Not-Groni

Oh, right, it’s Negroni week. Awesome. Another FoodBev industry circle jerk, like this industry needs an excuse to overindulge.

Oh, right, a portion is donated to charity. It’s for the kids, we’re drinking for the children.

Anyway, a friend stopped by the bar Monday and after he had sampled our blended and barrel aged Negronis on offer for Negroni Week, he said he wanted to venture off menu and try a Negroni variation with No 3 London Dry Gin, Cynar, and Vermouth.

Gin, Cynar, and Vermouth, you say?

I can do that!

I felt a bit inspired by the Chrysanthemum Cocktail for it, and came up with this “Not-Groni”, “Reverse-Negroni,” or maybe “Mixed Up Negroni”. I believe my friend was calling it a “Gron-i-mum”.

1 1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1 oz Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz Cynar

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

Usually when people “lighten” Negronis, they increase the Gin and decrease the Campari and Italian Vermouth by equal parts. But, really, it is the sweetness of the Campari that is weighing down the drink. Swapping in a Blanc for the Red Vermouth and pumping it up turns a digestiv cocktail into and aperitif.

Oh, oops, I didn’t use the No 3 Gin, how on earth did that happen?

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.

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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

Meyer Lemon Rickey

A friend recently came back with some pictures from Pouring Ribbons in New York. Apparently, the talented bartenders there have been doing interesting things with ice.

In one case, they make puck shaped ice circles which nearly perfectly fit in an old fashioned type rocks glass. They build a portion of the drink, place the cube in the glass, then pour another portion of the drink on top of the cube. As the drink sits, the two parts slowly come together as the ice melts.

Dammit, Joaquin, you are making us look like we are not trying!

The idea of a drink that evolves as you consume it has always appealed to me, whether it was layers or flavors which come out as it warms, or through some other physical process.

At Alembic, where I sometimes work, they have been making ice made from water lightly flavored with cucumber for one of their drinks.

I like tea, so I was wondering about making ice from tea. Could you make a drink evolve by using ice made from strong tea?

I have a comical comment in my notebook, “Long Island Tea Ice,” which cracked me up when I first thought of it.

A few weeks ago, Erik Adkins had asked me about some posts I had written on eGullet in 2007 regarding the Rickey. I had to do some internet autopsy action to even remember what I had written.

The Rickey is a simple drink: Spirit, Lemon (or lime), and Soda. A very literal Highball with Lemon.

From Gary Regan’s writeup of the Rickey:

Whiskey Joe Rickey is Cool, Lemon or Lime

Joe Rickey disavowed the drink, though, saying in an interview published in an Ohio newspaper in 1900, “The ‘rickey’ originated in Washington, and I was in a sense responsible for it. You see, it was like this: I never drank whisky neat – it’s a mighty injurious system – but whisky diluted with a little water won’t hurt anybody. Of course, a carbonated water makes it brighter and more palatable, and for that reason I always took a long drink, usually whisky and water with a lump of ice.

“This is the highball of common commerce, and has been known to thirsty humanity for many generations. To this, however, I added the juice of a lemon in my desire to get a healthful drink, for the lemon acid is highly beneficial and tones up the stomach wonderfully.

“This combination became very popular at Shoomaker’s in Washington, where I did most of my drinking, and gradually the folks began asking for those drinks that Rickey drinks. About this time the use of limes became fairly common, and one afternoon an experimenter tried the effect of lime juice instead of lemon juice in the drink, and from that time on all ‘rickey’ were made from limes.

“I never drink the lime juice combination myself because I think the lemon acid is mellower and more beneficial.”

That may be, but the juice of a whole regular modern lemon makes for a pretty tart drink.

Thinking about that, myself, I thought of Meyer Lemons and their slightly lower acid content. Plus, I’ve always liked the gamey-thyme like flavor of their peel with Rye Whiskey.

Also, what if I upped the complexity of the drink a bit, by using the tea flavored ice?

If you’re using tea flavored ice, you might as well use a strong flavored tea…

Meyer Lemon Rickey

Rye Whiskey Rickey, with Meyer Lemon and Tea Ice

1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
Juice 1 Meyer Lemon
1 Lapsang Souchong Tea Ice Cube*
Soda Water

Pour the Rye Whiskey and Lemon over the ice cube in a highball glass (smallish is better, 8 oz is best). Stir briefly. Top with a little soda and stir once.

*Lapsang Souchong Tea is a black tea dried by smoking over a fire. It displays strong campfire notes. Brew a double strong batch of tea (2 tsp per cup) and pour into ice cube molds. Freeze.

At first you don’t really notice the smoke notes of the ice, but by the end, you wonder, “Is this a Scotch Rickey”?

Stay tuned for Long Island Tea Ice…

Problems in Modern Mixology

The Martini poses a problem for the Modern Mixologist.

It is composed of a required three parts: Gin, Dry Vermouth, and Orange Bitters, with a lot variation on execution and garnish.

However, the main thing we struggle with, in these modern times, is how to get the Gin into the drink.

Everyone loves Dry Vermouth, so that’s not a problem, but not a lot of people love Gin.

In varying degrees, they think Gin will:

  • Cause them to behave erratically.
  • Be smelled on their breath by officers of the law.
  • Be perceived by their peers as a sign of aging.
  • Send them straight to hell.

Extreme Modern Mixologists propose that simply infusing your Dry Vermouth with Juniper is sufficient. Juniper plus Dry Vermouth equals a Martini.

Other Modern Mixologists theorize that simply placing the gin in a sunbeam, and having that sunbeam strike the mixing tin is sufficient.

I disagree, I think there must at least be some hint of Gin in the drink.

The Martini issue can be solved with the salaciously named ‘good old in-and-out’. That is, you pour the gin IN over your ice cubes, agitate briefly, pour the Gin OUT, then add the Dry Vermouth and bitters.

This is OK, but I often find the Gin accidentally, and embarrassingly, spilling into my mouth. Never Good, with the potential for unintended drunkenness.

I propose another solution:

Misto

Load your favorite Misting device with Gin, Navy Strength for extra credit, and in a semi-vintage bottle, for a gold star. As a bonus, this can be used as an aftershave applicator, attracting lonely, alcoholic, spinsters, or even, perhaps, widowers, depending on your predilections. Plus, Gin Scented Flame Thrower!

Martini, Extra-Wet

3 oz Dry Vermouth
2 Dash Orange Bitters
Gin Loaded Mister

METHOD: Add Dry Vermouth and Orange Bitters to a chilled mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled. Spray Cocktail Glass with Gin Mist. Strain drink into glass. Garnish as required.

For extra points, I thought I might tackle applying this technique to the much maligned Vesper Cocktail. Why, not even it’s creator, Ian Fleming, liked the drink. Perhaps with a bit of tweaking, we can fix its problems.

The traditional “Vesper” is typically quoted from “Casino Royale”, as follows, “Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one Vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?”

Let’s see if we can’t bring this black sheep of a drink back into the fold.

The main problems, are twofold. First, too much Gin. Second, no one can agree on what the recipe means by “Kina Lillet”.

As we have several contenders for the “Kina Lillet” throne, perhaps we can use all three, and their combined might will overcome what one alone cannot.

Reverse Vesper

Evening Prayer, a.k.a. Why Can’t We All Just Get Along

1 oz Cocchi Americano
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 oz Kina l’Avion d’Or
1/2 oz Oude Genever*

Gin Loaded Mister (see above)
Orange Zest

METHOD: Combine Cocchi, Lillet, Kina l’Avion, and Genever in a chilled mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well chilled. Spray Cocktail Glass with Gin Mist. Strain cocktail into glass and zest orange over glass.

A little intense, but not bad. You’ve got the fruity, light flavor of the Lillet, the bitter intensity of the Kina l’Avion, and the Orange, Cinnamon Gentian of the Cocchi. Not bad, for a first try. I think this whole thing might work out, after all.

*I just never have any Vodka in the house. I refuse spend money on flavorless spirits, and whenever I get some for free I end up using it in an infusion. Genever is tastier, anyway.

Dorchester and the Manhattan

Continuing the writeup of the day I spent in London celebrating the life and legacy of Harry Craddock.

Previous Posts:

Gunnersbury Tube Station

Robert Burns, The Savoy Hotel, and the White Lady

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and the Sidecar

Cafe Royal and The Bronx Cocktail

We arrived at the Dorchester Hotel, where we were escorted, of course, to The Bar.

“The delights of cocktail hour have returned to London with The Bar at The Dorchester. Established as one of the places in the capital to see and be seen, The Bar at The Dorchester is renowned as much for its rich, opulent interior as for its menu of new and classic cocktails, devised by world-renowned expert alchemist Giuliano Morandin and his team, whose awards are too many to list.

“A rich palette of black, browns and aubergine combine with luxurious lacquered mahogany, mirrored glass, velvet and dramatic red glass-spears, to create the perfect night-time atmosphere. The long, sexy, curved bar offers one of the finest selections of spirits, champagnes and wines in London with a menu to match.”

Gotta love press releases and advertising copy.

Dorchester Bar

Glassware was already chilling, waiting to be filled with Manhattans.

I just like the sequence of expressions on Anistatia, the barman, and Peter Dorelli’s faces in these next three photos.

Peter and Anistatia One

Peter and Anistatia Two

Peter and Anistatia Three

Ahem, moving along…

Pouring Manhattans at Dorchester

(Photo by Jared Brown)

The interesting thing about Harry’s tenure at the Dorchester, is that for a long time neither the hotel nor Jared and Anistatia could find any actual evidence, in print or otherwise, of Harry’s time there.

From Wikipedia:

“The Dorchester Hotel was created by Malcolm McAlpine, a partner in the building company Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons and the managing director of Gordon Hotels Ltd, Sir Frances Towle, who shared a vision of creating the ‘perfect hotel’: ultramodern and ultra-efficient, with all the conveniences modern technology could supply. So, in 1929 their two companies jointly bought the Dorchester House, a large 19th-century building, and quickly had it demolished. Sir Owen Williams & William Curtis Green were commissioned to design the new hotel, using reinforced concrete to allow the creation of large internal spaces without support pillars.. The construction was carried out by Sir Robert McAlpine, with the upper eight floors erected in just 10 weeks, supported on a massive three feet thick reinforced concrete deck that forms the roof of the first floor.

“During the Second World War, the strength of its construction gave the hotel the reputation of being one of London’s safest buildings. Cabinet Ministers, such as Lord Halifax and Duff Cooper, stayed there during this time, as did Winston Churchill, who had a wall built to add privacy to his balcony, which still exists. General Dwight D. Eisenhower took a suite on the first floor (now the Eisenhower Suite) in 1942 after previously having stayed at Claridge’s. Diners at the Dorchester from cultural circles during this period included Cyril Connolly, T. S. Eliot, Harold Nicolson, and Edith Sitwell.”

If Harry was at the Dorchester, he was serving quite the clientele!

Dorchester Letter Explained

(Photo by Jared Brown)

However, a letter recently came to light. Giuliano Morandin, manager of the Dorchester bar, explained he had a guest come in who said he had a letter from Harry Craddock which had been addressed to his father. Apparently, the guest’s father was something of a regular, and Harry felt it necessary to send him a letter, reassuring the father that he was not retiring, and he would be able to find him behind the bar at the Dorchester, “every day”. Ah, regulars.

Harry retired from the Dorchester in April of 1947, at age 74. He would help open one more bar, the bar at Brown’s Hotel, in 1951, before completely retiring from bartending.

Magic Shaker and Manhattan

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Salim Khoury and Giuliano Morandin placed the sample of the Manhattan Cocktail into the shaker time capsule.

Dorchester Group Shot

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Our group gathers for one last shot, in front of the Dorchester.

Once more, to the cabs, and back, I believe, to the Savoy Hotel, for the final cocktail.

Into the cars once more!

An Engineer’s Guide to Cocktails

Hi!

An Engineer friend of mine, Kevin Liu, has written a book.

It is called “Craft Cocktails at Home“, but it should really be called, “An Engineer’s Guide to Cocktails”.

Lest you forget, a couple of Engineers made a very funny video a while back about the care and feeding of Felis silvestris catus for the literal minded. They called it, “An Engineer’s Guide to Cats”. I include it here, on the off chance that you have not laughed out loud recently.

From my initial skimming of the book, like the video, Kevin also manages to balance the geeky, the amusing, and the ridiculous in his new guide to Cocktails.

Also! The Kindle eBook version will be available for free! (Free, as in Beer!) from 28 Feb 2013 through 02 Mar 2013 on Amazon:

Craft Cocktails at Home on Amazon

Check it, and you will soon be using phrases like, “Orthonasal Olfaction,” in everyday conversation, not to mention enjoying perfectly clear ice in every cocktail!

I include a brief sample of the writing style, here, for your enjoyment.

Why Some People Hate the Taste of Alcohol and What You Can Do About It

I have a friend named Wes who cannot stand the taste of alcohol. At all. And I know it’s not his fault. He’s always a good sport, tasting every single drink I’ve made for him. Each time, he smiles, as if confident this time, this drink, he’ll find something he’ll genuinely enjoy and know exactly what to order at bars forever. For me, it’s like watching a car wreck in slow motion. I carefully study his face, looking for a sign, the slightest hint of a smile that indicates he’s pleased, satisfied, or at least indifferent. But, every time it ends the same. Wes’s face tightens with disgust, his eyes squint, and his tongue hangs limp from his defeated mouth. Wes drinks Bud Lime and Corona. I drink the leftovers of Wes’s cocktails. Once in a while, I’ll mix up something exceptionally light and he’ll happily accept a glass in the privacy of the home bar, knowing he’ll never be able to bring himself to ask for an Amaretto Sour or a Dark and Stormy (hold the stormy) in public. Poor Wes.

So, go buy Kevin’s book. Or download it for free on Amazon and buy Kevin a drink the next time you see him, for all the work he has done in the service of cocktails, and the advancement of mankind.

A Little Hanky Panky

Well, clearly the first order of business on this trip should be to hie myself to the Savoy Hotel and enjoy a Hanky Panky!

Savoy Hotel Facade, night

Nice chat with personable Savoy Barman, Christian, originally from Northern Italy.

Christian Garnishes

He garnishes the Hanky Panky with a wide swath of Orange!

Enjoying Hankyp

Wonderful, to experience and dedication he takes to the craft, a wonderful Japanese style shake, hand cracked perfectly clear ice for stirred cocktails.

Tequila Drink

For the second drink, he chose to make us a drink he had made for an event matching Tequila with Japanese Food. Beautifully refreshing and light, it contained Matcha Green Tea, Citrus, and Tequila.

Pints at The Harp

Of course, the second priority must be pints of Real Ale! The Harp has a great selection of well kept cask ale, recommended if you are in the neighborhood.

Downton Abbey & Savoy Hotel

The other day I received an invitation to an event in London celebrating the life and legacy of Harry Craddock and the launch of Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller‘s new book, “The Deans of Drink“.

As a blogger, my usual response it, “Gee, thanks for the invite, but I live in San Francisco and am not independently wealthy.”

Thinking about it a bit more, it seemed like it was something I should at least try to get to, so I contacted a friend, Trevor Easter, who worked for the liquor company sponsoring the event, and he said he would talk to his superiors.

Unfortunately, the company had made the decision that they weren’t sending anyone from the West Coast to the event.

I was bummed.

But, Trevor Easter, being the swell guy that he is, said, well, I can’t give you money, but I have lots of Gin. Maybe we can do an event, and you can make some tips toward the ticket.

Couple hours later, I get a text, a phone call, and an email. “Quick, get back to me, I think we can do something. H is doing a thing for the Downton Abbey premiere at Elixir and an English Gin event would be perfect. You can make some Savoy Cocktails with Plymouth Gin and some money towards your ticket.”

Righto! Tally Ho! Carry Forth Jeeves!

So I’ll be making some Plymouth Gin Cocktails at Elixir on Sunday after 8 PM and hopefully making a little money towards the ticket to London.

Stop by and enjoy a Gin Cocktail or two and help me get there!