Monday, July 27, 2015

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!

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