Monday, April 27, 2020

Loaded Dice

This was my entry for the Patron Perfectionists Tour. It really is about consistency in the culinary and beverage world and how fresh ingredients are wildly inconsistent. This cocktail was my attempt to help flatten the curve. 

1.5 oz. Patron Reposado
0.5 oz. Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro
0.75 oz. Acid Adjusted Pineapple juice
0.75 oz. Orange Blossom Honey Syrup

Add all the ingredients to a shaker tin. Add ice and shake thoroughly. Double strain into a large rocks glass with a large carved cube.

To make Acid Adjusted Pineapple Juice:
To every 100g pineapple juice add 4.5g citric acid and 0.7g malic acid. Stir vigorously to dissolve the powder. Shake the solution lightly before each use.

To make Honey Syrup:
Mix Dutch Gold Orange Blossom Honey with an equal weight of boiling water and stir until uniform.

This drink was inspired by the randomness or rather lack of predictability, of every molecule. The fermentation tanks of the Patron distillery are open and surrounded by countless varieties of plant life which produce different strains of wild yeast. Each strain will produce a different character. Even every piece of fruit will be unique. Two pineapples from the same tree can have wildly different sugar contents and acidity. This just won't do for a competition called Perfectionist. I aim to erase chance and balance flavors as I see fit. Craft comes from taking what nature gives you and using it to put out a consistent quality product.

The Dutch Gold Honey comes from a local apiary as well.

Dream Maker in the Sky

This is one of the many many drinks I came up with for the Chilled Toast the Industry competition. It was a very smart idea to have a competition during the quarantine. Bartenders made up to 50 unique cocktails for this one using a huge range of spirits from 10 different brands. Scapegrace is an interesting gin from New Zealand, and I love any gin that does a Navy Strength. 

1 oz. Scapegrace Gold
0.5 oz. Luxardo Bitter Bianco
0.5 oz. Triple Sec (Combier)
1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
0.5 oz. Simple Syrup (1:1)
1 Large Egg White
Orange Bitters

Add all the ingredients aside from the bitters to a shaker tin without ice. Dry shake vigorously, add ice, hard shake even more vigorously until the drink is chilled and foamy. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Add a few drops of bitters on top of the foam for garnish and aromatics.

This started as a navy strength Negroni Sour but I really wanted to bring out the lemon, orange, and dried tangerine in the gin. The vermouth got swapped for orange liqueur. Luxardo Bitter Bianco has always acted as a better balancing agent for softer flavors than the more aggressive Campari or Suze. Also, it gives a pretty white color you don't see in a lot of cocktails.  The name "Dream Maker in the Sky" comes from a song called "No Hopers, Jokers, and Rogues". A Scapegrace is a rogue. I think it fits.

"Come all you no hopers, you jokers and rogues
We're on the road to nowhere, let's find out where it goes
It might be a ladder to the stars, who knows?
Come all you no hopers, you jokers and rogues"
- Fisherman's Friends

Monday, January 20, 2020

New Blood

This is a cocktail I made for the Make It Exotico Competition. It's a lovely balance of sweet, bitter, and sour. It's fairly low alcohol by volume compared to a lot of my other cocktails. Nothing too complicated or fancy. All the ingredients are readily available at any liquor or grocery store. cheers. 

1 1/2 oz. Exotico Blanco
1/2 oz. Cynar
1/2 oz. Grapefruit Juice
1/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz. Agave Nectar
3/4 oz. Blood Orange Soda

Add all the ingredients aside from the soda to a mixing tin with ice. Shake until well chilled. Double strain into a large rocks or collins glass with ice. Top with the blood orange soda. Garnish with a quarter slice of grapefruit.

Upon recent reflection, I'm starting to see why this kind of cocktail doesn't garner much attention. It's not incorporating some exotic juice or homemade syrup or liqueur. That said it's actually pretty tasty and very easy for a home bartender to whip up at home or even batch into a punch.

"They drew first blood!"
- Frank Reynolds

Friday, January 17, 2020

Cockney Stairs

This was my entry for Bombay Sapphire's Most Imaginative Bartender competition a few years ago. I just never got around to posting it. It really is just a touch of English time in a cocktail. Not the most imaginative thing I've ever done but it is a pretty tasty drink. It's definitely better as a batched drink. 

1/8th Honeycrisp Apple
1/8th Red Delicious Apple
1/8th Bartlett Pear
1/8th Starkrimson Pear
15 Black Peppercorns
5 Cardamom Pods
4 Allspice Berries
1 Star Anise Pod
1 1/2 oz. Bombay Sapphire
1/2 oz. Raw Honey
4 1/2 oz. Hot Water
1 1/2 oz. Whole Milk

Using a mortar and pestle, pulverize the peppercorn, cardamom, allspice, and anise. Dice the apples and pears. Bring water to a boil. Add 4 1/2 oz. of the water and all the other ingredients aside from the milk and gin to a french press coffee maker. Stir lightly and apply the cap. Froth the milk using a steamer or motorized frother. Add the gin to an Irish coffee glass. Once the cocktail has steeped for approximately 2 minutes strain the cocktail into the glass. Top with the frothy milk.

The inspiration for this drink was a trend I've seen in coffee shops repurposing their tools. I've seen coffee shops use a milk steamer to make hot chocolate and even small servings of mulled wine. The heat helps the infusion process and aromatics. A go-to nightcap of a friend is boiling water, with a lemon peel, and just a touch of gin. I decided to take the flavors just a little further with some juicy, sweet, and floral apples and pears along with some spices. Adding some warm milk turns this drink adds a touch of British heritage, softening out any intense edges that may have over intensified in the infusion process, as if you were having a nice midday tea. 

The name come from cockney rhyming slang where one would use phrases like "Apples and Pears" to replace works like "Stairs". There is some peculiarity in that the phrase "Apples and pears" became so widely known to people who didn't understand cockney slang it's actually fallen out of fashion. 

Excerpt from Austin Powers Goldmember:
Nigel: Don't you remember the crimbo din-din we had with the grotty Scots bint?
Austin: Oh, the one that was all sixes and sevens!
Nigel: Yeah, yeah, she was the trouble and strife of the Morris dancer what lived up the apples and pears!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Garden of the Butterflies

This was the first cocktail I got on the menu at my old job at Royal Boucherie in Old City, Philadelphia. It was a staple on the summer cocktail menu and stayed there for a bit over 3 months. It was a lovely refreshing floral take on a margarita. 

1.5 Tequila
0.5 Lemon Sage Shrub
0.5 Fresh Lime Juice
0.5 St Germain
Butterfly Pea Tea

Add the tequila, shrub, juice, and liqueur to a shaker tin. Shake with ice and strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice. Top with butterfly pea tea.

To make Butterfly Pea Tea:
Add 24 flowers to a quart container. Fill the container with boiling water. Let that sit for 3 minutes. Strain out the flowers and press them to extract all the tea.

To make Lemon Sage Shrub:
Slice a series of lemons into a fish tray with the skin on. Cover the lemons with white sugar in equal weight to the weight of the lemons in layers making sure to fully coat the lemons on all sides. Toss in one sprig of sage for every 2 lemons. Let that sit overnight to extract the oil from the lemon skin. Add champagne vinegar to the mixture in equal weight to the lemons and sugar. muddle the lemons slightly to extract the juice. Add the mixture to a pan on low heat. muddle and mix until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is uniform. Run through a chinois and mash the solids to extract all the liquid possible. Store in an airtight refrigerated space.

The inspiration for this really came out of nowhere. My fiance lovely very citrusy cocktails. I wanted a citrusy floral cocktail. I played with gin at first but tequila or sotol really made the drink pop a bit more and stand out from some other generic floral gin cocktails. The pea tea adds a bit of tannin but the real selling point is the color. We had some St. Germain branded glassware which made this cocktail look just like a flower and its stem. It happened a lot where I would make one of these and it would catch the eye of someone at the bar and then that's 3 more drinks to make.

"We must cultivate our own garden. When man was put in the garden of Eden he was put there so that he should work, which proves that man was not born to rest."
- Voltaire

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Whisky 202: Scotch, What's the difference?

There are two main things to look at when reading a scotch label. The first is whether or not the whiskey is a blend or a single malt. The second is what region the whiskey was made in. In some blends, this will be less relevant but if it's listed it can tell you a lot about the whisky.

Single Malt Scotch is pretty simple, albeit strict in terms of production standards. Single Malt Scotch is a scotch whisky that is made at a single distillery and made of malted barley and no other grains. It does also have to follow the legal standards of being a Scotch, of course. Strict and to the point. Grain Whisky is very similar to single malt whisky, except it uses a grain other than barley, typically wheat or corn. Blended Malt Whisky is a whisky made of at least two different single malt whiskies mixed together. Blended Scotch is a blend of any number of single malt and grain whiskies. 

Some people think that scotch has to be smokey due to the common use of peat smoke being used to dry the barley, but it not required, and is really more of a regional preference within Scotland. Trace amounts of caramel coloring are allowed. One thing worth noting is that age statements on any scotch, single malt or blended, must reflect the youngest whisky in the bottle. you could have a 4 year scotch blended with a 60 year scotch and the bottle would have to read "4 Year Old".

Scotch whiskey production is broken down into 6 regions. Highlands, Speyside, Lowlands, Campbeltown, Islay, and the Islands. The islands are something of a new designation but are widely accepted to be a distinct region. 

The Highlands is the largest region and thus the most diverse. It has over 25 distilleries, the most famous being Glenmorangie and Dalmore. Some people even divide the highland region into north, south, east, and west. The north has more full-bodied whiskies, lighter fruitier styles are found in the east and south. the west is a bit bigger and peatier with more coastal influences. It's hard to draw an accurate determination of taste if a whisky just says highlands. 

The Speyside region, while smaller than the highlands, has over 60 distilleries. The most famous being Macallan, Glenlivet, and Glenfiddich. Typically they are a bit softer and sweeter with little to no smokey peat flavor. Some can even bear a light salty flavor depending on their proximity to the coast. Over 60% of single malt scotch comes from this relatively small area

The Lowlands are the second biggest region, but only houses 5 distilleries, the most famous being Auchentoshan. These whiskies also tend to be lighter, with no peatiness and are occasionally triple distilled. They sometimes have a grassy or honeysuckle note.

Campbeltown is one of the most historic regions but is now down to just 3 distilleries. This region's whiskies are dry, briny, and sometimes pungent but can be fuller or lighter in body. Springbank is probably the best-known brand.

Islay (pronounced eye-luh) is the smallest region but probably the most famous and most beautiful. Housing less than 10 distilleries, this area produces peaty smokey single malts like Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Lagavulin. They often bring notes of smoked fish or seaweed. These whiskies are often too aggressive for beginner scotch drinkers.

The Islands are not recognized by the Scotch Whisky Association but are widely agreed to be their own region. They are naturally very varied in style and taste. There are over 800 islands off the coast of Scotland but very few are inhabited. Some of the most famous island whiskies are Highland Park from Orkney and Talisker coming from the Isle of Skye.

"I love too sing, and I love to drink scotch. Most people would rather hear me drink scotch."
- George Burns

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Gin 402: Dissecting a Cocktail: 101 ways to Martini

Someone walks into your bar and asks for a martini. What do you make them? The following are 12 examples of the classic drink. this showcase should run the gamut of what this drink can be. There are a couple variables that aren't directly measured like how many olives do you want in your dirty martini but pish. P.s. Please don't drink all of these in one sitting. It's actually a lot of fun to batch them all up and do 6 1/2 ounce pours of them to really learn your own palette and tastes.

50/50 Martini
1.5oz. Plymouth Gin, 1.5oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth, 1 dash Orange Bitters, Garnish: Lemon Twist
Add these ingredients to a mixing glass. Stir until well chilled (about 30 seconds). Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and garnish with a twist of lemon.
This cocktail is actually much closer to the historical Martini recipe than any other drink on this list. The others are substantially more alcohol forward, which became a bit of a trend in the 60s, nearly a century after its likely invention. This recipe showcases how vermouth can add beautiful delicate flavors to the cocktail and let you enjoy yourself without getting too plastered. Finding a balanced ratio between the two main ingredients is truly a matter of personal preference. Some people go classic with a 2:1 ratio of gin:vermouth. Others like 5:1, 8:1, or even 1:2, with more vermouth than gin. Nothing is set in stone.

Churchill Martini
2.5oz. Beefeater London Dry Gin, Garnish: Olive
Stir gin with ice while glancing at an unopened bottle of dry vermouth. Olive garnish
This was indeed how the legendary British Prime Minister ordered his cocktail. He kept it purely British, no French or Italian spirits tainting his gin. Boozy for sure. Fun fact: also how Eggsy took his Martini in the film Kingsman: The Secret Service. A simple riff on this recipe is the In-and-Out Martini. No, not the west coast burger joint. Simply rinse a chilled martini glass with around a quarter ounce of vermouth, coating the glass. Then dump it out. Strain in your chilled gin (or vodka), and bang, gin with essence of vermouth.

Vodka Martini, Shaken not Stirred
2.5oz. Vodka (I recommend Ketel One), 0.5oz. Martini Dry Vermouth, Garnish: Olive
Add your ingredient to a three-piece shaker with ice. shake until chilled (8-10 seconds). strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an olive on a pick. 
Yes, we're going the James Bond route. Well, rather the Sean Connery route. There's some debate as to how this drink became so popular. This was how bond ordered it in the 6th book "Doctor No", which was the first Sean Connery film. But Bond had invented and drank countless other drinks throughout the many books. I'm sure someone has counted them. This drink is unnecessarily watered down and likely has air bubbles and ice shards floating around in it. Perhaps the weaker drink allowed Bond to retain his composure for longer while on the job. This texture is desirable to some but rather uncommon in spirit-forward drinks which could be stirred allowing for a silky clean feel. Some people think that it does make it colder and easier to drink quickly. Up to you, my father likes them.

Diamond Martini
2.5oz. Vodka (I recommend Ardent Union), 1 dash Martini Dry Vermouth, Garnish: Lemon Twist
Batch up these ingredients together. Store them in the freezer until it's as cold as possible. Pour into a chilled martini glass when ready. Garnish with a lemon twist. 
This is the exact opposite of the last Martini. It's all booze, chilled down cold as possible and served with no dilution. It feels like booze. Dilution is a crucial component of every cocktail. Eliminating the water that naturally mixes with the drink creates an imbalance. Feel free to use a 100 proof vodka to really drill the extremes of this example. Or just stick a bottle of Everclear in the freezer. Some people genuinely do just like drinking cold vodka without dilution or mixer, but I find that is a fairly regional preference.

Dirty Martini
2.5oz. gin, 0.5oz. Dry Vermouth, 0.5oz. Spanish Olive Brine, Garnish: Bleu Cheese Stuffed Olive
Add these ingredients to a mixing glass. Stir until well chilled (about 30 seconds). Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and garnish with a bleu cheese olive on a pick.
There is a lot of debate about when people started garnishing the martini with olives rather than a twist. According to a story on NPR, a Syrian bar owner in Paris wanted to show off the fruit of his homeland and started sticking them in drinks and it caught on. the added salt and vinegar which was used to store and preserve the fruit created an amazing depth to the otherwise fairly light flavor. I prefer bleu cheese olives personally but it's common to find olives stuffed with garlic, pimento, or other peppers to add some different spice character to the drink. Some people will also use olive juice in place of brine, or even run olives through a centrifuge to extract the essential oils (please make sure these are food safe before purchasing/ingesting).

2oz. Tanqueray Gin, 0.5oz. Noilly Prat Dry, 0.5oz. Noilly Prat Sweet, Garnish: Lemon Twist
Add these ingredients to a mixing glass. Stir until well chilled (about 30 seconds). Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and garnish with a twist of lemon.
This is a sort of step in between the Martini and the Martinez. The drink calls for sweet and dry vermouth. It injects a lot more fruit character into the drink. I don't like an overly complicated and botanical gin for this drink. Tanqueray is famous for having only 4 botanicals which make it less likely to have a clash with any of the ingredients in the vermouth you're using. Feel free to mix and match your ingredients for this one, and all of the other cocktails as well. 

This should have given you a full understanding of what the martini can be in every respect. No two people like their martini's the exact same way. Though obviously, not everyone has had a martini every way you can possibly make it. At least none who have survived. A martini is a very personal thing. Have a conversation with your guest. What spirit? What brand? If they want any vermouth, and how much? What garnish? Ordering a martini means you have to talk to your bartender, eventually they will learn your tastes and make it your way every time. Even then, it's still fun to try new ingredients and ratios to see how your tastes change over time. I would never make the martini I make for myself at home for a random guest at a bar. Who knows? Maybe one of you can make me a drink even better than how I make them for myself. Two people have done it for me so far and it made my life all the better.