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 It is full of great historical references i.e. the invention of the thermometer, a lot of very easy to read science bits i.e. how sugar works, some not so easy science bits although you can (after a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:
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