Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Syrups

Syrups are one of the quintessential components for any knowledgeable bartender. They are what give a drink its sugar, it's sweetness. They are what making drinking fun, and not like drinking medicine. There are many great sugars in the world at a bartender's disposal and I'm going to touch on the most common and most versatile of these syrups. Coming soon I will be doing a post on making some more advanced syrups and I hope you take those techniques and create something truly that is your own.

Simple Syrup
Simple syrup is the easiest and most common sweetener in cocktails today. Is very quite simply, sugar and water. The most common type found in America is equal parts sugar and water by volume, put over some heat to remove any impurities. This is commonly referred to as 1:1 simple syrup. Across the pond, they use a ratio of 2:1. This is called rich simple syrup by many. The added sugar acts as a preservative which helps the shelf life of the syrup before it goes off and starts accumulating mold. The reason we use syrups instead of accurately measuring granulated sugar is because sugar dissolves very slowly in cold environments like cocktails. No one wants a muddy puddle of raw sugar at the bottom of their drink. Simple syrups are typically made with plain white sugar, but they can also be made with brown sugar which is comprised of 3.5-6.5% molasses. Many bartenders have opted to use Demerara sugar, or Sugar in the Raw, made from crystallized sugar cane juice, which brings some notes or caramel and molasses. 

Honey Syrup
For the record, a honey syrup is not the same as honey. Raw honey right from the bottle is far too dense to be incorporated in a cocktail. Even a hot toddy might not dissolve all of it. Again, we simply mix our raw honey equal parts with water, ideally with heat to remove impurities and help the shelf life. When you pick out a bottle of honey from the store try to make sure you invest in a quality honey, not one from a little plastic bear. Pure honey can have citrus notes or even taste grainy. different styles like sage honey can be quite delicate while avocado honey is richer, almost buttery. I'm not saying you need eight different honey syrups, but be aware of how different kinds of honey can compliment different cocktails. 

Maple Syrup
Maple syrup can be a very fun syrup to use in whiskey cocktails. Again we need to dilute it to make it functional for cocktails. It is made in the same style as honey syrup. Take maple syrup and add it to hot water in equal parts. Again, the stuff in the plastic log cabin isn't that great quality. Premium maple syrup is incredibly easy to find at your average farmers market and you can probably find some quality syrups at the supermarket, but it might take some experimentation and research to find the best quality. Some people think that Canadian or Vermont maple syrup is the best. This isn't necessarily true, it's just that climates with greatly changing seasons yield more sap as the seasons change. These regions thus produce more and get a name for being producers. I made maple syrup in my house with my father in Massachusetts since I was old enough to carry a bucket. and it tasted great. As a kid, I liked the plastic bottle of Log Cabin, but when I grew older I enjoyed the richer woodier flavor, especially with some whiskey. Dad's Hat has actually started aging maple syrup in their old whiskey barrels.

Agave Nectar
Agave nectar is actually the concentrated compound from which tequila and mezcal (mescal) is fermented and distilled. Most agave nectar comes from the blue agave, the agave used in all tequila production, but it can come from other species as well. Agave nectar, like honey and maple syrup, contains fructose, not the sucrose found in granulated sugar. Nutritionally they behave the exact same way. They are just broken down differently in the liver. Agave nectar is arguably the sweetest syrup you will find common behind the bar. Agave nectar can come in two varieties, light and dark. Light is fairly flavor neutral while the darker varieties can pick up flavors of caramel, and even some fruity pineapple notes. As always the plastic bottles you find in the average supermarket are very close to high fructose corn syrup but you can find less processed nectars if you look hard enough.


"Health - what my friends are always drinking to before they fall down."
- Phyllis Diller

Thursday, May 14, 2015

#113 Chansey

This is a part of an ongoing project I'm working on to make a Pokemon cocktails for each and every Pokemon. I'm starting with just generation one and we'll see how the response is. 151 drinks is a tall order, but people have done crazier things. If I succeed I will most likely publish an eBook or possibly hard copy collections of each drink. Give them a try and let me know what you think. 

1 1/2 oz. Gin
1/4 oz. Campari
1/4 oz. Pomegranate Juice
3/4 oz. Grapefruit Juice
1 oz. Simple syrup
Ice Sphere

Add all the ingredients to a mixing tin. Shake well with ice. Double strain into a stemless wine glass with an ice sphere. Garnish with an expressed mint leaf or two for aromatics. 

This cocktail was a fun little blend of a Negroni and some form of sour. I tried to combine a number of medically helpful ingredients. Chansey was after all Nurse Joy's aide in the earlier seasons of Pokemon before Audino. The obvious temptation was to use egg, and I tinkered with variants of the Clover Club, a Philadelphia classic, but I just didn't like the way that they looked. The white foam was nice, but I love the idea of a nice round wine glass and a cool ice sphere jutting out to symbolize the egg. The idea honestly crossed my mind to use a hard boiled egg as a garnish as this does work as a fantastic breakfast cocktail. 


"Chansey, the Egg Pokémon, and the evolved form of Happiny. Chansey is a kind Pokémon who shares its egg with those who are sick or injured."

Tangela -->
<-- Rhydon

Recommended Brands: Beefeater 24, and fresh juices or at least ones not from concentrate

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Berry JAMboree

This was a cocktail I created for the BOLS Around The World Competition. The goal being to create a truly memorable low alcohol cocktail. The only rules were that the drink had to use no more than 1/2 oz. of 80 proof spirit, that the drink had to use at least 1/2 oz of BOLS liqueur, and that the drink not exceed 12% ABV. It was actually a lot of fun playing with this drink. Low alcohol meant that I could actually try more than 3 of my drinks a day. 

1 Egg White
1 oz. Lemon Juice
3/4 oz. Strawberry Liqueur
1/2 oz. Gin
1/2 oz Blueberry preserves
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup

Add all the ingredients to a shaker without ice. Dry shake vigorously. Once blended, add ice and shake again. Double strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a split strawberry. 

This drink really didn't have any inspiration. This was my first time using jam or preserves in a drink. Blueberry really adds a lot of color to the drink. I tried it with egg white to thicken it up and it really does feel like a smoothie. The strawberry garnish is great because once the guest is done drinking they can use the berry to soak up any foam that was left clinging to the glass. The final alcohol by volume of this drink would be a little under 9.6% depending on ice melt

"Now is the time for drinking, now is the time to make the earth shake with dancing."
- Horace

Friday, May 8, 2015

#015 Beedrill

This is a part of an ongoing project I'm working on to make a Pokemon cocktails for each and every Pokemon. I'm starting with just generation one and we'll see how the response is. 151 drinks is a tall order, but people have done crazier things. If I succeed I will most likely publish an eBook or possibly hard copy collections of each drink. Give them a try and let me know what you think. 

1 1/2 oz. Pepper Infused Tequila
1/2 oz. Blood Orange Liqueur
1 oz. Honey Syrup
1 oz. Lemon Juice
Top Sparkling Wine


Add all the ingredients except the bubbly to a mixing tin. Shake well with ice. Double strain into a tulip glass with ice. Top with bubbly. Garnish with two spears of serrano pepper. 

To make a pepper-infused tequila simply fill a small mason jar with whatever type of peppers you'd like. Make sure you cut it up to about 1/2" pieces to increase the surface area. Personally, I'm a fan of serrano pepper for this cocktail. Many people may prefer to use a Jalapeno or Habanero pepper, but I find that serrano offers a very balanced flavor and heat for this drink. If you don't want too much spice to dominate the drink I recommend seeding the peppers first. Pour tequila over the peppers, seal the jar and give it a little shake. I like a Reposado tequila here. The slight smokiness brings out the pepper flavors, but an Anejo could work as well. I find that about 6 hours is enough to get a full pepper flavor without it becoming too potent. For seeded Jalapenos and Habaneros, less time may be prudent.

This drink again takes a lot of inspiration from the margarita. A common variation I've seen in chain restaurants these days is a champagne margarita with a little split of sparkling wine stuck into the drink just like the Coronarita. Beedrill is a bee, so for a sweetener, honey was the obvious choice. It also has a potent poisonous sting that can supposedly kill, so I wanted a little more spice in this one. I find that blood orange plays a bit better with spice that Cointreau or another triple sec. Add a little lemon juice and bubbly and you have yourself a great drink to sip on out on the patio on a hot spring day. 

"Beedrill. This Pokémon is an evolved form of Weedle, following its Kakuna stage. Its sting is highly poisonous."

Pidgey -->
<-- Kakuna

Recommended Brands: Milagro Reposado, Solerno, wildflower honey, fresh lemon juice, Comte de Bucques Brut

#014 Kakuna

This is a part of an ongoing project I'm working on to make a Pokemon cocktails for each and every Pokemon. I'm starting with just generation one and we'll see how the response is. 151 drinks is a tall order, but people have done crazier things. If I succeed I will most likely publish an eBook or possibly hard copy collections of each drink. Give them a try and let me know what you think. 

1 1/4 oz. Reposado Tequila
1/2 oz. Blood Orange Liqueur
1/2 oz. Honey Syrup
3/4 oz. Lemon Juice

Add all the ingredients to a mixing tin. Shake well with ice. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a small spear of serrano pepper that has been deseeded. 

This drink clearly takes a lot of inspiration from the margarita. I opted to use a Reposado tequila to help represent the middle nature of Kakuna. The insect and bee-like nature of this evolution line made honey an obvious choice for a sweetener. I like a wildflower honey syrup if you can find it. A different orange liqueur could be used, but I adore Solerno, and I find it pairs better with spicy and smokey flavors which are going to be more present in our last iteration of this evolutionary line. You have to have a bit of sting in your bee Pokemon. 

"Kakuna, a transitional stage between Weedle and Beedrill. Kakunas remain inactive until they evolve into deadly Beedrills and hatch."
<-- Weedle

Recommended Brands: Milagro Reposado, Solerno, wildflower honey, fresh lemon juice

#013 Weedle

This is a part of an ongoing project I'm working on to make a Pokemon cocktails for each and every Pokemon. I'm starting with just generation one and we'll see how the response is. 151 drinks is a tall order, but people have done crazier things. If I succeed I will most likely publish an eBook or possibly hard copy collections of each drink. Give them a try and let me know what you think. 

1 1/4 oz. Mezcal
1/2 oz. Blood Orange Liqueur
1/4 oz. Honey Syrup
Gusano

Add all the ingredients to a mixing tin. Shake well with ice. Double strain into a shooter glass. Garnish with the worm from a mescal bottle if possible. A thin lemon twist can also work. 

For this cocktail I knew I wanted to use mezcal. The little worm in the bottle looks just like a Weedle. Well, technically it's a caterpillar of a moth but it just matches up so well. Weedle turns into a cocoon and then evolves again, strangely enough into a bee, but the theory is there. The use of honey does naturally take inspiration from Weedle's final evolution (not counting the mega). I knew I'd wind up going with a sort of margarita vibe in the later iterations so I opted for one of my favorite liqueurs, Solerno, a blood orange liqueur. This shot does pack quite a punch alcohol-wise. But the flavor does very well. A sweet smokey earthy flavor makes for a very fun shot or cocktail.

"Weedle. The stinger on this Pokémon's head guarantees that any attacker will get the point right where it hurts."

<-- Butterfree

Recommended Brands: Ilegal Reposado, Solerno

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Brandy 301: Let's try some Brandy Cocktails

Brandies and cognacs are probably the least used liquors for cocktails. I, personally, find that very sad. Brandy is such a fun thing to play with. It has so many layers and complexities which can make cocktails feel a bit muddy, but a light hand can create a great balance and really let brandy shine among the other ingredients. 

Sidecar
1 ½ oz. Cognac, ¾ oz. Cointreau, ¾ oz. Lemon Juice, Sugar Rim
Add all the ingredients to a mixing tin with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass with a sugar rim. Garnish with a lemon twist or an orange slice. 
The sidecar is a very classic cocktail. It is effectively a brandy sour with Cointreau instead of a raw sugar element. It has quite a history. The exact history is a bit hazy but it seems to have come about toward the end of World War I and began appearing in books in the early 20's. The invention of this drink is credited to an American Army captain. This drink did come from France, just look at the ingredients, supposedly at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. Supposedly the captain would go to the bar and order this cocktail. He'd get a bit drunk and one of his privates would have to shuttle him home in the sidecar of a motorcycle. The drink eventually took its name from this mode of transport. 

Brandy Alexander
1 oz. Brandy, 1 oz. Dark Crème de Cacao, 1 oz. Heavy Cream
Add all the ingredients to a mixing tin with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with some freshly grated nutmeg. 
The original Alexander cocktail supposedly uses gin instead of brandy. Brandy just brings so much more to the drink in my opinion. Brandy is an after dinner drink; it's a dessert. It blends with other desserts with ease. Gin just doesn't work as well. This drink dates way back to 1915 or earlier. You probably know the cream drinks made popular in the 60's. Grasshoppers, creamsicles, pink squirrels, and the like share many similarities with the alexander. The Alexander tends to have a bit more alcohol and are a bit more serious a drink. 

Apple Brandy Hot Toddy
1 oz. Apple Brandy, 1 oz. Bärenjäger, 4 oz. boiling water, Nutmeg
Start by warming an Irish coffee mug with boiling hot water. Once warm, remove the water and add the Brandy and Bärenjäger. Add the nutmeg and fill with more boiling water.  Stir lightly. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a lemon wedge. 
The original Hot Toddy would be made with whiskey, rum, or brandy. They would add hot water, honey, and a few baking spices. It's gone through countless iterations, but the combination of apple and honey with some baking spice is used across the board in baking. This drink can be made with calvados instead of an American apple brandy. It's like an apple pie in smooth liquid form. Some people will actually throw a tea bag into the hot water do add a bit more flavor to the drink. 

Pisco Sour
2oz. Pisco, 1oz. Lime juice, 1oz. Simple Syrup, Egg,
Crack an egg and separate the white into the drink. Add all the ingredients to a mixing tin without ice. Dry shake until well emulsified. Open the tin, add ice, and shake again. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. To garnish, drop 3 droplets of angostura bitters across the foam of the drink. 
Traditionally this drink uses Peruvian Pisco. It was invented in Lima, Peru in the early 20's by an American, just after the sidecar was gaining popularity in Europe. It went through some iterations, figuring out the best citrus and eventually adding the egg and bitters. This has led to some debate as to the real origin of the cocktail. Some experts are convinced it came about in 1915 while others will say up to nearly a decade later. This has become something of a national drink. On the first Saturday of February, Peruvians do have a national holiday celebrating the cocktail. Give it a try, the new flavors and textures have opened many people to a new level of drinking. 

Special mention to: Pierre Collins, Beautiful, DOM B&B, Godchild, Stinger, and the Jack Rose

“Art is wine and experience is the brandy we distill from it”
-Robertson Davies