Krabappel Punch

One of the great parts about being in the San Francisco chapter of the United States Bartender’s Guild is that you get to participate in fun events for good causes.

The other day I received a message titled, “Bartenders Needed for Holiday Farmer’s Market Cocktails with CUESA at the Ferry Building”.

“Would you like to showcase your talents and your workplace at our favorite fundraiser series Farmer’s Market Cocktails with CUESA at the Ferry Building on Wednesday November 20th?

“The theme this time around is Holiday Punches. A group of 12 talented USBG bartenders will utilize a sponsored spirit and the best fall produce to create unique punch recipes and pour them in sample size portions for a crowd of 300 foodies and cocktail enthusiasts.”

Well, yes, now that you mention it, I would!

I knew I wanted to do a Milk Clarified Punch, a la Jerry Thomas’ California Milk Punch. Initially, my idea was to recycle an old punch of mine, “Great Pumpkin Punch“.

However, when others chose the brown spirits, I took another tack. Trying the remaining spirits, the Reyka Vodka stood out as the cleanest tasting. But I knew the subtlety of a plain vodka would get lost in the pumpkin-spice punch. I needed a punch recipe that would be lighter.

I love apples and apple brandy and have always wanted to do an apple flavored Milk Punch.

There were some awesome little crab apples at one of the Ferry Plaza vendors, and I thought, what better tribute to Edna Krabappel than to make a punch?

If you want to sample it, you can make it yourself, or even better, tickets are still available to the CUESA event tomorrow, and then you’ll be able to try some 11 other fall themed beverages and enjoy some snacks! Hope to see you there!

Beat Them to the Punch

“Pull your party dresses and bow ties out of the closet for the kick-off event of the holiday season: Beat them to the Punch: Fall Cocktails of the Farmers Market. While the months ahead will surely feature obligatory office parties and family gatherings, you won’t want to miss this evening of overflowing punch bowls and savory bites with your friends.

“Join CUESA and the Northern California chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) in the Ferry Building’s Grand Hall for a cozy night of creative holiday punches, hot spiced drinks, and nogs. An all-star lineup of bartenders and chefs will highlight fresh produce from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, like pomegranates, persimmons, pears, citrus, and other fall delights.

“Guests receive two full-sized signature cocktails featuring Herradura Tequila, 11 sample sized drinks, and delicious hors d’oeuvres from ten of the Bay Area’s hottest chefs. A recipe booklet will be shared with attendees featuring all 13 seasonal drinks to inspire future party planning. Beat the party season to the punch and warm your soul with good friends as the winter holidays set in. There’ll be no Chardonnay, baked Brie, or fruitcake at this fete!

Krabappel Punch

Infusion:

8 750ml Bottles Reyka Vodka
1/2 750ml Bottle Batavia Arrack
8 Pounds Crab Apples, shredded
8 Lemons, Peeled and juiced

Sweetener:
64 Ounces Water
32 Ounces Washed Raw Sugar
1 Cup Chai Spice Tea
6 Lemons, Juiced

Milk:
1 Gallon Whole Milk, preferably not homogenized

Garnish:

4 Pounds Small Baking Apples, Cored
Enough Cinnamon Sticks, broken in half to fit inside apples
1 tsp Sugar per apple

Method:

Shredding Apples.

Zest citrus and add zest to Vodka and Arrack. Juice 8 Lemons, strain, and add to aforementioned liquid. Add Shredded Apples. Allow to infuse for at least 1 week.

Heat water and add tea. Steep 6 minutes and stir in sugar. Strain tea leaves out of syrup and chill.

Apples Baking.

Roast Apples at 350 until tender but not too mushy.

Strain Peels and Apples out of liquid, squeezing to get as much apple juice/vodka out as possible. Juice other 6 lemons and add to Flavored Booze Mixture. Heat milk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Add to Flavored Booze Mixture. Allow to stand undisturbed for 30 minutes and filter through cheesecloth…

Straining Miik Solids.

…removing milk solids. Add Tea Syrup to filtered booze mixture and pour into clean containers. Allow to stand for a couple days. Rack clear liquid off of any accumulated sediment into clean, sanitized bottles and store. Chill well before serving. Serve on ice and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. Makes about 3 gallons.

Krabappel Punch

Here are a few pictures from the event!

Krabappel Punch Sign

Krabappel Punch Sign

Reyka Vodka Tablescape.

Reyka Vodka Tablescape.

Punch Station Ready to Go.

Punch Station Ready to Go.

Should Bartenders Just Drink Cocktails

A couple weeks ago a friend, Jennifer Seidman, posted the following on facebook:

“I think its time all bartenders come out of the closet and admit we don’t drink cocktails. Truth.”

On the other hand, a while back there was a Class Magazine Interview with Sasha Petraske.

Sasha Petraske: I’m No Genius

(If you have an interest in modern bars and cocktails, I recommend reading the whole article linked above.)

Along with other things, the following quote seems to have generated a lot of controversy among the cocktail and bartender crowds.

“And he’ll always expect his staff’s passion for cocktails to be more than skin-deep. ‘Cocktail bartenders should drink cocktails. If you prefer a beer, you are a hypocrite and are morally wrong. You probably make bad cocktails too. It’s like being an acupuncturist and going to see a western doctor when you get sick.'”

Provocative statement, eh, from the person who opened (or helped to open) Milk & Honey, Little Branch, White Star, The Varnish, Dutch Kills, and Weather Up.

The two statements, though, seem to represent such opposite views, that they got me thinking.

First, I think Mr. Petraske’s use of the words “hypocrite” and “morally wrong” are sheer hyperbole, designed to fuel the Sasha Petraske hype machine.

In my opinion, words or phrases like “hypocrite” and “morally wrong”, should be reserved issues of some consequence in the world, not referring to whether a bartender has a beer or a cocktail after work.

Second, many bartenders don’t drink AT ALL. Either because they are recovering, or for health and/or cultural reasons. I should say, “Many GREAT bartenders I know and RESPECT, don’t drink AT ALL.” I am not sure what Mr Petraske would say about these people; but historically, it is interesting to note, that many of the bartenders who have actually managed to publish cocktail or bar books later in their lives, were the ones who did not drink.

Third, Bartenders, even ‘cocktail bartenders’, serve more than cocktails at bars. It behooves us to be familiar with Beers, Wines, Spirits, Soft-Drinks, coffee, tea, etc., not just Cocktails. We have to have opinions on everything we serve, not just the cocktails.

Thus, If a bar or restaurant has an interesting wine or beer that I’ve been dying to try, I might drink that instead of availing myself of their cocktails.

Not to mention, if I’m having food, I’m going to pick an appropriate beverage to complement my meal, not blanket order cocktails with everything.

On the other hand, if you’re going to seriously make cocktails for a living, and want the rest of us to take your cocktails seriously, you REALLY should be familiar with the flavor profile of most of the classic cocktails AND you should be familiar with what your compatriots in the field are currently making. You should be able to rock a Mojito, a Manhattan, a Negroni, A Martini, a South-Side, etc. and they should taste like those drinks are supposed to taste like.

Far too often, especially when tasting cocktails for competitions, I’ve wondered if some of the competitors have even tasted the spirit they are mixing with, let alone been familiar with the flavor profile of classic cocktails. More often than not, these cocktails will just taste like soft-drinks, gazpacho, or chilled fruit soup with a shot a booze. Not a cocktail at all.

Finally, after finishing a long shift of bartending, cocktail making, and then finally cleaning the bar, a lot of times the last thing you want is to make, or drink, another god damned cocktail.

Something far simpler is appealing. That IS the truth.

A Curious Thing

A Curious Thing, Charles McCabe
From his collection, “The Good Man’s Weakness”, 1974

“I haven’t the slightest idea who said it; but it was assuredly a mouthful. “A productive drunk,” the man said, “is the bane of all moralists.”

“That this dark insight may have occurred to me independently I am sufficiently immodest to acknowledge. I could never, however, have expressed the idea with such felicity.

“A fact which has been observed by more than one sage is that humans like to think in cartoons. A man who likes dogs must be a man of gentle feeling and high rectitude. Should he turn out to be a dirty old man, we feel deeply cheated. We feel our sentiments have been short-changed.

“Even more than the man who likes dogs, the man who is blind must be a very compendium of the virtues. People get decidedly shocked when I point out that some of the rottenest characters I’ve ever met were sightless.

“There used to be an annual fiesta in the western part of Puerto Rico. It was the day of the blind. The blind came from all over the island. I’ve never met a more drunken, disorderly, and generally rag-tag body of men and women in my entire life. There are splendid blind people, and I’ve met them; but I’ve met an extraordinary number who fail to fit the stereotype society has assigned them.

“So it is with the human who is partial to the bottle. Because of his unfortunate addiction there are certain things this person must be. He or she has to be unreliable, prone to violence, eccentric in his personal behavior, and a bad credit risk.

“What the moralists should see is what some drunks are like when they are on the wagon. Their capacity to work, especially if they are in the creative fields, is often seriously impaired. While their personal relations are sometimes improved, more often it is the other way around–the dry alkie tends to be cantankerous, and impatient of anything less than perfect performance.

“These same fellows, sustained by the sauce, can be powerhouses. There is no need to emphasize that these people are a minority; but it is important to acknowledge that they do exist. They are productive in their work, and successful in their personal relations, precisely because booze releases paralyzing inhibitions in their nature.

“One American Nobel Prize winner in letters, and possibly our greatest contemporary writer, probably could not have cut the mustard without alcohol. I’m not talking about E. Hemingway, though there’s reason to believe he could not have cut it either without booze.

“An extraordinary number of driving business tycoons use alcohol to dreadful excess. Many of them will acknowledge privately that without their habit they would probably be cutting hair back in Phoenix, or wherever.

“This all fits into some kind of accepted psychology. What is stranger is the number of people who care nothing about the acquisition of money and power, priests and teachers who are in fact interested only in trying to find out the meaning of life and passing along the knowledge and are often nothing more than public drunks.

“This kind of man is and has always been a particular problem of the Roman Catholic Church, where men of pointedly saintly character sometimes drink like fish. That their character is saintly, or that they drink like fish is not all that strange, either.”

Fermented vs Non-Fermented Ginger Beer

This week I was asked to make a cocktail for an event for 20-30 people, where I was told that the person being honored at the event was not a drinker.

I didn’t have any help, so I wanted to do something really easy. No muddling, no shaking, no straining.

I decided to go with a version of the Dark & Stormy, which is a combination of Dark Rum, Ginger Beer, and sometimes Lime Juice.

Because I had the non-drinker, instead of making alcoholic ginger beer, I just made a Ginger Syrup, or Ginger Solution.

Place an equal part, by weight of roughly chopped ginger root, sugar, and water in the blender, and puree. Put through a cheese cloth or other fine strainer, and squeeze as much liquid out as you can (I use a sturdy potato ricer for this).

To make the non-alcoholic version, combine Ginger Solution, lime juice, to taste on ice. Stir to combine ad and dilute with soda water. Stir once more.

Dark & Stormy-ish

Dark & Stormy-ish

To make the alcoholic version, to that combination simply float* on an ounce and a half of dark rum**. Pampero Anniversario, from Venezuela, is a great choice.

The thing that interested me, however, about this was how different the character of the Ginger Solution was from yeast carbonated Ginger Beer.

If I combine the Ginger solution with soda water in roughly the same ratio as I did for the yeast carbonated ginger beer, the difference is striking.

First off, it is unpleasantly harsh and hot. Instead of the nifty floral notes of ginger, you get a bitter aftertaste.

I really enjoy drinking the yeast carbonated ginger beer, but the ginger solution is more like medicine.

I’ll drink it, with enough rum, lime, and soda, but I don’t crave it.

I would guess the yeast bouncing around with the ginger creates some flavor molecules that just don’t happen without fermentation.

It also seems to have a shorter shelf life than the fermented ginger beer.

Now, only a few days after, where the ginger beer is still delicious, the ginger solution is getting less ginger-ey and more unpleasant.

*Some bartenders will shake the non-carbonated portion of the drink, pour over ice, and top with soda or ginger beer. I think it looks cooler with the dark rum float. The only problem is all the rum is at the top of the drink, so it should really be served with a straw, preferably compostable.

**Some bartenders make a much more alcoholic version, basically shaking a Daiquiri, pouring over rocks, topping with ginger beer and more dark rum.