Tropical Cocktail

Tropical Cocktail
1 Dash Angostura Bitters. (1 dash Angostura Bitters)
1 Dash Orange Bitters. (1 dash Angostura Orange)
1/3 Crème de Cacao. (1 barspoon Bols Creme de Cacao)
1/3 Maraschino. (1 barspoon Luxardo Maraschino)
1/3 French Vermouth. (2 oz Noilly Prat Vermouth)

Stir well, strain into a cocktail glass, with cherry.

Well, if there is anything that might put me off of drinking, it’s probably this concoction. Jeez, equal parts of French Vermouth, Maraschino, and Creme de Cacao? It doesn’t even have any booze!

I had some idle hope that this could be saved, a la Chrysanthemum, to make a pleasant light aperitif Coctkail. Nope, this just doesn’t appeal, at all, even slightly dried out. I can’t imagine what this would taste like as the dessert cocktail it sounds like in the recipe.

After a few months of over doing it, what with the trips to Spain, Chicago, and Wisconsin, it was about time to cut back significantly on the drinking. There was just a little too much grease in the wheels, things were getting a little blurry.

I have a couple friends who manage to balance abstention with bartending, so I thought I would give that a try for a while.

Got through a couple weeks of drying out, started feeling pretty good. Michele was proud of me. I was only straw tasting at the bar, and only tasting Savoy Cocktails. It was quite pleasant not to have quite the adjustment on Mondays that I had been having, from the drinking to the sober life.

Feeling good, it seemed like it was about time to get some things out of the way: Visit the Dentist, Get a check-up from my Doctor.

Dentist visit went well, they even praised me for the job I had been doing flossing. Gum health good. Woo!

Visited the Doctor. Blood pressure good, cholesterol not bad, Doctor said I was seeming pretty healthy.

Then later in the week, I got a call. My Doctor would like to schedule a visit to a specialist, to follow up on some of the numbers in one of the tests. They were a little high for someone my age.

Yeah, that’s just great. Just like life. Mostly give up drinking, feeling healthy, good attitude. Then the Doctor tells you, “Oh, by the way, you might have cancer.”

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.

Trocadero Cocktail

Trocadero Cocktail
1 Dash Orange Bitters. (Angostura Orange)
1 Dash Grenadine. (Small Hand Foods Grenadine)
1/2 French Vermouth. (1 1/2 oz Dolin Dry)
1/2 Italian Vermouth. (1 1/2 oz Carpano Antica)
Stir well and strain into cocktail glass. Add cherry (Amarena Toschi Cherries) and squeeze lemon peel (or orange peel, if you’re out of lemons) on top.

Puzzlingly, Robert Vermeire notes the Trocadero is a, “Recipe of the Bremen Trocadero, 1910.”

I can’t find much information, there is a Trocadero Square in Bremen, Germany. Perhaps there was a club?

A pleasant, slightly sweet, mixture of Italian and French Vermouth, this is a nice, light diversion. Not earth shaking, but then, sometimes a drink doesn’t need to be.

As someone who has self medicated with alcohol for all of my adult life, I often wonder if I can teach myself new tricks.

I mean, sure, I haven’t been a truly bad dog for a number of years, but at some point in middle age isn’t a path towards more moderation a good idea?

My father-in-law recently mentioned, perhaps concerned about my recent dabbling in bartending, that as people he knew grew older, they either slowed down their drinking or tended to fall off the deep end.

But as someone who hasn’t believed in the existence of a higher power beyond the awestruck beauty of the random universe since high school, there won’t be any church basement meetings in my near future. I did my time in churches when I was growing up. I won’t be taking those 12 easy steps back into the chapel.

I mean, oddly, I do often see the groups of whatever Anonymous on their path from one meeting to another during my morning commute. Clutching their booklets filled with meeting schedules and locations. Glancing about nervously, concerned for the well being of their fellow man, and whether they will make it to the next meeting on time.

I do sometimes think they are better people, more caring, than the rest of us jaded commuters. They are certainly more willing to help a homeless person in need.

Maybe I have just been too lucky. I haven’t (so far) lost a house, a job, or a marriage because of my drinking.

Some time in our 30s, Michele and I decided having a few “alcohol-free days” a week would be a good idea.

Since then, we generally try to have at least 3 dry days a week, used to be Sunday through Tuesday.

This had been working pretty well until I started bartending on Sunday nights. Let’s just say, some bartenders drink more than others while they’re working, and they don’t like to drink alone.

And while it is easy to resist, say, the challenge to chug bottles of Pabst, when someone asks me if I would like to have a taste of some very tasty rum or whiskey with them, I do have a hard time saying, “no”. Weakness or character flaw on my part, I know.

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.

Trinity Cocktail

First, just a reminder that tongight Sunday, September 26, 2010, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders (and me) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Trinity Cocktail
1/3 French Vermouth. (1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth)
1/3 Italian Vermouth. (1/2 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth)
1/3 Dry Gin. (1 oz Miller’s Gin)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

I know, I know, this should be equal parts.

However, I wanted to use the Miller’s Gin and see how it did. Get away from using the Ransom and/or Junipero in all the cocktails.

But I was thinking about the fact that the Miller’s is only 80 proof and not particularly assertive, as gins go, I figured I should give it a fighting chance. 2-1-1, instead of equal parts.

At that ratio, this is pretty good. The gin gets a chance to shine, not overwhelmed by the Carpano. I still think some bitters or a garnish wouldn’t hurt this cocktail. Hard to say what to use, with the Miller’s. Maybe some thinly sliced cucumber would be nice.

Now, if you had Miller’s Westbourne Strength Gin, that might be a different matter, altogether.

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.

Left Coast Review Responses

Some responses to my writeup of the Left Coast Libations book:

JimmyP:

I’m so embarrassed. I used St. Germain in one of my cocktails. I only use it in one cocktail, and that’s the one in the book. Michael, can you remove the bohemian from the second edition and I’ll get to work on something that uses ketchup?

I was kind of torn about using St. Germain as an example, my initial thought was just to say something like, “excluding any liqueurs or spirits I know have been heavily promoted by marketing and/or spirits companies,” but that was just too unwieldy. So I picked St. Germain as my whipping boy.

JimmyP:

“The resulting liqueur has the beautiful clear scent of elderflower without some of the off flavors or, well, syrup-i-ness of the D’Arbo Elderflower Syrup. I don’t think St. Germain will be a completely one to one substitute in cocktails calling for the syrup; but, it is a great product all on its own. I’m really looking forward to experimenting with it in cocktails.”

Who do you think it was?

a. me
b. you
c. simon difford
d. no one ever said this.

Maybe I don’t get to go to enough bars and see what’s being abused?

I reserve the right to change my mind. I wrote that in March of 2007 on eGullet. I can barely keep track of the Savoy drinks I posted last week, let alone some comment I made as moderator of the Spirits and Cocktail Forum on eGullet three years ago. Besides, I still have a nearly full bottle of St. Germain that I purchased that year. I’m hoping it ages well, but it has floaties.

Frederic Yarm:

Visiting the bars and bartenders is a bit of a challenge for us on the right coast. If I can squeeze out a dozen recipes, it will far surpass most book purchases (I think we’re up to 6 recipes although one was a disappointment).

Considering that I have spent $30+ on a Mud Puddle book to discover that there are 3 new recipes and a lot of the same (or slight variations) as I already have, so far the ratio is not that bad in comparison.

We don’t throw aside the St. Germain drinks, but I do agree about the special syrups and infusions. And the seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Although I’ll have a better chance getting those then I will from my Japanese or Peruvian cocktail books…

“The Right Coast”, guess it depends on your perspective!

Collecting classic cocktail books is indeed a thankless task. Just be thankful you’re spending $30 dollars for books from Mud Puddle, and not $300+ on eBay.

Drinksnob:

Very well put.

Now, if only I the bars in my town had the balls to experiment, so I could actually taste some of these things at least once.

filip:

Erik, I think from your standpoint your review is fair. But I would argue the book is not made for you, but for people who are looking to go past that “I can make a better drink than 99% of bartenders” but I’m no pro status. It fills a nice void between the amateurs and the professionals, it nestles itself into a niche that has not really been explored in print.

IMO it’s for people who can make great classic cocktails and adapt recipes but are looking for inspiration to push their craft further. I would think the book is achieving it’s goals if it pushes someone to make an obscure homemade ingredient. Even if the drink from the book disappoints, at least they have a new ingredient to play around with.

Michael Lazar:

Erik. Thanks for the review and general thoughts on current (or not so current) trends in cocktails. I’m continuing to mull on ‘em.

I was struck however by one thing with which I’d take actual issue: calling the book cocktail p0rn. First off, so long as you have access to decent liquor stores and produce markets, I count 54 cocktails (roughly half the recipes) you could make tonight—if you include the ones that call for St. Germain and if you don’t count things like simple syrup or basil as a special/exotic ingredient. Second, we did a lot of work proofing and scaling the recipes for the special ingredients so that folks who undertake them would be as guaranteed of success as possible. Where it was deemed helpful we included details what sorts of equipment you’d need, where to source certain ingredients, substitutions, etc. There’s even a lengthy discussion on frothing egg whites (and things that can go wrong) trying and ice (why not to get too wrapped around the axle about it).

I would also point out that some of the cocktails in the book have incredible track records in the real world: Laughing Buddha, Chartreuse Swizzle, The Revolver (#2 most popular cocktail at B&B), Richmond Gimlet, Southern Exposure, and Carter Beats the Devil, to name just a few. And a few others are already showing their legs e.g. the Saffron Sandalwood Sour and Ueno San. And most of these, once again, are pretty simple to execute.

Net/net: I’d say the book is less like p0rn and more like a really good sex instruction manual with hot models. ;->

Cheers!

Michael

To be frank, I do feel a bit bad that I got carried away with my little rant, and didn’t really highlight the parts of the book that I DO really like.

First, the pictures are fantastic. As someone who takes a lot of pictures of cocktails, it’s hard to understate how great a job I think Jenn Farrington did taking the pictures in this book.

The attention to detail, is another thing which really I really appreciate. Instead of simply asking the drink makers for pictures and recipes, I know that they went through every cocktail in the book and made the cocktails at least once, sometimes several times. It is great that they include substitutions where appropriate and very detailed instructions for all the cocktails and pantry work.

Another aspect of the attention to detail, is the fact that they give credit to the creator of every drink in the book. Very few cocktail books take both the drink makers and cocktails serious enough to give credit where it is due. That is very cool.

And as a corollary to that, a lot of these recipes are, in fact, working cocktail recipes from bars. They are not just cocktails that someone won a contest with and made once. There are many examples here of very popular cocktails, modern West Coast classics, if you will. It is a credit to the bars and to the bartenders that they would put themselves out there and share these in the detail that they have simply out of the generosity of their spirits and commitment to the craft.

All of these things are a breath of fresh air in the world of cocktail recipe books.

I was really torn about whether I should “review” the book at all, for all the reasons that I listed at the beginning of my write up.

There was no way I was going to do it, if I couldn’t think of anything real, meaningful, or provacative to say about it.

I just started with the idea of kind of tweaking Ted’s passive-aggressive tone in the “bios” and tossing it back at him as a sort of joke.

But some recent events in my life and another blogger’s write up of the cocktail program at a new restaurant, colored my review and definitely provided fodder for thought.

A lot of the questions which I put, are not just intended for other bartenders, but for myself as I approach the end of the Savoy Project and wonder about my future and what inspirations I will find.

Trilby Cocktail (No 2)

First, just a reminder that this Sunday, September 26, 2010, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders (and me) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Trilby Cocktail (No. 2)
2 Dashes Absinthe. (2 dash Lucid Absinthe)
2 Dashes Orange Bitters. (2 dash Angostura Orange)
1/3 Parfait Amour Liqueur. (3/4 oz Pages Parfait Amour)
1/3 Scotch Whisky. (3/4 oz Famous Grouse Scotch)
1/3 Italian Vermouth. (3/4 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

Wow, this is possibly THE least appealing cocktail I’ve made so far from the Savoy Cocktail Book. Not only does it taste and smell like Grandma Squeezins’, but it is also a most unappealing inky black color, as if you had spilled squid ink into a glass. Who knew Grandma had such a black heart? I can’t really think of anything to recommend it.

You know those folks who tell you to make a Martini by just looking at the vermouth bottle? They’re wrong. But believe me, you’ll be better off if you make a Trilby Cocktail (No. 2) by pouring yourself a glass of nice Scotch. Say, something like this Murray McDavid bottling from Clynelish suggested to me by Amy at Cask Store.  Then just look at a roll of Violet Candies. Preferably from across the room. Actually, I think the candies are a little dangerously close to the Scotch in this picture, chance of violet contamination. Get them this close, at your own risk.  If you’re really feeling daring, maybe make yourself a Rob Roy, just leave the violets out of it.

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.

Left Coast Libations Review

First, I have a few disclosures regarding the Left Coast Libations book by Ted Munat and Michael Lazar.

  • I was sent this copy of the book by the authors in return for a potential review on this website.
  • I know the authors fairly well.
  • Many of the contributors are friends, acquaintances, or coworkers.
  • I was a contributor to the original Left Coast Libations booklet.

After reading that, you’re probably thinking, “Why should I read this review at all? He’s not impartial and probably pissed off that he wasn’t included in the book.”

Well, it turns out I was slightly included, at least in the introduction.

Next I’d like to thank Paul ClarkeBlair Reynolds, and Erik Ellestad. All of these fine folks were contributors to the original LCL, but were sadly not included in the version before you, as we elected to go exclusively with professional bartenders (Blair and Erik, by the way, have since become professional bartenders in a transparent attempt to gain inclusion in this book. If you see either of them, do not tell them where I am or how to get ahold of me).

And further thanks to Mr. Ellestad and Ms. Riggins for acting as my (unpaid) consultants in hatching a list of Bay Area and Los Angeles bartenders. If you are a bartender in either of those areas and feel slighted not to be included, you really need to take it up with those two. Thanks again Erik and Marleigh!

Hm. Maybe I should be pissed off.

Damn, if Ted and Michael weren’t such nice guys, I totally would be.

But, anyway, getting back to why you should read this review.

Really, you shouldn’t. You’ll be wasting time reading this review when you could be reading the book. The review won’t be as funny as the book, it won’t have any cocktail recipes, and I’m nowhere near the photographer that Jenn Farrington is. Heck, this “review” doesn’t even have any pictures.

But, maybe you’re still reading…

The book, to me, captures a moment in time, about 2 years ago, when West Coast cocktail culture was on a bit of a roll. Bars and restaurants were popping up left and right with quality cocktail programs, the bartender was the new rock star, and the liquor industry hadn’t quite bought into the scene.

Everyone in this book, and quite a few others, were doing what they thought was something new. Re-inventing, or rediscovering, the cocktail for a very interested and enthusiastic audience.

It really is kind of awesome that Michael, Ted and Scott took the time and effort to put out this labor of love dedicated to the people and cocktails that were inspiring them.

On the other hand, the moment seems to have passed, and the book feels a bit dated.

The economic downturn has taken a bit of steam from restaurant owners’ willingness to front ambitious cocktail programs. The DIY spirit of many was pissed on by the San Francisco ABC, who began enforcing a prohibition era law which essentially made house made infusions and liqueurs illegal. A lot of the bartenders in this book have moved on to more lucrative careers as Spirits “Brand Ambassadors”. And speaking of liquor brands, it seems the big boys have finally realized there might be some money in this whole “craft cocktail” renaissance, or whatever you call it, and they are now spending big bucks to gain the ears of whomever they decide at the moment could influence the public: bloggers, bartenders, etc.

I read through the book and the first thing I tried to do was find a recipe I could make.

First I discarded recipes that would require a ridiculous amount of prep work.

Then, I discarded recipes which called for St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, a.k.a. Bartender’s Ketchup.

Then, out went any recipes calling for “molecular gastronomy” ingredients like Maltose and Xanthan Gum.

At that point, I felt like I was left with some recipes which could stand the test of time, maybe didn’t even call for specific brands.

The list was pretty small.

Therein lies the book’s biggest flaw.

As a home cocktail maker, I hate having to spend money or invest a bunch of time, just to try one cocktail. I mean, what if I don’t even like it? Then I’m stuck with a lifetime supply of St. Germain or a pint of Saffron Sharbat.

To me, the bubble’s done popped, and it’s time to get back to the basics of what brings people into a bar.

Maybe there are a few people who are interested in your cocktail sorbet or smoked ice, but it really isn’t novelty that fills seats and keeps people coming back. Well, maybe, if you are Grant Achatz, Tony Conigliaro, or just have a huge expense account and don’t care about losses… But, think about it, there is only one El Bulli and only one Alinea, most of the rest of Molecular Gastronomy is poor imitation.

Reading Left Coast Libations, I feel like I’ve been there, I’ve made liqueurs, bitters, infusions. I’ve done that, I’ve experimented with making cocktails with obscure liqueurs and spirits. What really is next?

Experimentation like this is cool, but it’s not where I am at, and I’m not sure it is a way forward for bartending, except at a few special venues.

At the moment, I find people, technique, and service to be more interesting than recipes.

I guess that is the other part I found most disappointing about the book. The jokey bartender profiles, while initially amusing, don’t really tell you much about the people behind the drinks. After working in this industry for a bit, I can tell you that the most interesting thing about bars are the people who work in them. I have met few boring bartenders. Yet I didn’t really feel like I got a picture of anyone whose recipes were used in the book, other than the authors. Even more telling, while the drinks are lovingly photographed, they don’t have pictures of the bartenders who made them and barely any photos of the venues where they work.

What does that leave you with?

Drink porn and quite a few recipes you will never make at home.

Have I burned all my bridges yet? Let me try again, to blow up the remaining few.

My real advice: Use the book as a travel guide.

Get out of the house. Don’t even bother trying to make these recipes at home. Instead, travel out to a local, or distant, craft cocktail establishment. Visit the wonderful bartenders there and say “Hi”. Get to know them. Ask for whatever drink on the bar’s menu catches your fancy. Or ask for whatever is catching their fancy at the moment.

Then write your own book.

And, if you’re on the other side of the bar, consider this my challenge to you, to move beyond the novelty, culinarily inspired cocktail, and deliver something that will have some meaning and staying power for the future.

You’ve done that. What’s next?

Trilby Cocktail (No. 1)

First, just a reminder that this Sunday, September 26, 2010, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders (and me) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Trilby Cocktail (No. 1)
2 Dashes Orange Bitters. (2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters)
1/2 Italian Vermouth. (1 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth)
1/2 Dry Gin. (1 oz Anchor Junipero Gin)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

Well, there’s nothing wrong with a Martinez, as I always say. I’ve made about a hundred cocktails nearly or exactly like this one, and never really get tired of them. Endless subtle variation, just due to vermouth, gin, or bitters choices.

Absolutely nothing wrong with minor variation, and the Trilby No. 1 is absolutely tasty.

Note the top from my spiffy new Audio Technica ATH-M50 Headphones. (No advt.) We’ve had construction going on at work which has made my life kind of miserable. While not actively noise cancelling, these have pretty good insulation which allows me to listen to music instead of drilling. Very comfortable too, with natural sound and good bass response. A significant quality of life/work upgrade and worth the investment.

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.

Transvaal Cocktail

First, just a reminder that this Sunday, September 26, 2010, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders (and me) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Transvaal Cocktail
3 Dashes Orange Bitters. (3 dash Angostura Orange Bitters)
1/2 Gin. (1 oz Ransom Old Tom)
1/2 Caperitif. (1 tsp Amaro Montenegro, 1 oz Dolin Blanc)
Stir well and strain into cocktail glass. (Squeeze Orange Peel over glass and drop in.)

Hm, a Fifty-Fifty type cocktail. Definitely going to want a fairly high proof, high intensity Gin to go in this one.

Hmm…

Ransom Old Tom it is! Ha! That will teach Harry Craddock to not specify what sort of Gin to use in the Cocktail!

Aromatic and Orange-tastic? The Orange peel may have been overkill with all that orange bitters.

Still, this is pretty nice, if you’re looking for some way to use up that Dolin Blanc and Old Tom.

From the Transvaal Colony Wikipedia Entry:

The Transvaal (Afrikaans, lit. beyond the Vaal River) is the name of an area of northern South Africa. Originally the bulk of the independent Boer South African Republic, which had existed since 1856, despite two previous attempts by the British of varying success to establish supremacy; after the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 it became the Transvaal Colony, and eventually one of the founding provinces of the Union of South Africa.

As is usual with Caperitif containing cocktails, the name refers to South Africa.

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.

Torpedo Cocktail

First, just a reminder that this Sunday, September 26, 2010, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders (and me) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Torpedo Cocktail
1 Dash Gin. (1 Dash Krogstad Aquavit)
1/3 Brandy. (1 oz Pellehaut Armagnac Reserve)
2/3 Calvados. (1 oz MONTREUIL RESERVE CALVADOS)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

With this completely confusing cocktail, we return to our regularly scheduled Savoy Cocktail Blogging.

So, is the “dash” of gin tempering the merger of the Brandy and Calvados? Indeed, what is the point, at all, of a “dash” of gin?

I dunno, the idea just made no sense to me.

On the other hand, Calvados and Aquavit make A LOT of sense to me, so I used that combination instead.

With Aquavit, this isn’t awful, at least with the ridiculously top shelf spirits in question.

Would it be equally tantalizing, cough, with Christian Brothers Brandy, Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, and Tanqueray Gin?

No, not at all.

Is it more likely that it would have been made with something like that when the recipe was originated?

Yes.

Well, there is only so much I will do for “historical verisimilitude”, so sue me.

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.

Agricole Libre (Part Two)

When we first opened Heaven’s Dog, we knew that a bunch of the staff would be short timers, who intended to defect to Thad Vogler’s new restaurant Bar Agricole when it opened.

However, an optimistic start date, meant most actually departed “The Dog”, some the SF vicinity, before Bar Agricole opened.

However, for those of us who have been patient, Bar Agricole opened this August.

As you are walking towards Bar Agricole, the first thing you might notice is this insignia on one of the outside walls, indicating that the building and construction process were certified “Gold” by the US Green Building Council. This indicates not just that they have used much recycled material in the project, but that the paints and other materials are certified non-toxic. Good for the contractors and the people who will work in the building. More information about that program here: What LEED Is

So ambitious is the Bar Agricole project, it’s kind of hard to get your mind around. They’ve even got gardens out front with herbs and vegetables they hope to use in their kitchen and in their drinks. Not sure what to call it… “Farm to Table, er, bar”? “Garden to Glass”? “Cradle to Grave”?

They aim to be open early to serve coffee and breafasty type things, then have a lunch, and then to be open for dinner, and late night service. So far, they are serving dinner and open into late night.

I arrived for a pre-opening party about 15 minutes early and was surprised to see construction relics peeking out from behind this and that door. Figuring I should give them some time to get it together, I loitered out from, taking some photos. Eventually Vince, a bartender from Beretta, also rolled up, and we chatted for a while, as they swept up the garden and put away their ladders.

We sauntered up the walkway, and entered the dining room, where the tension and excitement was nearly tangible. The first party in the new restaurant! How would it go?

Ostensibly, the reason I was invited to one of the preview events for Bar Agricole is that they are featuring St. George Spirits cane based rums on their cocktail menu. So, here we have it, 4 months later, a ‘Ti Punch made with St. George Agua Libre Blanc. Definitely worth the wait. Though, now that I think about it, isn’t a ‘Ti Punch just a cold Agricole Rhum Toddy garnished with lime peel?

If you’re interested in picking up a bottle of either the aged or unaged Agua Libre, a number of local retailers are carrying it, including: Cask, K&L, Healthy Spirits, John Walker & Co, Jug Shop, Ledger’s, and Swirl on Castro. At this point, it might be wise to call ahead and ask if they have it in stock, as I understand the early sales were quite brisk.

Wait, go back a sec, ‘Ti Punch? That’s not a Savoy Cocktail! What’s a ‘Ti Punch? You mentioned it a couple drinks ago with the aesthetics of the Tinton Cocktail, but didn’t really explain.

‘Ti Punch (I can never quite decide where to put the apostrophe), reportedly short for Petit Punch, is a Caribbean libation often associated with Martinique Rhum and/or sailing. It is: Rum, to taste. Sugar, to taste. Lime, to taste. Add Ice (or water), stir, and smile.

According to some, a very strict recipe would be:

Ti Punch

2 oz Agricole Rhum Blanc
1 tsp Martinique Cane Syrup
1 quarter size disk of lime peel

Add Cane Syrup to a heavy bottomed glass. Squeeze lime peel over cane syrup, rub on rim of the glass and drop in. Add Rum and stir. Add ice and stir until chilled. Savor slowly and enjoy as the rum marries with the cane syrup, melted water, and lime.

That is, pretty exactly, a Cold Toddy or Sling.

However, Rhum Agricole Blanc can be a bit of an acquired taste. It’s usually 100 Proof and its flavor is sometimes compared, by the uninitiated, to Jet Fuel or Kerosene. A lot of people just don’t have the patience or proper relaxed attitude to wait around for the ice to melt and mellow the spirit. That first sip can be a bit of a shock. I’ve made ‘Ti Punch as described above for people who specifically ordered a Ti Punch and they sometimes ask for more lime wedges to squeeze into their drink, that I add more fresh lime juice, or if I can add more sugar. At this point, the cranky cocktail nerd inside me really wants to say, “Dude, if you wanted an Agricole Daiquiri, you should have ordered an Agricole Daiquiri, not a Ti Punch.”

On the other hand, when I was talking to Michael Lazar, of Left Coast Libations and the Stirred Not Shaken Blog, about Rhum Agricole Punch he mentioned his first exposure to Agricole-Style Rhum was in Guadalupe, where they are pretty relaxed about the whole thing. If you order Agricole Style Rhum, they just bring you a bottle, some limes, sugar, and, interestingly, a couple jars of jam. It’s up to you to figure out what you prefer in your drink. Then at the end of the night, they charge you based on how much Rhum is left in the bottle.

Maybe a more relaxed attitude is proper for an “Island-style” Drink.

And just about on cue, the battery in my camera flaked out. No more pictures of Bar Agricole, the staff, or their cocktails. Curses, I guess there will have to be a part 3 of this series!