Tales 2008 Anecdote #1

This year I participated in Tales of the Cocktail.

One of the other participants on my panel was supposed to be John Deragon, of the fabulous bar PDT in New York City. Aside from his fantastic Boker’s Bitters replica, he also brought samples of PDT’s Baconfat washed Bourbon.

Unfortunately, as the day of the panel approached, John was detained by his responsibilities with the cocktail apprenticeship program. In his stead he sent up Daniel, another bartender at PDT, to talk about the Bourbon and help out making the drinks for our panel.

It was a bit of a last minute thing, so Daniel didn’t really have much of a presentation. Instead, basically, just took questions.

One of my favorite moments from any of the Tales panels I attended was when someone asked Daniel if there wasn’t some more efficient way to flavor the Bourbon without using bacon fat. Use flavorings or smoke it directly. Daniel replied, “Well, maybe, but then you wouldn’t get to eat the bacon.”

We ran into Daniel later that evening, and he went into details a bit more. The first time he was assigned bacon duty, he was kind of bummed. It’s kind of a kitchen chore pantry thing and didn’t seem like much fun. Then a bulb sort of went off and he asked, “What happens with all the bacon you cook to render the baconfat?” When he discovered that no one cared what happened to the bacon after he rendered the fat out, he was totally down with pantry work. I think they use about a pound to flavor the 5 gallon batches of baconfat washed bourbon they make. That’s a good number of BLT sandwiches! And Benton’s is pretty darn tasty bacon.

Details for making Baconfat Washed Bourbon and the Benton’s Old Fashioned on NYC Magazine.

Cota Cocktail

Cota Cocktail
Cota Cocktail

1/4 Hercules. (3/4 oz Cocchi Barolo Chinato)
1/4 Cointreau. (3/4 oz Cointreau)
1/2 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Bombay Gin)

Shake (stir – eje) well and strain into cocktail glass.

The ingredient Hercules continues to confound.

Cocktaildb’s ingredient database (and the Jones’ Bar Guide) suggest it is an Absinthe substitute. However, making these cocktails with any modern Absinthe substitutes, they turn out to be rather horribly balanced. They are usually OK, if I reduce the Absinthe substitute to a dash.

Sometimes when I visit the Cocktaildb home page (and I do quite often) one of the random pictures that shows up is what appears to be a label or advertisement in dutch for something that appears to be called “Hercules”.

Hercules Advert?

I don’t know Dutch; but, the words like “Versterkende Bloedwijn” and “Kina Wijn” on the advertisement suggest it is for some sort of red wine based Quinquina.

Knowing that 3/4 oz Pastis, 3/4 oz Cointreau, and 1 1/2 oz Gin is going to be pretty undrinkable, I decided to experiment with a couple of the red wine Quinquinas I had around. The first try, with Byrrh Assemblage, was pretty lackluster.

Even though I suspect it is fairly unrelated to the intended Savoy “Cota Cocktail”, the formula above, with the Barolo Chinato, was actually quite delicious. Similar to a slightly sweeter and orangier Negroni. Maybe call it the “Coda Cocktail”?

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.