27 July 2010

Havana Club Pod

A peak inside... the Havana Club pod transports you via a cargo box to Cuba. Complete with the ambience of an authentic Cuban bar, it provided a perfect escape, and unforgettable drinks!

23 July 2010

Vintage Manhattan

Whilst we await the next batch of Vintage El Presidente, we have some Vintage Manhattans available in the bar at the moment. Sitting in at around 8 months, they have an incredible medley of flavours, and an enormous finish (see notes from Harold McGee's lecture on the science behind the ageing)- a veritable bargain at £12 each- with a free Fabbri cherry!
Keep watching for updates regarding the 1 year and beyond vintages as they come of age

The first sample of 69 edition XO arrives...

A taste of what is to come... builds on the characteristics of the house cognac- with rich autumn fruits, peach and toffee notes dominant- but in the richer XO style (with a minimum age of 6 years in the blend). Very rich, and very moreish- just to build anticipation!

22 July 2010

Many many thanks to...

And of course, many thanks to Sacha Ash for his amazing work making the Havana Club Pod possible, and to Alessandro Swainston for the fantastic photographic coverage of the show

Marcis discusses the Havana Club pod

Precious Cargo: Meimi and I were responsible for the running of the Havana Club Pod, the concept of which had been created by Drinks Factory; the idea being to construct a massive wooden crate that looked like it had been shipped over from Cuba, but big enough to house a quintessential Cuban bar inside! On a conceptual level, it meant that when people entered the pod they were completely cut off from the exterior world and immersed into Cuban surroundings! The mise en scene was aided by authentic Cuban sounds, music (including a barking dog), smells and Meimi Sanchez! Oh and the drinks...

On the menu was a clear mojito which required us to first clarify a batch of lime juice (with instructions provided by Dave Arnold). Overall it was quite a complex process which involved dissolving agar agar into the lime juice, without over heating/cooking the lime juice, then freezing the lime juice.

The end result being that when the mixture defrosted the agar agar had absorbed all the colour from the lime but without removing the flavour. Tony had previously created a mint hydrosol, which was then combined with some Havana Club Blanco, the clear lime juice and of course of touch of sugar, all stirred down over ice, et voila: a clear mojito!

The second drink was a super cold blended Daiquiri, the super cold element achieved by blending dry ice with the rum, lime, water and sugar. Easy you may think, but it actually took Meimi and I a few attempts to get the right proportions of dry ice/water etc... too much dry ice and the mixture wouldn’t blend, not enough dry ice or too much water and the drink was too slushy... Anyway, the end result was a show stopper, with mist and smoke bellowing from the blender making it look like something out of a mad professor’s laboratory and leaving everyone enthused.

The two other drinks were a vintage Presidente, which is a superb drink. Tony has blended Havana 7yr, curacao and sweet vermouth, bottled and aged the result. Consequently the drink require only the addition of some homemade grenadine and to be stirred down over ice. The idea behind ageing is for the flavours to marry and integrate on a much more complex level than they would otherwise if mixed a la minute.

The third drinks was a Cuban apricot, essentially Havana Club 3yr infused with cardamom, Creme d’abricot, and lime juice, very refreshing with the cardamom adding a citric element of complexity to the drink!

So there you go! Those were the drinks, I’m pleased to say that the pod (or isolation chamber) was actually rather pleasant to work in, it was nice to cut off from all the madness of the bar show and be immersed in your own little world and everyone who came in seem to agree that it was a great success so hopefully we might see it in action again at some point... if we can remember how to put it back together.

08 July 2010

Drinkfactory talks postings on the way but in the mean time:

tony shocked.....

Tony C and Harold McGee demystifying, amongst many other things, the oxidation of everyday bar products- focussing first on lime juice...

one o five bars.......

Using the vacuum pump to reduce pressure within the rotovapor to a tenth of room pressure

temp water bath

Accurate controls on the water bath allowing precise distillation markers- calibrating the temperature and pressure within the still allows Tony and Dave to contrast well made examples, and poorer ones.

Pressure Drop

Tony managing the pressure within the still to allow a low temperature distillation- preserving all the nuances and subtleties of the product- in this case Habanero peppers!

our sponser buchi

Harold illuminates the captivated audience

Harold McGee detailing the mellowing effect on Tony's vintage Manhattans, and the range of new flavours created during ageing.

no seriously tony it's right here!

...and graphically illustrating the behaviour of alcohol molecules (they're hydrophobic don't you know)

no its over there Harold!!

nice green socks tony

Harold compares alcohol molecules to oil

Harold sampling the lime scents

Tony dissecting the scent of lime into three essences...

Tony reconfiguring the lime scents

...then together reforming the smell of true lime

Smiley Harold......

sella asks questions....

...more in depth then your average audience member!

two lovely ladies hannah and paisley

Tony demonstrates the marked difference between Bad lime (Spike) and Good lime (Ryan)!

bernard's catalogue of smells

Can you tell what it is yet?

soren smells too!!

it went that way bernard

bernard smells more

Detecting the myriad of flavours present in new make longmorn

look what i found

Mr Broom analyses fractions of Longmorn single malt and discusses the building of flavours

it was this big honest!!

Dave talks through the range of flavours apparent in Scotch whisky

our favourite hairy scot

pensive mr broom

bernard fields questions from the audience

tartah!! mr arnold......

Dave introduces the Buchi still... and Tony with a batch of blitzed Habanero chillies!

god won't help you now mr arnold

A distillation of Habanero chillies is carried out live, and the resulting crystal clear solution is passed amongst the trepidatious audience. The low temperature distillation facilitated by the Buchi Still transfers all the overtones apparent naturally in the product and allows them to be captured in a true form

scary sella

marcis da gangsta!

Marcis discusses absinthe and intoxication

sella waves

the explosive mr sella!!

An illuminating journey through alcohol, the origin of purple dyes, absinthe louche... through to explosions and super cooled water!

maturing in the bottle.....

Harold and Tony talk, and taste, the audience through aged cocktails. Harold explains how the maturing period not only 'mellows' unsubtle spikes of flavour, it also leads to the formation of new flavour compounds.

harold and alcohol clusters......

Harold demonstrates the revelation of the behaviour of alcohol molecules in solution- and the formation of micelles of alcohol; akin to that of oil in water

oh there!

Dave Wondrich discusses the history of cocktails and the development of modern drinking habits (aptly exemplified using a big bowl of punch)

wheres my dance partner gone?

Esteemed, and captivated audience

the ultimate condutore!!!

Dale continues on from Dave shepherding the audience through the history of cocktail culture

it wasn't me......

don't you mess with this guy!

A wealth of information and beguiling anecdotes from Dale and Dave

mr Harold

sella and marcis....

a very relaxed Dave Wondrich!