Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Death By Aperitif

This was a brunch cocktail I threw together for the spring/summer menu for my old job at Royal Boucherie. I was actually quite proud of this at the time. That particular restaurant cited the cocktail's creator on their menu, and it was great saying, "That's my drink," when people would come in and order it. And it's great to see your name in print.

0.5 oz. London Dry Gin, Tanqueray
1 oz. Aperol
0.5 oz. Lillet Blanc
0.125 oz Absinthe (about 1 barspoon)
2.5 oz Sparkling Wine, Prosecco if available

Add all the ingredients aside from the sparkling wine to a mixing vessel. Fill a small wine glass with ice and add the sparkling wine. Dump the rest of the cocktail over the top and garnish with an orange twist. 

The cocktail combines a Death in the Afternoon and an Aperol Spritz with a little dash of French 75. Both utilize sparkling wine and are delicious midday cocktails. The herbaceous character of the liqueurs and fortified wine compliments the botanical nature of classic gin. The sweetness is light but present. This might differ from that traditional bottomless style cocktail people are used to with brunch, but a slow burn works with many brunch dishes. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Talisker, Taste of the Sea, Cocktail flight

This was my submission for Round 2 of USBG World Class, sponsored by Diageo. The concept was to assemble a flight of three cocktails, one fully fleshed out as a recipe with precise measurements. The other two cocktails could be submitted as loose concepts. There were several themes to pick from

To make the Mignonette cocktail, add 1.5 oz. Talisker 10-year-old, 0.25 oz. Pimm's, 0.25 oz. Apple Cider Vinegar, 0.25 oz. Demerara Sugar Syrup (2:1), 0.25 tsp Smoked Paprika to a mixing tin. Add ice and shake well. Double strain into a 4.5 oz rock glass without ice. Garnish with a wedge of lemon placed on the side. Serve.

The flight will be presented as three cocktails in rocks glasses inserted into a bed of crushed ice in a metal bowl, like oysters or other seafood from the raw bar. 3 Lemon wedge garnishes also sit on the ice to allow the guest the option of additional citrus. It is meant to reflect a seafood tower/sampler platter presentation. There is no required order to sample the cocktails; in fact, sipping back and forth between all three is the recommendation. If pushed, I suggest the scallop cocktail as a first sip, followed by the kipper cocktail, and the oyster cocktail as the third. Bouncing back and forth between each is encouraged to allow a fun mix of smoke, oil, different acids, sweets, and spices.

Talisker comes from the gorgeous windswept Isle of Skye. It is famous for its salinity balanced with medium smokiness (around 20 ppm). I wanted to take that smoke and salt, standard through so many fish dishes, and pair it with a few personal favorites: smoked kippers, oysters, and scallops. Oysters and mignonette immediately came to mind as I've drunk Talisker from an oyster shell more times than I can count. Pimm's was also invented in an oyster house, so it was a natural fit. Smoked Kipper is a classic breakfast from the UK and one of my favorite running jokes from the epic sitcom "Red Dwarf." In the 2015 Malt Whiskey Yearbook, Dominic Roskrow even describes the nose of the 10 Year as "Grilled oily fish in lemon oil." The Storm adds a bit more smoke, reflecting the smoked fish better. I needed a lighter, delicate cocktail to play with scallops for the third. A mild fortified wine and a bit of orange zest really highlight the soft citrus note of the Talisker 10 Year. I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, September 21, 2020

What a Pear

I don't rightly recall the occasion I first made this drink. But it remains absolutely delicious, and any time I have all the ingredients on hand, this is one of my go-to martini builds. It's a beautiful fruity martini with notes of white flowers and pear. 

1.5 oz. Ford's Gin
0.5 oz. Grey Goose La Poire
1 oz. Alessio Bianco Vermouth
2 dashes Hella Co. Orange bitters

Add all of the ingredients to a mixing tin with ice. Stir until well chilled, approximately 18 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The inspiration for this cocktail came from my dear friend Catherine Manning. Her drink of choice is always a 50/50 martini with Bianco Vermouth. Alessio recently came to our shelves in Pennsylvania and has been gaining notoriety. I wanted to highlight the flavors, bringing a bit of pear and notes of white flowers with the vodka and gin. A bit of citrus oil balances it out, and we have a martini that stays bright and playful any day of the week. Cheers.

Photo Credit: Micah Messinger

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Geez, That's Corny

This was a submission I made during quarantine to be a part of a virtual live happy hour with Hella Cocktail Co. Virtual happy hours were a huge thing during the first few months of quarantine but seemed to teeter off quickly. Drinking through Zoom isn't quite the same, especially when 15 people are on a call and only one person can talk. I forgot to edit my video to under 1 minute for the submission. Whoopsie. But it is still a tasty drink. 

1.5 oz. Mellow Corn Whiskey
0.5 oz. Licor 43
0.25 oz. Lime Acid Solution 
3.5 oz. Hella Cocktail Co. Bitters and Soda - Spritz

Build the drink in a highball glass with ice and stir lightly. Garnish with the peel of an entire lemon (Horse's Neck). 

To make lime acid solution:
Mix 94g filtered water, 4g citric acid, 2g malic acid, 0.04g succinic acid. Or just use fresh lime juice as a substitute.

The Hella Cocktail Co-spritz is a fascinating non-alcoholic cocktail in a can. It's similar to bitters and soda, a popular hangover cure in the industry. The Hella brand has more cinnamon and clove spice than typical Angostura. To balance that, I wanted to incorporate more sweet flavors, not necessarily sugar, but flavors people affiliate with sweetness, like vanilla and sweet corn. Mellow corn was a gut reaction choice for a base spirit to build this highball on, and Licor 43 brings a creamy citrus undertone throughout, further complimented by the massive swath of lemon peel. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Brian's Smokey Pineapple "Margarita"

This is a little number I whipped up for the launch of Red Brick's newest product, Obsidian. Our bar program has always tried to incorporate cocktails that would be easy for consumers to go home and make on their own. Buy our product, swing by the corner store, and you'll have all you need to make more delicious drinks. Clever, keep it simple. 

1.5 oz Red Brick Obsidian White Whiskey
0.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
0.5 oz Pineapple Juice
0.5 oz Simple Syrup

Rim a cocktail glass with a spice mixture. Shake all the ingredients with ice and double-strain into the rimmed cocktail glass.

To make Cinnamon Spice Mixture:
Mix 2 parts turbinado sugar with 1 part salt and 1 part smoked paprika

It's a margarita spec. Instead of tequila, we are using our new white whiskey. The white whiskey was partially aged in ceramic, a practice done by some mezcal. Our malt house also started producing some smoked grains, and our mash bill incorporated quite a bit. I won't give away all the trade secrets, but this whiskey had many mezcal characteristics. The smokey flavor pairs classically with the pineapple. The lime acid keeps it all in balance. Sweet, smokey, and delicious. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Strawberry Margarita Jell-O Shots

Here's another one of my quarantine Jell-O shot recipes. It does balance the quality of craft cocktails with the fun, levity, and nostalgia of Jell-O. It's super easy to make and makes a huge difference. I'm never going back in terms of my own creations. Fresh juice and quality spirits always beat out vodka and powder. 

6 oz Jose Cuervo Tradicional Tequila Plata
2 oz Fresh Lime Juice, strained
1 oz Orange Curacao, Pierre Ferrand
1 pack Strawberry Jell-O
8 oz Water

Boil water and add the pack of Jell-O. Stir until dissolved and uniform. Add the remaining ingredients and stir again. Pour into serving cups. 15 to 18 should give you decent portion sizes. Chill in the fridge overnight or until set.

Jell-O has quite a bit of sugar and sweetness, so I tend not to add sugar to Jell-O shots. Acid from fresh juice does really help bring out the potential of Jell-O shot cocktails. It's still classic fun but way more elevated than you got in college. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Command of Color

This was my first entry into the Van Gogh Art of the Cocktail competition for Chilled Magazine. It's a fantastic competition where they encourage you to explore the art of making drinks. It's clever in the era of Instagram. I won a weekly prize for this submission. We'll see about the finals.

1.5 oz. Van Gogh Pineapple Vodka
0.75 oz. Strawberry infused Campari
1 oz. Acid Adjusted Orange Juice
0.25 oz. Orange Blossom Honey Syrup
Mango Habanero BBQ Sauce

Shake all the ingredients together with ice. Brush a coupe with a couple strokes of Mango Habanero BBQ Sauce. A squeeze bottle will also do the trick. Double-strain the cocktail into the painted coupe. Serve. 

To make Acid Adjusted Orange Juice:
Mix 1 liter of freshly squeezed and strained orange juice with 32 grams of citric acid and 20 grams of malic acid. Stir until mixed and uniform.

To make Homemade Mango BBQ Sauce: 
Brown 1/4 cup of chopped onion in a pan with 2 minced garlic cloves and olive oil. Stew 1/2 tsp grated ginger, 1 1/4 cups peeled, chopped mango (1 whole), 1/2 cup peach nectar, 1/4 cup tomato paste, 2T dark brown sugar, 2T honey, 3T cider vinegar, 1 T molasses, juice of 1 lime, 1.5 t Worcestershire, 1.5 t mustard, and 1 finely diced habanero chile until mango is soft. Blend everything together until creamy and uniform. Store in the fridge for up to 10 days, or boil the sauce to 190 degrees Fahrenheit and store in sterilized jars indefinitely. 

I studied Art and Art History in college but never much cared for the art that came from Van Gogh. His realism and perspective were always completely out of sorts. The Doctor Who episode "Vincent and the Doctor" drilled home a bit about the artist himself. If you haven't seen it, watch it. You will weep. The color orange was used prominently in Van Gogh's work, from the sunflowers to his own hair in self-portraits. As a hobby during quarantine, I took up hot sauce making, and that mango habanero balance works beautifully. Bringing out that sweetness of tropical fruits with a light tingle of heat has been a joy at every step. 

Philadelphia Fish House Punch Jell-O Shots

So, during quarantine, I found myself missing the dive bars most of all. I can make all kinds of craft cocktails at home and have been doing much of that. Friends are sharing their recipes, and it's fun trying these fantastic ideas, but the atmosphere is what I miss. I miss the silliness, the laughs, the community, everything. My regular bar, Garage Bar North, always had Jell-O shots made up behind the bar. I'd probably have an average of at least one a week. That and Pickle Backs. I decided to make some Jell-O shots at home. Yes, there's the standard spec of a pack of Jell-O with half water and half vodka, but let's improve on that. 

3.5 oz Plantation O.F.T.D. Rum
2.5 oz Remy Martin VSOP Cognac
2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice, strained
0.25 oz Simple Syrup (1:1)
1 pack Peach Jell-O
8 oz Water

Boil water and add the pack of Jell-O. Stir until dissolved and uniform. Add the remaining ingredients and stir again. Pour into serving cups. Chill in the fridge overnight. My baking tray holds 15 2 oz cups perfectly, so that's how I divide it, at just a bit over 1 oz per shot. Feel free to divide and scale it however you like, but about 1 oz is suitable for a Jell-O shot. 

This really is a pretty good representation of the classic punch recipe. The cocktail typically had peach brandy and crushed ice. I upped the ratio of brandy to accommodate, and the peach flavor from the Jell-O is an adequate substitute. Like the ice dilution, the water used to dissolve the gelatin powder helps soften the drink. This drink still uses 69% ABV rum (excellent), so it's got a fun little kick in there for you. 

Jell-O shots should taste like Jell-O and not just be a drink given consistency from gelatin sheets. Plenty of experts and chefs might disagree. But I've had calvados gelee and the like at some great restaurants as a side to a dessert, which is good, but I'd never order a cube of that when I'm bellied up to the bar. Jell-O shots are fun and fake, nostalgic and silly. They can be delicious, too, but they must be kind of fake to give the guests what they want when ordering a Jell-O shot. Just an opinion.