If You Were a Cocktail Ingredient, What Would You Be?
Bitters. They’re the most versatile ingredient, and they come in so many flavors. To me, bitters are like the perfect wardrobe: if you have the right assortment, you can transform any cocktail.
Cocktail with Anyone, Past or Present
Trevor Noah – I adore him. I love, his background, his book (Born a Crime), how he talks about current events but adds some humor and some nuance to it. I’d love to sit outdoors with him, a bucket of beer, and a bottle of reposado Tequila and just shoot the shit for hours.
Cocktail Ingredient You’ve Never Tasted
I think I’ve tasted them all…? But I really hate guava and Fernet.
Unusual or Controversial Believe You Hold in the Spirits/Cocktail Space
I do believe that bars should have a menu of canned cocktails and hard seltzers. One or two White Claws, some Tequila Sodas, and a couple canned cocktails. No muss, no fuss, the consumer wants them, but a lot of bars are like, “no, that’s not our style.” If you’re curious, I have an Instagram account called @readytodrinklife, where I review RTD cocktails. LEGGI TUTTO
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If You Were a Cocktail Ingredient, What Would You Be?
The Silver and Golden Fiz cocktails, however, were shaken over ice, poured into a glass, and THEN topped off – and here’s the kicker – ONLY with seltzer water.
This tells us a few things. Obviously, to achieve the rich, desserty texture from the egg, you really need to shake the drink. This much should be clear to anyone who has worked with eggs in cocktails. But to me what’s more interesting is that Jerry Thomas knew that big bubbles – the kind you get from a seltzer gun – were the only thing to use in a rich, dessert- style cocktail if you want to achieve contrast with the other ingredients – in order to make the drink feel effervescent despite its heavy, sweet flavor profile.
If you want to learn more about egg-based drinks or the difference between sparkling water and seltzer water, head over to Episode 029 – Egg Cocktails, or Episode 099 – Bursting Bubbles. Also, if you do decide to head over to the show notes page for this episode to check out that PDF of Jerry Thomas’ Bar Tender’s Guide, the recipes I just mentioned are on pages 46 and 47 – which are pages 50 and 51 of the PDF document. The more you know.
Featured Cocktail: The Ramos Gin Fizz
Now, of course, I’d be remiss if I moved on without mentioning what’s probably the most iconic Fizz cocktail in the book – the Ramos Gin Fizz, invented by Henry C. Ramos of the Imperial Cabinet Bar in New Orleans in 1888 – one year after the final publication of The Professor’s Bar Tender’s Manual. This cocktail extends the fizz format by adding dairy (in the form of heavy cream) and orange blossom water to the recipe. It also modifies the process to generate an uncommonly rich head of foam on the drink by employing a method called the “dry shake,” where some drink components of the cocktail are beat up in the shaker without ice to begin denaturing the egg whites without the unhelpful presence of ice or dilution.
To make it, you’ll need:
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (1:1, sugar:water)
3 dashes orange flower water
1 ounce heavy cream
1 egg white
2 ounces soda water
Combine all ingredients except soda water in a cocktail shaker with NO ice, and make sure you really maintain the seal with your hands – otherwise, you’re gonna be wearing most of the drink. Give that a good, solid shake for at least 15-20 seconds (or until you hear and feel the consistency of the drink begin to change in the shaker). At this point, add your ice and shake for a further 15-20 seconds before straining into a highball glass, topping with soda, garnishing optionally with half an orange wheel, and enjoying it through a straw.
To me, the Ramos Gin Fizz is the Apotheosis – the high water mark – of the fizz family. It attains a level of decadence hinted at by Jerry Thomas’ Silver and Golden Fiz cocktails, while still fitting comfortably within a category that started with a little booze, a little sugar, a little citrus, and some bubbles.
A Brief History of the Spritz
So, now that we’re comfortable with the Fizz category, let’s get spritzy. And of course, the first cocktail that comes to mind when we say “Spritz” is the mighty Aperol variant. It’s everywhere. It’s delicious – and so why shouldn’t it be the first thing we think of when the word is uttered?
It’s a weird thing to say, but the Spritz – in my opinion – is both older and younger than the Fizz – or perhaps more accurately stated, the origins of the spritz are older, but it didn’t reach its height of popularity or development until fizzes were old news. LEGGI TUTTO
How Chava and Lou came to fall in love with Mezcal – each in their own special way. Lou by way of beer and Chava, well…his journey may have involved a little under-aged drinking something called “Aguas Locas,” aka Crazy Waters.
What makes agave spirits so special – including milling, direct-fire distillation, earthen oven roasting, and a terroir unique from any other in the world.
Of course, we talk about Agave Road Trip, but more importantly, we try to capture some of the stories, flavors, and a few examples of the 400 decisions (and that’s not a random number) that mezcaleros must make as they cultivate, ferment, and distill their products.
There’s a few other important discussions that anchor this interview:
One is the recap of an agave tasting seminar Lou gave at Tales of the Cocktail 2019, where he walked people through a 3 by 3 comparative tasting that demonstrated the fingerprint of the agave varietal vs. the fingerprint off the mezcalero, vs. the fingerprint of the moment (or the batch, or the microbiome).
Another is our attempt at explaining the very tricky line that external interests must walk when interacting with the mezcal community. This is a question I’ve been stewing on since I met Lou a year ago, and I think we uncover some really important questions that all gringos need to consider when we make choices about mezcal.
And finally, we do a little thought experiment to figure out what the world might look like if agave spirits were produced in places outside of Mexico.
Between Chava’s intimate understanding of the engineering and production side of agave spirits and Lou’s experience running a non-profit that addresses food and water insecurity in the communities responsible for these incredible products, you’re in for a real treat here.
You get a real sense for the humor and passion that underpin the Agave Road Trip podcast, which you can download for free on all your favorite podcasting platforms. You can also support them by visiting HeritageRadioNetwork.com, clicking on the beating heart at the top of the screen, and selecting “Agave Road Trip” as the beneficiary of your donation.
Featured Cocktail: The Esplanade Swizzle
This episode’s featured cocktail is the Esplanade Swizzle, and I love this drink for a couple reasons. First, it was developed by Chicago bartender Danny Shapiro, and we have a great Chicago connection in this episode with Lou Bank, who calls Chi-town his home when he’s not journeying around Oaxaca. Second, it’s got Amontillado Sherry, which is arguably my FAVORITE style of Sherry – lightly oxidized, nutty, and complex.
To make the Esplanade Swizzle, you’ll need:
Fill a highball glass halfway with crushed or pebble ice, add your ingredients, give them a good, healthy jostle with a swizzle stick, then top with more crushed ice, garnish with a freshly activated sprig of mint, and enjoy.
Swizzles are a great way to embrace the summer heat. The crushed ice and falernum give the Esplanade Swizzle a distinct “tiki” vibe, while the ginger syrup and the amontillado sherry offer some rich, spicy notes to complement the mezcal.
Below, you’ll see Eric’s capture of the 3 x 3 mezcal tasting that Lou conducted at Tales of the Cocktail 2019. The top row demonstrates the fingerprint of the agave varietal (3 different varietals, same distiller/method). The middle row demonstrates the fingerprint of the mezcalero (same varietal, same methods, 3 different distillers), and the bottom row demonstrates the fingerprint of the “moment” (same mezcalero, same varietal, 3 different open fermented batches). LEGGI TUTTO
How Greg transitioned from a career in the brewing world to a life behind the stick, slinging cocktails, niche agave spirits, and happiness.
A little about the two podcasts that Greg helps bring to the airwaves, including the deep-dive, historical contemplations of Bar None and the weekly, boozy nerd-out sessions of The Speakeasy.
Then, we focus in on the main subject of this episode: the RESTAURANTS Act – and YES, RESTAURANTS, in this case, is an acronym. A very long, very apt acronym.
We talk about the origins of this possible service industry bailout, what it’s designed to do for the hospitality world, and the potential impacts it could have if passed.
We do a little thought experiment about winning the hearts and minds of legislators as if we were the ghosts of cocktail bars past, present, and future,
We riff on the bitter beauty of gentian liqueurs and existential Yelp reviews,
And much, much more.
Not only does Greg have a great voice, but he’s also super passionate about his home bar community in New York City and the larger service industry community that has been devastated by this here super virus we’re all rightfully terrified of. It’s always tricky to talk about the logistics and politics of a bailout, but in my opinion, there’s no better companion for that conversation than the man who thinks Suze can solve all the world’s problems.
Featured Cocktail Garnish: Brandied Cherries
This episode’s featured cocktail is…well…not a cocktail at all. But it is a recipe that we recently developed for Brandied Cherries. These delicious little flavor bombs are made from tart (or sour) cherries – usually the Montmorency variety – and the ripeness window for these cherries is a pretty narrow one – and we happen to be right in the middle of it here in mid-July. So, if you live near upstate New York, Michigan, or the Pacific Northwest where the majority of these fruits are grown, then you might just be in the position to grab a few quarts and try your hand at brandying them.
The recipe below is a fusion of one by The Spruce Eats and Alex Luboff’s recipe for brandied cherries from the Speaking Easy Podcast. Basically, we took what we thought were the best aspects of each.
The ingredients you’ll need are as follows:
1.5 pounds of sour cherries
6 oz (by weight) of sugar
6 fluid ounces of water
8 oz of Brandy – we used the ubiquitous E&J VS, which you can purchase by the handle
1 cinnamon stick
1 oz fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon of salt
This should ideally yield about 2 pints of brandied cherries, so feel free to scale it up or down as you see fit.
The process for making these cherries is pretty simple if you’ve ever canned anything before. But if you don’t have any experience canning, it might make sense for you to do a little outside research before you commit because there IS a potential for messing this up if you’re a beginner. Essentially, though, the production steps are as follows:
First, you’ve got to pit and de-stem your cherries. This is a step that wasn’t done in the Speaking Easy recipe, but it’s super easy if you’re willing to part with less than 15 bucks for a cherry/olive pitting tool on Amazon. My advice? Definitely de-pit your cherries. But make sure you do it right before you brandy the cherries because they’re super delicate and have thin skins. You don’t want these sitting in their own juices overnight.
Next, combine your water, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and spices (clove and cinnamon) in a saucepan or pot on the stovetop, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Once you’ve let all those flavors get to know one another, you add your Brandy, continuing to stir over VERY low heat until the liquid reduces a little. Remember you’re adding alcohol to a heat source here, so be sure to follow instructions and use EXTREME caution.
Then, once you’ve got the brandy syrup where you want it, add the cherries and their juices, stirring very gently until you’re confident that juice is evenly incorporated.
At this point, it’s time to can, and we recommend doing this in a large stock pot where you can set up a boiling hot water bath. This process in itself contains several important food safety steps, so be sure to check out this canning resource if you have any questions about the process. LEGGI TUTTO
This is one of your quick and dirty “built” cocktails, and if there’s one thing you need to know, it’s the order in which you build it. First, you take your glass – in this case a highball or a large rocks glass – fill it with ice, then add your booze, and THEN top it off with your mixer. See, if you do it the other way around, you’ll need to stir because the booze will float on top of the juice, but by building your drink in the correct order you can really embrace the no-tools-necessary freedom of the Cape Cod cocktail.
Garnish-wise, a lime wheel is traditional, but I could also see a few fresh cranberries skewered on a cocktail pick as a nice homage to the boggy berry to which the Cape Code owes its name and flavor.
The Cape Cod is a tangy, refreshing way to beat the heat without breaking a sweat with your cocktail shaker, and if you’re a lazy home bartender like I am, you should always keep a little vodka and cran on hand.
In this conversation with Craig LeHoulier, we get pretty granular about the history and science of the tomato. Of course, tomato juice is arguably the Bloody Mary’s titular ingredient, so it makes sense that we start with this base and work our way out.
What is a Tomato? LEGGI TUTTO
In this episode, we’ll feature a milk punch recipe created by everyone’s favorite syphilitic founding father, Ben Franklin. To make it, you’ll need:
One 25 oz bottle of Cognac
½ whole nutmeg (grated) (or ½ tsp ground nutmeg)
The peels of 8 lemons
16 oz water
8 oz lemon juice
12 oz whole milk (this is important – any other type of milk won’t work as well)
¾ cup of sugar
This is about a 2-day process, so if you’re smart, you’ll start on a Wednesday evening in preparation for having your drink finished and chilled for Friday night.
Day 1: Peel your 8 lemons and then let the peels infuse into the Cognac in a large mason jar. This is the easy part.
Day 2: Strain out those lemon peels and discard them. Then get out two saucepans: a large one and a small one. In the large saucepan, combine your cognac, water, sugar, nutmeg, and lemon juice, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then, put your milk in the small saucepan and heat it gently until it’s just about to boil. When it boils, add the milk to the rest of the mixture, give it a gentle stir, and then place it in the fridge (covered) for several hours or overnight.
Once you’ve let your mixture sit for a little while, you’ll notice that the acid in the lemon juice has denatured the proteins in the milk, separating the solid curds from the sugary, liquid whey. This is the “sciencey” part of milk punch because you’re basically using these proteins to strip away any particulate matter that makes the drink cloudy.
Now it’s time to strain, and the problem with straining is that most people either have very rough strainers (like sieves or Chinoises) or very fine strainers like coffee filters. The problem with this is as follows: If you strain your milk punch from a sieve into a coffee filter, you’ll only catch the largest particles, and anything that escapes will immediately clog your coffee filter.
So, what we’d recommend doing is purchasing something called a nut milk bag or a jelly bag. These are usually made of nylon, which means they’re super re-usable, and they serve as an excellent intermediate step between your rough pass filter and your finishing coffee filter. And for anyone who’s rolling their eyes right now thinking that the nut milk bag is overkill – that’s fine. You’ll have plenty of time to reconsider your stance while you’re staring at a coffee filter filled with goop.
At the end of the milk clarification process, you should have a golden-colored punch that is completely clear, and the real mind-boggling thing about this beverage is that it doesn’t look like there’s milk in it – and yet you still get this creamy, rich mouthfeel from the whey. For more in-depth info on the history of milk punch and even more tips for making it at home, check out Episode 76, which I’ll link to in the show notes page.
One last piece of housekeeping for this recipe: clarified milk punch still contains lactose, so it’s unfortunately still off the menu for folks with sensitivity to that compound – but for the rest of us, it’s a fun way to bend the relationship between what you see in your glass and how you think it will taste.
What is Molecular Mixology?
Molecular mixology is a trend that builds upon the molecular gastronomy craze popularized by Spanish chef Ferran Adrià (elBulli) and British chef Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck) in the early 2000s. In general, molecular gastronomy is characterized by manipulation of physical or chemical forces (temperature, texture, pressure, chemical composition, etc.) to deconstruct or otherwise transform the ingredients in a dish. Likewise, in molecular mixology, many of these techniques are applied to cocktails. Some popular methods and ingredients in the molecular mixology space include: LEGGI TUTTO
I’ve already got 40 recipes logged in that spreadsheet, which will remain under lock and keyboard until I’m ready to unveil it, but I also wanted to have a community aspect to this project. So if you have a favorite Bloody Mary recipe – either from a book, a magazine, the internet, or a maybe even a secret family recipe – please do give us a shout by emailing [email protected] or sending us a message on Instagram @ModernBarCart. Ideally, I’d like to pump up the number of recipes on the spreadsheet to at least 100 so we can hit that triple digit mark, so any help I can get along the way from our listeners’ informed palates would be A-mazing.
Now, just because I’m out there on my Pequod hunting down my zesty, red nemesis doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally have time to work on other stuff as well. So here’s a quick rundown of other things we have in the works.
Episodes in the Works
On the “Bar Cart Essentials” side of things, I’m really looking forward to a couple important episodes that are long overdue.
One of them is the topic of smoked cocktails. This is admittedly a bit of a blind spot for me, but I did recently acquire a smoker, and I’ve been busy testing a few techniques that I’m excited to share with you. We’ll of course talk about what smoke is (in case you were under the impression that it was wood ghosts), how to use it to infuse drinks, and which flavor pairings are most smoke friendly.
Another bar cart foundations episode we’re lining up for later this year is a deep dive on hydrosols, the most popular of which are rose water and orange blossom water. These are ingredients in some pretty epic cocktails, including the Ramos Gin Fizz and the Mai Tai, but few people really understand how they’re made and how one might go about preparing their own hydrosol, so we’ll also be diving deep on that topic.
On the interview side, we’ve got lots of exciting things in the works. We’ll hopefully be able to snag someone from Tales of the Cocktail and/or Bar Convent Brooklyn to talk about how these really huge cocktail conferences are going digital while we continue to battle this pandemic. And I’m super excited about that because it presents awesome opportunities for home consumers who might not have the budget to jump on a plane and fork out for a hotel room in New Orleans or New York City. So stay tuned for that.
We’re also lining up some interviews with folks who are doing important work in the spirits world as it pertains to equitable treatment of workers who harvest grapes and agave, as well as some folks who are doing interesting things with water (you know, that thing that usually comprises more than 50% of the volume of a distilled spirit…) and alternative distillate bases, which are whey cool (pun intended).
Reach out with Your Suggestions!
If YOU have any other subjects you’d like us to cover or folks you think would make for great interviews, please do drop us a line and let us know. We always love hearing from you, and it’s your interest and enthusiasm that make this show possible in the first place.
That about does it for this little mini preview episode. Going into this Fourth of July weekend, where I know a lot of us are gonna do our best to get out and enjoy the warm weather in a safe way, please know that we’re still hard at work here at Modern Bar Cart trying to give you everything you need to make the most out of cocktails this summer. If you haven’t already, please check out our new glassware and bar tools over at ModernBarCart.com, and get ready for even more new product launches and partnerships coming this fall. LEGGI TUTTO
This episode’s featured drink is The Rose Cocktail. To make it, you’ll need:
2 ounces French vermouth (like Dolin)
1 ounce Kirschwasser (which is a cherry eau de vie)
1 teaspoon raspberry syrup (most popular as the key ingredient in the Clover Club)
And, if you’re a fan of our Embitterment Bitters, a dash or two of orange or lavender would be pretty nice in this drink.
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, stir for about 20 seconds until everything is well chilled and diluted, then strain into a stemmed cocktail glass and enjoy. There’s no traditional garnish stipulated here, so we’d recommend following the lead of whichever vermouth you’ve chosen to use and selecting a garnish accordingly.
It’s interesting that the only descriptor of the vermouth we could find for this drink is “French.” Now, that does tell us something – namely, that it’s a bit less sweet and often more floral than Italian vermouths. But it doesn’t tell us whether we should dope a sweet vermouth or a dry vermouth (or perhaps something like a white vermouth) into this recipe.
When we come up against situations like this in the cocktail world, we usually advise you to follow your heart. Which bottle do YOU think would pair best with Kirschwasser and raspberry syrup. In most cases, we think this is going to be a dry (or occasionally a white) vermouth, so if you’re on the fence, opt for one of those.
The Rose Cocktail is one member of Jake’s “Impregnable Quadrilateral of Low Alcohol Stirred Drinks,” so if that doozy of a title intrigues you, be sure to join us for the lightning round to find out what the other three members might be!
We’ve really been hoping to talk to someone in the distribution and importation industry for a while now because we think it really is one of the missing links in most people’s understanding of the spirits industry. It’s easy to think about a bottle being created by a distillery, but how it gets to be on the shelves at your liquor store or behind your favorite bar is a detail that sort of intentionally gets swept under the rug in many cases. In this chat, Jake takes us through the journey that a bottle undertakes in transit from Europe to the United States, and also what kind of value craft importers and distributors play in spirits supply chain.
What We Tasted
Pasubio Vino Amaro
This bottle is absolutely gorgeous and is a really compelling offering from Antica Erboristeria Cappelletti (best known for Aperitivo Cappelletti). Some of the botanicals and ingredients include a base of Marsala wine, alpine blueberries, smokey rhubarb root, and spices. The bright acidity from the blueberries and the marsala wine really helps this bottle to punch above its weight either in straight food pairings, or as a cocktail modifier. Coming in at just 17% ABV, it has the enviable position of working as a bitter fortified wine or as the cornerstone of a complex stirred cocktail. If none of that sounds appealing (first, we disagree), just make yourself a Pasubio and sparkling lemonade! LEGGI TUTTO