Lime Burst Garnish

You may recall, I posted a drink called the Chance of Showers.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the so called “lime burst” garnish or the drink itself.

To remedy the situation, I have made a movie!

Chance of Showers

1 dash Angostura Bitters
Juice 1/2 Lime (or 1/2 oz)
1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup (or to taste)
Yeast Carbonated Ginger Beer*, chilled
2 oz Ron Zacapa 23
Lime Burst, with a pickled ginger stuffed peppadew pepper http://savoystomp.com/2013/10/11/ginger-beer-take-2/

Fill an old-fashiohned glass with cracked ice. Add Bitters, Lime Juice, and rich simple syrup to glass and stir to combine. Pour in chilled ginger beer to nearly fill and stir again. Float on Ron Zacapa and garnish.

So the components of the garnish are the lime skirt and a peppadew pepper stuffed with pickled ginger.

My first thought was to do a red spicy pepper in the middle of a simple lime wheel.

When I workshopped the drink at Holy Water, my friend John Ottman said I really needed a better garnish if I wanted to win. The judges go for that sort of thing. Though I did ignore his advice about vintage glassware. Anyway, I knew I needed to improve my presentation.

When I was in Boston earlier this year, one of the bartenders showed me a cool garnish which was a sort of citrus jellyfish thing.

Also, earlier this year, when working at South, in the Jazz center, the opening bartender did all the bar prep and garnish prep. For a long time I pushed off the lime skinning for lime pigtails to the barbacks, but eventually I bit the bullet and figured out how to do it. There is a knack to getting the ice pick into the lime pith at the right angle between the lime flesh and the lime skin.

I was thinking I would try to combine the citrus skin jellyfish with the lime garnish, but the lime was too thick to work quite the same way as the citrus zest squid.

So I started playing with the lime skirt and realized it made a kind of cool grass skirt effect when it was bent. Maybe I could combine the pepper idea with the tentacle idea?

Lime Squid

The first try was a little “tentacular.”

But when I flipped it over, it turned out to look pretty cool.

Holiday Ginger Beer

Another idea for a DIY Holiday Gift with a relatively short turnaround time.

Why not spice up your Ginger Beer with some holiday zest?

Holiday Ginger Beer

Holiday Ginger Beer

Holiday Ginger Beer

10 oz Ginger, roughly chopped
Zest of 1 Orange
4 Allspice Berries, crushed
5 Cloves, crushed
1 small stick Ceylon Cinnamon, crushed

1 1/2 Cup Washed Raw Sugar

32 oz Water
1 tsp Active Dry Yeast


METHOD: Bloom yeast in lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon sugar. Over low heat, dissolve sugar in 24oz water with spices and orange zest. Add ginger to blender bowl with 16 oz water and puree. (Blender works well for me in these amounts, but if you have a juicer that can juice ginger root, go for it.) Pour through cheesecloth to filter. Press as much liquid out of ginger solids as possible, I use a sturdy potato ricer. Add ginger juice and water to hot sugar solution and cool to lukewarm. Add yeast and bottle in clean sanitized containers, leaving some headroom. Seal tightly and place in a warm dark place for 5-8 hours, depending on temperature and how feisty your yeast is. Move to refrigeration when the bottles are firm to the touch. Yeast (tan) and Ginger starch (white) will fall out of solution. When serving, open carefully over bowl to catch potential over-foam. Makes a half gallon and a bit more.

Sassafras Anecdote

“Well, to make Root Beer, you’d have to actually use Sassafras, but since those kids at UC Davis proved it is dangerous…”

“Uh, what? Kids at UC Davis?”

I was chatting with an acquaintance about Gruit, Ginger, and Root Beers, and she threw this into the conversation.

According to her, a group of grad students at UC Davis were bored with their research projects and decided to use the facilities to research the potentially hazardous nature of several flavorings commonly used in soft drinks, because according to her, the students thought the FDA never really researched food additives. Sticking it to the man, using grant money and facilities to do research they thought would benefit humanity.

They picked 5 flavorings, one of which was Sassafras Oil, and dosed up a bunch of their lab rats with them.

Of the 5, the only strong correlation they got was with the Sassafras.

Now I’m going to have to confirm this!

Drinks for 40-60 People

“Hey Erik, would you be interested in making drinks for a surprise birthday party for my wife Dec 15?”

Request: Drinks for a daytime party for 40-60 people on Sunday, Dec 15, 2013.
Requirements: Lonsdale, Bloody Mary, Whiskey Punch, Mimosa

“This seems like a pretty doable few drinks, as long as I get most of it done ahead.”

I have a job, and it’s a busy time of the year, so I will absolutely need to squeeze the preparation into hour segments on several nights before the event.

Proposal: 5 drinks, 2 drinks per person. Bloody Mary, Alton Brown’s Cape Fear Punch, Lonsdale, Mimosa. Yeast Carbonated Ginger Beer with Dark Rum or Bourbon. Orange Juice, Grapefruit Juice, Sparkling Water. Pickle garnish bar for Bloody Marys.

Pre-planning:

Portion planning! 1 1/2 oz booze per drink. 2 Drinks per person is 3 oz booze per person times 40-60 total of 120-180. Divide by the 4 drinks, means I need 32-45oz of each booze. Basically, a 1.75 litre bottle of each booze should be about right, handily. And let’s say a gallon of Ginger Beer and a gallon of Bloody Mary Mix.

Make sure I have enough Ginger, Sugar, and yeast to make 1 Gallon of Ginger Beer.

I want drinks to move quickly, Lonsdale and Whiskey Punch will be fully batched and just poured over ice and garnish.

Bloody will be a pour mix and vodka over ice, mix briefly, and serve, with self-serve garnish.

I can only really effectively make a half gallon batch of ginger beer at a time, so that will need to be done at home over two nights earlier in the week.

For the Lonsdale, instead of shaking the Lonsdale with Basil leaf, I will infuse Gin with Basil for 2 days.

Wednesday

image

First Half Gallon Batch Ginger Beer, see Chance of Showers post for recipe, and double it.

I also had a panic attack about drink service for 60 by myself and called up a friend to ask if he might want to attend the party and help out if needed.

Thursday

image

Second Half Gallon batch Ginger Beer.
Infuse 2 Bunch Basil in 1.75 litres Gin.

Friday

Make Bloody Mary Mix

To be honest, I’ve never worked in a bar or at an event which serves Bloody Marys. I also am not super fond of the drink. However, I do like Sangrita so I have an idea to cross the two drinks, but am not sure if I should go the more traditional route. I run the idea past a friend who gives me the advice, “There will be a lot of foodies there, right? You should be creative, that’s the one I’d want to drink!”

Pureed Chiles

Bloody Sangrita Mix

12 Guajillo Chiles
12 Cascabel Chiles
12 Chile Negro
8 Chile de Arbol
1 tsp Cumin Seed, toasted and ground
1 tsp Coriander Seed, toasted and ground
8 Whole Allspice, toasted and ground

3 Quarts Tomato Juice
1 Pint Pomegranate Juice
1 Pint Blood Orange Juice
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
A little Rooster Sauce
Salt

Stem and seed the chiles. Cover with a plate and add water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook until chiles are tender. Puree chiles in a blender with enough steeping water to loosen. Sieve pureed chiles to catch seeds and larger pieces of skin. Combine chile puree with spices and other liquid ingredients. Adjust salt and spice level using rooster sauce and salt.

image

Make Cape Fear Punch Base

Alton Brown’s Cape Fear Punch is just a basic traditional Whiskey Punch. I will make the base and then dilute with sparkling water and sparkling wine the day of the event. The garnish is grated nutmeg.

Saturday

image

Make Lonsdale Base

First, strain Basil infused gin off of leaves.

The Lonsdale is normally, 1 1/2 oz Gin, 1/2 oz Lemon Juice, 1/2 oz Apple Juice, 1/2 oz Honey Syrup, shaken with basil and strained into a glass.

Metric makes this easy: 1.75 liter Basil Infused Gin, 1 Liter Apple Juice, 500ml Lemon Juice, 500ml Honey Syrup, 25ml Sparkling water added day of event. Note, since I am chilling the base and pouring over ice, I am increasing the dilution with extra apple and a little sparkling water. Essentially punch-i-fying the Lonsdale recipe.

Sunday

Buy ice, basil leaf (Lonsdale garnish), nutmeg (Whiskey Punch garnish), Orange Juice, Grapefruit Juice.
Arrive at event.
Add sparkling water & sparkling wine to Whiskey Punch. Sparkling water into Lonsdale Punch. Pick Basil garnish. Cut limes for Ginger Beer Garnish. Set out Pickle selection for Bloody Mary Garnish Bar.

Rock & Rolla.

image

Lessons: The Bloody Mary, Ginger Beer, and Lonsdales were complete successes, especially the Lonsdale Punch. I broke one of my cardinal party rules with The Cape Fear Punch, that is, never make something for a party which you haven’t made before. I figured that having made Whiskey punches before this would be a slam dunk. Unfortunately, the Cape Fear Punch had fewer partisans than any other drink that day. Perhaps the recipe could have used some tweaking, it seemed a little dry. Or maybe I shoulda just made Old-Fashionds…

In any case, I’ve worked at a lot of events this summer, and I felt like this one went pretty well.

On one hand, there was a fair bit of work and planning ahead, and serving out of spigots isn’t dead sexy.

On the other hand, I could walk away from the bar and chat with friends while people served themselves AND the drinks were super tasty.

Those aren’t bad things.

Chance of Showers

Ever since I’ve started making yeast carbonated Ginger Beers this summer, I’ve wanted to use them to make a drink with dark rum and lime.

Last week, an email arrived with the following subject: Ivy Room Cocktail Competition & Anniversary Party (12/09)

Sponsored by Ron Zacapa 23 Rum

Details:
Competition is open to any bartender currently working in the bar, restaurant or spirits industry
1st PLACE Prize = $500 gift card
2nd PLACE Prize = Bar Kit & Bottle of Ron Zacapa 23
3rd PLACE Prize = Bottle of Ron Zacapa 23
All cocktails shall utilize Ron Zacapa 23 as main ingredient and only spirit

Create four cocktails – recipes shall be original creations

We invite inventiveness and creativity, drinks should be delicious – try not to overthink it

Cocktails will be judged according to the following criteria, with a total of 100 points possible:
Use of Zacapa product: 25 points
Aroma: 15 points
Flavor: 15 points
Technique: 15 points
Presentation: 15 points
Creativity: 15 points

My first thought was to make the drink a bit of an “old-fashioned” and serve it stirred on a single large ice cube.

However, after workshopping that idea at a friend’s bar in my neighborhood (Hi John! Thanks for loaning me a well at Holy Water!), I discarded that idea and re-made the same drink on their lovely regular Hoshizaki cube ice.

When I got to a version where a coincidentally located booze salesman said, “I could drink A LOT of those!” I figured I was close.

Here’s what I ended up with:

Chance of Showers

1 dash Angostura Bitters
Juice 1/2 Lime (or 1/2 oz)
1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup (or to taste)
Yeast Carbonated Ginger Beer*, chilled
2 oz Ron Zacapa 23
Lime Burst, with pickled ginger stuffed peppadew pepper

Fill an old-fashiohned glass with cracked ice. Add Bitters, Lime Juice, and rich simple syrup to glass and stir to combine. Pour in chilled ginger beer to nearly fill and stir again. Float on Ron Zacapa and garnish.

*Yeast Carbonated Ginger Beer

5 oz Ginger
4 Dried Thai Bird Chiles, or other small piquant pepper

32oz Water
3/4 Cup Washed Raw Sugar

1/2 tsp Yeast

METHOD: Bloom yeast in lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon sugar. Over low heat, dissolve sugar in 24oz water. Add ginger and chiles to blender bowl with 8oz water and puree. (Blender works well for me in these amounts, but if you have a juicer that can juice ginger root, go for it.) Pour through cheesecloth to filter. Press as much liquid out of ginger solids as possible, I use a sturdy potato ricer. Add ginger juice and water to hot sugar solution and cool to lukewarm. Add yeast and bottle in clean sanitized containers, leaving some headroom. Seal tightly and place in a warm dark place for 5-8 hours, depending on temperature and how feisty your yeast is. Move to refrigeration when the bottles are firm to the touch. Yeast (tan) and Ginger starch (white) will fall out of solution. When serving, open carefully over bowl to catch potential over-foam. Makes a Quart and a bit more.

If you know anything about cocktails, you’ll probably know that this drink is somewhat similar to a Caribbean Potation called the “Dark ‘n’ Stormy”, allegedly invented in Bermuda some time during prohibition.

However, the Gosling’s Rum corporation is quite insistent that if you put a drink called a Dark ‘n’ Stormy on a restaurant or bar menu, that you must make it with their Rum and their recipe or not at all.

The Right Stuff (by Law), Jonathan Miles, NY Times

“‘What’s in a name?’ Shakespeare famously asked. In the case of the Dark ‘n’ Stormy, a Bermudan cocktail that’s been making a quiet resurgence in New York City bars and restaurants in the last couple of years, it’s two ounces of Gosling’s Black Seal rum and a fizzy hit of ginger beer.

“And, by law, nothing but.

“That’s according to two trademark certificates on file with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which — in an exceptionally rare instance in the cocktail world — dictate the precise ingredients and amounts required to call a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, well, a Dark ‘n’ Stormy.”

So, as much as I might like to call this drink a “Dark ‘n’ Stormy”, it cannot be! It has Ron Zacapa 23, for one, and, it has lime juice, not to mention homemade yeast carbonated ginger beer.

“Dark ‘n’ Stormy” or not, this is a delicious drink, even if you must make it with Gosling’s Rum, not something I’d really recommend if you have another delicious rum like Zacapa 23 in the house…

Prepared with a NOT “Dark ‘n’ Stormy”, I wrote up the following to say to present my drink:

“Hi, I’m Erik Ellestad and I work for the Slanted Door Group of restaurants.

“My Ron Zacapa drink for this competition is called ‘Chance of Showers’.

“I have been a big fan of Ron Zacapa 23 for some time. A friend gave me a taste of it before I was really that into Cocktails and spirits and it blew me away. Mount Gay Eclipse had been about as far as I had journeyed up to that point vaguely in the direction of premium rums, and it basically convinced me that there was even such a thing as a sipping Rum. I frequently enjoy it as an after dinner digestiv, but my favorite story related to this fine Rum is in regards its other properties as a “mixer”.

“A while ago a good friend (Hi Rich!) of mine started dating a woman (Hi Humuhumu!) who was really, and I mean seriously, into Tiki Bars, Tiki drinks, Tiki culture, and related paraphernalia. One day he took me aside to ask for my advice. He wanted to buy his new girlfriend a bottle of Rum, but didn’t know much about Rums. My initial reaction was, don’t buy a Rum for someone who is that into Rum. What could you buy her that she hadn’t already tried or had in the house? He insisted, and I thought about it some more. Some aged Rhum Agricole came to mind at first, a little obscure, he’d get points for difficulty. But then I thought of Ron Zacapa 23. As I had liked it so much, maybe it could be a gateway Rum for him, as well as a fine gift for his new girlfriend. I mean, really, who can argue with Ron Zacapa 23, even if you already have a bottle?

“I guess it worked, as when they got married, instead of drinking wine to celebrate their new union, they drank Ron Zacapa 23!

“My drink is Angostura Bitters, Fresh Lime Juice, Homemade Yeast Carbonated Ginger Beer, and Ron Zacapa, garnished with a lime and a ginger stuffed pickled pepper.

“Please enjoy Chance of Showers. Or, now that I think about it, with young Wanda Trott in mind, maybe I should call it, ‘Chance of Baby Showers’!”

Pumpkin Pie, Thanksgiving 2013

Mrs Flannestad sometimes tires of my relentless experimentation in the kitchen.

I seldom make the same dish more than once. I’m always tweaking.

“Can’t we just have the Pumpkin Pie with Bourbon and Pecans that you used to make?”

So, I gave it my best shot, even though I had no pecans (No Pecan Pie? Thank China, Rain, and Pigs, NYTIMES).

The filling is based on 2 Martha Stewart recipes and the crust from the NY Times. Note, the crust recipe makes enough for 2 pies. Save for another occasion or double the filling and topping.

Pumpkin Pie, 2013

Pumpkin Pie, 2013

Pumpkin Pie, Thanksgiving 2013

Crust:

290 grams all-purpose flour (about 2 1/2 cups), more for rolling out dough
35 grams cornmeal (about 1/4 cup)
35 grams sugar (about 3 tablespoons)
2 grams salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)
12 tablespoons butter, unsalted, chilled, and cut into small cubes
1/4 cup Love, I mean LARD, chilled, and cut into small pieces

Filling:
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Half & Half
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 15 oz Can Pumpkin
2 Tablespoons Bourbon Whiskey

Topping:

1/2 Cup Hazelnuts, crushed
1/2 Cup Sugar
Half & Half

METHOD:

1. Make the crust: blend flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter and shortening, then pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 4 tablespoons ice water and blend until dough forms a ball, adding more ice water, a half-tablespoon at a time (up to 2 additional tablespoons), if dough is dry. Divide dough in half, flatten into two round disks, wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour.

2. Whisk filling ingredients together until well combined.

3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out one dough round. Transfer rolled-out dough to a 9-inch pie pan and fill with pumpkin mixture. Reserve second dough disk for another use.

4. Place pie in the middle of oven and cook for 35 minutes. Combine hazelnuts and sugar and add half & half to loosen. Spread on top of center of pie and return to oven. Bake for another 20 minutes or until topping if browned and center of pie nearly firm. Cool on a wire rack and serve with whipped cream.

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.

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.

Don’t be Sorry

Romangia Rosso, 2009

“In the vineyards and cellars we not have used synthetic chemicals in addition to sulfur. We have no added yeast, enzymes and all other aids winemaking. Not filtered. Not clarified. No Barriques. Give time to rest after shipping. Leave in to oxigenate in the glass. Probable remainings and CO2 are natural. Every bottle can be different. Ingredients: grape, sulfphites. Sorry but we dont’t follow the market, we produce wines thet we like, wines from our culture. They are what they are and not what you want them to be.”

Product of Italy
Entirely produced and bottled by Societa Agricola Badde Nigolosu SRL Sennori Italia
http://www.tenutedettori.it/