Friday, July 31, 2015

sing for your supper

1 1/2 oz Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Vanilla Passion Fruit Syrup (*)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with a floated lemon wheel, and add a straw.
(*) I have used equal parts of passion fruit syrup and vanilla syrup to mimic this all-in-one syrup (perhaps use 1/2 oz each here). Or go all passion fruit syrup with a few drops of vanilla extract.
After a short rest and a rejuvenating shower, I was able to muster another 8 hours of energy out of myself to attend the Bartender's Breakfast (and later a nightcap beer at the 24-hour craft beer bar, the Avenue Pub). Once at the event, I scanned the newspaper-themed handout for the booths and drinks. The one that seemed most promising indeed turned out to be the best libation of the Breakfast, namely the Sing for Your Supper by Pouring Ribbons. I was perhaps drawn in for I had positive memories of the vanilla passion fruit drink I made at home called the Midnight Matinee and created by Amanda Elder also of Pouring Ribbons. The web seems to indicate that Pouring Ribbons usually serves the Sing for your Supper with the 86 Co.'s Aylesbury Duck Vodka as the base spirit, but I have to believe that it shines much greater with juniper-flavored vodka.
The drink began with a bright lemon aroma over that of passion fruit, and this foretold the sip that was laden with more lemon and passion fruit notes. On the swallow, juniper and Aperol transitioned into passion fruit flavors, and everything ended with a light spice on the finish.

missionary's downfall

1 oz Cruzan White Rum
1 oz Honey Syrup
1/2 oz Bols Peach Brandy
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 oz Diced Pineapple (1/4 cup)
7-10 Mint Leaves
6 oz Crushed Ice (3/4 cup)

Blend for 20 seconds, pour into a goblet, garnish with a mint sprig, and add a straw.

Saturday evening after the seminars were over, I returned to Latitude 29 and asked them for something they probably do not often hear, namely, "What is your lowest ABV drink?" It sort of goes against the concept of Tiki drinks and their hidden potency; however, I was hungry and had heard great things about their food, and I had a big night of drinking ahead at the Bartender's Breakfast. The bartender replied that the Missionary's Downfall only had a single ounce of rum and was my best bet. This Missionary's Downfall recipe was created by Don the Beachcomber circa 1940s with the earliest versions dating back to 1937. Latitude 29 followed the recipe in Beachbum Berry's Remixed (not the one in his Grog Log) with the exceptions of using Virgin Island instead of Puerto Rican rum and using less mint (7-10 leaves versus 1/4 cup).
The Missionary's Downfall greeted the nose with a beautiful floral mint aroma with perhaps honey, pineapple, and peach accents. On the palate, creamy pineapple with hints of peach on the sip gave way to a mint swallow with a peach finish.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

:: brains and booze - the neurology of mixology ::

The final talk I attended at Tales of the Cocktail this year was given by a father-daughter duo, namely bartender Pamela Wiznitzer and her dad, autism specialist Dr. Max Wiznitzer. The talk was entitled "Brains & Booze: The Neurology of Mixology." While a lot of the talk was an overview of the brain and sensing organs, I will focus on the regions of overlap that are specific to cocktail appreciation.

Without the senses, people would just drink raw alcohol, but many things affect the enjoyment of a drink and these things change with age. One of the key parts of the brain that determines the enjoyment of a drink is the amygdala that determines the intensity of emotion -- not only whether it is pleasant or not, but what are the expectations given previous experiences. There is definitely an importance on having the experience being a positive one the first time through. Pleasant is the interconnection between the flavor cortex and the "pleasure centers." Here, smell turns out to be the most powerful tool, then taste, but touch also plays a role.

While the eyes, touch, and smell all play factors in enjoying a drink, the mouth deals a lot with texture, temperature, and taste. Texture can be to detect hazards like sharp or sandy object or beneficial like creaminess which implies that the foodstuff contains fat and nutrition. Temperature is like the three bears -- too hot can damage the cells, too cold and the tongue is numb and cannot taste, and just right. The taste aspect determines the nutrient value of food. Sweet implies energy rich food, salt suggests electrolytes necessary for balance, and umami is linked to amino acids and protein; science has found the intersection of these three components by creating the ultimate junk food, the Dorito. In addition, taste can suggest hazards like bitter meaning toxins, sour suggesting spoilage, and very salty implying too much mineral content or the wrong ones. An individual can get a palate for these hazards if there is a good association with the flavor.

In discussing the taste/olfactory cortex, the Martini and how it is garnished came up. A citrus peel garnish will add more fruity and floral accents whereas a briny olive will donate salt and umami notes. Indeed, different palates will gravitate to different Martini garnishes.

The doctor commented that we usually do not like brown liquids since they are often associated with fouled water and bodily functions; however, a child can quickly learn that chocolate milk is a good thing. In the realm of Tiki drinks where a lot of the drinks end up brown and murky, the bartender often serves them in opaque mugs. This helps to mask the perception of color when we first appreciate the drink. When I mentioned this fact to RumScout later, he replied that he did find the Jet Pilot served in a rocks glass to be a little startling and unsightly. In terms of creamy drinks like the Alexander, it may remind you of the chocolate milk that you had as a kid. You might not ask for one, but if it were put in front of you, you would drink it. And when an Alexander was passed to the crowd, most of them including mine did get finished.

With age, bitter and spice desires increase, and this is believed to be linked to the degradation of taste receptors. The same is true with salt and umami notes. Therefore, the average 21 year old might not like that Cynar drink the first time, but the 35 year old possibly will.

When Pamela developed the menu at Seamstress, she thought a lot about texture including sugar and fat content, binding agents like a pinch of salt, and the taste of citrus throughout the year. She was also careful not to put in too many flavors but to build off of the base spirits. Garnishes need to apply, but the nose does not need to match as contrast is effective too. She also reminded us that a bartender is not creating drinks for themselves but for a larger subset of the population. At Seamstress, all of the new drink ideas were made for the bartenders, owners, staff, and select clientele, and recipes only made the list if everyone in the room would drink the creation.

:: strong opinions ::

"Orange bitters make a good astringent for the face. Never put them in anything that is to be drunk." With this quote from Bernard DeVoto who penned The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto in 1948, Rachel Ford began the first talk I attended at Tales of the Cocktail on Saturday. This talk entitled "Strong Opinions" brings into the question how relevant is the written word. She soon became interested in the cranky old men who wrote many of the cocktail books. DeVoto was not a bartender but a highly published author and Pulitzer Prize winner. Despite his very opinionated and controversial tone, his writing makes you chuckle and wonder if he was right in some way. As a second author, Rachel mentioned Charles Henry Baker and his The Gentleman's Companion: Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Flask. Baker was a world traveler and exquisite story teller, and he wrote about his culinary and drinking experiences for magazines like Esquire. The third strong opinion was David Embury with his tome The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Embury was no bartender either but an American attourney who was highly witty and opinionated. I previously wrote about Robert Hess' thoughts on Embury in my notes on his Embury and the Side Car talk back in 2011.

To make this talk even more dynamic, Rachel did not just rely on these great texts but brought a panel of bartenders and brand ambassadors who have rather strong opinions themselves both in person and especially on Twitter and Facebook. This crew consisted of Sean Kenyon, Erick Castro, Ivy Mix, and Kyle Ford. While there was voting on quotes from the three authors by the panel and live voting by the audience thanks to a cloud-based app, much of the gems of this talk were the bounty of quotes from these authors and spirits professionals.

To start, three drinks were brought up: the Martini, the Manhattan, and the Daiquiri, and which were their favorites. To add to DeVoto's opinions on the whether or not orange bitters should be in a Martini, he was very specific about his proportions and favored a 3.7 part gin to 1 part dry vermouth Martini with a lemon twist. Yes, a lemon twist for he hated olives; in fact, he declared, "And, I suppose, nothing can be done with people who put olives in martinis, presumably because in some desolate childhood hour someone refused them a dill pickle and so they go through life lusting for the taste of brine." Kyle declared that a Martini is a right of passage, while Erick argued that the Martini has held gin back as stale dry vermouth found in many bars ruins the drink. Kyle later agreed that it was not just about getting a Martini into his hand but getting the dilution, vermouth amounts, and temperature correct.

In discussing the Manhattan, Sean remembers the first time he had a proper stirred Manhattan and it blew his mind; it is the very memory of that singular drink experience that makes him go back. Moreover, Sean favors the Daiquiri to learn about a bartender's understanding of balance. Limes are different every day and throughout the shift, so rote following of a recipe can lead to variations in the final product. Finally, Erick was contrary and picked the Old Fashioned instead of the three choices to vote on. To him, the drink is a window into a bartender's soul. Every bartender has the right to make an Old Fashioned their way, and it will tell you about their philosophies and what they are about. Instead of asking me what my opinion is, just look at my three cups. The Daiquiri is all gone, the Manhattan half way, and only wisps of the Martini were quaffed. If asked, I would probably emotionally answer Manhattan, but a good Daiquiri (especially on a hot day) is hard to beat. Perhaps the way the Martini was served in a plastic cup instead of a chilled and elegant coupe glass altered by enjoyment of this drink:
Next, there were quotes from the three authors in terms of what makes a good cocktail. Ivy proffered that, "Just like a tree that fall is the forest with no one around to hear it, a cocktail with no one around to talk about it..." For her, it is all about context; bartending to her is about giving experiences to people around them. She continued, "If you have zero personality, you should find a new career." Kyle added that context is everything including the place you are at, the people you are with, etc. Even his favorite drink the Martini needs to be enjoyed in a more urban setting (and he brought his own glassware to enjoy his Martini properly instead of in a plastic cup).

When the topic of measuring came up in making a cocktail, Erick stated that it was a pet peeve of his when he sees bartenders not filling a jigger up properly. Ivy continued with, " the meniscus. A jigger is not a prop." Sean recalled how jiggers were punishments handed out when pour costs were off, and how that has all changed. Seeing a drink made well is part of the equation; Ivy mentioned that "we taste with our eyes. The music has to be right, the glass has to be right, and the garnish has to be beautiful and appropriate." Sean later threw in that the bartender is an ingredient in every cocktail.

In addition, Sean brought up the point that so many bartenders think that they know more about their guests than the guests do about themselves. Erick believes that you should create trust, get them on your side and curious, and then perhaps offer them something different. In the end, Erick continued, "It's all about serving cocktails and making people happy. We all have different palates." Sean ventured with "Mixology is a practice, bartender is a person. We serve people, not drinks. We don't want to be drink delivery systems" but want to know about the neighborhood, current events, and be ubiquitous to aid and comfort the guests. Moreover, Sean brought up how there was "such a focus on mixology that hospitality got lost, but it was a necessary step to elevate the science and history of our craft." Indeed, Ivy believes that bartenders "got their noses stuck in their jiggers" during that period.

A good anecdote about how to better serve people came about when one of Erick's bartenders asked him if he should get a second job somewhere to round out his skill set and asked Erick where it should be. Erick replied, "A sports bar. You learn how to get regulars to see you -- not your new amaro or gadget." I would add here perhaps a day shift where the clientele is seeking a friendly face more than a well made libation. Erick later continued with, "Bartending is cutting people off, getting people laid, and washing glassware. Not about making fancy drinks."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

astoria, oregon

1 1/2 oz Monkey 47 Gin
1 oz Cocchi Americano
1/2 oz Banks White Rum

Stir with ice and strain in a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange twist.
After the talks on Friday, I attended a Monkey 47 Gin event at Bellocq that featured bartenders Sean Hoard, Jim Meehan, and Kirik Estopinal. For a drink, I asked Kirk for the Astoria, Oregon, and later got the recipe and some further details from Jim. The Astoria that appeared in the Savoy Cocktail Book was essentially a Martini with 2/3 gin, 1/3 dry vermouth, and 1 dash orange bitters served in a cocktail glass with a stuffed olive garnish. Jim confirmed that there was no orange bitters in this variation, and I assumed that the change to Cocchi Americano from dry vermouth added this extra citrus note. With rum in the mix, the combination reminded me of the B.V.D. which in the Savoy Cocktail Book was equal parts Bacardi Rum, dry vermouth, and dry gin.
Astoria, Oregon, is located on the mouth of the Columbia River and was where the Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter in 1805-6 hoping that a ship would rescue them and take them home, but instead, they ended up enduring the winter and returning east the same way they came. Indeed, I never found out why Sean named his drink after the sleepy port city save for the similarity in name to the section of Queens that the classic is named after. Once prepared, it offered an orange aroma that prepared the mouth for a light citrus wine sip. On the swallow, juniper and other gin botanicals with a hint of rum funk blended into an orange finish. Overall, there was bit more intrigue and less starkness than a classic Martini which made it a bit more approachable to me.

:: perfect frozen drinks - science and practice ::

The second talk that I attended on Friday of Tales of the Cocktail was "Perfect Frozen Drinks: Science and Practice" hosted by Dave Arnold and Philip Duff. I preemptively spoke about this talk earlier in the week for serendipitously the theme for this month's Mixology Monday was "Ice, Ice Baby!" as I made a frozen drink in a ziplock bag via the formulas that Dave Arnold provided at the talk as well as in his book Liquid Intelligence. The two started their talk with a timeline of frozen drinks and desserts:
• 400 BC, China: Snow was poured over syrup to make desserts.
• 200 BC, Southeast Persia (Iran): Yakhchal was a large evaporating chamber that utilized shade, seasons, insulation, and other factors to freeze water in the winter and store it through out the year. The ice was utilized in desserts like Faloodeh. These large structures still exist.
• 831, Italy: The Arab invasion of Europe brings advanced science and technology as well as a wide variety of fruit to the region. Along with Toledo, Spain, this part of Italy was a center of technology.
• 1533, France: Italian duchess married to a French duke, Catherine de Medici enticed Giuseppe Ruggeri to bring his ice cream recipe to the French court.
• 1686, Paris: Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli opens Café Procope (still open, oldest restaurant) and first made gelato in his coffee shop and got licensing for it.
• 1718, England: Miss Mary Erles's Receipts had recipes to make ice cream but it took time, staff, money, and leisure to produce it. Still a product for the rich.
• 1744, Pennsylvania: The Oxford English Dictionary in 1877 mentions that strawberry ice cream was enjoyed there.
• 1770, New York: Giovanni Basiolo brought gelato to the New World.
• 1843, New York: First patent for the ice cream freezer; this hand-cranked version still sells today.
• 1885, London: Agnes Marshall wrote The Book of Ices, four books about frozen desserts.
• 1888-1915: Nikola Tesla created the fractional horsepower engine that would later help to run freezers and mixers.
• 1922, Racine, Wisconsin: Stephen Poplawski created the first blender for Hamilton Beach (previously, they had used this technology to create the vibrator in 1910).
• 1937, Wisconsin: Fred Osius and Ted Waring created the Miracle Mixer that later turned into the very reliable Waring Blender.
• 1940s, Havana: Constantino Ribalaigua Vert brought the Waring Blender to Cuba to create the blended drink, the Daiquiri #3.
• 1960s, Coffeyville, Kansas: Omar Knedlik owned a few Dairy Queens and discovered that people liked drinks that were partially frozen. It took 10 years to get the technology right to create the ICEE machine.
• 1965-67: 7-Eleven launched the Slurpee as they bought the technology from Knedlik and could not call it the ICEE.
• 1969, USA: TGI Fridays chain started their fresh fruit frozen "Daiquiri" program.
• 1971, Dallas: Mariano Martinez invented the frozen Margarita machine. There was a clause that forbade the ICEE technology to be used with alcohol, so Martinez tinkered with soft serve ice cream machines.
• 1994: 7-Eleven trademarks the term "brainfreeze."
With the history part covered, the focus shifted to temperature. When things are too cold, they alter the flavor and can switch what aspects are perceptible as well as the overall pleasure associated with the ratios. Moreover, it can be painful with burning people's tongues, and it can affect texture. Texture ends up being a combination of temperature, alcohol percentage, and sugar levels. Alcohol is an antifreeze that prevents things from freezing and makes everything melt much faster. While frozen drinks mimic shaken drinks to some extent, sweetness drops back in frozen drinks and acid is more forward than in a shaken one. Therefore, the shaken recipe needs to be altered to become the frozen drink spec including diluting it more.

Most street Daiquiri machines produce drinks in the 7% ABV range for larger volumes and slower melts, and this alcohol range approximates nonalcoholic drink recipes in terms of physics, flavor, and kinetics. In a bar setting, 14-15% is more optimal since the guests do not want to fill up volume-wise and bars do not want guests to dawdle that long over drinks. However, it is harder to keep a drink solid at this higher alcohol content and harder to stay in balance flavor-wise. As was mentioned in my Mixology Monday frozen drink post, the targets for the finished drink recipe are:
The Golden Rule:
• 14.2-15% ABV
• 85 gram / liter Sugar
• 0.6-0.9% acid (standard lemon/lime is 6%)
• Note: assumes freezer temperature -20°C/4°F
This means that a shaken or stirred drink will not translate the same, and algebra is needed to follow the 3 rules. Once you have the proof and volume of alcohol, then determine the final volume. Next, add sugar amount and acid amount, and the rest is water. In batching, consider that fresh citrus juice will degrade over time. Things like limoncello can cover over that degradation. Acids like citric and malic can be added to adjust the ratios. To boost ABV but not flavor, vodka can be used, and liquor can be sugared up to minimize volumes. Sample recipes can and should be tested in Ziplock bags on a small scale (and these bags can be frozen on salt-ice combinations in the field) to prevent mistakes in large scale balance. Rolling out the air bubbles will promote their stability, and to speed their freezing, do not stack the bags.

In blender drinks, all chilling is at the expense of melting ice. A normal recipe spec will make things too watery in a blender, so adding sugar to the liquor can save space. A generic blender sour recipe is as follows:
Instead of blending, ice shaving machines like Hatsuyuki can be utilized. In a shaved ice drink, chilling and diluting happens in the glass. If you shave into the glass so that it chills and melts down, you can get the right wash line on the drink more frequently.

A final warning was provided against making frozen drinks with barrel-aged spirits, for the process intensifies the wood and tannin notes. Same goes with tea. Also, all of the ice crystals in frozen drinks are water -- not alcohol, not sugar.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

:: quinquina - bark to the future ::

I started the seminars at Tales of the Cocktail on Friday with a talk on quinine-laden beverages presented by Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz, Jordan Silbert of Q Drinks, and Jean-Pierre Cointreau of the Renaud Cointreau Group. While a lot of this talk was about quinquinas (also know as quinato, quinado, and chinato depending on the country of origin), some of it entailed tonic water and certain quinine-containing liqueurs like Bonal.

Quinquinas are fortified and aromatized wine that are neither spirits nor spirit-like. The fortification process (the addition of alcohol) is done to provide stability, fix the wine's alcohol levels, and/or add infused flavors of herbs and spices; moreover, the aromatized aspect adds flavors of herbs, fruits, and/or spices via infusion. By E.U. law, they must be at least 75% wine. While French quinquinas allow mistelles (unfermented grape must) for sweetness, Italian chinatos do not. Although many people lump quinquinas with vermouths, they are not all that similar and not a substitute:
Wormwood - major bittering agent of Vermouth; weedy, intensely herbaceous, front palate bitter
Gentian - major bittering agent of Americano; woodsy, floral aromatic, middle palate bitter
Quinine - major bittering agent of Quinquina; flat, sweet spice, back palate bitter like a baritone to a medley
The history of quinine can be traced back to the 1630s when the Spanish were beginning to explore Peru. The wife of the Spanish viceroy got sick with malaria and was on her deathbed despite all of the Spanish doctors' efforts. The Spanish asked the Incas for help, and the Incas created a tea from the quinquina tree that they referred to as the "tree of trees (holy tree)." Due to its success, the Spanish renamed the tree after her, the Countess of Chincho. Quinine is but one of the 38 different alkaloids in chinchona bark, and synthetic quinine lacks this variation. Malaria was not just in South America but in swampy Paris of the 1700s as well, for example. Since the export of chinchona tree seeds was forbidden, the bark got rather pricy to the point that it was literally worth its weight in gold. In the 1850s, seeds were smuggled out of Peru and sold to the British; however, this varietal had low quinine levels in the bark and was rather useless medicinally. It was not until 1862 that Charles Ledger smuggled good quality seeds out of the country. Since the British had been bamboozled a few years prior, they refused, and the seeds were sold to the Dutch who started plantations in their colonies of Dutch Congo and Indonesia. Eventually, Peru was over-harvested and at the beginning of World War II, 95% of all quinine was coming from Indonesia. During the war, Japan attacked Indonesia for their oil and for most of the world's supply of quinine. Part of the United State's Manhattan Project was devoted to creating synthetic quinine (in addition to developing the nuclear bomb) which generated drugs like atabrine and chloroquine.

As a medicine, tonic water took off during the 1820s in the British navy once they learned to mix the quinine with sugar and gin. On the French side of things, quinquinas began to rise in prominence during the 1830s due to French colonial interests. Unlike tonic water, quinquinas were delicious and proved a cost-effective way to enjoy young vine wine especially post Phylloxera. The exotic imagery of overseas colonies and their spices did not hurt the allure either. By the 1930s, quinquina was the largest wine category in France.

This glory was chased by its decline. Mosquito microbes soon began to gain resistance to quinine, France lost its colonies as customers, war time restrictions on alcohol reduced their production, and the new generation of French did not want to drink what their parents drank. Instead, they turned to pastis and whiskey. Moreover, due to French government restrictions on health claims during the 1950s, this class had to be called aperitifs since quinquina implies health benefits; this is not the case in Italy, Spain, and Portugal though. Chinato in Italy regained its popularity by improving its quality and linking it less to health and more to a pleasure angle by proving that wine could pair with chocolate.

Finally, Jordan Silbert spoke about tonic water and what he learned when he discovered that the tonic water he was drinking had the same sugar and preservative levels as Sprite but with different natural and artificial flavors and colors. During the 1950s, the combination of replacing the bark with synthetic quinine and replacing sugar with corn syrup led to sweeter tonic water. The balance of sugar and bitter soon got out of whack with big producers, and sugar was advantageous since it is a masking agent that allows the drinker to use cheaper alcohols. Jordan wondered what he could do if the spirits were actually good and ought to be tasted? His tonic quest led to a lot less sugar, using real bark, and super-carbonation.

In touching on quinquina use in cocktails, Eric Seed declared that they were optimal for use with aromatic and unaged spirits such as gin, agave spirits, and certain rums. In drinks, quinine gives more palate to other flavors in the drink, and the lower proof offers refreshment and lighter drink styles.

jet pilot

1 oz Flor de Caña 7 Year Rum
1 oz Flor de Caña 12 Year Rum
1 oz Flor de Caña 18 Year Rum
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz Falernum
1 dash Herbsaint
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Add a straw.

One of the other drinks that I had at the Flor de Caña Rum pop-up event at Cane & Table was the Jet Pilot as made by Martin Cate of Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco. The original was served at the Luau restaurant in Beverly Hills circa 1958 using a medley of dark Jamaican, gold Puerto Rican, and 151 proof Demerara rums similar to what was made for me at Drink about 6 years ago. Here, Martin utilized a vertical rum selection from Flor de Caña; however, he normally prefers a heavier pot-stilled rum and a bit of Smith & Cross funk in his blend. Therefore, this Jet Pilot features a bit more oak than body with his usual rum trio.
The Jet Pilot offered a lime aroma that transitioned well into a citrus sip. While the rum stole the show at the beginning of the sip, the cinnamon, clove, and anise spice notes added a glorious complexity to the finish.

penang afrididi #1

1 oz Flor de Caña White Rum
1 1/2 oz Flor de Caña 7 Year Rum
3/4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1 dash Herbsaint

Shake with ice and strain into a tall glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with an orange twist, pineapple, pineapple fruit leaves, and other assorted Tiki mayhem; add a straw.

After dinner at Angeline, I headed over to Cane & Table where there was a Flor de Caña Rum pop-up event at Cane and Table. There in the back courtyard for this official Tales of the Cocktail event, Nick Detrich, Martin Cate, and Paul McGee were making Tiki libations for the crowd. For a start, I asked Paul McGee for the Penang Afriditi #1 which was created by Don the Beachcomber circa 1937. Here, the ratios were shifted around slightly and the orange juice was swapped for dry curaçao from the 1958 recipe that appears in Beachbum Berry's Sippin' Safari. Paul mentioned that the recipe he used is pretty close to the house recipe at Lost Lake except that they use 2 oz Appleton V/X as the sole rum and Letherbee as the absinthe. For comparison's sake, feel free to see the one at Hale Pele that I had a few years ago while at Portland Cocktail Week.
The garnishes on the Penang Afrididi offered pineapple and orange aromas. The fruit notes continued on into the sip with lime and orange flavors, and the swallow gave way into rum, pineapple, and anise spice elements.

Monday, July 27, 2015

the last aviator

3/4 oz New York Distilling Perry Tot's Navy Strength Gin
3/4 oz Tempus Fugit Crème de Violette
3/4 oz Campari
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Honey Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass.

After the seminars on Thursday, I decided to get dinner at Angeline. The night before, I spoke to Christine Nielsen at the Pernod Ricard Welcome Party where she was a shaker girl in the Ramos Gin Fizz room. She mentioned that she was now tending bar at Angeline and working with Boston ex-pat Jeff Grndrich, and that seemed like reason enough to fit a visit into my schedule. For a drink the following night at the restaurant, I asked about the Last Aviator since it looked intriguing yet I was skeptical. Christine replied that she doubted it at first too, but it soon became her favorite on the list. I then recalled the equal parts and crème de violette-laden Blooey Blues from Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 and decided to give it a shot. While the drink started as Jeff's idea, the recipe was a group effort through a few rounds of tasting. I never did ask how close to an Aviation this started with before it took a more Last Word structure.
The Last Aviator proffered a floral and herbal aroma. Next, honey and lime balanced each other on the sip, and juniper, floral, and bitter orange flew through on the swallow. Over time, the balance became a tad sharper when warmer due to the violet, but it was never soapy or off in any other way.

frozen periodista (writers block?)

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XCIX) was picked by the Muse of Doom of the Feu de Vie blog. The theme she chose was "Ice, Ice Baby!" which seemed like a great theme given the rather hot weather. The Muse elaborated on the concept by describing, "And in all this time there hasn’t once been a theme dedicated to that undersung-yet-essential part of nearly any cocktail: ICE. The word says it all. Big ice cubes for Old Fashioneds, pellet ice for juleps and cobblers, shaved ice for adult snowcones, crushed ice molded into a cone for a classic Navy Grog. The art of the blender. Tell us why your selected or invented cocktail needs this particular ice usage. Show us how to make perfectly clear ice at home or what you get to work with as a professional drink-slinger. It doesn't even have to be pure H2O, either. Flavor it up! Teas, juices, liqueurs, bitters, other frozen edible objects serving as ice. Tell us the nuances of a properly-made Il Palio. Show us why a decorative approach takes your recipe to the next level. Whatever tickles your taste buds and refreshes you this summer."

I helped to schedule this event to sweet spot Tales of the Cocktail in the middle of the two week gap between announcement and due date to allow for greater participation. And during Tales of the Cocktail, the answer as to what to do for this theme came to me. At first I figured it was going to be from all of the crazy ice shells and drinks at Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29, but instead it came via Dave Arnold and Philip Duff's talk "Perfect Frozen Drinks: Science and Practice." While various recipes and formula for blender and snow cone drinks were offered, the aspect about how to design drinks for Daiquiri machines caught my attention. However, one ought not just throw a large batch of cocktail into one of those machines without doing two things: a bit of math and some small scale testing, otherwise a lot of product and time will probably be wasted. Drinks definitely do not convert the same from shaken to frozen, and I will cover that talk in greater detail in the next few days.

While most street Daiquiris are in the range of 7% ABV which helps sell them in larger volumes, allows for longer melt times, and keeps them in balance longer, most cocktail bar recipes are in the order of 14-15% ABV. To hit the sweet spot, one needs to follow basic algebra to stay in these guidelines:
14.2-15% ABV
85 grams/liter sugar
0.6-0.9% acid
If you need further explanation, either wait for my future post on this or go out and by Dave Arnold's Liquid Intelligence book immediately. Most alcohol percentages are given on bottles, but liqueur and syrup's sugar amounts can be found in charts online, and most lemon and limes are about 6% acid. While I do not have a $2800 Elmeco machine to make perfect frozen drinks, luckily, the duo proposed making things in Ziploc bags to test in the freezer. And even if I did have a machine, it would be foolish not to do recipe trials in this method. While freezers are -20°C/4°F, these baggy drinks can be replicated in the field and transported using ice and salt freezing methods. Here, I considered a classic Daiquiri to start, but since I can do nothing simple, I went with Boston's favorite Daiquiri variation by way of Cuba, the Periodista. By calculating the amount of booze in the drink, the end volume can be determined. To complicate matters, my liqueurs contained both sugar and alcohol. While extra sugar could be put in with simple syrup, I wanted to pack in the greatest amount of apricot and orange flavor. Of course, those amounts also changed the amount of alcohol and hence final volume. So it took a few extra tries. For a citrus liqueur, I opted for Van der Hum at 10.9 grams sugar per ounce and 50° proof, and Marie Brizard apricot at a similar sugar and 60° proof; note, I am not sure if the values from the online site were entirely accurate. Here is the finished spec that went into the Ziplock back in the freezer:
Frozen Periodista
• 2 oz Caliche Rum (80° proof)
• 0.25 oz Van der Hum
• 0.25 oz Marie Brizard Apricot Liqueur
• 0.93 oz Lime Juice
• 3.04 oz Water
• 2 pinch Salt
Total volume: 6.47 oz
No, my OXO measuring cups are not that accurate, and I decided to try to get close enough instead of getting out my scale and calculating weights by volume intended and density. After mixing, I stuck the bag into the freezer after pushing out most of the air bubbles, and it was ready when I got home after my long bar shift that night. I mashed up the contents in the bag slightly and spooned it into a chilled glass. Save for the garnish, the Frozen Periodista did not have too much aroma. While the sip was indeed lime, the swallow was soft apricot and orange notes. Overall, this frozen drink was pleasant but a bit light on flavor compared to the shaken version. Definitely a more flavorful rum would have helped here. Moreover, the ice crystals seemed a touch coarse, so I am not entirely sure if all my values were correct, or if this was the proper texture for an end result.

So thank you to the Muse of Doom for picking the theme, getting a certain late 1980s song caught in my head, and running the show once again, and thanks to the rest of Mixology Monday for paying tribute to the unsung heroes of the cocktail with this event. Cheers!

:: building and apprenticing your team ::

The last talk that I went to on Thursday at Tales of the Cocktail Week last week was entitled "Building and Apprenticing Your Team" given by Dushan Zaric of Employee's Only, Jonathan Pogash of the Cocktail Guru, Bobby Heugel of the Anvil, Pamela Wiznitzer of Seamstress, and Zdenek Kastanek of 28 Hong Kong Street.

Dushan started the session by describing how human interaction skills are as important as drink making skills, and he pointed out how Harry Johnson had a section in his book on how to train a boy and teach him to be a gentleman as well as how to teach him bar skills. The job is not just physically difficult to stand for 10-12 hours straight but emotionally difficult as well. Overall, it is hard to like people; as a bartender, if you last a year behind the bar means that you like the others on the staff. Moreover, the weakest member of the team is everyone's responsibility. As an aside, Zdenenk stated that bartenders should read newspaper's every day, otherwise, they are not ready for service and not ready to talk to guests.

In hiring, Bobby described that you are not trying to build a roster, but a team. The individuals can have weaknesses if the other teammates can compensate for them. Pam countered that it was not a team, but a family. You need a balance of personalities; two different bartenders put together will learn from each other. And Dushan commented that before you can be a rockstar, you have to be a member of a band.

In being a leader, you have to instill trust. Dushan declared that you have to lead by example. Walk the walk by being the first to show and last to leave and inspire by example. Be open about about your experience and intentions, know your limits and goals, and be genuine and fair. Zdenek followed up by saying that you should share your weaknesses. Jonathan commented on leaving your ego at the door and be willing to host and expedite food as needed. Talented people are open, honest, and do not balk at new experiences or directions.

How do you identify talent? Jonathan pointed out that skills can be trained so snap up talent while you still can. The right candidate will always see the glass as half full, and trust your instincts in hiring. Zdenek followed up by mentioning that you can teach skills but you cannot teach attitude; moreover, if you do not want to go out with them for a beer after the first shift, then it is probably not the right fit. Often, you cannot choose your staff and sometimes you inherit them. Dushan commented that military experience is a good sign for it means that they are housebroken.

If you are on the applying end, Pam pointed out that the resumé is a lost art form. It needs to be updated and include references. As a hiring manager, these references need to be called to figure out what the real story was. Furthermore, a best friend in the industry might not be a good fit for a bar. When staging, talking about cocktails might not get you hired, but asking if guests are being taken care of might. Dushan takes things further by having a three month trial period. During this period, he prefers no complainers; if you are complaining, then you are missing the point. If you cannot do anything about the situation you complain about, do not complain. If you have a better way, a good manager will listen. Complaining is a virus and is infectious. Learn to lose this habit.

In describing the best way to manage, Dushan tries to instill a "pass it on" attitude in teaching what you know to barbacks, stages, and apprentices. As a manager, your job is to be interrupted. Pam brought up the point that a lot of staffs do not get along due to jealousy; while press and interviews can hurt those overlooked, high tides raise all ships.To counter this, instill a positive attitude. To accomplish this, have this attitude yourself -- be kind and considerate, allow your team to build your business, educate and share ideas, welcome feedback, and speak as a friend then as a boss. Jonathan followed with the suggestion of being a good person, both kind and generous, and it will comeback to you. Pam helped clarify by suggesting that you cannot yell ever, especially at your barback. Moreover, Zdenek referenced the John Templeton quite, "It is nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."

Empower your staff. Do not just give direction but tell them that they are doing well. Do not micromanage, but set goals and reward those goals with praise or prizes. Allow creativity to flow and try to be an open book with your staff. Being a camp counselor makes you ready to manage a bar. The power of validation means that you are paying attention, setting a positive tone, and changing everyone's mindset. As a manager, sit down with people and get to know them; perhaps do this before a shift and take 10 minutes to find out who they are and not talk about business in the least. Ask what problems are in the work place and fix them. And if you want to gain respect of your staff especially as a new manager, take barbacking shifts.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

:: all the bar's a stage ::

My first talk on Thursday last week at Tales of the Cocktail was entitled "All the Bar's a Stage: Performance, Bravado, and Theatricality in the Bar" hosted by Steve Schneider of Employees Only, Jack McGarry of Dead Rabbit, Julio Cabrera of Regent Cocktail Club, and Joe McCanta of Grey Goose. In figuring out my schedule, I was considering going to the seminar on flair since I lack any flashy cocktail game. Often times people comment that it looks like I am a scientist behind the bar, and well, it is hard to shake years of training. While I did not want to add a juggling routine, adding some extra panache to my tending could not hurt. So when I spotted this talk that covered this and many other less over the top flashy concepts, I figured that this was the right talk for me to hone in on.

Joe began the talk by explaining why we are discussing performance for it is not the drinks business, it is the experience business. He also riffed off of this famous quote:
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. -- Maya Angelou
If you insert things like "exact drinks" or "the bartender" into the quote, it is not hard to view the night out as entertainment; the third dictionary definition of entertainment is "the action of receiving a guest or guests and providing them with food and drink." Joe followed up that the job is people tenders, not bartenders.

In terms of flair, Steve came from a minor flair background with one of his early thirteen years doing tricks; however, a little tin spin can turn people's heads and elevate their experience. "If a movement catches the attention of the guest -- you've got them. And you gave them some sort of experience." While Jack described how his "Flair bartending career began and ended when I flipped a bottle and clipped a 50 inch tv," watching a video of him bartend shows a lot of captivating movements that can instill confidence in the guest. As Joe commented, engagement with the guest is the most important part of the job. The panel also pointed out that flair was nothing new and cited examples of Jerry Thomas and Harry Johnson being performers and utilizing flair.

Tiki culture took this engagement factor a step further for often drinks were being made behind swinging doors, and much effort was put into presentation, ambiance, and escapism. Indeed, it was important to hide the efforts that went into the drink. Moreover, Don the Beachcomber showed his concern for the guest by limiting the number of Zombies and other drinks they could have. "Zombies are like breasts: 1 is too few, 3 is too many, and 2 is just right."

The presenters then compared the job to a variety of other performers. Actors make people believe and offer escapism. How a bartender presents themselves and dresses sets the stage for when guests enter the bar. Steve commented about the first time he walked into Employees Only and was in awe when he saw the uniforms especially how clean they were. Magicians make people suspend their beliefs. Comedians make people laugh; every bartender should know at least one joke. Moreover, perhaps blue drinks came back in classy hotel bars because it is funny. Musicians make people listen, there is a separation between performer and spectator, and the performance is almost a ceremony. Dancers make people watch, and all the movements behind the bars whether with the bottles and tools or the other bartenders can appear graceful and even choreographed.

Next, they discussed the five rules of the performer. One, know your audience. At Dead Rabbit, the bar resembles a stage and the bartenders are encouraged to move and dress like actors. At Employees Only, behind the bar is elevated so not only is the bartender a bit taller, they can see the crowd. While Dead Rabbit's well is set up like a cockpit to ensure quick fluid movements with lots of eye contact, Employees Only is set up to make the bartenders move to get bottles and other ingredients so that they can interact with more guests throughout the night. The Employees Only service protocol also communicates that the guest is being taken care of. Give the guest a menu first especially when they first walk in - even if you are in the middle of making drinks; this buys you some time and makes sure they know they are in the queue. Once a drink order is taken, set the glass in front of them to tell the guest that this drink is for them and to tell your coworkers that the guest is being taken care of.

The second aspect is the arc of the performance. Jazz musician Miles Davis used to have comedians open up for him because he knew it would help prepare the audience to be receptive to his more challenging musical performance. Overall, always leave the guest wanting more; do not under- or over-saturate them, but leave them wanting to come back. The third aspect is know the tools at your disposal. Use the five senses to illicit emotions in the guest. Make it a rule to have every drink engage at least two of these senses. Remember that the choice of serving vessel can change the way a guest engages with your drink.

Four is how trust is built. Offer recommendations. Keep the guest in a good zone by ordering enough but not too much (see Don's Zombie point above). And always have your perspectives as what is right for you is not necessarily right for the guest. Even if you see absinthe and egg whites every day at work, it is incredibly novel for people. Try to relate and keep your frame of reference. Jack commented that trust is built not by being defensive but by being on the side of the guest to provide the ultimate experience. Furthermore, Steve added that hospitality is making people feel safe which includes people around the guest such as the asshole next to him. And finally five, how to be prepared. Calibrate before the shift to be ready. Train yourself and train your movements to appear effortless. Grooming before the shift and looking your best is crucial. And know your bar, know your spirits, and know your drinks.

One final quote that I left out early was when the panel was describing one word to describe bartending, Steve said patience for "Drunk people are crazy... it takes a lot to relate to them."

dolin blanc cobbler

2 1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Raspberry Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a Cobbler cup filled with crushed ice. Garnish with raspberries and lemon wheel quarters, and add a straw.

After dinner at Cane and Table, I made the trek back to the Modern Hotel to drop off my stuff and prepare for the night's activities. Before going up to the room, I stopped into the hotel bar which happens to be Bellocq from the Cure and Cane and Table folk. One of Bellocq's specialty is Cobblers and I have made a few of their recipes at home; indeed, the fact that Bellocq was in the Modern played a role in my hotel decision making process.
For a drink, I asked bartender Mike for the Dolin Vermouth Blanc Cobbler since I was on a roll with the other Dolin Blanc drink, the Modern Lover, an hour or so before at Cane and Table. Once prepared, it offered a raspberry with fresh lemon bouquet. Next, lemon and light wine notes on the sip showed off wisps of berry flavors, but most of the raspberry came through on the swallow.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

modern lover

1 1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine
6 Mint Leaves

Swizzle or stir with ice to mix and chill in a pilsner glass. Top with 1 oz soda water, garnish with a mint sprig, and add straws.
After the talks on Wednesday, I decided to get dinner at Cane and Table which is one of the establishments along with Bellocq opened by the people who run the Cure since I was last in town. Given the hot weather, I was in the mood for something more refreshing so I opted for the Modern Lover; being a Jonathan Richman fan did not hurt in the decision making process either. Once prepared by bartender Natasha Tattaglia, this low ABV libation greeted me with a great mint aroma. Pomegranate, white wine, and lemon on the sip soon gave way to herbal and mint flavors on the swallow.

:: anthropology of the modern bar ::

For the second talk on Wednesday, I went to the Tales version of TED talks; there, author Jeffrey Kluger's brief talk was so captivating that I decided to change my plans for the third talk that day and go hear the full length talk on the "Anthropology of the Modern Bar" that he was giving along side Diane Smith-Warner and Tristan Stephenson.

The bar serves as a meeting place, for "drinking is a social, rather than an anti-social act" (Mitchell & Armstrong) and "drinking is a social activity in the company of others; it is considered inappropriate and suspicious if one drinks alone" (Zhang, Man, Lee). Moreover, society needs a place for this to happen as "drinking does not, in any society, take place 'just anywhere,' and most cultures have specific, designated environments for communal drinking" (SIRC). In Ray Oldenburg's The Great Good Place, it defines the third space in terms of community, where the first space is domestic (home), the second is gainful or productive (work), and the third is social. This third space is a neutral ground where one can come and go; it needs to have accessibility, regulars, and a freedom for playfulness. The pub is not "home," but expresses a sense of homeliness, warmth, and feeling of "my local," and it allows one to recharge oneself.

The bartender can be viewed as one part medicine man and one part law giver. While bartenders serve customers, there is indeed something subordinate about the role, but just as the mayor of a town serves the citizens, we have no question as to who is in authority. We are more likely to surrender authority and autonomy to a person in power when they have a certain skill like a doctor and when they are dressed differently like a judge. Bartending is certainly a skill and often times bartenders dress in a different and identifiable way. The bartender has an ad hoc legal authority to serve a guest or not, call the police, eject guests, etc. One of the particular skills of a bartender is to produce something to put into one's body to alter one's state of consciousness, and it is an intimate skill that requires trust to ingest. At times, medicine men encouraged drunken binges to express emotions and society forgave it if it was through this authority. Similarly, a good bartender will know the difference between an animated discussion and something that can spin out of control. To this topic, Kluger referenced Al Sotack's article in Vice's Munchies on when as a bartender to be inhospitable to a guest; even though bartenders are in the hospitality industry, they are responsible to be inhospitable to rule breakers.

The talk moved on to how the bar can often be sexually charged and part of the mating ritual. Bars promote this with dim lighting, proximity, and the serving of dis-inhibiting substances. Society tacitly agrees on this and there is a certain presumption that sexual seeking is in play, and alcohol promotes people to be more bold especially in a space with increased physical intimacy. In bars, women generally arrive in groups to protect themselves against overly aggressive men. On the other hand, men often travel in groups that harks back to tribalism. Here, social order and status are maintained and decisions are made of what other tribes to interact with. In addition, beta males are enhanced by hanging out with alpha males including trickle down effect in terms of mates that the alpha male rejects. Indeed, this boils down to sperm being cheap and a highly devalued currency, whereas ova are expensive and women require more information than men before acting and mating selectively.

On New York City subways, there is a campaign about "manspreading" -- the act of taking up more than one seat by spreading the legs in a show of dominance as well as perhaps a primal sexual display of naughty bits. In bars, broad gesturing with the hands is a way of claiming turf. Moreover, volume by way of talking or laughing loudly is a way of claiming this by way of the auditory space.

In drinking society, it is awkward when things are not reciprocated. When the bartender informs the guest that they no longer want to do business with them, the unruly guest will reel it back in to try to regain status with the bartender. Or in toasting when it is bad form to toast too early or too late, with an empty glass, with something nonalcoholic, etc.; everyone is drinking the same drink and the same volume to show that there is no ill will. Not only are bonding gestures great if reciprocated and awkward if not, it is especially awkward if one of the parties is drunk and the other is not. In the company of others, memories like watching certain news or sporting events become stronger. Overall, we come to a bar to bond for it stimulates the warmth of family.

Friday, July 24, 2015

:: on creating cocktail citrates & elixirs ::

The first talk I attended at Tales of the Cocktail last week was on utilizing citrates to mimic or bolster citrus flavors and crispness in drinks. The talk consisted of Bitter Cube Bitters members Nick Kosevich, Ira Kolowitz, Mike McDonald, and Marco Zappia, as well as Bombay brand ambassador Gary Hayward. The idea for this talk stemmed from the lime crisis of 2014. As availability dropped and prices went up, Marco began to focus on cutting costs such as by peeling limes and creating oleosaccharums to capture lime essences. Once this process started, it led him down the rabbit hole of re-engineering lime juice with acids and balancing with sugar content. It also led to studying when citrus goes bad and how to counteract this.

While citrus is an integral part of many cocktails and mixed drinks (even non-juice ingredients like Campari, vermouth, and gin contain citrus elements), fresh citrus is inconsistent in flavor and cost at different times of the year. Moreover, changes over time after squeezing will create off flavors in the juice. The par system of juicing in advance promotes waste once the excess goes bad; however, squeezing to order is more prone to fruit-to-fruit variation. Here, a mnemonic wrapped in a fart joke was posted "from age, ruined taste and sourness." Fresh citrus has a decay nature with a stunning change occurring over the first 24 hours. Over time, the pH rises, the brix (or sugar content) falls, and organic compounds (such as aromas) change and degrade.

This is where citrates can come to the rescue. These acids can replace or reduce the amount of citrus in drinks. Some useful tools in this quest are a $100 refractometer to determine brix content accurately and a pH meter to determine acid content. While a lot of this can be done without these tools, they will allow for consistency of syrups that will allow for easy swapping into drink skeletons to make a wide variety of different drinks. For example, an ounce of lemon or lime juice or an equivalent citrate will be balanced by an ounce of 50 brix simple syrup.

Oleosaccharums are a historical technique dating back to the 17th century to assemble punches. With food oils (such as citrus peel oils) being the "oleo," the sugar being the "saccharum" can extract and stabilize these aromatics. While citrus peels can be placed in sugar for a few hours to extract, this process is sped up in a food processor to chop up the peels into a higher surface area mix. Oleosaccharums are not just for citrus peels but for any high water content fruits such as berries and melons especially those where heat creates off flavors; furthermore, herbs such as mint and rosemary work well in this technique (as long as the mint is removed after 1 hour before it browns and as long as the rosemary is left to extract for longer time periods such as 12+ hours). Oleosaccharums provide for a longer shelf life than pureeing and putting into sugar and alcohol which still allows for degradation.
A citrate is essentially a sour mix of water, sugar, and acids. Instead of pure citric acid, a mix of 95% citric acid, 4% malic acid, and 1% sodium citrate was recommended. In order to further mimic lime juice, a mouthfeel agent such as tapioca starch to give a heavy and weighty feel can work; others will use a touch of pulp. In addition, natural oils such as those aroma compounds extracted in the oleo process will help.

Citrates are rather important not just in lime crisis but in bottling and kegging cocktails since fruit juice decays over time. In creating a cocktail, 18 brix seemed to be the perfect sugar level. For example, 1.75 parts spirit, 2.75 parts citrate, and 1.25 parts water achieves this ratio. The kegged cocktail has quickly become the modern day punch and offers fast, efficient, consistent, and cost-effective options. Citrates are rather good for carbonation, for unlike juice, they have no sediment that can also act as nucleation points for CO2 gas. In carbonation, very cold starting temperatures are ideal as well as pressurizing and releasing cycles. There are ways of weighing the grams of CO2 per liter, and monitoring this can achieve consistency. Carbonating the whole kit and caboodle also allows for greater carbonation; in certain drinks such as the French 75, only 1/3 to 1/2 of the volume is carbonated, while a carbonated French 75 can be done completely.

pontchartrain pearl diver

After returning back from the Cure, I popped my head into Latitude 29 for my first visit of many. As a starter, it was recommended that I begin with the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver which was Beachbum Berry's New Orleans-themed variation on the Pearl Diver Punch crafted by Don the Beachcomber circa 1937. The description read, an "iced buttered rum: our house butter spice mix blended with passion fruit, lime, and Jamaican rum." While the staff was not very giving with this recipe, I luckily had JFL of Rated R Cocktails on hand. Besides being a Tiki aficionado, blogger, and bartender, JFL has tasted his way through the Latitude 29 menu and had a good grasp to what ingredients the bar might use. The original recipe lacks passion fruit, and JFL declared that it was unlikely that they would change the sweet to sour balance by using passion fruit syrup; he had also confirmed by asking Beachbum that the bar does indeed carry passion fruit purée.
The original calls for a 2:1 ratio of gold Puerto Rican rum to Demerara Rum. While it is possible that the Jamaican rum here replaced both rums in the original, JFL thought that you would still need the Demerara rum to balance rum flavors (he also thought that it was possible that it was all 3 rums in a blend). Finally, Beachbum mentioned that there was some molecular techniques in the spiced butter batter, but I did not pursue this aspect. Since Sippin' Safari mentions that the Pearl Diver butter mix must stay room temperature (and ice added last) to prevent it from seizing up, perhaps there was some emulsifying agent added to keep it a bit more liquidy and pliable in a cold, food-safe temperature. With all these clues, here is how I would modify everything (save for the butter mix issue):
Pontchartrain Pearl Diver
1 1/2 oz Jamaican Rum (such as Appleton Special)
3/4 oz Demerara Rum
1 oz Orange Juice
3/4 oz Lime juice
3/4 oz Pearl Diver's Mix (*)
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Purée
1 tsp Falernum
Add the mix first, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Add 6 oz crushed ice last and blend for 20 seconds. Pour into a Pearl Diver glass, add an ice ball and straw, and garnish with an orchid and plaintain leaf.
(*) Cream 1 oz softened sweet butter, 1 oz orange blossom honey, 1 tsp cinnamon syrup, 1/2 tsp vanilla syrup, 1/2 tsp allspice dram
Regardless of the mystery, the end result was stunning to both the eye and the palate. On the nose, floral aromas from the orchid mingled with spice notes from the syrups and liqueurs. Next, the sip was rich and laden with lime, passion fruit, and honey flavors, and the swallow shared smooth but slightly funky Jamaican rum notes along with a smattering of spice.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

beyond the infinite

1 oz Bonal Gentiane-Quinquina
1/2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice; both of these were not full length intentionally. Strain into a Fizz glass topped with 1/2 oz soda water. Garnish with a spritz of Angostura Bitters.
For a second drink at the Cure, I opted for the Beyond the Infinite by bartender Turk Dietrich that was described as "A light herbal riff on a classic Whiskey Fizz." Perhaps I was drawn in by the fact that Turk had created this one or perhaps by the name which was reminiscent of others such as their Drink of Laughter and Forgetting. Interesting, the largest spirituous component was Bonal with whiskey only playing a supporting backbone role here. On the nose, the Angostura Bitters garnish contributed clove and cinnamon notes. While the sip was creamy lemon and orange with a hint of fizz, the swallow presented grape with a hint of whiskey along with a bitter and citrus finish.

like cockatoos

1 oz Smith & Cross Rum
3/4 oz Bigallet China-China Amer Liqueur
1/4 oz Demerara Syrup
1/2 Lemon (cubed)
1/2 Strawberry

Muddle the lemon pieces and strawberry, shake with ice, and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Add straws, garnish with an orange twist, and mist with 7 spritzes of Angostura Bitters.

Like my three previous Tales of the Cocktails, I spent Tuesday night making the pilgrimage to Freret Street to get drinks at the Cure. Given the name, it was bound to happen -- a drink at the Cure named after a song by the Cure. This one was dubbed after one of my favorites from Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and was created by bartender Braden LaGrone. The Like Cockatoos was very Cobbler-esque save for the stronger spirits and perhaps the lack of crushed ice.
The orange twist on the Like Cockatoos was reminiscent of the parrot's head plumage and it contributed to the drink's aroma along with the Angostura Bitters' clove and other spice notes. On the palate, caramel and orange on the sip gave way to funk rum and Pimm's-like flavors on the swallow.

:: best of tales and nola 2015 ::

I got home Monday night from Tales of the Cocktail, and soon after had to work two full shifts at work, so today is the first time I can sit down and compose my thoughts about a jam-packed week where I attended a dozen talks, lots of liquor-brand sponsored parties, and other events as well as roamed the city for good food and drink. I figured that I would start with my favorite parts of official Tales events and then mention my favorite parts of New Orleans this year.

Stressing hospitality: While there were plenty of seminars on technique and history, there were many on not only bartender-guest interactions but that of restaurant/bar staff with each other. While I did not hear key note speaker Danny Meyer speak, plenty of others also dealt with this topic. Pamela Wiznitzer during All the Bar is a Stage stressed hospitality by starting with not superstar bartenders but by choosing a "family" that supports each other as well as the guests. During Strong Opinions, Erick Castro retold a story where one of his bartenders asked if and where he should get a second job; he surprised the bartender by not mentioning another craft bar but a "Sports bar. You learn how to get regulars to see you, not your new amaro and gadgets."

Bumping into old friends: I am glad that I had the opportunity to run into my first bar mentor, Sam Gabrielli. I remember some of the early advice that Sam gave me related to the above hospitality point, but Sam said it so eloquently with, "Don't be an asshole!" (before explaining it better, that is). I also got to meet up with my old Cocktails in the Country roommate Christopher James, and I had a chance to hangout over beers and later interview writer-blogger Paul Clarke (not over beers). While most of our interactions have been via blogging, it still truly feels like hanging out with an old friend while with Paul, and it is a pleasure to hear his positive outlook on life (hint: buy his new book).
Tiki culture: Tiki played a big role this year with one of the social nexuses of the event being Beachbum Berry's new Latitude 29 restaurant. There were also pop-up bars with offerings from Paul McGee of Lost Lake and Martin Cate of Smugglers Cove. The Tiki crowd's joyous energy and serious yet not pretentious attitude was much appreciated.

The Daiquiri Time Out makes even bigger waves as it drives off that bridge: Andrew Deitz has taken the Daiquiri Time Out phenomenon from a personal pastime to larger one with events at Boston Thirst. This year, the DTO stepped up from being a Boston thing to a national or international one as Tales of the Cocktail threw a large DTO-themed event with rum and cachaça producers paying tribute.

Randomness at sponsored parties: The Hendricks Gin area of the William and Grant party was indeed surreal and absurd. Another of my favorites was the 610 Stompers, a bunch of in and out of shape hipsters who do choreographed (but not necessarily well synchronized) dance routines for Mardi Gras and other, and last week they performed at the Bacardi event. And at the Diageo "Backyard House Party" (which was held in a large warehouse), there was a mechanical bull. Matt Schrage pulled me in line; while there is no video of Matt since he split his pants getting onto the bull and left, Ben Sandrof shot this clip. I never appreciated how hard it would be to get on the bull, but enjoy:

More nonalcoholic and low ABV beverages options: Everything from Perfect Puree smoothie bars which came in handy when I did not have time for breakfast were probably much better for me than some of the boozy early morning booths from previous events. Bars and events definitely seemed to have more low alcohol offerings so that you could keep drinking tasty beverages without being wrecked for the following day's activities. Cobblers were big as were other vermouth and fortified wine-based concoctions. And for Pig and Punch this year, the heat index was at 108°F which made it too hot for me to drink sweet punches, so I stuck to the nonalcoholic offerings to prevent myself from sweating myself into dehydration.
The beer scene: Before departing for Tales, I messaged Avery Glasser of the Bittermens for beer bar suggestions. His trio was the Avenue Pub, Courtyard Brewpub, and Barrel Proof (more of a whiskey bar with beer). The Avenue Pub was a 24 hour craft beer bar near where I was staying that did it all with great hospitality whether during the dayshift hanging out with bartender Meriam or during the graveyard shift for a nightcap. When I finished my hat trick of suggestions at the brewpub and tweeted it, the brewer found me and offered me a tour and a few tastes of his new beers. A little less formal of a tip is Sidney's on Decatur Street -- a store with a great single can selection which made for great street beverages while walking around.

Latitude 29: Yes, I already mentioned this place in the Tiki part above, but it was the only other place besides the Avenue Pub that I returned multiple times (save for Cane & Table, but the second and third times were for pop-up events). Whether it was watching Beachbum Berry garnishing drinks or having the staff know my name by the second visit, I was definitely impressed. Beautiful drinks and decor definitely made for this to be a major hangout spot during Tales.
Bar Tonique: Sunday night there was an official tour of Cure and other bars on Freret Street, but I had already been there on Tuesday and lacked the energy to make it out there again. So like 2011, I spent Sunday night on Rampart Street at Bar Tonique. I met a lot of people including some bartenders that I will be at my Camp Runamok session in September. I also got a tour of other industry bars on the street from Trader Dick of Tujaques. But overall, it was great to spend the last night in a low key setting with well made drinks.

sanlucar sling

2 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 oz Nocino Walnut Liqueur
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with a wide lemon twists and 2 dashes Fee's Walnut Bitters and 1 dash Angostura Bitters, and add a straw.
For a second drink at Estragon, I was curious about one of the two recipes that Sahil crafted for the Heering Sling competition this year. The one that called out to me took a nuttier approach with amontillado sherry and walnut flavors called the Sanlucar Sling. Sanlucar is in the northwest part of Cadiz and is one of the better amontillado sherry producing regions in Spain. In the glass, the Sling offered lemon and hints of Angostura spice to the nose. A crisp lemon and grape sip transitioned to a nutty sherry, walnut, and cherry swallow, and I was impressed at how the other ingredients tamed the large amount in Cherry Heering in the recipe.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


1 oz Mezcal
1 oz Lustau Oloroso Sherry
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Cynar
1 dash Orange Bitters
1 pinch Salt

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Two Mondays ago, Andrea and I headed down to Estragon for dinner right before I left to go to Tales of the Cocktail the next morning. For a first drink, I looked in bartender Sahil Mehta's notebook and spotted an unnamed mezcal, sherry, and amaro cocktail that seemed rather intriguing. The original called for Ramazzotti which the bar just ran out of, so Sahil substituted an equivalent amount of Cynar as well as a dash of orange bitters. Indeed, I was definitely curious to see how a pinch of salt here modified the two amari's bitterness.
Lacking a name, I dubbed this one the Chipilo after a city in Puebla, Mexico, that was founded by Italian immigrants in 1882 and still has a large Italian population that speak Venetian dialects. Once in a glass, this offered an orange oil and smoke aroma. Grape and caramel on the sip slid into smoky mezcal, orange, and herbal flavors on the swallow. With the salt, the Campari was more orange than bitter and the Cynar was more herbal than funky vegetal, and the whole balance was a bit more savory.


1 oz Aged Caribbean Rum (Plantation 5 Year Barbados)
1 oz Cachaça (Cuca Fresca) (*)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Orgeat
6 drop Absinthe (Herbsaint)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a Tiki mug or Double Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprigs.
(*) Can substitute another sugar cane eau de vie like Rhum Agricole.

After wrapping up my last bar shift before Tales of the Cocktail, I needed to celebrate with a drink. After flipping through Beachbum Berry's Remixed, I got frustrated and decided to act on a Mai Tai variation idea of mine that called for passion fruit syrup instead of triple sec. Moreover, I wanted to add light touches of absinthe and Angostura Bitters spice to the mix to give the drink further depth. For rums, I split the difference with a dark rich rum and a grassy cachaça. As a name, I decided to keep the lingual roots of the Mai Tai and went with the Tahitian word for "Cheers!/To your health!", Manuia (Mah-nwee-ah).
On the way home, I discovered a new nocturnally flowering plant to aid in my late night garnish experiments. Once in place, it added to the floral notes that supplemented the mint aromas of the Manuia. Lime, passion fruit, and caramel on the sip set the stage for grassy rum, nutty orgeat, passion fruit, and spice on the swallow. Definitely the passion fruit took the drink in a different and more complex direction that triple sec does in the classic by taking over both the sip and swallow; plus, the added spice elements donated a decent amount of complexity here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

blackbeard's ghost

1 1/2 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Falernum (BG Reynolds)
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
1/2 oz Demerara Rum (Lemon Hart 151)
1 1/2 oz Light Virgin Island Rum (Denizen)
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and pour into a Double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange slice speared to a cherry with a pirate flag pick.

Two Saturdays ago, I stayed with my post-shift Tiki trend and turned to Beachbum Berry's Remixed for some more rum and garnish fun. The Blackbeard's Ghost seemed like a good variation on the flavors in the previous night's Rum Keg. This drink recipe was based on the Pirate's Grog from Blackbeard's Galley in Newport Beach, California; while there is no date associated with the original libation, the Galley gave up the ghost in the 1980s. I wrote about one of the drink's predecessors that called for sour mix that appeared in Beachbum's Grog Log when I had it made for me by Brother Cleve back in 2011. While I have seen pirate boat garnishes before, I was inspired by an Instagram from the night before from Tom Grayling; however, I did not set this boat on fire like he did in the next Instagram shot.
After the ship was sailing, the Blackbeard's Ghost gave forth orange and mint aromas. Orange, apricot, and caramel on the sip pleasantly shifted to a rum, apricot, clove, and lime peel swallow.

rum keg

4 oz Lemon Juice (2 oz)
2 oz Pineapple Juice (1 oz)
1 oz Apricot Liqueur (1/2 oz Rothman & Winter)
1 oz Passion Fruit Syrup (1/2 oz)
1 oz Simple Syrup (1/2 oz)
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (1/2 oz Coruba)
5 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum (2 1/2 oz Caliche)

Blend 20 seconds with 16 oz of crushed ice and pour either into a communal keg or individual barrel mugs to serve 2-4 people. Here, I halved the ingredients to serve 1 person; moreover, I shook with ice cubes and strained over crushed ice instead of blending. I garnished with mint and trumpet vine flowers.
Two Fridays ago after my shift, I turned once again to Beachbum Berry's Remixed and found myself in a section of communal drinks offered by Trader Vic restaurants. The one that called out to me that night was the Rum Keg from the 1950s. Since 6 ounces of rum seemed a bit daunting as I could not rouse Andrea from sleep with the call of "Tiki-Tiki," I therefore, halved the recipe for personal consumption. In the keg (or the best I could do with a keg-like Tiki mug), it shared a mint and floral aroma. Tart lemon and orchard fruit on the sip led into rum, passion fruit, apricot, and pineapple on the swallow. Overall, it was an easy fruit-driven drink with no one fruit flavor taking dominance here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

bourbon swizzle

2 oz Evan Williams Bonded Bourbon (Fighting Cock 103)
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup (BG Reynolds)
1/4 oz Don's Spices (equal parts allspice dram and vanilla syrup)

Build in a Collins glass, fill with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Garnish with mint and freshly grated nutmeg.
Two Thursdays ago, I had spotted an article in ChilledMagazine about Chicago Tiki star Paul McGee and his love of Swizzles. The one that I could make with in-house ingredients was his Bourbon Swizzle. Once prepared, it offered a spiced aroma from the fresh nutmeg covering the mint leaves. Next, a lemon, orange, and malt sip gave way to a Bourbon, allspice, vanilla, and cinnamon swallow. With enough but not too much spice notes to keep things interesting, it would not be out of place though with a lover of classic Whiskey Sours.

locked up abroad

3/4 oz Batavia Arrack (*)
1/2 oz Giffard Lychee Liqueur (**)
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
1 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Bittermens Tiki Bitters

Build in a Collins glass, fill with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Garnish with 2-3 dash Peychaud's Bitters and add a straw.
(*) I recommend doubling this amount.
(**) If unavailable, sub a lychee syrup.
The drink that Andrea requested at the Grange in Providence was the Locked Up Abroad which was one of their Tiki offerings. Once prepared, the Swizzle offered an anise aroma from the Peychaud's Bitters garnish. Lime and lychee notes on the sip gave way to lime, clove, and almond flavors. The Batavia Arrack was surprisingly subtle here; perhaps doubling the amount would make it more prominent in the mix as well as help to take the sweetness of the drink down a notch.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

war of 1672

1 1/2 oz Bols Genever
3/4 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/2 oz Bigallet Viriana China China Liqueur
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a cherry.

For our anniversary dinner, Andrea and I made the trek down to the Grange in Providence to have dinner. For a first drink, I asked for the War of 1672. The bartender confirmed that it was their Genever Brooklyn riff, and besides the spirits change, they swapped blanc for the classic's dry vermouth and added Angostura Bitters to the mix. Given the spirits origin, I am assuming that the War of 1672 is the Dutch War or Franco-Dutch War. Perhaps this is a drink for helping to forget as 1672 is often referred to by the Dutch as Het Rampjaar or the year of disaster. However, there is a strong Dutch connection to Brooklyn considering that the borough was settled by the Dutch and named after Breukelen in the Netherlands.
The War of 1672 offered up a malty aroma with hints of cherry which prepared the mouth for the caramel, cherry, and malty sip. The swallow though was full of herbal, quinine, nutty cherry, and dark orange flavors with a clove, wormwood, and drying spice finish. Overall, it was more robustly flavored than I recall Brooklyns being perhaps by the fullness of the Genever and the increased quantity of the Picon aspect.

city of gold sling

1 1/2 oz Hayman's Old Tom Gin
1/2 oz El Dorado 12 Year Rum (Plantation 5 Year Barbados)
3/4 oz Donn's Mix #2 (3/8 oz each vanilla syrup and allspice dram)
1 dash Absinthe (1 barspoon Herbsaint)
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Orgeat (Ferrara Orzata)
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a Highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.

After the Brandy Julep, I turned to Death & Co. Cocktail Book for something to round out the night. I was definitely in the mood for something juice driven, and I landed in the shaken gin chapter. There, I found Joaquin Simo's City of Gold Sling that he crafted as a Singapore Sling variation back in 2009. Perhaps I should have dug out the bottle of El Dorado 12 Year from the back of the rum shelf for this drink, since the name is appropriate as El Dorado was the mythical "city of gold" in South America.
The Sling shared a mint aroma from the garnish. Caramel from the rum joined lime and pineapple flavors on the sip, and the swallow began with more rum notes as well as juniper, allspice, anise, and vanilla. Definitely a lot more spice-forward of a Singapore Sling variation than most but equally as refreshing.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

brandy julep no. 2

1/2 bar glass Brandy (2 oz Pedro Domecq Brandy de Jerez)
Juice 1/2 Orange (1 oz Orange Juice)
1 tsp Sugar
2 dash Crème de Vanilla or Cacao (1/4 oz Navan, 1/4 oz Marie Brizard Crème de Cacao)

Shake with ice and strain into a Highball glass. Ornament with fruit and mint, and serve with straws.

Two Tuesdays ago, we began the cocktail hour with a recipe I spotted in the Wild West Bartenders' Bible from Louis' Mixed Drinks from 1906 called the Brandy Julep #2. Here, the mint in the Julep was ornamental and perhaps the flavored syrup to make it a Julep was from the vanilla and/or chocolate. While not as distant from the classic Mint Julep as the mint-free Pineapple Julep, I have definitely made and had my share of non-muddled mint (but garnished with mint) Juleps such as the Pontarlier and Cynar Juleps where there was already some herbal element in the mix.
The Brandy Julep proffered a mint and orange aroma. A sweet floral orange sip gave way to sherry brandy flavors on the swallow and an elegant vanilla and chocolate finish.

mari koriko

1 1/2 oz Zacapa Rum (Goslings)
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 oz Falernum
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wheel, candied pineapple, and a cherry (here, garnished with mint sprigs and ornamental pea plant blossoms).
Two Mondays ago after my bar shift, I turned to a recipe that I had spotted on ShakeStir by Sean Dumke of Seattle's Knee High Stocking Co. called the Mari-Koriko. The drink was named after the Maiori lore for the woman that married Tiki. Once mixed, it offered a mint and floral aroma. Caramel from the rum was balanced by crisp lime on the sip, and the swallow was an elegant medley of dark rum, cherry, pineapple, and clove flavors. Overall, it was rather Singapore Sling-like in feel despite not being a tall drink lightened by soda water.

Friday, July 17, 2015

chief lapu lapu

1 1/2 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba)
1 1/2 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum (Caliche)
3 oz Orange Juice
2 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice and pour into a large snifter glass. Top with ice.

After Yacht Rock Sunday two weekends ago, it was time to pamper myself with some Tiki. When I turned to Beachbum Berry's Remixed, I found the Chief Lapu Lapu which was a communal drink for 2 or more that appeared to me like a gussied up Hurricane. The drink celebrates the Lapu Lapu in the Philippines who defeated Magellan and his men using only knives against Magellan's gunpowder weaponry. The Lapu Lapu were Muslim and they did not want to be converted to Christianity, so what better way to pay tribute with something boozy that they would most likely not want to touch? Berry was able to trace back the drink to Polynesian restaurant menus in the 1950s, and of the three recipes given, I opted for the standard mid-century version.
The Chief Lapu Lapu presented a mint and floral scent. A tart orange, passion fruit, and lemon sip set the tropical theme rather well. And the swallow continued on with more passion fruit flavors, the rums, and floral notes from perhaps the passion fruit itself. Overall, it was a lot more complex than a Hurricane.