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.

Thanksgiving, 2012

Some notes from this year’s Thanksgiving festivities.

Willie Bird Turkey

Regarding the Turkey, for the last couple years I bought heritage breed turkeys. While these were tasty, I found the cost/benefit for them didn’t really work out. They are very, very expensive for a Turkey that pretty much tastes like any other Turkey. So this year, I went with an Organic, free range, plain old, Willie Bird from Santa Rosa.

For all of my adult life, I have approached the turkey by separating the leg/thigh half from the breast and cooking them separately, a trick I learned from Julia Child’s The Way To Cook. For some, I guess there is a little disappointment in not presenting a whole bird to the table, but for me the benefit of being able to cook the dark and white meat separately has always outweighed that. It also significantly reduces the cooking time of both halves.

However, this year I took this a step further. Mrs. Flannestad found a recipe in Parade Magazine, of all places, from Mr Mario Batali:

Mario Batali’s Stuffed Turkey

Tacchino Ripieno — for non-Italians, that means turkey stuffed with chestnuts and prunes — is chef Mario Batali’s favorite way to cook turkey because, he says, it never comes out dry. It features a crisp-well-seasoned skin, can be baked in an hour, and may be cut straight through, just like a regular roast.

Turkey Breast stuffed with Prunes, Chestnuts, and pancetta! How could we NOT make this recipe?

I more or less followed the recipe, though I did buy a whole turkey and bone it out myself. What can I say, I like dark meat.

Boned Out Turkey Pieces

I found I really only needed about half the amount of stuffing which the recipe made. I also didn’t quite pay attention, that Mr Batali instructs you to separate the two breast lobes and stuff them separately. Stuffing the whole breast added a little time to the roasting. One big advantage to this recipe, is you can use most of the bones and giblets to make turkey stock before thanksgiving day and have it ready to go for gravy.

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For the Leg/Thighs, I took out the thigh bones and cured them overnight in a mix of sugar, salt, and ground porcini mushrooms. Then the next day, I stuffed the thigh cavities with some of the prune stuffing and tied them up.

For dressing, I bought a rustic sourdough loaf a couple days before and cut it into cubes. I sauteed maitake and cremini mushrooms and also some mirepoix. Then mixed them with the cubed bread, moistened with stock and cooked the leg/thighs on top of the dressing.

Sweet Potatoe Pecan Pie

This year’s pie came from Alton Brown: Sweet Potato Pie with Pecans The only liberty I took with Alton’s recipe was roasting the sweet potatoes and to use Goat Yoghurt, instead of cow.

Strange, how dogs seem more attracted to raw Turkey than cooked…

Monty, Paying Attention

Girl Music Geeks

As anyone who has worked in food service will tell you, oft times you get pressed into service making Food and/or drinks for your significant other and their friends.

Mrs Flannestad has a group of friends who also are really into music, and they get together from time to time to listen to music or watch concert videos.

This time they came over to our house, so I made dinner.

Beets!

One of my favorite winter vegetables, Beets, are great, and tomatero farms had some that were so great looking at the Alemany Farmers’ Market Saturday that I couldn’t resist. Though, it is good to float them past the attendees to make sure no one has had bad experiences in the past. Like cilantro, people often have strong opinions about beets. My favorite way to deal with them is just to wash them, wrap them whole in foil, and throw them in the oven until they are cooked through. When they are done, it is very easy to rinse them under running water and just slide the outside skin off the beets.

Mirepoix

I wanted to make Israeli Cous Cous, but our local grocery doesn’t carry it, so I opted for a type of italian pasta called riso instead. It is about the size and shape of rice and can be braised, just like arborio rice.

Spatchcocked!

I can’t remember what magazine I got this chicken recipe from. It’s kind of a ‘wet rub’, not dissimilar to some Mexican preparations for grilling. You roughly chop an onion and a couple cloves of garlic. Throw them in a blender with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, salt, a couple tablespoons of vinegar, fresh Marjoram, and a generous helping of good paprika. I like to use a mix of regular and smoked paprika. Then rub this over your whole, or Spatchcocked, chicken and let it stand. Grill or roast in a hot oven. Super tasty and super easy.

Greens!

For the riso dish, you basically do it like risotto. Put some stock on a low heat. Toast the riso in a pan with olive oil. Add some mirepoix and saute. Add stock to just cover and continue to cook until it is al dente. I added some saffron to the stock and cooked some thinly sliced collard greens to add later.

Roasted Beets

When the beets are tender, and you have skinned them, you can do whatever you like with them. I tossed them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. I made a simple sauce of yoghurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, dill, and scallions to serve with them.

Roasted Chicken

The marinade does get a little dark, but it is super tasty, the onions become sweet and really tasty.

Dinner

Deglaze the roasting pan, add some flour and cook. Stir in some chicken stock and you’ve got pan gravy. Cut your chicken into serving pieces.

Dessert

I’ve been into fuyu persimmons lately, often serving them with salads. This time I opted for dessert. Before dinner, I tossed them with sugar and balsamic vinegar and left them to macerate. To serve, I put a shortbread cooking into a bowl, a spoonful of Cowgirl fromage blanc with a drizzle of San Francisco Beekeepers’ Mission Honey, and then added the persimmons with the juice that had accumulated. Super easy and super tasty.

Then we all popped some beers, sat down, and watched the new Jonathan Demme Neil Young concert film ‘Journeys’.

A great night of music geekery, food, and beer.

Porkpourri

It’s funny, a lot of my friends got the Momofuku cookbook and the first thing they tried to make was the ridiculously complicated Ramen recipe.

To me, though, the first thing that stood out was the Bo Ssäm.

All you do is order a pork shoulder from your favorite butcher, say Avedano’s Holly Park Market. Make a sugar and salt rub for a pork shoulder.

Let it sit in your fridge for a day or two. I will warn you, the smell of the semi cured pork shoulder will draw neighborhood dogs. Ignore their pleading eyes and throw it in the oven at 300F.

Get the rest of your dinner in order, like a Plum Frangiapani tart from Mission Pie.

Baste the roasts every hour. Really, who needs air fresheners when you can slow roast a pork shoulder?

And something like 6 hours later, you have a delicious dinner. This was about half way.

Discussing exactly how much longer for the roast. Seemed pretty tender to the fork.

Have some friends over who know how to shuck oysters.

Get set up…

Have them teach you how to shuck.

Though you have to be careful not to stab yourself.

Get rolling on the shucking…

Have some friends over who make beer. My favorite comment of the evening: “You have no idea how hot it is watching my Jewish wife learn to shuck oysters.”

Heck, it never hurts to have a scientist around to remind you about the potential dangers of eating raw shellfish…

Unfortunately, after this things got a little greasy and somehow none of the rest of the photos turned out. Suffice it to say, a good time was had by all.

Reform Club

First, just a reminder that Sunday, September 25, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) 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.

One of the nice things about working in restaurants, is when you can go out and enjoy the fruits of your friends labors.

In this case, a popup in the Specchio space called Reform Club. The meal and beverage pairings below were done by Allyson Harvie (Citizen Cake, Ragazza), Becky Pezzullo (Undercover Supper, Bar Bambino), and Dion Jardine (Slanted Door, Heavens Dog). I don’t know Allyson or Becky very well, but I worked many, many nights with Dion when he was working at Heaven’s Dog.

corn soup, eggplant caponata,
tomato, basil, balsamic
(and pork)

Dry Gin, Blackberry puree, Sherry.

roasted fig salad,
ham, almonds, ricotta salata

Aged Rum, Lime, Ginger Syrup, Egg White.

mixed heritage pork roast: belly, sausage, loin,
mustard spätzle, braised chard, market fruit

baked gravenstein apple
cinnamon, raisins, butter, brown sugar
(and pork)
Paired with a Chenin Blanc from Chatueau Soucherie.

There may also have been shots of Angostura Bitters…

The next Reform Club Dinner is planned for October 16, with a menu and chef soon to be announced. Join the mailing list, follow the twitter, “like” them on facebook, read their tumblr, support my friends’ labor of love, and have some awesome food and drink!

Fat Tuesday, 2010

Fat Tuesday at Chez Flannestad.

Soaking Beans

Beans and aromatics.

Cajun Triumvirate

Cajun Triumvirate.

Sangre de Toro

Rancho Gordo Sangre de Toro Beans.

Roux

Flour into hot oil.

Roux

About half way there.

Saute Veggies

Veggies into the cooked roux.

Cornbread

A nice skillet corn bread.

Fixins

Bar prepared.  How many drinks can you think of with these ingredients?

Choose Your Own Rye

Choose your own spirit for the Sazerac!

Gumbo

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo with Okra.

Beans & Greens

Beans with Collard Greens.

Anita MADE a fantastic King Cake.

I am slightly disturbed by this photo.  OK, I may not have been thorough in removing all the bouquet garni from the beans.

Guests included the lawyer, the ice cream maker, IT Manager/Musician, the artist/DJ, and the blogger/photographer/tech couple.  I dunno, sign of the times that just about everyone has a “slash” in their life’s work, but doesn’t quite have the same ring as, “Butcher, Baker, and Candlestick Maker.”

Our new acquaintance, the ice cream maker, and I have been working on Sazerac Ice Cream.  We’re up to Iteration 4 now, and while still a work in progress, this one was the best so far.  It is tough to get enough of the Whiskey flavor and still have the ice cream freeze.  We served the Sazerac Ice Cream with Anita’s King Cake.  Mrs. Flannestad got the Baby!  Guess that means she’s making the cake next time!