enjoy cigars, and we found a fun way to incorporate a smoking gun into it.”
He said that he’s also planning to add “something extra special” to it, though he stopped short of sharing the details.
“This cocktail is totally Matt Russell, very classic with a fun twist,” he said.
Alongside the McRussell, Castro will serve two types of Spanish paella, one with seafood, chicken and chorizo, and one adapted for vegans.
The evening will also serve up some German cheese-sauced meat sliders and German potato salad from reigning Iron Chef Wendy Gauthier of Chef Chic, Reuben bites from Ten55 Brewing Company, pulled pork sandwiches from Tanque Verde Guest Ranch, chorizo-stuffed dates and ceviche from Contigo, baked beans and corn bread from Welcome Diner, pizza from Fiamme Pizza, a salsa and guacamole bar from Charro restaurants, bruschetta from Trident Grill, Sonoran dogs from M.J.’s Hot Dogs, Thrifty Ice Cream from Silver Scoops and cupcakes from Ambrosia Cakes.
There will be gluten-free options as well, including an organic greens salad with a fig balsamic vinaigrette and blue cheese raspberry pecan bars from Gourmet Girls Gluten Free Bakery and Bistro.
The block party-esque House Party is Sept. 20 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Ronald McDonald House Charities, 2155 E. Allen Road. Tickets are available at rmhctucson.org.
Step into a pair of red shoes and join me for what promises to be one delicious evening. We’ll all have a round of McRussells in celebration of the role that the Ronald McDonald House plays in serving kids and families in need.
Contact Matt Russell, whose day job is CEO of Russell Public Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Russell is also the publisher of OnTheMenuLive.com as well as the host of the Friday Weekend Watch segment on the “Buckmaster Show” on KVOI 1030 AM.