the executive game

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Our hosts deal out all the tips and tricks to host a great poker night, with winning drinks and jackpot food. The players go all in on how to host a winning card game, with cocktails and food that shine a light on the history of the cocktail, the highlife and how to put all your chips in on a great party. Whether you’re playing Go Fish with the family or Texas Hold ‘Em with some real pros, we’re slinging a great hand for you to play from. Deal ’em up!

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The deal

The Bourbon Boulevardier

Some things in the world just add a level of luxury that you can’t find anywhere else. A good bloody mary on a golf course, a well-balanced mimosa at brunch, or sitting down to a poker game and firing up a good cigar. What do you do when you’re in a room where you can’t have that stogie?  we’ve got a card up our sleeve – the Bourbon Boulevardier: an old school cocktail usually made with whiskey, that pairs well with cigars. It was invented by Harry Mchelrone, who opened the famous Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, and had a magazine with the same name that was about livin’ the highlife. This man and his wife and friends knew how to throw it down, and we want to evoke that with a great drink in their honor. That’s what Poker is all about, riding the hot hand. It’s basically a Negroni but without the gin, and we’re doubling down on it by using a great bourbon. We also put our spin on it by muddling it with and infusing it with some figs and a splash of vanilla. Our version of this high roller cocktail mimics the high notes of a good cigar, without the smoke.


  • 16 ounces of a good, smoky bourbon
  • 8 dried figs
  • Large square ice cubes
  • 10 ounces  of sweet vermouth
  • 10 ounces  of campari
  • 1 ounce of pure vanilla extract
  • Orange twist for garnish


  • Pour your bourbon into a pitcher or plastic container
  • Add in the figs
  • Using a muddler, break the figs apart
  • Let the infusion rest for 3 days, giving it a shake every day or so 
  • Strain the bourbon, discard the figs
  • In an iced shaker, add in 1.5 ounces  of the fig-infused bourbon
  • Add 1 ounce of campari
  • Add 1 ounce of sweet vermouth
  • Add a splash of vanilla
  • Shake vigorously
  • Place one large ice cube in a rocks glass
  • Garnish with an orange twist

Nuts and Bolts

When we’re layin’ down some cards (or just drinking in general), we love to have something salty and sweet to snack on. This makes beer and booze taste that much better, and who doesn’t like a little snack? These sweet and salty nuts stay good for a week or so, and can double as snacks at work or to pack in a school lunch for a little treat. The key is to use raw nuts, coat ‘em and roast ‘em, and all of a sudden your house is going to smell fantastic. We don’t want them to be sticky, so this roasting process keeps them just how we want ‘em, tacky enough to hold, but not too sticky where they’ll get on your cards. They’re great to have on a bowl on the felt table because they won’t mess anything up if they’re spilled. Grab some cashews, pecans, almonds and walnuts (or any nuts you want), and let’s get roastin’. We’re nuts for these nuts.


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup raw shelled pecans
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • ½ tablespoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon white sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • Take a baking sheet and line it with foil, then spray it with cooking spray
  • Combine all your raw nuts and toss with the pepper, garlic, garlic salt, cumin and cayenne pepper
  • In a small sauce plan, heat up the sugar, water and butter over medium heat
  • Cook for around a minute until the sugar dissolves
  • Slowly pour this over your nut mixture
  • Gently pour your nuts onto the baking sheet covered with tin foil, coated with cooking spray, and spread ‘em into an even layer
  • Bake them for 10 minutes, and stir them, and spread them back out
  • Put them back in the oven for at least 5 minutes, and if it needs longer, go 2 minutes at a time, tasting them to make sure they’re how you want ‘em
  • Take ‘em out, let ‘em cool, then…
  • Go nuts

10-Point Cigars

Sometimes in poker, you can get a tough hand, but you can make that work out beautifully if you play your cards right. The same can be said for a great, lean meat like venison, if you’re not careful, it can toughen up on you. We’ve got an ace in the whole, slow braising that deer meat in a great red wine, making it fall apart tenderly. Once we’ve got that mastered, we pair it with some sharp orange cheddar cheese, and roll ‘em into taquitos, perfect handhelds while you’ve got a handful of cards, too. We throw ‘em quick in the fryer and crisp ‘em up, and serve ‘em hot with a smooth, cool avocado cream sauce. No tricks, just treats with a super flavorful bite, balanced, warm, cool, crunchy and juicy, this is basically the royal flush of bites, ya’ll. Easy to make, great for any crowd, whether you’re gamblin’ with cards or playing the odds with a room full of kids, we got you covered. Easy to make, easy to eat and you’ll be on easy street even if you’ve cashed in your last chip.  If you can’t get venison, beef chuck roast works just as well with this recipe.

Ingredients for the Taquitos

  • 20 – 6 inch corn tortillas
  • Canola or vegetable oil for frying (enough to submerge the taquitos)
  • 8 ounces of shredded orange cheddar cheese
  • Avocado crema sauce (ingredients and directions below)
  • 1 ½ cups of Cabernet red wine (merlot will work too)
  • 4 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • ¼ cup of flour mixed with 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of black pepper and ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ a diced sweet onion
  • 1 finely diced stalk of celery
  • 1 cup of beef stock
  • 1 pound of venison roast, chopped into 5 or 6 chunks
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions for the Taquitos

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • In a heavy bottomed pan, like a cast iron dutch oven, throw in the wine, garlic, oregano and thyme and simmer until it reduces a bit (almost half way, about 10 minutes)
  • Meanwhile, after the venison has sat out of the fridge for at least 25 minutes
  • Roll the venison chunks in the flour mixture
  • Throw half of the olive oil into a cast iron skillet, and saute the meat until browned up on all sides
  • Remove the meat, set aside
  • Put the rest of your olive oil into the skillet and throw in all the veggies until onions are translucent
  • In the wine pan, add in the beef broth and scrape up any browned bits on that pan bottom
  • Add in the meat and veggies
  • Cover it, and slide it into the oven for 2 and a half hours
  • Remove from the oven, let sit for 10 minutes, then shred the meat
  • Mix the cooled, shredded meat with the cheese
  • Change your oven to 400 degrees
  • Heat the tortillas in a damp paper towel for 10 seconds so they’re pliable
  • Add meat and cheese mixture to one end, and roll them up tight, and place on a baking sheet tightly packed next to each other
  • Bake for 5 minutes in the oven 
  • Heat your oil to 350 degrees on your stovetop
  • Dip them into the oil, 3-4 at a time, until they are crispy
  • Remove, rest on paper towels and lightly salt
  • Serve with avocado crema, garnish everything with the cilantro
  • Enjoy a perfectly balanced bite, even if you’re cards aren’t that well balanced

Ingredients for the Avocado Crema Sauce

  • 2 big avocados, cut in half, pit removed (but set aside)
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 dash of green hot sauce
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic
  • Juice from 2 fresh limes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions for the Avocado Crema Sauce

  • Mix all the ingredients in a blender, starting slowly until it is all evenly mixed
  • Save the pits, you can store them in the sauce itself to prevent any browning (and it looks cool, too)

Speakeasy Duck Wings

For the executive game, we like to go a little extra, and make some food that makes players feel like they hit the jackpot, even if they’re losing their shirt at the table. We’re huge fans of working with duck, it’s a luxurious, fatty protein that is easy to play with, and can be crispy, juicy and compliments so many flavors, including bourbon, which is featured in our cocktail. They’ll also lose their minds when we start slingin’ these duck wings – fatty, crispy and just plain delicious, with a sweet garlic cajun sauce with just enough heat to bring out all the other flavors. We want to have some foods that people can eat with their hands, and have a little salt that can make them want to drink a bit more too, take more risks. This recipe is named for where we had our Executive Game, a great Speakeasy we love, the Fitz in downtown Syracuse. The type of place and the type of food that makes you feel like an outlaw – sometimes it feels good to be a little bad.


  • 1 dozen duck wings, patted dry with a paper towel and left out to get to room temperature
  • ½ cup of blue cheese (store bought is fine, we like to make our own, ingredients/directions below)
  • 4 cups vegetable or canola oil for frying
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup melted salted butter
  • ¼ cup hot sauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
  • Celery for serving
  • Chopped green onion for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon of water and cornstarch, mixed up as a slurry, to thicken your sauce if you need it


  • Set your wings aside so they get to room temperature
  • Lightly toss the wings, pre-cooked, in the garlic powder
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute the garlic until fragrant in the butter
  • Add in the hot sauce, butter, honey, cajun seasoning, vinegar and Worcestershire
  • Heat up over medium heat, constantly stirring so it bubbles on the side, but don’t let it boil
  • As the sauce heats up, it should thicken. If you want it thicker, slowly add in your cornstarch/water slurry
  • Heat up your oil to 350 degrees, and fry the rubbed wings for 5-7 minutes until golden brown
  • In a large mixing bowl, add in your sauce until it evenly coats the wings but doesn’t drown them
  • Lay ‘em on a plate, sprinkle with green onions, and serve with bleu cheese and celery

Ingredients for Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 10 ounces (or 1 ¼ cup) of blue cheese crumbles
  • 1 cup Mayo (Mason says to use Duke’s, so that’s what we used here)
  • ½ cup Sour cream
  • ¼ cup Buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 ½ teaspoon hot sauce (like a tabasco)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed
  • Kosher salt to taste

Directions for Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing

  • In a large glass mixing bowl, mix everything together
  • Take a taste, and if you need to add more salt or lemon juice, go for it
  • (This will stay in your fridge for a week)

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