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    Episode 179 – Breaking Bloody (Part 4.1) Fire and Spice

    Intense heat from peppers is very painful, and usually we reject painful things. But yet we like negative stimulation in the case of horror films, or rollercoasters…so we embrace these things that are a little aversive in contexts in which we can control them.

    Benign Masochism Research
    Dan was also kind enough to provide me with some research papers on this subject, and although we don’t have time to do a full literature review, I thought I’d pull out some of the main themes for you.
    Glad to be sad and other examples of benign masochism (Published in Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 8, No. 4, July 2013, pp. 439-447)
    In a 2013 summary paper, Paul Rozin and colleagues were able to pull out some general trends associated with benign masochism across a wide variety of human activities. For example, watching very scary or sad movies, the taste of strong alcohol, bitterness, or capsaicin, disgusting jokes, thrill rides, and even the “hurts so good” physical pain of an intense massage.
    A couple findings that I found really interesting from this research were that A.) people tend to enjoy their physiological reactions to negative experiences, and B.) people most enjoy levels of discomfort that are juuuust on the tolerable side of uncomfortable. This second fact, to me, could have huge implications on how we can think about the role of spice in a Bloody Mary.
    Gustatory pleasure and pain. The offset of acute physical pain enhances responsiveness to taste. (Published in Appetite 72, 2014, 150-155)
    Another paper by Bastian and colleagues summarizes three different studies conducted to explore the relationship between physical pain and flavor perception. They discovered three significant findings:

    FIrst, physical pain is linked to greater enjoyment of a flavor. So in essence, participants were split into “pain” and “no pain” conditions and then asked to eat a chocolate flavored biscuit. Those in the pain condition rated their liking of the biscuit as significantly higher.

    Next, the researchers found that physical pain increases perceived intensity of tastes. So, same kind of “pain” and “no pain” conditions, and the participants in the pain group rated sweet, sour, salty, and bitter tastes as more intense than the people in the no pain condition.

    Finally, they demonstrated that pain made people more sensitive to the presence of a flavor by demonstrating that participants in a pain condition were much more likely to correctly identify a flavor extract at lower concentrations than those in a non-pain condition.

    In short, pain makes us enjoy flavors more, experience them more intensely, and identify them with great sensitivity. So I think the logical takeaway here is that if you want people to enjoy eating at your restaurant or drinking at your cocktail bar just that little bit more, you need to hire a spanking sommelier who can go around and inflict just the right amount of pain on your guests. It would be kind of a 21st century update to the professional foot ticklers employed by the court of Catherine the Great.
    I’m not kidding about that one. Look it up.
    Spicing Up the Bloody Mary Cocktail
    If there’s anything that this research demonstrates, it’s that we don’t want THAT much spice in our Bloody Marys. It sends us back to a word that some more experienced home bartenders take for granted: balance. But this isn’t just about modulating sweet and sour, like in a daiquiri. We’ve got pretty much every possible flavor bouncing around in the Bloody Mary, and somehow, we’re supposed to bring them all into harmony. This task is further complicated by the fact that in most recipes, you’re going to have multiple sources of spice, acid, and umami.
    So in the perfect Bloody Mary, we want spice, but not too much. And the kicker is that the definition of what constitutes “too much” is going to vary from person to person, creating not only a flavor problem, but also a language problem. Thinking back to our benign masochism research, is there a world in which everyone could have the perfect level of spice for their palate? Is there a way to bring each individual riiiight to the edge of discomfort, but not cross the line?
    Perhaps not.
    But I do think there are ways to present Bloody Marys on a cocktail menu in a way that comes close. The key, it would seem, is to give people options.’
    Finding the Right “Spice Neighborhood” for You
    Think about other situations where there’s an objective flavor fact that you need to communicate to people. My go-to example here is the doneness of a burger or a piece of meat, which can be communicated using a number (i.e. internal temperature) or a trade term (like “medium rare”). When I, as a patron, say “medium rare,” you, as a chef, know exactly how to prepare that food to give me exactly what I want.
    A simpler example could simply be the little chili pepper scores next to different dishes on a Thai menu, for example. No chilis means mild, and the more chilis you add on, the spicier it gets. This may be a slightly blunter instrument than temperature-correlated doneness, but it still helps get people into the right neighborhood where they want to be.
    Manipulating Options and Garnishes
    So if you were to ask me how I’d try to give people their perfect Bloody Mary if I ran a cocktail bar, here’s what I’d do. LEGGI TUTTO

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    Episode 178 – American Cider

    2 oz Campari

    2 oz of a dry, white Italian wine (like a pinot grigio or a Verdicchio)

    And some soda water to top it all off

    The nice thing about the Bicicleta is that it’s a built drink. You take your Campari and wine, pour them into a highball glass, add ice, top with sparkling water and garnish with half an orange wheel. Simple, delicious, and to the point.
    According to PUNCH, this spritz variation was named after the old Italian men on bikes who might have a hard time riding in a straight line as they return home from a few drinks at the bar in the afternoon. And, although we might still be in winter’s grasp here on the East Coast of the US, there’s no rule out there that says you can’t fantasize about summer spritzes all year round.
    Show Notes
    American Cider was written with the intention of providing cultural and historical context for what’s happening in today’s cider industry. Dan’s background in the wine world, paired with Craig’s experience as a food journalist, yields a text that considers our nation’s cidermaking traditions and apples region-by-region. The book also contains hand-illustrated maps by wine expert and artist James Sligh that add texture and a sense of place to the book.
    Some of the books and online resources mentioned by Dan and Craig include: LEGGI TUTTO

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    Episode 177 – The Future of Hospitality Education

    4-5 oz of freshly brewed and piping hot coffee

    1 teaspoon (or 2 small bar spoons) of brown sugar

    2 oz of your favorite Irish Whiskey

    And a generous dollop of lightly whipped heavy cream

    Now, in the same way that great cocktail bars are going to chill your glass before pouring a drink, we need to flip the script here and heat the glass up by pouring hot water into it while you prep the drink. This will allow you to slowly sip and savor your Irish coffee without it getting cold.
    When you’ve got your ingredients ready, pitch the hot water, put your brown sugar in the bottom of the glass, add your whiskey and coffee, then stir to dissolve the sugar. Once the drink is mixed, you’re going to pour your lightly whipped heavy cream over a bar spoon so that it floats right on the top of the drink.
    If you think about it, the Irish coffee is just a hotter, more diluted (and caffeinated) take on the Old Fashioned. Spirits? Check. Sugar? Check. Water? Check. Bitters? Well, that’s where the coffee comes in. Later on, Brian gives us two big “DOs” and two big “DON’Ts” for making the perfect Irish coffee, so be sure to stick around for the lightning round. LEGGI TUTTO

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    Episode 176 – Smoke and Leaded Crystal

    Now, a couple things bear explaining here. First off, according to a recent PUNCH article by Robert Simonson, the Elmo Cola was invented by bar consultant Tim Kirkland for the St. Elmo Steak House in Indianapolis. Second, there’s not what I would consider a true “formulation” for this drink because it’s something of a proprietary secret. So take my speculative recipe as a template and feel free to tweak it from there.
    To prepare a batch of this drink, which is kinda the love child of a Rock & Rye and a cherry coke, you’ll want to infuse the bourbon with the vanilla beans for about 3 days to 1 week. You’ll notice we haven’t added the cherries yet, and that’s because they’ll lower the proof of the bourbon, making the vanilla extraction less effective, so be sure to do the beans first. Then do a slightly shorter extract on the cherries. I’d recommend about 48 hours, shaking periodically.
    Apparently, the St. Elmo’s recipe uses both sweet and tart cherries from Michigan, but if that’s a little much for you to source, pick the kind that appeals most to YOUR palate and stick with that variety. Also, if the spirit moves you, you can always add a little bit of cherry juice to brighten, sweeten, and lengthen things.
    Recently, a bottled version of the Elmo Cola base was launched in Indiana, and according to Simonson it’s bottled at 88 proof, which suggests that a fairly high proof Bourbon is used to extract the cherry and vanilla before then being diluted by the cherry juice, so I’d lean toward using a bonded bourbon for this project if at all possible.
    When it comes time to serve your Elmo Cola, all you need to do is pour 2 ounces of the infused bourbon over ice, top with 4-6 oz of your favorite cola, then garnish with a brandied cherry and – if you’re feeling fancy – an expressed orange twist.
    DIY Bar Cart Setups
    This first question comes to us from our listener Robbie via Instagram, who messaged us saying:

    “Hiya, great pod! Wondering if you can get more specific than the Bar Cart Foundations “hardware” episode about where to get a bar cart / sturdy surface under $500. So far I’ve started with an X-shaped keyboard stand with a spray painted piece of plywood on top and am looking for something a bit sturdier, maybe an affordable bar cart with a rustic-style look. Thanks!”

    Well Robbie, I’m really glad you reached out because this is a great reminder that we can always go back and add to our foundations material. It’s been probably about 3 years since that episode launched, and I’ve sure learned a lot in that time, so let’s tackle this question.
    When it comes to bar carts or what I’ll otherwise refer to as a bar cabinet or “dry bar,” you’ve got a number of great options out there, but you really need to be honest with yourself at the outset about how handy you intend on being with this project. If you’re pretty good with tools, there are a lot of REALLY cheap options for making a custom bar cart or dry bar. But, if you don’t have a good set of tools or much experience working with wood or metal, I’d recommend forking out the money to save yourself some aggravation.
    In my experience, the best way to get a really nice bar cart for an affordable price is to keep your eyes peeled at antique stores. You could even call around to a bunch of them in your area and ask if they have any bar carts in stock. This approach is best for people who really enjoy the little chemical rush when you get a great deal on something, or conversely, for those folks out there who enjoy taking their time and enjoying the process of the hunt.
    Personally, I sourced by Bar Cart from friend of the podcast Brandy here in DC, who loves to refurbish vintage furniture, but that was complete luck. I will say, though, that I was able to upgrade the wheels by purchasing some vintage-looking casters on Amazon for about $15, and I’ll have a link to those on the show notes page for this episode.
    Speaking of wheels or casters, this brings us to an important question when it comes to sourcing a bar cart: do you really need to move it? Bar carts were initially designed for table-side service at restaurants, where the bartender would actually construction your drink right in front of you, but in most cases, home or apartment bar carts are relatively stationary, which means you might even pose the question: does your setup even need to be on wheels in the first place? Or, put differently, are wheels a practical or an aesthetic consideration?
    Next, you’ll want to think about the materials you want your bar cart to be made of. Most of the cheaper ones out there are made of aluminum, particle board, or in some cases soft wood like pine or poplar. Expensive bar carts tend to employ sturdier or richer materials like brass, stainless steel, glass, and hardwood, but these materials really increase the price, so if money is your primary concern, you’re left with two options: source the materials and build it yourself, or settle for an attractive, but less luxurious pre-made bar cart.
    Ultimately, judging by the tone of Robbie’s question, I have two big pieces of advice:

    First, get to know your ideal dimensions. If you plan on actually using your bar cart or bar cabinet for actually constructing your drinks, make sure it hits that sweet spot for you so that you’re not having to bend down to stir or pour your cocktails. To figure out what that optimal height is for you, take a tape measure and record the height of your favorite meal prep surface – in essence, the place in your home where you’d naturally make a cocktail if you didn’t have a bar cart. Armed with that knowledge, you can make smart choices that you won’t regret when you finally get the thing into your home. Also, if you’re planning to store bottles INSIDE your bar cart because keeping them out of sight is important to you, well…just make sure your bar cart has a cabinet large enough to accommodate even the tallest bottles you tend to keep around.

    Second, think outside the box when it comes to materials sourcing. There are some DIY bar cart builds out there that involve going to Lowe’s or Home Depot and picking up some wood and some paint and some screws and then following some pictures and instructions online. But I’d recommend trying to find a store that sells reclaimed wood or recycled materials, like a cross between a hardware store and an antique mall. There’s one near DC called Community Forklift (link in the show notes), and I’ve sourced some really cool wood for book shelves there, and I guarantee they have lots of stuff that’s just begging to be transformed into a bar cart.

    Last thing here, Robbie – what if you imagined the look of your ideal bar cart in your mind. Ditch the keyboard stand altogether. What does it look like? Once you have a good picture, I’d simply ask: is there a more affordable piece of furniture that this bar cart resembles? And if there is, why not source that night stand or desk and simply install some wheels on it so that it becomes a bar cart? Could be as simple as that.
    If Robbie or anyone else out there has the chance to flex those DIY muscles and make a cool bar cart, we hope you’ll take the chance to send us some pictures and share your process via Instagram, Facebook or Email.
    Decanter Talk
    Our next question – which is more of a general interest topic – comes courtesy of friend of the pod Greg in Kansas City. You may remember a giveaway of his cocktail artwork that we did a while back.
    He recently reached out asking about sourcing affordable spirits decanters, which got me thinking that we’ve never really covered this subject outside of our Infinity Bottles interview with Chad Robinson, so I figured we’d cover some decanter basics in this episode. LEGGI TUTTO

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    Episode 175 – Intro to Aquavit with Christian Krogstad

    We’re here, though, to talk specifically about Aquavit, the traditional Nordic spirit that walks and talks a little bit like gin, while following a few of its own unique botanical rules. But, before we launch our long-ships on seas perfumed by caraway and dill, let’s take a moment so that you can make yourself a drink,
    In this Aquavit-driven conversation with Christian Krogstad, creator of Krogstad Aquavit, some of the topics we discuss include:

    What differentiates Aquavit from other botanical spirits like gin and genever

    How Christian noticed an impending gap in Aquavit imports and used it as an opportunity to develop and launch his own brand.

    The place that this Nordic spirit holds in Scandinavian cuisine and culture, including which foods to pair it with.

    A few cocktails to play around with as you begin to build out your Aquavit collection at home,

    What to drink with a college-age Stephen Hawking,

    And much, much more

    Featured Cocktail: Norwegian Paralysis
    This episode’s featured cocktail is the Norwegian Paralysis. Developed by Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove fame, it’s a relatively low-ABV Tiki drink that gives Aquavit a chance to stretch its tropical legs. To make it, you’ll need: LEGGI TUTTO

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    Episode 174 – Indicate THIS

    In this Bar Cart Foundations episode, Eric offers a crash course in
    geographic indications – the rules that govern the materials, processes,
    and label claims that define our spirits. LEGGI TUTTO

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    MBC LIVE – Themed Tasting 1 – Jamaican Rum

    What’s shakin, cocktail fans? Welcome to Modern Bar Cart LIVE!
    This is one of our live stream episodes where we taste through a number of themed bottles to try and get a better understanding of one of the world’s most fascinating spirits categories. Tto kick off the New Year in style, we’re going to crack open a few historic bottles of Jamaican-style rum and compare them to a couple of the more widely available Jamaican expressions on the market. This is my co-founder, Ethan Hall’s area of growing expertise so he is the guide on this particular flavor tour. 
    The bottles we taste, in order, are:
    I know those last two are a mouthful, and believe me, they’re each delicious mouthfuls in their own way, so definitely stick around to hear about how those two offerings from Habitation Velier are pretty different from the stuff you can find on most liquor store shelves.
    No need for a whole lot of preamble on this episode – so grab a Glencairn glass and join us for this delightful four-bottle tasting of Jamaican rum. LEGGI TUTTO