Tuesday, April 14, 2015

colleen bawn knickebein

A few weeks ago, Gary Regan posted on Facebook about a challenge to convert cocktails into Pousse-cafés. He wrote, "Dhevandrea Hikaru, a bartender in Indonesia, contacted me recently about Pousse-cafés, and we had a nice back and forth about what they were, how they're made, etc. She asked if PCs could be made from classic drink such as the Grasshopper or the White Russian, and that got me to thinking: 'What an absolutely brilliant idea!' Seems as though those drinks would be sort of easy to layer: heavy cream, Kahlua, vodka for the White Russian, and heavy cream, green mint, white cacao for the Grasshopper, right? I haven't experimented but I think that would probably be the correct order. So I'm issuing a challenge to bartenders out there: make a Pousse-café using a classic cocktail recipe. I'll put the best of the best into my next 101 Best New Cocktails book and app. Thanks for the idea, Dhevandrea! Perhaps you'd like to submit a recipe yourself?"
I originally thought about doing a Bijou because the gem imagery of gin, sweet vermouth, and Green Chartreuse as distinct layers representing the diamond, ruby and emerald would be more stunning than the ingredients all stirred together. Then, I got into a discussion with David Wondrich about Knickebeins -- layered drinks that contain unbroken egg yolk as well as egg white froth. I had previously converted a Negroni into a Knickebein in the Knickroni, but that was adding an egg to the regular ingredients. What if I were to do it to a Flip that already had a whole egg in it? I quickly honed in on the Colleen Bawn that Jessica had at No. 9 Park in the link and I was introduced around that same time by Misty Kalkofen at Green Street. That link also provides a bit of history of this gem found in Edward Spencer's The Flowing Bowl from 1903. With rye, Benedictine, and Yellow Chartreuse in the Flip, it can do no wrong. Until, perhaps it is separated molecularly as such:
Build in a 2 oz sherry glass from the bottom up. Carefully layer each component on top of the next:
• 1/2 oz Benedictine
• 1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
• 1 unbroken Egg Yolk
• 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
• Beaten Egg White Meringue
• Freshly grated Nutmeg and Cinnamon as a garnish.
Note: Benedictine and Yellow Chartreuse have nearly the same densities, so layering the two might not be as crisp or as possible as other liqueurs and liquors pairings.
Of course, building this piece of art might seem complicated until you realize that the Knickebein envisioned by Leo Engel in 1878 by way of his American and Other Drinks book has a very regimented quaffing protocol:
1. Pass the glass under the Nostrils and Inhale the Flavour –- Pause.
2. Hold the glass perpendicularly, close under your mouth, open it wide, and suck the froth by drawing a Deep Breath. -- Pause again.
3. Point the lips and take one-third of the liquid contents remaining in the glass without touching the yolk. -- Pause once more.
4. Straighten the body, throw the head backward, swallow the contents remaining in the glass all at once, at the same time breaking the yolk in your mouth.
And what better time to do it than 3am after getting home after your shift around two weeks ago? Once prepared, the Colleen Bawn Knickebein presented a sweet cinnamon spice aroma over lower nutmeg notes on the nose. On the second stage, the heat of the rye was soothed by the egg white, and the later two stages presented an herbal bounty that was eased by the protein bomb from the yolk at the end. While Knickebeins are best done as a group bonding (a/k/a hazing) ceremony rather than a solo shift drink, the life of a writer sometimes takes over especially in terms of good judgment.

Update: One done in the wild (a/k/a the Loyal Nine Bar) on 1/10/16:

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