01 September 2008

Dave Broom/ Interview /September 2008

This month I thought I would mix it up by doing an interview a drinks writer/author rather than a bartender so here we go with the great Dave Broom...

1. What is the first alcoholic drink you remember tasting?

Crabbies Green Ginger at my Uncle Tom and Auntie Ei's house in Perth at Christmas time. I'd have been about 10. All other drinks were off limits, but in Scotland green ginger wine was somehow an exception to the rule.. like a vegetarian not classing bacon as meat I suppose. It was a long and slippery slope from there.


2. What are your 3 favourite drinks, cocktails or spirits? recipes if you have them?


Only three?! Mixed drinks I go classic: Negroni (made with Carpano Antica Formula and Beefeater), Manhattan (sweet, ideally with rye, if not Wild Turkey 101).

As far as spirit goes, it's a close call between aged rum and single malt Scotch, but not every expression of both!


3. Tell us about a new flavour you have discovered recently?


It's not a flavour it's an aroma and you showed it to me. It's called helional and is the smell of sunshine. Am searching for the equivalent turbo boost of life and brightness in alcoholic drinks. Am still deeply intrigued by the exoticism of Japanese whisky and some of the new gins [Jensen, Krahn, 209 in particular] oh.. and Japanese rum from Okinawa and Kagoshima. It's an exciting time at the moment.


4. If you could pass just one thing, on to a bartender what would it be?


Always ask why .. oh and don't believe the hype.

5. What does the future hold for yourself and what do you see happening in the future in the industry?

I never plan. I used to make plans, but they never quite worked out the way I believed they would. I'd love to get a new edition of the rum book out there and a whisky book as well, which looks at the subject from a slightly different angle. There will be more teaching and more talking and more travel. As for the industry .. predictions are dangerous things, especially given a volatile economic climate. The big firms will get bigger (either in size or in market share, or both) but there will be opportunities for the smarter smaller firm, but they'll have to be really smart. Everyone will be dazzled by the sheer scale of China and forget about the real long-term gains which can be made in America and Europe. Rum will continue to grow globally, but in different ways in each market. I hope that the bar scene will now spread beyond its strongholds and out into the world and that quality and flavour will be the key messages. I'd hope that people will finally see through the Emperor's new clothes with which vodka has attired itself.

6. What has been your biggest satisfaction from working behind in the spirits industry?

Free booze? Seeing the growth of the bar scene and a realisation on the part of the guys working there -- and some of the more enlightened companies (or some parts of some of the more enlightened companies!) that it's flavour which is the key. If that's your starting point and your obsession then a world of possibilities opens up for you. When I started (20 years ago this year!) you'd have to seek out shady bars in Soho to get a decent drink.. it was like finding a speakeasy, you went on recommendations and whispered conversations. Now every pub is making mojitos. OK, they're often crap [where the Mojito Hit Squad?] but that's still a huge shift in mindset in a pretty short time. I worry about the eiltism which has crept in .. people believing their own hype.. and regret the lack of work that's been done in getting the mass-market excited about quality drinks. That said, I'm genuinely enthused when I go to shows or do teaching gigs that there's a new generation of bartenders who really want to learn.

7. If you were to have a conversation with a cocktail/spirit, (and presuming it could talk back to you and tell you its past). Which cocktail/spirit would it be and why?


I've often had late night conversations with a spirit. It's told me marvellous things, has revealed the secrets of life and ways of solving the world's problems. Oft has been the time where these messages down only to find the trickster god of drink has scrambled the writing (and the brain) while I sleep, rendering the page unintelligible when I awake.
I'd ask a Manhattan where it came from, I'd ask Chartreuse about its past, I'd ask the rocks of Scotland why they called forth barley and then whisky, I'd ask a Jamaican rum "why??!! thank you, thank you for existing.. but.. what madness created you?"

8. What influences your drinks from outside the industry (i.e. art, fashion)?


Music. Anything from (he scans around) Congotronics to Leonard Cohen, folk to Japanese psychedelia. Nick Cave. Dub. No U2 though, or Queen. Or the fucking Verve. In fact no-one who plays in a stadium (bar the Stones) and has flags waved at then. It gets me through the day, it's a soundtrack to writing and sets mood and helps with the thinking. As I write this it's Harry Smith's 'Anthology of American Folk Music' Books as well. Lots of poetry, nature writing,techy things on perfume. Walking influences me.. getting out there and smelling the world. People give me a wide berth sometimes. Actually, always.

9. If you where to break a writers/journalist golden rule what would it be?

Rules like deadlines are made to be broken. How can you be creative if you're constrained by rules and regulations?


10. Outside of flavour and the craft of the cocktail what in your opinion affects the appreciation of a drinks the most?
Occasion. That's how drinks are brought into being. Get the occasion right and the drink will be perfect.

11. If you where to champion a drink, cocktail or spirit which would it be?
At the moment, rum, but then there's sake... actually there's gin! Jeez.. I'll keep on talking about them all.

06 August 2008

The Chef statement by Blumenthal, McGee, Keller and Ferran Adria


Personally speaking I think that their statement sums it up in a nutshell:

The world of food has changed a great deal in modern times. Change has come especially fast over the last decade. Along with many other developments, a new approach to cooking has emerged in restaurants around the globe, including our own. We feel that this approach has been widely misunderstood, both outside and inside our profession. Certain aspects of it are overemphasized and sensationalized, while others are ignored. We believe that this is an important time in the history of cooking, and wish to clarify the principles and thoughts that actually guide us. We hope that this statement will be useful to all people with an interest in food, but especially to our younger colleagues, the new generations of food professionals.

  1. Three basic principles guide our cooking: excellence, openness, and integrity.

    We are motivated above all by an aspiration to excellence. We wish to work with ingredients of the finest quality, and to realize the full potential of the food we choose to prepare, whether it is a single shot of espresso or a multicourse tasting menu.

    We believe that today and in the future, a commitment to excellence requires openness to all resources that can help us give pleasure and meaning to people through the medium of food. In the past, cooks and their dishes were constrained by many factors: the limited availability of ingredients and ways of transforming them, limited understanding of cooking processes, and the necessarily narrow definitions and expectations embodied in local tradition. Today there are many fewer constraints, and tremendous potential for the progress of our craft. We can choose from the entire planet’s ingredients, cooking methods, and traditions, and draw on all of human knowledge, to explore what it is possible to do with food and the experience of eating. This is not a new idea, but a new opportunity. Nearly two centuries ago, Brillat-Savarin wrote that ‘the discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star.”

    Paramount in everything we do is integrity. Our beliefs and commitments are sincere and do not follow the latest trend.

  2. Our cooking values tradition, builds on it, and along with tradition is part of the ongoing evolution of our craft .

    The world’s culinary traditions are collective, cumulative inventions, a heritage created by hundreds of generations of cooks. Tradition is the base which all cooks who aspire to excellence must know and master. Our open approach builds on the best that tradition has to offer.

    As with everything in life, our craft evolves, and has done so from the moment when man first realized the powers of fire. We embrace this natural process of evolution and aspire to influence it. We respect our rich history and at the same time attempt to play a small part in the history of tomorrow.

  3. We embrace innovation—new ingredients, techniques, appliances, information, and ideas—whenever it can make a real contribution to our cooking.

    We do not pursue novelty for its own sake. We may use modern thickeners, sugar substitutes, enzymes, liquid nitrogen, sous-vide, dehydration, and other nontraditional means, but these do not define our cooking. They are a few of the many tools that we are fortunate to have available as we strive to make delicious and stimulating dishes.

    Similarly, the disciplines of food chemistry and food technology are valuable sources of information and ideas for all cooks. Even the most straightforward traditional preparation can be strengthened by an understanding of its ingredients and methods, and chemists have been helping cooks for hundreds of years. The fashionable term “molecular gastronomy” was introduced relatively recently, in 1992, to name a particular academic workshop for scientists and chefs on the basic food chemistry of traditional dishes. That workshop did not influence our approach, and the term “molecular gastronomy” does not describe our cooking, or indeed any style of cooking.

  4. We believe that cooking can affect people in profound ways, and that a spirit of collaboration and sharing is essential to true progress in developing this potential.

    The act of eating engages all the senses as well as the mind. Preparing and serving food could therefore be the most complex and comprehensive of the performing arts. To explore the full expressive potential of food and cooking, we collaborate with scientists, from food chemists to psychologists, with artisans and artists (from all walks of the performing arts), architects, designers, industrial engineers. We also believe in the importance of collaboration and generosity among cooks: a readiness to share ideas and information, together with full acknowledgment of those who invent new techniques and dishes.
Heston Blumenthal, Harold McGee, Thomas Keller and Ferran Adria.

01 August 2008

Anasthasia Miller Interview August 2008


1. What is the first cocktail you ever made?
A martini. My dad was fanatic for them. The second was strange: a layered King Alphonse.

2. What are your 3 favourite drinks plus recipes; old, new and your own?


a. Bradford a la Martini

3 parts Gin
1 part Lillet Blanc

2 dashes Regan's Orange Bitters

Shaken not stirred over ice.
Strained into a frozen cocktail glass.
Garnished with a lemon twist.


b. Mi Amante
1 part espresso gelato
1 part Gin

Shaken without ice until blended.
Pour into a frozen cocktail glass.
Garnish with a pinch of nutmeg.


c. Soyer Punch Jelly
240 ml Gin

120 ml maraschino

juice of 2 lemons
120 ml gomme syrup

240 ml champagne

3 envelopes gelatin

240 ml boiling hot water

Dissolve gelatin in hot water in a jug.
Stir in lemon juice, gomme syrup, maraschino, and gin. Add champagne.
Pour contents into a glass baking dish. Refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight.
Cut into 3 x 3 cm squares.
Serve 2 squares on the base of a chilled cocktail glass with a sprig of mint and 3 fresh raspberries.


3.Tell us about a new flavour you have discovered recently?


Green tea ice cream. It's absolutely luscious matched up against gin. For some reason I seem to be wandering through cream drinks, jellied drinks, and hot punches lately. A couple of years ago, it was egg sours with tea syrups and drinks made with blended scotch. Green tea ice cream was an eye opener.

4. If you could pass just one thing, on to an apprentice bartender what would it be?

If you can't serve a customer a scotch on the rocks or a pint and make them feel like it is the most remarkable experience of a lifetime, get out of the business.

5. What does the future hold for yourself and what do you see happening in the future in the industry?
That's a loaded question. Basically, Jared and I are working on distributing as much information on the history of spirits and drinks as directors of Exposition Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux (www.euvs.org). In between times, we consult with spirits producers on spirits and drinks history. We believe the only way we can help elevate the professional level of the industry is to expand the new generation's knowledge base about the past: reviving the forgotten drinks not for replication but for inspiration, relating the rich history of the birth of spirits, instilling pride in an industry that is centuries old. The industry is very much at the same level cuisine was at 15 years ago. We've gone through the discovery phase, the back to basics stage, and now we're learning to work both inside and outside the boundaries to find creativity that is accessible. That's where I think history plays an important role. Find the outlandish from the past that is accessible and create fresh thoughts based on past successes.

6. What has been your biggest satisfaction from working behind the bar?

Learning to love interaction with people. Learning to share what's in my heart with people.


7. If you were to have a conversation with a cocktail, (and presuming it could talk back to you and tell you its past). Which cocktail would it be and why?


As if that hasn't happened? I've actually my best tĂȘte-a-tĂȘtes with an equal parts Manhattan. How can you be sweet and strong at the same time? Why do you have such depth, especially with a healthy dose of bitters? Why do you leave me remembering every moment with you without regret?

8. What influences your drinks from outside the industry (i.e. art, fashion)?

What I've done in the kitchen as a chef. What I see in motion pictures: I'm a movie junkie...action films, thrillers, that sort of thing


9. If you were to break a bartending golden rule what would it be?


Remove the bar between the bartender and the customer. Make the bartender sit with the customer and teach the customer how to make a cocktail one on one, mano a mano. The customer will come back for more as an empowered, informed consumer.


10. Outside of flavour and the craft of the cocktail what in your opinion effects the appreciation of cocktails the most?
My relationship with a customer, the experience I encourage and stimulate.

11. If you were to champion a cocktail which would it be?


Well I have championed a few: the Martini, the "75" (not the French 75); the White Cargo; the Ramos Gin Fizz; the Manhattan.
My latest? A Gin and It with 2 dashes of orange bitters. Sensual, sexy, subtle, all the s words.

04 July 2008

Shochu/Sake at the Temple Kyoto

Glassware/ Fantasy World part 1

Glass insipiration Lillies for "Summer" drink at Tales

Fritz Lang's Hollywood house Bar circa 1920's

Deconstructed Wine/ Chef Unknown?

Apparently a wine desert soup with the composite flavours deconstucted....... Interesting!!

Airs



Airs

Airs where an extention of the foams, (but they are much lighter in consistency) in the el bulli menus. The first of these was a carrot and orange air. This was later adapted and used for a salt air Margarita. The Margarita was presented in a frozen block of ice itself frozen. Then had a sea salt air foam over the top which you kind of breath in, then eat the Margarita. And eat a tarragon ball.


The chemical that is used that in the lyshophine or soya lechtin which is a emulsifier, commonly used in the chocholate industry to keep chocolate bars together and to stop them melting.It also occurs naturally in various vegetation. When lechtin is added to a liquid in very small quantities it binds the water particles in the liquid in a kind of web, so that when the liquid is agitated and bubbles are produced the lechtin creates a wall around the bubble which will hold for a limited amount of time. Think what bubble bath does in the bath it works on a similar principle.

The result is a much lighter version of the foam which can quite literally be breathed in.
The process is relatively easy to achieve:

1 g soya lechtin
1 litre liquid (more lechtin the heavy the liquid, remember don’t at to much more as it will make the liquid taste creamy and could detract from the flavour you want)

place all ingredients in a large basin which you have placed on a tilt. See fig….
Blend at an angle with a hand blender.
Leave to settle for a minute.
Scoop out of basin with large kitchen spoon.
Place in place desired, repeat process carefully piling air on top of itself.
Don’t go to high as it will fall in on itself. Practice in this case will give you an eye for when and how high you can get.

Mint

Mint is vital to a whole range of cocktails, from the Mojito upwards (or downwards depending on your point of view), yet has always proved a problem to keep fresh, especially for a long service. It is quite a delicate herb, and traditional solutions like covering it with a wet cloth or putting the stems in a glass of water have their own problems.

The problem seems to start as soon as you strip the bottom leaves off a sprig and cut the stem short. The enzymes in the plant start to degrade and the mint starts to go brown.

We looked at ways of arresting this process, or at least of slowing it down. Freezing was an obvious choice, but this would be impractical as drinks require fresh, not frozen mint. But this did lead us to look at what actually happened to the mint when it was frozen. It slows down the the enzymes working and the mint going limp or brown.

It was obvious that freezing stopped the degradation process, and stopped the mint going brown. So we wondered if we could use a part of that process ie to flash freeze or like a reverse blanching.

So we cut the stems to length with a sharp knife and plucked all leaves apart from the top ones. We placed the cut stems and leaves in very cold shallow water (with crushed ice) and covered them with more ice for five minutes only. This seemed to seal the mint leaves, almost cold searing them, (as the common misconception that you hot sear a steak to keep the juice in): the flavour is kept in, and the only disadvantage is that the mint loses just a shade of its colour although if get the timing right, you keep this to an absolute minimum.

After that, all we needed to do was place the ends of the stems standing up in a container with shallow water and store them in the fridge until needed. But the mint looked spritely all night long.

Booklist/Class Article/ July 2008

I get asked a lot what books are useful to me in what I do the answers are varied but probably the most useful book I have found over the past few years is a book written by Harold McGee called “ On Food and Cooking, The science and Love of the Kitchen”. It is quite simply a book that looks at culinary love and the science behind it.
The book really is a great read; even the bits that are not applicable to liquid or alcohol; you find yourself wandering into those parts anyway as they are just incredibly interesting. McGee’s questioning of what we take for granted is infectious, you end up asking yourself questions about the everyday things. It is full of great historical references i.e. the invention of the thermometer, a lot of very easy to read science bits i.e. how sugar works, some not so easy science bits although you can (after a few reads) get through them, some great anecdotal stuff; but best of all it has a whole section on Alcohol (Chapter 9). The chapter covers everything; wine, beer, spirits, distillation, the history of alcohol, even what a hang over is!
In addition to alcohol, you also have a section on fruit; which can be a real eye opener and an extremely useful section on sugars.
Overall, I cannot praise this book enough as it really does open up the gateway to the sometimes, baffling world of science, and instead introduces you to a universe of comprehensible ideas which can be used to improve, and inform, your craft. Finally, the best thing about it is, it inserts the question in you; why does that do that?
This can head towards, why don’t I try that? and that’s when the fun begins!!

Other great books are Kitchen Mysteries: Revealing the Science of Cooking or Molecular Gastronomy (exploring the science of flavour) both by Herve This, these books are quite dense and difficult to understand for the layman although well worth working through if you have the patience.
There are some great chapters especially the ones 77/78 on Champagne which are a really fascinating and gives you a great insight to Herve This’s thinking!

And just before we get all to serious I thought I would throw in a fantastic book called Hellraisers that is on the drinking stories of Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, Oliver Reed and Richard Harris some of the biggest hellraisers of the last century which is full of some of the funniest drinking stories I have ever read….

pH Charts


01 July 2008

Dave Wondrich/NY/ Interview/ July 2008



1. What is the first cocktail you ever made?
I believe it was a Tequila Sunrise, made in an old Army canteen with tequila, OJ and grenadine and drunk out in the woods with my little teenage friends. I learned how to make it from my Friend Jon, who was from Texas.

2. What are your 3 favourite drinks plus recipes; old, new and your own?
This varies from week to week, but there are the ones that are at the top of the stack right now; the last one is my own:

a. Prescription Julep In a highball glass, dissolve 2 teaspoons superfine sugar in a pony (1oz) of water. Lightly press a sprig of mint in the resulting syrup and discard. Using a carpenter's maul and a coin sack, pulverize a goodly quantity of cold, hard ice. Pack the glass with the pulverized ice. Add a jigger (2 oz) XO-grade cognac (I like Martell Cordon Bleu)and 1/2 pony straight rye whiskey. Stir briefly and top the glass off with more fine ice. Float 1/2 oz dark, pot-stilled rum on top. Insert 3 sprigs of mint and a straw. Then smile.

b. Daiquiri (Original Style) Squeeze 1/2 lime into a cocktail shaker. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar. Add 2 oz Havana Club Anejo Blanco rum (or equivalent) Shake vigorously with plenty of ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

c. Jakewalk
Shake well with plenty of ice: 3/4 oz Reposado tequila 3/4 oz rhum agricole 3/4 oz St. Germain 3/4 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with piece of candied ginger.

3.Tell us about a new flavour you have discovered recently?
The delicate, lightly floral taste of well-distilled toddy-palm sap. Delightful.

4. If you could pass just one thing, on to an apprentice bartender what would it be? Know everything but never act like you do.

5. What does the future hold for yourself and what do you see happening in the future in the industry? God, I wish I knew. I'm working on a book on Punch, that much I know. As for the industry, it's like any other game of musical chairs.

6. What has been your biggest satisfaction from working behind the bar? As a non-bartender, I'm thrilled any time I get to step behind the bar and make drinks for people.

7. If you were to have a conversation with a cocktail, (and presuming it could talk back to you and tell you its past). Which cocktail would it be and why?
I would very much like to have a few words with the Manhattan. All too often I find Mr. Whiskey bullying his wife, Ms. Vermouth, and whoring around instead with that rouged slut Cherry Juice, while totally neglecting the little Dashes. I will not put up with it.

8. What influences your drinks from outside the industry (i.e. art, fashion)? Well, history, I guess. Is tat outside the industry?

9. If you were to break a bartending golden rule what would it be?
I would like to be able to wear a hat behind the bar. I like hats.

10. Outside of flavour and the craft of the cocktail what in your opinion effects the appreciation of cocktails the most? The backstory.

11. If you were to champion a cocktail which would it be?
The Holland Gin Cocktail. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Another, please, just like that.

Dave Wondrich of NY fame is the author of the fantastic Imbibe book...

1. What is the first cocktail you ever made?
I believe it was a Tequila Sunrise, made in an old Army canteen with tequila, OJ and grenadine and drunk out in the woods with my little teenage friends. I learned how to make it from my Friend Jon, who was from Texas.
2. What are your 3 favourite drinks plus recipes; old, new and your own?
This varies from week to week, but there are the ones that are at the top of the stack right now; the last one is my own: 1. Prescription Julep In a highball glass, dissolve 2 teaspoons superfine sugar in a pony (1oz) of water. Lightly press a sprig of mint in the resulting syrup and discard. Using a carpenter's maul and a coin sack, pulverize a goodly quantity of cold, hard ice. Pack the glass with the pulverized ice. Add a jigger (2 oz) XO-grade cognac (I like Martell Cordon Bleu)and 1/2 pony straight rye whiskey. Stir briefly and top the glass off with more fine ice. Float 1/2 oz dark, pot-stilled rum on top. Insert 3 sprigs of mint and a straw. Then smile. 2. Daiquiri (Original Style) Squeeze 1/2 lime into a cocktail shaker. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar. Add 2 oz Havana Club Anejo Blanco rum (or equivalent) Shake vigorously with plenty of ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 3. Jakewalk Shake well with plenty of ice: 3/4 oz Reposado tequila 3/4 oz rhum agricole 3/4 oz St. Germain 3/4 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with piece of candied ginger. 3.Tell us about a new flavour you have discovered recently? The delicate, lightly floral taste of well-distilled toddy-palm sap. Delightful. 4. If you could pass just one thing, on to an apprentice bartender what would it be? Know everything but never act like you do. 5. What does the future hold for yourself and what do you see happening in the future in the industry? God, I wish I knew. I'm working on a book on Punch, that much I know. As for the industry, it's like any other game of musical chairs. 6. What has been your biggest satisfaction from working behind the bar? As a non-bartender, I'm thrilled any time I get to step behind the bar and make drinks for people. 7. If you were to have a conversation with a cocktail, (and presuming it could talk back to you and tell you its past). Which cocktail would it be and why? I would very much like to have a few words with the Manhattan. All too often I find Mr. Whiskey bullying his wife, Ms. Vermouth, and whoring around instead with that rouged slut Cherry Juice, while totally neglecting the little Dashes. I will not put up with it. 8. What influences your drinks from outside the industry (i.e. art, fashion)? Well, history, I guess. Is tat outside the industry? 9. If you were to break a bartending golden rule what would it be? I would like to be able to wear a hat behind the bar. I like hats. 10. Outside of flavour and the craft of the cocktail what in your opinion effects the appreciation of cocktails the most? The backstory. 11. If you were to champion a cocktail which would it be? The Holland Gin Cocktail. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Another, please, just like that.

27 June 2008

Book List Article/ Class Magazine July 2008

I get asked a lot what books are useful to me in what I do the answers are varied but probably the most useful book I have found over the past few years is a book written by Harold McGee called “ On Food and Cooking, The science and Love of the Kitchen”. It is quite simply a book that looks at culinary love and the science behind it. The book really is a great read; even the bits that are not applicable to liquid or alcohol; you find yourself wandering into those parts anyway as they are just incredibly interesting. McGee’s questioning of what we take for granted is infectious, you end up asking yourself questions about the everyday things. It is full of great historical references i.e. the invention of the thermometer, a lot of very easy to read science bits i.e. how sugar works, some not so easy science bits although you can (after a few reads) get through them, some great anecdotal stuff; but best of all it has a whole section on Alcohol (Chapter 9). The chapter covers everything; wine, beer, spirits, distillation, the history of alcohol, even what a hang over is! In addition to alcohol, you also have a section on fruit; which can be a real eye opener and an extremely useful section on sugars. Overall, I cannot praise this book enough as it really does open up the gateway to the sometimes, baffling world of science, and instead introduces you to a universe of comprehensible ideas which can be used to improve, and inform, your craft. Finally, the best thing about it is, it inserts the question in you; why does that do that? This can head towards, why don’t I try that? and that’s when the fun begins!! Other great books are Kitchen Mysteries: Revealing the Science of Cooking or Molecular Gastronomy (exploring the science of flavour) both by Herve This, these books are quite dense and difficult to understand for the layman although well worth working through if you have the patience. There are some great chapters especially the ones 77/78 on Champagne which are a really fascinating and gives you a great insight to Herve This’s thinking! And just before we get all to serious I thought I would throw in a fantastic book called Hellraisers that is on the drinking stories of Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, Oliver Reed and Richard Harris some of the biggest hellraisers of the last century which is full of some of the funniest drinking stories I have ever read….

14 June 2008

Ross Lovegrove / Water Bottle

"The bottle with its unique ripple effect packaging, which refracts light and colour, imitating surface reflections on water is a celebration of the beauty of water."

10 June 2008

Asa Nevestveit / Stockholm Sweden / Interview


1. What is the first cocktail you ever made?
If I remember correctly, a Bloody Mary.

2. What are your 3 favorite drinks plus recipes; old, new and your own?
My favorites always change but at the time I would say:
Old: Negroni

1/3 Plymouth, 1/3 Campari, 1/3 Carpano Rosso.
Stir and strain. Whiskey glass with one large lump of ice. Slice of orange.

New: The OK Cocktail

40 ml Beefeater Gin
15 ml Lillet Blanc’
2 dashes orange bitters
4 ml home made grapefruit sugar syrup
Stir, cocktail glass, lemon twist

My own:
Lingonberry
50 ml Martell Cognac
15 ml lemon juice
10 ml simple syrup
4 mint leafs
2 bar spoons of home made lingonberry jam/marmalade
Shake, cocktail glass, double strain, mint leaf garnish

The reason I picked this one is that I have been working primarily with Swedish flavors and berries lately. This is one of the simples and best ones I’ve created lately.

3.Tell us about a new flavor you have discovered recently?
I would say that I have re discovered almost all flavors since I stopped smoking a few months a go! J I cannot believe the difference!

4. If you could pass just one thing, on to an apprentice bartender what would it be?
The importance of good ice. Shit ice= a shit drink!

5. What does the future hold for yourself and what do you see happening in the future in the industry?
Most probably I’ll stay in the trade I Stockholm for the next couple of years. I want to learn more about wines and food; I am considering studying to be a sommelier.

Stockholm and the rest of Sweden are always fighting with high taxes and high staff costs; this makes it difficult for bar owners to finance a good high quality product in a bar. Hopefully the government will lower the taxes on alcohol and make it easier for bar owners to raise quality of service and drinks. Stockholm is booming with bars right now and slowly but surely guests learn to appreciate quality and well-made cocktails with a nice approach from the bartender.

6. What has been your biggest satisfaction from working behind the bar?
Constantly learning new things. Everything from different flavors to service.

7. If you were to have a conversation with a cocktail, (and presuming it could talk back to you and tell you its past). Which cocktail would it be and why?
The Dry Martini. Kill the myth!

8. What influences your drinks from outside the industry (i.e. art, fashion)?
Politics. Global warming for instance. I try really hard to use ingredients from local producers or at least produce from Sweden.

9. If you where to break a bartending golden rule what would it be?
There is not one single rule I can consider breaking. Sorry...

10. Outside of flavor and the craft of the cocktail what in your opinion effects the appreciation of cocktails the most?
Color and presentation, i.e. Glasswear etc.

11. If you where to champion a cocktail which would it be?
The Martinez

25 May 2008

Brix Article Class Magazine June 2008


Brix meter

The brix meter is a small (usually) hand devise for measuring the amount of sugar in liquids or fruits.
It has been extensively used in the wine making industry and by fruit growers for testing the sugar content of the grapes and fruit to help (the growers always taste as well) determine the best harvesting times of fruit and vegetables so that products arrive at with consumers in a perfect state or are perfect for the process of vinification.

There are various types of brix meter, from refractometers that have a glass plate that you would place the substance you want to check between then hold up to the light, to the hand held type of brix meters.

More commonly nowadays you will find electronic hand held brix meters with a small glass plate that a laser will bounce off the sample placed on it and give you an electronic reading, the more expensive ones will also take into account the temperature of the reading as this can also make a difference. What the laser is actually doing is bouncing off the sugar crystals in the sample, the larger the crystals the bigger the reading, the more sugar content in the sample.

I.e. 25grams of sugar in 100grams of liquid will equal 25 brix.

It also quite interesting testing your spirits you will find some interesting discovery’s as it will also read other sucrose products. These are often used to create sweetness and mouth-feel in products that need a little helping hand.

But if you want a real shock test some of your soft drinks (if the scale of your brix meter goes that high!!)

In practice this can be used in many everyday applications such as checking your homemade sugar syrup or syrups in general, to create and check consistency.
I found this tool invaluable for making the liquorice syrup for my liquorice whisky sour as the liquorice could vary making the syrup sweeter. Also really useful if you are making your own liqueurs…..

Another use was when we were adding fruit with spirits in the sous vide machine or to macerate fruit in spirit as to get a higher degree of consistency the sugar content in the fruit is a major factor in how the flavour will be at the outcome as the sugar is one of the major flavour conductors. If you test at different times of the year, or fruit from different regions, the variances can be enormous thus affecting both the outcome of the flavour in your infusion or simply in your cocktail.
Strawberries are the best example of this as can be seen if you take a reading out of season.

The process is so simple that all you have to do is make sure the glass screen is very clean after each use and then recalibrate by using tap water, you then put a small cut of the fruit on the screen or the juice and press the read button. You will then get your brix reading. I have always found it useful to take more than one read (i.e. from several of the samples for a overall more balanced reading and not under a strong light source.)

Brix meters vary in cost but you can pick some up at quite reasonable prices, but they are I think an investment worth making!

Brix Table

24 May 2008

Merlet Distillery

The Sartorially dapper Mr. Gilles Merlet... Tasting the Cassis berries in the fields....


The Cognac aging casks with the Leblon Cacahca inside....

The Merlet Cassis plants with unripe berries...

The stainless steel liqueur vats.....

Taking a closer look at the Cognac stills at the Merlet distillery at Saintonge.....


Tasting with Gilles Merlet at his Distillery......

07 May 2008

Pontus Frith Stockholm Sweden

The brief was to create a small drink menu that was paired with the menu the chef created.... I also did made the Twinkle to go with the salad that had a lemon emulsion...
and a Moonlight that was made from shochu and rice water.... that went with a Yakatori style dish with yuzu....
"The Blush" a homemade Rose vodka, homemade Rhubarb syrup, topped with champagne and grapefruit oil from a zest of grapefruit.... this went with the final dish which was a delicious rhubarb dessert with rose water.....

Dirty "Dry" Martini by the sea (a version of a dirty martini with seaweed (like the stuff they use in japanese salads) cooked sous vide with Vodka) " Dry" Vermouth (vermouth with added ingredients that slightly out your mouth)... with intense olive bread crisp this was drink was accompanied by a Plate of oysters.... the drink is part of a set of savory drinks that I have worked on...

09 April 2008

Featured Drink/ Mr. Ueno. / Star Bar / Tokyo


Kanu-No. (or Sensual). This is a fabulous drink I had last night at the Star Bar in Ginza, Tokyo made by Mr.Ueno, it is very original as you can see by the ingredients but it is absolutely delightful.

Havana 7yr 4.5cl
Olorosso (Valdespino Solera 1842) .1cl
Harvey Bristol cream. teaspoon
Taylors Ruby Port. teaspoon

Stir and strain in martini glass.

28 March 2008

Jason Crawley Interview


1. What is the first cocktail you ever made?

Harvey Wallbanger – messed it right up too!


2. What are your 3 favourite drinks plus recipes; old, new and your own?
Old:
White Lady, equal parts Plymouth Gin, Lemon, Cointreau & tear sized egg white, dribbled in and shaken.

New:
Wayne’s ‘Lady Marmalade’, same recipe but with a teaspoon of Grapefruit marmalade.

Own:
‘Platypus Martini’ – 60ml Level Vodka, 1 x childs tear size droplet of Pernod and 1 x childs tear sized Ardbeg 10yr, stirred, served with an Onion.


3.Tell us about a new flavour you have discovered recently?

New flavour? I have made a great Roast Chestnut and Burnt Orange Bitters, lovely.

4. If you could pass just one thing, on to an apprentice bartender what would it be?

Be nice, and very tidy.

5. What does the future hold for yourself and what do you see happening in the future in the industry?
I am currently writing a (humorous) book, which I hope will entertain anyone who has experienced being faced with the general public. I just hope it sells! In the meantime I am very happy continuing to help to raise standards in the industry and to some extent, inspire a new generation of bartenders who attend my MIXXIT training sessions and read my articles. The future of the industry will be decided by the application and attitude of the next generations of bartenders. Hopefully they will aspire to help serve the general public in meaningful ways (and probably with waxed moustaches) with coherent quality products.

6. What has been your biggest satisfaction from working behind the bar?


Gaining perspective of the World around me, but as an experience, getting a couple engaged with an old bar trick and a ring.

7. If you were to have a conversation with a cocktail, (and presuming it could talk back to you and tell you its past). Which cocktail would it be and why?

Great question, as I have never considered this! I guess it would have to be the ‘original’ Martini in its infancy. Only so, we can put its history to bed, but then again maybe that is why we love it so much, in the same way ‘JAWS’ was a great film, as it did not show us the full Shark till near the end!

8. What influences your drinks from outside the industry?
Art, definitely. More recently, may I say ‘mainstream’ (?) artist D Hurst’ with his jewelled skull, took me down a new road, which I have not yet finished travelling. However, from a flavour perspective it has always been ‘semantics’.

9. If you where to break a bartending golden rule what would it be?

Wearing carpet slippers instead of ‘black polish-able shoes’

10. Outside of flavour and the craft of the cocktail what in your opinion effects the appreciation of cocktails the most?
Presentation and theatre.

11. If you where to champion a cocktail which would it be?
I do like the Harvard Cocktail.

26 March 2008

Buchi RotaVapor

Close up of the condenser chamber.....

Class Magazine May 2008 Rota Vapor Article

I remember the first time I saw the Rota vapour a couple of years ago at the lab at Fat Duck, at first I thought that it looks like it has all the components of a still on a small scale. I remember going through a mental checklist; thinking it has a condenser, it has an evaporation bulb and a receiver, but what is all the other stuff? After numerous questions and a few trails on it I realized that this was a machine for me! The possibilities it would, and has opened, are incredible for a bartender. It has allowed me to incorporate flavours I had previously found impossible to use.

The Rota Vapour (the name of the particular make I use)is in essence a vacuum still, this implies that you can distil things at lower pressures, therefore allowing you to boil your liquids to condensation at lower temperatures. This is enabled as the whole unit is a closed chamber with a pump which sucks the air out, the chamber is regulated by a digital control panel. An example of how this works; if you look at mountaineers on Everest, when they boil water it will boil at 69 degrees as the pressure is a lot lower due to the height. The advantage for this is, if you can boil samples in liquid at a lower temperature; for example, herbs for which high temperature will damage the volatiles, you can add less heat and the volatiles will not get damaged. Another good example of this is in Shochu distilling. In some instances you have very delicate rice notes which are preserved more when distilled at low pressure, you also find this happening a lot in the perfume industry where they have very delicate volatiles.

In practical terms this has allowed me to distil the essence of numerous herbs, flowers, zests and fruits that had previously been difficult to obtain. One particularly successful method I have found is to marinate my subject in alcohol, then distil the alcohol off,
leaving the essence of the plant which the alcohol has extracted in the evaporating bulb. I have found that more often than not what is left behind in the bulb is just as
good as what is in the evaporated end. This is how I started making tinctures, which I can add to bottles of alcohol as a hint of flavour, or in drinks doing roughly the same job.

You can also redistill spirits to add flavour, so for example you can put your flavour in with the spirit and evaporate it all off. So what you get in the receiving end of the rotavapor is the redistilled spirit with the volatiles and flavour perfectly incorporated to the spirit.
It is completely clear as all the vegetal mass is left in the evaporating bulb.

The heat source is a Bain Marie with an electronic temperature gauge. As a point of interest the Bain Marie was invented by an alchemist called Maria the Jewess from Alexandria in 100 b.c.
As with a lot of this equipment, this is just the high tech version of what alchemists/distillers have been using for hundreds of years, this by comparison is just very very accurate. This machinery deserves accuracy in return to obtain the best results, I find it best to write everything down, as even small variances can produce very different results, so keeping a log I found to be the best method of getting consistent results. It really does place a lot of emphasis back in the hands of the bartender as you don’t have to wait for a drinks company to invent such and such flavoured spirit; its more a question of this week I will be making!!!

There are other stills you can use from different companies and costs but I have found this to be the most complete BUCHI R210.

Further information contact BUCHI on 01616331000.




20 March 2008

Vintage Manhattans

The idea of a vintage cocktail came to me when I was, as ever, revisiting the classics. Knowing that I would be making them numerous times over the years to come, as in the years before, I was struck by the thought that the evolution of drinks is almost Darwinian: the best ones outlast their competition and many have survived from the 20s or even earlier.

Following the theory of evolution, I then wondered if it was possible to make the best ones even better without just changing the obvious components: products and proportions.

After reading a number of papers, I was particularly inspired by a piece by Harold Mcgee which talked about the effect of oxidisation on wine. A Spanish friend had recently given me a 70-year-old bottle of an aperitif and I had been amazed how good it tasted. The flavours had matured and mellowed due to the residual air in the bottle. Barrels and staves where used tried but did not work in my opinion.

Hence the question. Could I use oxidisation in a positive way, controlling the process and thus refortifying not only sweet vermouth but even bourbon, and so improve the Manhattan? So I mixed together ten different bottles of sweet vermouth, bourbon and bitters, allowed a little air to enter them, then sealed them and lay them down...

After three months I found the result was dire and gave up on the project as another failed experiment. However, six months later, when clearing out the cellar of the bar, I came across my forgotten bottles. I was about to throw them away when I thought to taste them.

To my surprise, the flavours had blended together perfectly to give a mellower and smoother cocktail. So I laid down a whole batch in preparation for the next few years and now I have some that are over four years old!

The Vintage Manhattan

Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl – DO NOT ADD ICE!
Once combined completely pour the mixture into clean bottles using a funnel.
Allow a little air in the top then seal them tightly.
Leave in a dark place at room temperature for a year.

When aged serve as would a normal Manhattan

19 March 2008

Featured Drink

Jim Meehan of PDT in New York introduced me to this Trader Vic drink whilst last in there.

Royal Bermuda Yachtclub Cocktail
2 oz Mt Gay Eclipse
1 oz lime juice
.5 oz Cointreau
.5 oz Falernum
Add all of the ingredients then add ice
Shake and strain into a chilled coupe
Garnish with a lime wheel

18 March 2008

The Wink

The Wink is a drink that i first made back in 2003 is a sazerac style of drink with gin as the base, a subtle hint of anise from the absinthe rinse, an orange hint from both the dash of triple sec and the orange twist (which is discarded). The last ingredient is a drop of peychaud bitters. The garnish is a Wink...;)

20 February 2008

Class Article April 2008

I first became interested in looking at how flavour worked back in 2000 at Isola. It was the Head chef, Bruno Lubet, who introduced me to the work of Ferran Adria and prompted me to start to writing to him: asking questions about how he was making some of his cocktails and about his ideas. This communication was, in essence, what stimulated me to scratch behind the surface of what a cocktail was. Having been involved in various projects since then, I have been able, not only use a great deal of these techniques, but also create new ones; some using the simple basics of science, others; far more complex. Nevertheless, it must be emphasised that science is not the only avenue I have followed over the years, there have been many influences, from designers to perfumers to books on alchemy, the list is endless, but I have never strayed far from my love of the cocktail.
Last year I was involved in a project that asked me to show case some of the ideas I have learnt from chefs, to give bartenders an in road to this way of thinking. I have always known that these techniques are not for everybody but there are defiantly things that can be used in any bar at any level, so see this more as the opening of a toolbox…and only use the tools that are relevant to the work that you are doing.
This year I will be showing far more techniques with strictly cocktail references. Here we go:

Take three words that you have heard a million times “A Dry Martini” how many times have those words reverberated in your eardrums? Now think how many times have you thought beyond what you have immediately been asked for?
We know what a dry martini is, we know that by asking a series of questions you will be able to garner the dryness required by adding the appropriate amount of vermouth, we also know that the series of actions that follow the initial request will achieve the finished drink. It is fair to say that it is no secret that the alcohol and the herbs in the vermouth is what provides the slight dry-ish feeling in your mouth. From here your mouth reacts and produces saliva. In turn the stimulation of the saliva glands prepares your stomach for the on coming food, producing that hungry feeling… job done in the aperitif department. The dryness comes from the reaction of the alcohol within your mouth, and the botanicals mainly with-in the gin; but if you then take that further and isolate the ingredients and processes that make the dryness happen.

Once you have discovered this, you are armed with the knowledge that you can re-add those ingredients to the drink and create that dry sensation in a pleasant manner, and that adds to the experience of Dryness in the martini. That would be a truly “Dry” Martini!

By deconstructing the processes of drinks and how they work you can really begin to play with them. However, it is very much about being very precise about what you are doing slap dash efforts produce slap dash results. Start with asking yourself simple questions about flavours or ingredients that you use everyday, i.e.: how does sweet and sour work? Why does my mint not keep fresh? Etc (Ps Wikkipedia is an amazing tool!)

Next the Millefleur Champagne Cocktail is a drink I worked on for almost 2 years. It was from studying of work of perfumers and reading books on alchemy that I realized the links between the three disciplines and the shared history. I started looking for a usable perfume (useable in the sense that its original notes had ingredients that could be found or be replicated into food grade essences to make the translation). That perfume was the iconic perfume. I then set about working on how I was to translate the notes in the perfume into an ingestible replica and which delivery system to use in the cocktail.

After a lot of trial and error (writing everything down at each turn) I managed to get an accurate translation of the perfume. The delivery system was, in a way, decided for me in that although there was no direct translation for aldyhydes, which is one of the structural notes of the perfume, the note has been described as musty champagne floral. I then consulted some sommelier friends in order to find a champagne which would achieve both of these things: musty and floral.
I knew the drink would have to try and emulate the perfumes iconic status; within the cocktail world, making the cocktail, as distinguished and elegant as possible was the priority, it was therefore easy to narrow if down the style to a classic champagne cocktail. This choice of delivery system inadvertently saved me a great deal of time solving another problem; how to ensure that the cocktail. As prior experiment, I had tried to use a classic martini as the delivery system, but the volatiles where lost due to the low temperature, but by using the champagne, which is served at a slightly higher temperature, the volatiles carried well. In addition, the bubbles helped by carrying the essences to the top of the drink….

The result is, a faint waft of flowers off the top of the drink (just a hint), and a subtle floral champagne taste in the mouth.

I think it is important to note that if a drink is not perfect do not foist it on your customer. Yes, people have different tastes but if a drink is badly made then it’s badly made, that is not an excuse for a badly made drink, it doesn’t matter how much gimmicky stuff you do to it. Take time to ensure that the structure is well worked out, then keep working on it until it is absolutely perfect; there nothing wrong with working on something for a very lengthy period ….its not about gimmickry, its about well thought out drinks that create a different effect or stimulate a different emotion….

The beauty of a good magic trick is that you are left with the feeling that you don’t know how it worked, with a feeling of wonderment at something you can’t quite grasp.
The way you learn a magic trick is by practicing your trick over and over again and studying so that one day your trick is perfect.

If someone shows you a trick that is done badly you feel let down, the trick loses its magic. In the same way that, although it is very interesting for other magicians seeing how a trick works, don’t you always feel disappointed when you’ve seen one of those programmes that “reveals all the secrets”? As an audience member it is far better to be intrigued that to know the mechanisms………..

I am in a way using this as a metaphor to say even though there is a move towards using new techniques for drinks, the use of science etc, lets not bore our customers with geeky talk of xyz chemicals or the machine that goes beep, like the trend was a couple of years back when there was a lot of historical (s)pouting…its all about the delivery; from the glass-ware, to service, to a good yarn to an amazing tasting drink…..

You are the magicians so lets create magic….!!



Now, it will not be all about high tech stuff in my column over the next few months; I will be disseminating different techniques and equipment like things like enfleurage, brix meters, ph meters, etc. I will be starting by talking about the Rotavapor, a machine I was introduced to a couple of years ago and one that opens up a huge amount of possibilities for bartenders.

Article published in the British trade magazine Class in April 2008