Wednesday, January 23, 2019

hawaii kai treasure

2 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Half & Half
1/2 oz Curaçao (Pierre Ferrand)
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
1 1/2 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum (Don Q Añejo)

Blend for 10 seconds with 8 oz crushed ice, pour into a Tiki bowl, and garnish with a gardenia (dried lemon wheel). The "treasure" was a small pearl hidden in the gardenia petals (pearl omitted).
The Tiki the Snow Away event led me to pick up Beachbum Berry's Remixed to find something tropical for the evening two Wednesdays ago. The one that called out to me was the Hawaii Kai Treasure created by Mannie "Black" Andall of New York City's Hawaii Kai Restaurant during the 1960s. Once blended and served, the Hawaii Kai Treasure greeted the nose with a nutty and floral aroma. Next, a creamy grapefruit sip led into a rum, lime, and nutty swallow with a honey-floral finish.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

jazz daiquiri

2 oz Dark Rum (Plantation Original Dark)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
2 tsp Sugar (1/2 oz Simple Syrup)
1/4 oz Dark Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
7 bean Coffee

Blend all of the ingredients with 10 oz ice (muddle coffee beans, add the rest of the ingredients, shake with ice, and double strain). Serve in a Martini glass.
Two Tuesdays ago, I had read a mention of New Orleans' Manolito in the press, and I was curious if there was a recipe on the web that I could make at home. My search uncovered Nick Detrich's Jazz Daiquiri that found its way into Very Local New Orleans that reminded me of the Coffee DTO with a hint of chocolate. Manolito's menu declares that "this drink was originally made to honor musicians in Cuba" and states that they currently reach for Bacardi 8 Year in this libation. In the glass, the Jazz Daiquiri welcomed the nose with a rich coffee aroma from the muddled coffee beans. Next, lime and caramel mingled on the sip, and the swallow donated dark rum and coffee flavors that were accented by a hint of chocolate.

Monday, January 21, 2019

cobra's spritz

1/2 oz Suze Gentian Liqueur
1/4 oz China China (1/2 oz Torani Amer)
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 bsp Falernum (Velvet)

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass (Fizz glass), top with Prosecco (2-3 oz Willm Blanc de Blancs), and garnish with a mint sprig (orange twist).
Two Mondays ago, I kept with the Tiki mood and made the Cobra's Spritz which was posted on Tales of the Cocktail's social media. The recipe was crafted by bartender Andrew Rhea as a sparkling riff on Don the Beachcomber's 1937 Cobra's Fang; however, it eschews the rums to keep with the lighter proof of most spritzes, and it only keeps the passion fruit syrup and falernum as constants. Once prepared, the Cobra's Fang shared an orange and white wine nose. Next, a crisp white wine and pineapple sip slithered into a gentian, passion fruit, and dark orange swallow that came across as an orange pith flavor.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

hale pele's volcano bowl

2 oz Orange Juice (1 oz)
2 oz Pineapple Juice (1 oz)
2 1/2 oz Lemon Juice (1 1/4 oz)
2 oz Falernum (1 oz Velvet)
2 oz Grenadine (1 oz)
3 1/2 oz Light Rum (1 3/4 oz Privateer Silver)
3 1/2 oz Gold Rum (1 3/4 oz Old Ipswich Tavern Style)
3 dash Angostura Bitters (2 light dash)
18 drop Herbsaint (9 drop)

Blend with 1 cup of crushed ice (whip shake), pour into a Volcano Bowl (Tiki bowl), top with crushed ice, and garnish with fire (empty lemon shell with ignited El Dorado 151 Rum).
Two Sundays ago, I decided to celebrate my night off from work by making Hale Pele's Volcano Bowl. The drink had been mentioned on Reddit, and I was soon able to find the recipe on The Guardian. The recipe was very different from the classic Volcano Bowl with perhaps a slight similarity to Smuggler's Cove's Top Notch Volcano, and it seemed worthy of a try. Once prepared, the Portland creation donated a tropical nose from pineapple and orange aromas. Next, lemon, berry, and pineapple on the sip slid into rum, pomegranate, and orange flavors on the swallow with an anise and clove finish.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

voodoo dreams

8 oz Diplomatico Reserva Rum (2 oz)
8 oz Naked Grouse Scotch (2 oz Famous Grouse)
4 oz Tempus Fugit Banana Liqueur (1 oz Giffard)
4 oz Lemon Juice (1 oz)
4 oz Demerara Syrup (1 oz)
16 dash Mole Bitters (4 dash Bittermens)
4 dash Salt Solution (1 pinch Salt)

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki bowl, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with mint and dried banana leaves (omit).
Two Saturdays ago, I decided to make a punch recipe that I had spotted in a recent Forbes article on seasonal large format drink ideas that would be perfect for Tiki the Snow Away. The recipe was the Voodoo Dreams by Keel Sutherland of Death & Co. in Denver. Without the mint garnish, the Voodoo Dreams provided a caramel and banana bouquet to the nose. Next, the rum's caramel continued on into the sip where it was balanced by the lemon notes, and the swallow shared rum, Scotch, and banana flavors with a chocolate-tinged finish.

Friday, January 18, 2019

bird is the word

1 1/2 oz Gin (Tanqueray)
1/2 oz Blackstrap Rum (Cruzan)
2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with freshly grated cinnamon and a few pineapple leaves (or perhaps rosemary sprigs) if available.

In continuing on with the celebration of Tiki the Snow Away January on Instagram, I made a mashup that I thought up for the event in mid-December. The concept was to combine elements of the Jungle Bird and the Last Word in the former's Tiki format. I dropped out the Jungle Bird's Campari in favor of the Last Word's two liqueurs; since both liqueurs interact well with pineapple juice such as in the Chartreuse Swizzle and Mary Pickford, I figured that the results ought to be pretty decent. Initially, I was going to leave out the dark rum, but I felt that the caramel-molasses elements of blackstrap rum would add some depth to the mix.
For a name, I went with Bird is the Word despite it not being the most original (as determined by a web search) due to the popularity of the 1963 Trashmen song "Surfin' Bird." Once prepared, the garnish contributed a delightful cinnamon aroma. Next, pineapple, lime, and caramel mingled on the sip, and the swallow shared gin's pine, dark rum, herbal and Green Chartreuse flavors with a nutty cherry finish.

Thursday, January 17, 2019


1 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1 oz Angostura Bitters
1 oz Pineapple Juice (*)
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
(*) Increasing the volume of pineapple juice can improve the flavor here. Perhaps 1 3/4 oz to make the build an even 4 oz.

Two Thursdays ago, two of my long time out-of-town regulars visited me at Nahita. The topic of conversation eventually wandered over to Angostura-heavy recipes such as the Magic Julep, and they asked me if I had ever tried the Daywalker. The recipe was crafted by Adam McGee at Flatiron Lounge in Manhattan, and my guest was the first person to publish the recipe online back in 2010. To rectify the situation, I made one as soon as I got home from my shift.
The Daywalker began with an allspice and clove aroma that led into pineapple and cherry wood notes on the sip. Next, rye whiskey joined clove, cinnamon, gentian, and woody flavors on the swallow. One of the comments to my guest's initial post was that the balance improved with additional pineapple juice, and when I added a touch more to the drink, I would have to agree.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

:: bartend as if you were the guest ::

First published on the USBG National blog in March 2017, and slightly modified for publication here. Photos are from my adventures during Portland Cocktail Week 2012.

One of the ways I learn to be a better bartender has been sitting at various bar stools and restaurant tables and observing how it feels to be a guest. I am not just talking about the good moments that you should figure out how to deliver to your own guests, but also the bad moments that you should figure out how to avoid. In a nutshell, I strive to bartend how I like to be treated as a patron.

Things I have thought about are: "How does it feel to be strong-armed into another round?" And, "How does it feel to be interrupted?"

For the former, I can recall a bartender that I knew socially who helped to rejuvenate an old establishment’s program. I was one of his few guests that night and about two-thirds of the way through my first cocktail, he was already asking me if he could start on the next. When that happened as well on my next round that I was rushed to get, I just asked for my check. I finished my drink, paid, and left never to return thinking, “Dude, I’m not your cash-cow.” On busy nights, there is definitely a need to turn over seats, but on slower nights, shortening your guests’ visits makes the bar look more desolate and might impact their desire to return. Part of buying a drink is being able to rent the stool for your own third space needs, whether it is to catch up on your phone or with your friend. A guest being rushed out (who is done ordering) when there is a line behind them will hopefully understand the reasons, but when there is not a line and in fact empty seats, it might seem like that bar stool has too high of a cost associated with it. All too often, I have seen bartenders ask (or perhaps almost demand) if they can get a guest anything else – one in no appearance of being in a rush – and then hand them their bill; the bill is promptly paid and the guest abruptly leaves. This seems to fly in the face of hospitality and how I would want to be treated, especially when I am visiting on a slow weekday night. In a way, it sort of delineates the difference between a guest and a customer.

For the latter in terms of interruptions, there are brunches and nights where I am catching up with my wife after not having spoken to her for several days due to differing schedules. How does it make me feel when a server or bartender interrupts me mid-sentence for something trivial? And how does it feel when I realize that I have lost my train of thought? How does this translate to two guests that meet up at your bar and need a moment to catch up? There is a point perhaps where you need to save them from themselves and refocus them on the fact that they met for food and drink, but understand that the drinking and dining part might be secondary in their evening’s plans.

Some of these concepts even trickle down to drink service. When going out for beer, how does it feel getting an expensive brew with 2-3 inches or more of head? Or what about receiving an IPA with no head at all? Or in cocktail service, what does it feel like when a you receive a drink that has a sea of ice shards, a poorly presented garnish (if any), etc. at an otherwise respected cocktail joint? What is it like to be served by a drunk bartender or a bartender who is more interested in his friends or co-workers than you? In essence, serve drinks like you want to be served. Treat each request from mocktail to “make me something special, not too sweet… and with vodka” with the same respect as you would want your or your date’s drink order taken.

Often, it is hard for a well-known bartender to get the same treatment as the commoner in many establishments. For example, there is one establishment in town that I like to go, but I recommend it with caution on lists of places to go for my guests; I explain that I get treated well there and the drinks are good, but I have often observed them treating guests rudely. However, there are always places and bartenders that do not know you in town who can give you their average handling, and if not, there are plenty of opportunities when traveling. On one trip, I went with my drinking buddy to three places after we broke off from the main group. The first was a recommended cocktail establishment, the second a whiskey bar, and the third a true dive bar. At the first, the three bartenders in suspenders were talking to their friends and I observed no drinks being made. After being ignored for a while at their dirty bar, we left. At the whiskey bar, we were given average treatment; after a Facebook photo that I posted, a friend contacted the owner who texted the bartender to give us a pour of something special. At the third place, Jack, the 70ish year old white-haired bartender, was the sweetest bartender I met all while still maintaining the room. He provided such warmth that I would return again if I were in that city (just as my drinking buddy did this time); drink-wise, all he had to offer us were cheap pours of Old Granddad Bonded. My friend commented that the second establishment’s bartender was so great to us; I replied yes-and-no: unlike the second, the third was great because he did not need to be told by his boss to treat us special – he just did.

Unfortunately, a lot of this comes at odds to bars and restaurants being a business, especially with interactions with the owners and management. And it also comes down to our tips. True, pouring a gigantic beer head means that beer costs go down, but is that what you truly want to give to a guest or receive yourself? When I worked a lot of lunch shifts at a previous job, we were taught a long term view of doing everything we could to get guests to return instead of thinking in the short term of how to maximize every encounter. There are definitely ways of enthusiastically selling to guests to increase their experience without seeming too aggressive. Whether it be dropping hints that there is a special down-cellar bottle or giving them a taste of another IPA to get them thinking about another round, there are ways of making the business side of things happy without stressing out your guests. In the end, try to be the guest’s advocate and sense out what sort of experience and budget they are seeking; your read on their needs can help to ensure that your bar seats are more filled in the future.

So the next time you go out, don’t just think about what to drink, but use the opportunity to take notes on how to improve yourself in the trade. There are definitely some bartenders who I go visit partly just to watch how they interact with their guests to make them feel special all without necessarily sending out free food or drink.

fifth avenue

1/2 Brandy (2 oz Camus VS Cognac)
1/4 Italian Vermouth (1 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino)
1 dash Maraschino (1/4 oz Luxardo)
1 dash Curaçao (1/4 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry)
1 dash Pineapple (1/2 oz)
(1 dash Angostura Bitters recommended, see notes)

The recipe provided no mixing instructions, so I shook with ice and strained into a cocktail coupe. Stirring would be appropriate too.

Two Wednesdays ago, I ventured into Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 and spotted the Fifth Avenue. Give the prestigious and historic roadway cutting through Manhattan, there are plenty of unrelated drinks under that name including one that I made in my pre-blog adventures. It may have been the overuse of the name or more likely the unbalanced appearance of the recipe that I caused me to pass it over multiple times. The Pioneers book does have several Manhattan-style (spirit + vermouth) with pineapple that have worked well like the Radio Call and the Martinique, so I set about to adapt the recipe. When I posted the drink on Instagram, a follower asked if a dash of pineapple was enough to be detected. My reply was, "If you truly did a dash, it would be useless. A lot of that book needs to be reinterpreted to be interesting and tasty. I view it as a drink skeleton to exercise your personal balance sensibilities. This is coming from making perhaps a hundred recipes from that book."
At first pass (before I added bitters), the Fifth Avenue shared a pineapple aroma accented with nutty cherry notes. Next, the pineapple continued on into the sip where it mingled with the vermouth's grape, and the swallow gave forth Cognac, nutty cherry, and slightly bitter orange flavors. However, the combination felt a bit disjointed, so I added in a dash of Angostura to the mix. Instantly, the bitters helped solved this problem by tying together the disparate flavors and allowing them to provide depth as the elements were glued together.