Cocktail Experiments, September 28, 2012

Some successful experiments from this Week at Heaven’s Dog.

For the first one, I was thinking of the Delicious Sour, circa late 1800s by William Schmidt, via the excellent Cocktails in Cardiff.

The Delicious Sour

A goblet with the juice of one lime,
a squirt of seltzer,
a spoonful of sugar,
1/2 of apple-jack,
1/2 of peach brandy,
the white of one egg.

Fill your glass with ice, shake well, strain, and serve.

However, for some reason I misremembered and substituted Beefeater Gin for the Apple Brandy Schmidt calls for. Well, it is a very “Savoy Cocktail Book” thing to do, combine Brandy and Gin.

Delicious Sour, London Style

1 oz London Dry Gin
1 oz Kuchan Indian Blood Peach Eau-de-Vie
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple
1/2 oz Egg White

Dry Shake, Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass, twist lemon peel over and discard.

Turns out it is still delicious, though I think it might be even better with Genever than with Dry Gin.

A customer asked for an after dinner cocktail and I thought of the Fox River from the Savoy Cocktail Book.

Fox River Cocktail, Adapted from Savoy Cocktail Book

1 1/2 oz Bonded Rye
scant 1/4 oz Tempus Fugit Creme de Cacao
1/4 oz Punt e Mes
2 dash Miracle Mile Peach Bitters #3

Stir briefly and strain over a big rock. Grate over fresh nutmeg.

He enjoyed enough to ask for another.

My friend Louis Anderman makes Miracle Mile Bitters in Los Angeles. He recently completed some barrel aged Forbidden Bitters as a side project from bottled cocktails which he is briefly aging in barrels which have been seasoned with his bitters.

They are forbidden because they include tonka bean which is not considered GRAS by the FDA. Tonka bean has the substance Coumarin, a blood thinner.

They are an old fashioned Boker’s or Abbot’s Clone, great in Old Fashioneds or Improved Holland Gin Cocktails. Also, f-ing awesome in the new car, I believe this may be the platonic ideal for this cocktail:

New Car

1 oz Oro Torontel Pisco
1 oz Ransom Whippersnapper Whiskey
1 oz Dolin Blanc
Barspoon Benedictine
2 dash Miracle Mile Barrel Aged Forbidden Bitters (Or regular MM Forbidden Bitters. If not forbidden, something like the Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters.)

Stir briefly and strain over a big rock. Squeeze lemon peel over and discard.

Savoy Cocktail Book Night, September 2012

Hey!

The last Sunday in September, the 30th, is fast approaching, which means it is time for another Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar.

Your night to pick any random cocktail from the entirety of the Savoy Cocktail Book, be it a classic or some bizarre combination you can’t imagine the taste of, and we will make it for you, for better or for worse. There will be Hercules!

Come on in, the water’s fine!

Don’t Your Arms Get Tired?

Early evenings at Heaven’s Dog, especially when there is a show on at the Orpheum, we get a lot of families in to the restaurant.

The other night the restaurant was booked, so a family of 6 sat in front of me at the bar.

The young man who sat directly in front of me, probably about 8 years old, seemed to be completely fascinated by my activities making cocktails. I made some small talk with him, and eventually he asked the following question and made an observation which I thought was just the cutest, most innocent comment ever.

“Don’t your arms get tired? Because, I know when I’ve been skipping stones all day on the lake, my arms are tired the next day.”

Sunday, Savoy Sunday

Savoy Sundays return to Alembic Bar (1725 Haight Street San Francisco, CA 9411), today, June 24th. Be there after 6 PM, it’s a truly Herculean affair.

Hercules #5c

1 Stick Cassia Cinnamon, crushed
2 tsp. Coriander Seed, crushed
3 Cardamom Pods, crushed
8 Whole Cloves, crushed
1 tsp. Quinine Powder
1 tsp. Gentian Root
1 tsp. Fennel Seed, crushed
1 package Peppermint Tea
1/4 Cup Yerba Mate
Zest 1 Valencia Orange, 1 Tangerine
1/2 cup Raw Sugar
750ml Quady Elektra
1/4 cup Apple-Ation California Apple Brandy

METHOD: Combine spices, peel, yerba mate and wine. Heat to 160 degrees. Filter through chinois and add Brandy. Let stand for at least a day and then enjoy chilled or where “Hercules” is called for.

Don’t You Get Tired of Pouring?

The other night, one of our regular guests asked me, “Don’t you get tired of pouring things?” which kind of amused me.

But it also reminded me, I never did a round up of the writeups I did for ‘Cocktail’ Boothby’s “Ten Commandments for Bartenders” a couple years ago.

So after working as a bartender 3 nights a week for the last 9 months or so, has it afforded me any added perspective for these ‘Commandments’?

Boothby’s Ten Commandments for Bartenders

I. Always be on time to relieve the other watch. It is a good plan to make a practice of arriving a few minutes early so as to arrange your toilet and step to your station on time.

I stand by everything I said in the previous post, but will also add, you should not only be on time, but also have eaten before your shift. Seems a little odd to say you should eat before going to work at a restaurant, but the fact of the matter is, if the restaurant is busy, you may not get to take your break until nearly close. There is nothing uglier than the freak out caused by a lot of caffeine and a little booze on an empty stomach.

II. See that your finger nails are always clean and your person presents a tidy appearance.

Nothing new to add here, bartending is a minor adjunct to the performing arts, your appearance and carriage is as important as your ability to make drinks.

III. Always appear pleasant and obliging under all circumstances.

When I arrived one night, my boss called me to say that the other person who normally worked couldn’t make it. I would be on my own for the course of the evening. His comment was, “You’ll probably go down in flames, but the most important thing is to go down in flames gracefully.” The ability to keep your composure and grace under just about any situation is one of the most important skills you need to develop as a bartender. If you lose that, you lose the people on the other side of the bar.

IV. Avoid conversations of a religious or political nature.

As a performer, you don’t always get to choose your own lines. Something I might say to my wife, or language I might use with my friends may not be appropriate, or may even be offensive, to some random person who has come in to the bar for a drink. Gauge your situation and choose your words carefully. As a bartender you are setting the tone for the room.

V. When going off watch always dry and polish all the glassware and tools which you have used on your watch, and see that everything is in its proper place, so that your relief can work to advantage as soon as he arrives at his post.

You are part of a team, even if you never see the person who works the next day. Show them the respect they deserve by doing your job completely.

VI. Sell all the liquor you can, but use as little as possible yourself.

Different bars have different rules and cultures regarding drinking on the job. In some states, it is even illegal to have drunk within hours of going to work, let alone on the job. In San Francisco, there is no such law, so we are left to make our own choices. One of my coworkers said, “I don’t like to drink while I’m working, it messes with my time management skills,” which totally makes sense to me. If you are serious about the job, you need to know your limits and stick to your own rules.

VII. If you are troubled with sore feet, bathe them regularly. Avoid patched or ragged hosiery, and wear a comfortable shoe with a heavy sole. Light soles, low cut shoes or slippers should never be worn behind a bar.

I’ve gone through a bunch of different shoe and sock choices since I wrote this up originally. The above still makes sense, you definitely need a shoe with good arch support and a non-slip sole to be on your feet for 8 hours a day several days a week. I’m currently wearing Red Wing 607 6″ Boots and Woolrich 10-Mile Over-The-Calf socks.

VIII. Keep the floor behind the bar as dry as possible. It not only looks better, but you will find your health greatly improved by following this rule. Many bartenders contract rheumatism, neuralgia and many other serious complaints through carelessness in this report.

As far as health goes, still not sure about the wet floor, but you do need to keep yourself flexible and in pretty decent shape to avoid injury. Lower Back, Shoulders, Elbows, and Wrists are definitely the pain points. Keep those muscles flexible and in shape.

IX. After using a bottle or tool always replace it before doing anything else. Make this a rule that should never be broken; and, when you are rushed with business, you will never be compelled to hunt for this or that, but you will always know just where it is.

I still don’t have much to add to Andrew Bohrer’s eloquent post, “Get your fucking mise in order!” Go read it again.

X. After a party has finished drinking, remove the glassware from the bar as soon as possible, and dry and polish the bar top immediately, never allowing a particle of moisture to remain. This is a very important rule.

Again, I don’t have much to add to my previous post, but this quote from Philip Duff sums up much of what I have learned in the last 6 months, “I love taking care of people in a way that goes beyond drinks.” ‘Nuff said.

Jiggling

Got a question from another gentleman on a cocktail quest of his own, over at Cocktail Virgin Slut.

It covered a couple things I originally meant to say in the “Frappe” post, so I will split it off as a post on its own.

Frederic:

I had completely blanked on the term ‘jiggling’ when it came up in conversation. Someone mentioned that a bartender had done it and it looked funny for stirring, and I explained the technique minus the name. I have read it several times but only saw it once before this — John Gertsen made a Spanish anise spirit laden drink like that (but not as vigorous as you did it). Is the technique specific to the absinthe/anisette/pastis-heavy drink family?

Thanks for the comment, Frederic!

To me, “jiggling” and “swizzling” are pretty much the same, one term
from the soda fountain culture and another from the Carribean, just
using different tools.

Interestingly, the quote describing jiggling in the post comes from
Clisby Arthur’s writeup of the Julep.

In bartending, it seems like jiggling and swizzling are techniques
which are used almost exclusively with crushed ice drinks.

Though I think in soda fountains the technique is also used for things
like Egg Creams, where the jerk is trying to create a head on a fizzy
drink.

Regarding the vigor and length of my “jiggling” technique, heh, it’s
mostly because my ice is completely dry and coming pretty much
directly from a freezer at -5 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, the ambient
temperature of houses in San Francisco tends to be on the chilly side,
so it doesn’t aid much in melting.

If I don’t give things a pretty long mix, I get almost no dilution.

If I were using melty crushed ice in a warm bar, it would be a mistake
to “jiggle” for that long.

All the best,

Erik E.

Life in the Service Industry

“What? You actually want to work more in bars!? I used to work in bars, and those were some strange years. You must work in a nice bar.”

You know, it’s funny, when I ran the idea of giving up tech for working in bars past various friends, it was the people who actually worked in bars who tended to be more circumspect.

The people who I work with in Tech were mostly all, “Dude! You could be bartending for a living!? And you’re not doing it!? Live the dream, bartenders are cool!”

Whereas, those who currently worked in bars, or had worked in them in the past, were more like, “Well, it would be great for the bartending community and our restaurant if you did work here, but think about how it will work out with your wife and your schedules.” Or, “I liked making cocktails, but by the end of the week, I just couldn’t deal with the customer service aspect of the job.” Or, “It’s one thing to work once in a while, like you’ve been doing, but entirely another to do it for a living. Not so glamorous mopping vomit, clearing clogged toilets, and scouring the graffiti off the mirrors.”

A Dog’s Life

You may recall, in 2009, I started working behind the bar on a semi-regular basis. Guest bartending at Alembic Bar once a month for our Savoy Cocktail Book nights, and occasionally working at Heaven’s Dog, either as a fill in bartender or on Sunday nights.

As the end of 2011 approached, some regular bartending shifts at Heaven’s Dog opened up, and I talked to the bar manager about covering them.

I could either pass on the opportunity, or take a chance on finding out what it was like to work more nights a week as a bartender.

So, in November and December, in addition to my full time job at UCSF and Savoy Nights at Alembic, I started working three nights a week at Heaven’s Dog, going straight from one job to the other.

On one hand, this was a crazy amount to work, basically 9AM until Midnight 3 nights a week, but on the other, even Mrs. Flannestad noticed that I seemed to be “happier”, if tired-er. Well, not to mention, in the food service world, these aren’t even crazy hours; many of the cooks, barbacks, and dishwashers in the restaurant easily bested me for hours worked for those two months.

As December wore on, though, it was starting to get apparent that I couldn’t keep doing this indefinitely, and if I wasn’t careful, the hours were going to take a toll on my health and my relationship with Mrs. Flannestad.

In my head, I looked towards the UCSF Winter break as my finish line, and started mentioning to Mrs. Flannestad the idea of doing one thing or the other, but especially bartending.

I’ve done lots of different things in my life. I’ve worked as a line cook, I’ve delivered coffee, I worked as a janitor, worked as a dish washer, tested video games, maintained computers, etc. For over the last 15 years, I’ve worked in the Information Technology field, which is a long time for any job in my life. Maybe it was time to try something different. Find inspiration elsewhere.

I have always loved food and drink, maybe that was the way to go.

We came to a decision, and I gave notice at UCSF, my last day would be the last day before the Winter Break.

Visit family for the holiday, come back, maybe work part time for a month or two while I regroup and gather my thoughts, but hopefully make a living in restaurants once again.

Of course, nothing is quite that simple, when I gave notice at UCSF, they countered with an offer to stay on temporarily at half time in the New Year.

As I hadn’t yet organized full time hours as a bartender, it seemed like a safe bet to take.

That’s where I am now, I’ve completed my first month as a part time tech worker and part time bartender.

As far as I can tell, I’ve got a couple more months of this, feet in both worlds, before I absolutely have to start looking for new opportunities, but I’m excited. A new year, a new start, interesting new challenges.

As Mrs. Flannestad said to me, “This is the first time, in a long time, that I can remember you actually being excited about a job.”

Here’s to interesting times!

Life in the Service Industry

“Is this someone influenced by the Red Hot Chili Peppers or someone who influenced them?”

It’s Funkadelic, the title song from their album “Cosmic Slop”, so I’m going to go with “Influencer”.

—-

“I want to get a Corgi and name it ‘Stein’.”

“Stein”? Why Stein, some German thing?

“There’s this Anime, “Cowboy Bebop”, which has a Corgi named ‘Ein’ in it, named after Albert Einstein. Then I want to name my child ‘Albert’. Do you think that is too weird?”

Well, weird names are kind of in these days… “Cowboy Bebop” was a great series. Movie was a little disappointing, but you know.

“Yeah, if you hadn’t had enough by the time you got the movie, it wouldn’t have been perfect.”

Unnamed Brooklyn Variation (That Other Thing)

2 oz Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1 generous teaspoon Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with grapefruit twist.

Life in the Service Industry

Server A: “I finally got my best friend to send me my albums.”

You mean vinyl albums or CDs.

Server A: “Yeah, vinyl albums. I have a bunch more at home, but she sent about 40. It was surprisingly cheap to send them as media mail.”

Cool!

Server A: “Yeah, I don’t buy CDs any more. If I can’t find it on torrent, I’ll maybe buy it from apple, but I haven’t bought a CD in a long time. Plus, when you buy vinyl, they usually give you the digital version for free.”

Nice! Yeah, I got a turntable for Michele for Christmas. I have a really excellent turntable I’ve had since college, but it’s belt drive, so you have to track down new belts every couple years. It’s just gotten harder to find the belts over the years.

Server B: “I buy vinyl and have a Crosley turntable, but I don’t really use it too much. I just mostly listen to digital.”