27 August 2010

Drink Factory Interview- John Glaser, Compass Box Whiskies

1.What was the first alcoholic drink you remember having?

Schaefer beer from a can. Ten years-old. Backyard with dad.He was grilling steaks on bbq. Thought it tasted grainy and terrible. Sometimes, when drinking cheap beer, that first taste memory comes back.

2. What are your 3 favourite drinks? With recipes if you have them; old, new and your own? Old

Clynelish mixed with about 20% of Caol Ila.

White Burgundy.

Beer (except Schaefer). More specifically, that super-hoppy American style IPA.

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

Sumach. Transforms kebabs.

4. If you could pass something onto a bartender, what would it be?

Enlightenment about what great whisky really is. Just give me a call and I’ll come by.

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

More and better distilling, not just from me, from people all over the world who have a craft mentality. (To understand what I think “craft” means, read Richard Sennet’s book “The Craftsman” http://www.amazon.co.uk/Craftsman-Richard-Sennett/dp/0141022094/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1281091337&sr=1-1 )

6. What has been your biggest satisfaction from applying your work to the drinks industry?

I think everyone should have the satisfaction that comes with doing for a living something you are truly interested in, something you are passionate about.

7. What influences your work from outside the industry?

Winemakers, winemaking. Literature.

8. If you were to break a ...

Back. Step on your mother’s crack. Or something like that.

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

Service- a gracious sense of hospitality that makes you feel, as you sit at the bar, that the staff are sincerely enjoying welcoming you into what is figuratively speaking their “home”.

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

Bicicletta. (Fergus is right.) Got to love something that works just as well at 9.30 in the morning as 9.30 at night.

24 August 2010

Release of the first ever 6 yo Vintage Manhattan

Sometime over the next three weeks, we will deliver the first ever glimpse of the latest Vintage.

The exact date is shrouded in secrecy to ensure a fair chance of tasting the most recent fleeting incarnation; a careful eye will have to be cast on the bar with no name.

Early reports suggest an even longer finish, enormous body, a gentle hue akin to a vintage tawny port and an aroma that could be nosed for hours...

Sharing's caring- just to give everyone a sporting chance, one per person please


A series of new pieces of equipment have arrived to 69 Colebrooke Row. Aiding in the development of new products and techniques, they have quickly become at home within the lab.

Two kitchen aid appliances- a mixer and a blender, were put to great use at our Ferragosto party making perfectly smooth Elegante

and also our homemade Dry Ice Ice Cream

The Kitchenaid blender has been put to good use on the bar, blending cocktails to a perfect consistency, whilst the mixer gave us the ability to create our Ice Creams for Ferragosto; the mixer churned the Manhattan mixture with dry ice, creating a taste/texture revelation!


A seriously heavy duty piece of kit (Tony has been giddy blending all sorts- think nutmegs to powder)

The Vorwerk thermomix (http://www.vorwerk.com/thermomix/html/)
has been busy pulverising and heating a host of ingredients, including some homemade ginger beer-given extra bite by...

A soda stream whilst we await a carbonation unit

09 August 2010

Drinks J. Straub 1914 reprint by Mudpuddle

Some books ya just gotta read!! and this is one of them.... TC

Havana Nocturne (us title) The Havana Mob (uk Title)

Found this whist ruminging through J and A Miller-Browns collection of amazing books... if you thought TJ English's first book was a stormer this takes you through the maze of the 1920s Havana history and the mobs involvement until the revolution. Altough less drink referances is a fantastic backdrop to all those wonderful Cuban cocktail books and legendary stories!! TC

Paddy Whacked by TJ English

Really great book to read for very well researched stories of the Irish mafia but interestingly for us there are whole bits about bootleggers and speakeazies... and puts alot in the context of the current events of the time... was first recommended to me by Mickey Mcilroy.... very dark at the end!! TC

06 August 2010

Joerg Meyer- owner of the fabulous 'Le Lion' in Hamburg- talks to Drink Factory

1.What is the first cocktail you ever made?

I will never forget. An El Diablo Cocktail. I was 16, maybe 17 years old. In some Interviews I say I was 18, some legal thing here in germany - you understand? Ok. 16 and „in love“. There was a beautiful Lady, out of reach for a simple guy like me. And her best girlfriend (quite more in reach for me) had her birthday party. So I decided to pop up with a Birthday Present Cocktail for all guests. I packed all my stuff on my scooter and stole a book from my sister’s shelf. She was doing an apprentice as a Hotel Employee in a five star Hotel and had some books for Education. One about Cocktails. I really was a bad brother. I just ripped of the EL DIABLO page, because after I checked the storage room of my parents country pub, that was the only drink I was able to make and sounds quite easy. The guest all get drunk and I got in trouble with the parents of the birthdays ladies (her father worked for the police - little bit serious about serving drinks to too young people), I didn’t make it to reach the heart of the girl I fell in love with and my sister was really pissed with me, next to my mother which realized that someone cracked the storage room and stole some SIERRA TEQUILA. Well ... good think: next steps in bartending career had more success ...

2. What are your 3 favourite drinks? With recipes if you have them; old, new and your own.

I do not have favourite drinks. If its about the 3 drinks I would like to recommend to a guest I can‘t say. It belongs to the guest. I need to see him, have a short conversation, and than I will figure out. So the three favourite drinks in this case would be:

1. Serve him an cold glass of Water for free. Show him that he is more than welcome in your bar - perfect drink, if you ask me

2. The Simple Drink - make him a simple Drink. But make it perfect. The best Whisky Sour (f.e.) he has ever had. And do not talk about. Just wait and see his reaction.

3. The Drink that is perfect for his lady. Don‘t take Mixology toooo serious. Serve her a great drink, make her smile. Than he will as well. Understand that the Drink is only a small part of a great evening for your guests.

Second choice. The three favourite Drinks I would like to drink myself

1. Well - same here. Let‘s wait and check out the Bar, Talk to the Bartender. What‘s his style? Should I give it a try or just stay with a perfect glass of chilled Champagne?

2. Simple is always good. For more it need a special place and a special time. In a crowded bar never order complex drinks. Show that you understand the game. Why bring honorable colleges in some trouble by ordering the perfect Ramos in a crowded bar. Bullshit. Show respect to the people who share your passion. It is a packed place? go for a Gin & Tonic (You still can live your geek nerd style on the kind of brand, zest, tonic you order...)

3. Atmosphere, Atmosphere, Atmosphere. Their is a fantastic old Hotel Bar in Hamburg with an old Italian Bartender. I once dropped there in with Tony C.. How can‘t you go here for a Negroni? Is it possible to have a look at the skyline of NYC not sipping a Manhattan? I love to go for classics ...

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

Well, some rumors and bad tongues say it is all about BASIL. Yes, fair to mention: I bought lots of stocks on basil. But beside that: there is not a single one who came out very hard. We live in fantastic times. Everything is aviable always. It’s up to us. More important to me is, THAT we should always rethink flavours. If you start thinking everything is already done, you should maybe stop bartending. The rest is a game. It’s not about hunting down the fanciest ingredients. Do you know what REALLY is in my head today. Raspberry, Juniper, Green Tea, maybe Vermouth, Eggwhite and Lemon. Why? Because I tried a super good Clover Club Cocktail a few week ago in London. It was perfect. I had it in two version. One was was half Gin, half kind of homemade Green Tea Sirup. The other one was classic, but I swear with fresh Raspberrys, or Syrup?

You know what kills me? I can‘t make it. I am trying with Mario every few Night some new Ideas on a Clover Club Version. Maybe homemade Raspberry Syrup. Different Gins. It’s often 90% - but never the 99% I enjoyed in London. I can‘t live with that. A simple Drink. When You once had him perfect you can‘t go back. So, the flavour I enjoy most always is maybe DETAIL

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

I can‘t. It’s too complex. And I do not want to give the apprentice the feeling that its about ONE Superthing. No, it is not. It is about a few hundred very important thinks. And it’s about long hours. If you look for easy going ... leave. Bartending is a damn hard job. And if you do not love people in general - you should NOT do this job at all. So, no Supersolutions for the young once - but: an Offer...

I just started to announce that Le Lion Bar de Paris is offering an Job for one Year as an Commi de Bar. That’s our still of education. I guarantee that you work at least 200 to 220 hours a month. You payment will be 1000€. You will only get tips if you work is good enough and the bartender willing to share with you. During this year you will never Tend the Bar in front of my guests I promise. But, I promise you as well, you will get a great education. You can apply, via email is best. You should be at least 20 ears old and speak a good english. German is not needed. Very important to me is good manners. So, young man ... are you in for some serious work? Here are more details:


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

I have no Idea. Some simple thoughts. If you are able to do a good drink, people will still enjoy it. Do your homework, clean your bottles and serve good drinks with a smile. People will always enjoy this. Regarding to the Industry. To me, bartenders nowadays do concentrate tooo much on Industry and brands. Bartenders do not need Industry and Brands. They need us. I would love to see If bartender would stop a little bit this international circus of brand work and just serve good drinks, be open minded and get in touch with bartenders from all countries. We do not need brands for this. They are the odd man out. So, please - do not care about industry. Make a good job and people will love your work

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

Seriously - we should stop this superlative thing. Working behind the bar is great in general. Otherwise I wouldn‘t to it 12 hours a shift. My job give me lots of a satisfaction I am a happy man. I love my job. I can do what a love to do. Every Evening is different - many of them are very nice. We should not hunt down the best, coolest etc thing ever. Serving drinks can make you happy in a very unpretentious way. And that’s ok

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 Dr. Sack Cocktail. A very old Mixture of Dry Gin, Creme de Kirsch and Kirsch l‘eau de Vie. Some say it was first served in the old ADLON Hotel in Berlin after the first world war. Even more, I like to hear his stories about one of the bars I fall in love with. I spend three years of my young days trying to spend every minute and every Money I had in the great Old Fashion Bar of Archim F. Eberhardt in Hamburg. The Dr. Sack Cocktail was his kind of House Drinks for professional Barflys. I would love to hear who he enjoyed his second life after getting lost after 1945 in Berlin and got reborn in 1968 in Hamburg. And about the 30 Years he was served at Old Fashioned Bar. Man, I could spend Nights on listening to him...awesome

8. What influences your drinks from outside the industry?

Can‘t really say. It‘s mixture of a few thinks: Old Books could be a start. As I said: I like classics, sometimes a modern twists makes them first class. But than its also about „exchange“ with Bartenders and Conaisseurs. I read a lot. Also online. Blogs from all over the World give me inspiration. And from time to time the influence of a good chef and his Restaurant give you a new Idea. Consuming as much as possible Information and Inspiration. But as I said. Love Classics. It is not about creating a new great Killer drink every week. Relax. Someone got Basil?

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

Rule No. 1 - The Bartender is always right ... break with them, its overrated

10. Outside of flavour and the craft of the cocktail, what in your opinion affects the appreciation of cocktails the most? Word of mouth...

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

„The simple Classic“ - often served all over the world, but very rare to find a good one.

04 August 2010

New drinks at 69 Colebrooke Row continued... The "Haiku'

Showcasing Kigo, with homemade Almond and Rice milk, and Sandalwood

served with a flutter of rice paper cherry blossom

Dry Ice Daiquiri at 69 Colebrooke Row

Beaker making a dry ice daiquiri at 69 Colebrooke Row last Tuesday for all those who missed the experience at Bar10

Vintage/Aged Manhattans: Part 2 problem solved??

So six years ago when I first put down the first tests for the aged Manhattans both in glass and with glass and staves, then later in small barrels. After a relatively short period both "wooded" examples got too woody far too quickly, and tipped the balance towards the too woody, even when I used smaller chips to try and minimize this. This lead me to abandon the process as the aim was always to see how far the process could be pushed; at five and a half years it's still going strong (i can't imagine it working wooded for that amount of time! both with wood flavour and oxizidation). In a recent conversation with Mr. McGee I had asked him what he thought was happening in the aging process in the bottle and we strayed into a conversation about aging the cocktails in wood. We concurred that what was happening when you were aging with wood was adding more flavour (in this case a flavour that already exists in the bourbon: hence the tipping the balance thorough wood aging). In comparison what happens in the glass was that the flavours are aging in on themselves creating smaller and more subtle flavours making a smoother drink without adding extraneous flavour.

With the recent conversations about aging cocktails, the barrel thing has come up repeatly, seeing as it's an idea that still appeals to me on a romantic level, I had a little think as to how I could get this to work.....???? ...... the obvious solution would be to use white dog but if you think about it logically you would then "wood out" the vermouth! So back to basics- how can you get both bourbon/vermouth on a level playing field? You would need to strip the wood heavy flavours out of both.... As I had done a long time ago (see manhattan steel corp post) [see also Dave and Tony Post Scotchka post] put the Manhattan through the Rota vap to create a very clean steely (yet pleasant) Manhattan so I figured that if I used this process to strip a lot of the heavy wood and base flavours out of the cocktail, I could then age without having worry about tipping it into the too woody!!

So here goes a stripped Manhattan (or Manhattan Steel corp. very drinkable in its own right!!) and in glass with wood:

In a red wine barrel: (Just in case lose to much vermouth wine flavours)

We will post more as results come out!!

Tony C

Cant wait for this one! not long now!!

02 August 2010

Ryan reports from the Drinks Factory lectures of Bar10

Dave Broom and Bernard Lahousse

The much-anticipated Drinks Factory showcase of Bar10 began proceedings with the tour de force coupling of our favourite drinks writer- Dave Broom, and much applauded creator of www.foodpairing.be - Bernard Lahousse.

The pair took the audience on an exploration of flavours and scents- and what better example to highlight this than Scotch Whisky? By analysing fractions of the whisky, representing each stage of the production process, Dave and Bernard illustrated what and why certain flavours were created through each phase. This was done by dissecting Longmorn Single Malt into its component parts, then finally carrying this through to analyse the blend to which the distillery lends itself- Chivas Regal. At each stage, from grain to finished product, Dave would describe the process and explain the factors that influence the flavours present. This was complimented by Bernard elaborating upon the notes present and explaining how compounds form and relate to each other- giving everyday examples as means of grounding his points; for instance, a stronger, fuller flavour from a mushroom can be created by cutting laterally than it would be by cutting from top to root. This was also developed by Bernard explaining flavour pairing at a compound level, and using a few catalogued scents, he could demonstrate how flavours relate. Several scents were passed around the audience with more than one person correctly identifying the mystery compound. This was graphically illustrated with the use of Bernard’s website where pairings and replacements for flavours and ingredients can be found.

Dave began with new make Longmorn, and then showed how flavours develop as they interact with the wood. This was described by tasting young Longmorn in European Oak (Quercus Robur) and American Oak (Quercus Alba) and in a series of different size of barrels to see how this affects flavours and aromas. These were all then compared with Grain whiskies, and finally in the final products of Longmorn 16 and Chivas 12. By having each denomination to taste, Dave and Bernard were able to describe not only the influence of the process- for example fermentation of barley creates certain compounds due to the yeast and conditions specified, and the impact of American Oak due to the make-up and treatment of the wood lend more eugenol and vanillin to the spirit- but also, they were able to discuss the complexity of the resulting spirits and the wealth of flavour compounds present. As could only be expected, the floor flooded with a host of questions, reluctantly capped by time restrictions- but of course, Dave Arnold and Tony C were due to follow.

Dave Arnold and Tony Conigliaro

As Dave introduces the Buchi Still, Tony carefully attaches a flask of suspicious looking red liquid carefully extracted from a sous vide bag which Dave had bravely opened with his teeth.

Many had come to not only hear the two venerable speakers, but also to witness the Buchi still in operation. Much lauded by those seeking means of progressing their craft- and mainly due to it's publicity created largely by the two speakers- few expected such a lucid example of its application than a live distillation of habanero chillies.

Whilst this was being undertaken, Tony and Dave discussed why the still is so unique and therefore how it is able to produce far superior products than could be created through traditional or everyday means.
The still operates in much the same way as a classic pot still or alembic where a compound is heated, and the resulting vapours are cooled and collected to concentrate the desired aspects. The Buchi still, or rotovapor, differs in that it allows the pressure to be drastically reduced- to a 30th of room pressure and beyond. This has the effect of altering boiling points of liquids- akin to boiling water at a much lower temperature at the top of Everest.

This means that instead of ‘boiling’ delicate flavours, they can be distilled at a temperature that preserves their integrity and true essence without creating any undesired flavours that are created through ‘cold’ methods such as maceration and infusion.

This first use was exemplified with a sample of Horseradish vodka made at 69 Colebrooke Row by Tony where he re-distilled vodka with freshly grated horseradish. The result is a vodka with an incredibly fragrant nose, and the full mustardy bite of fresh horseradish.

To demonstrate its application, a sample of the 69 bloody mary was passed out, and quickly vanished. Similarly, some homemade Cacao was sampled, carrying a full cocoa flavour, all agreed that it packed a far superior punch to many commercial attempts.
A second use of the still was exhibited with a clear liquid passed- its identity undisclosed- to the audience.

Many were left guessing and confused, but all seemed to enjoy it. Tony and Dave had previously passed some Chivas Regal 18 through the still, and through careful management of the distillation markers, had managed to preserve the flavour of the whisky whilst stripping it of all it’s colour. The result- Scotchka! The remaining dark solution?

This was blended into vodka to create Vodsky, which was also passed amongst the addled audience. Not only did this highlight the ability to confuse the senses and an interesting backdrop for tastings, it provided a great insight into the abilities of both rotovapor and its masters!

Finally there was time for one of Dave Arnold’s projects at the FCI, and a sample of homemade aquavit – Skål - was passed around, with the express instruction of not to consume it until further details were disclosed! Made using the rotovapor, it had a much more intense flavour than an everyday aquavit, and a documented ritual to accompany:

Dr Andreas Sella and Marcis Dzelzainis

Andreas and Marcis began proceedings with an elaborate and intriguing set up that included an overhead projector, an iced bucket filled with bottles of water, a fluorescent light (used to spotlight tonic water, and the brighteners present in Marcis’ shirt)... and a host of articles that promised to live up to the expectations of explosions and excitement. Dr Sella began by analysing the humble G&T- recalling the origins of this ubiquitous highball, and the race to decipher the make up of- and subsequently the attempts to try to synthesise- quinine. These efforts made a huge impact on the development of organic chemistry and the modern chemical industry. One attempt starting with coal tar, and the oxidation of toluidines led to the creation of mauveine- the first purple dye- that created a phenomenon; all from the chase started by the gin and tonic!

At this point, samples of Corpse Reviver No.2 were passed around and the notes of the drink prompted an illumination on the absinthe louche, as Dr Sella demonstrated the precipitation of the oils through the use of the overhead projector. The hydrophobic oils form a microemulsion and when displayed through the projector omits a blue light, which casts a complimentary orange projection on the wall. Dr Sella used a technique of dynamic light scattering using a laser to show how the droplets of oil in the absinthe solution do not coalesce- by showing how the laser forms a solid observable beam through the liquid.

Marcis then recalled a brief history through drinking, including an observation of recent studies into inebriation- including a discussion into the fact that it is now believed that drunken behaviour is an acquired/learned trait and is more impacted by societal influences than by alcohol itself.

This left enough time for an attempt at super cooled water- where the temperature of water is dropped rapidly below its standard freezing point using ice and salt- then it can be instantly frozen using a seed crystal by tapping the bottle sharply or by pouring the super cooled ‘glass’ water. And still time for an explosion before Harold and Tony were due....

Harold McGee and Tony Conigliaro

To many within the audience, Harold’s book ‘On Food and Cooking’ has been a rich document of source material, and the lecture lived up to expectations.

Much of the discussion involved Tony and Harold investigating commonplace food and bar ingredients and their applications. Often these ingredients are over looked, or badly utilised. By understanding the structure of these ingredients, Tony and Harold could show methods of getting the most from these ingredients, and avoiding pitfalls that can accompany many standard techniques.

First up for inquiry was lime juice. Tony explained how the complex aroma of fresh lime was not only one source. To show this, three fragmented lime concentrates were passed around. Individually they smelt characteristically of lime- albeit fractions of- but when combined, they reformed the aroma of true, fresh lime.

Harold explained the oxidation of lime juice occurs very quickly after pressing, and the contrast can easily be seen. The audience smelt and tasted freshly pressed lime against lime juice that had been heated to 90°C then rapidly cooled to illustrate the effects of oxidation. Unfortunately, the conclusion reached was that there were few means of avoiding this, and the solution was to have juice prepared as close to requirement as possible.

In contrast, in the analysis of mint, there were means of better utilising the ingredient. This was achieved first through a better understanding of the plant itself. The mint ‘essence’ lies in small sacks that occur on the underside of the leaf. When damaged, they release the mint oils that are desired (ironically, this is actually a natural repellent and wards off pests, but it is this aspect we desire).

They are also very fragile, so over-handling of the mint, and the misinformed notion of muddling the mint subdues flavour- and in the case of muddling, releases bitter chlorophyll from within the cells. The flavour can easily subside however, and can also take on undesirable notes, so to demonstrate, Tony had prepared two hydrosols- water based essences created using the vacuum still that can preserve the integrity of ingredients in a water based solution. Akin to the lime juice, a bad mint and a good mint hydrosol were passed around. Not only did this demonstrate a means of preserving the mint (if you have a vacuum still!), it also allowed Tony and Harold to discuss the nature of mint as a plant and its correct treatment.

This gave Harold a platform on which he could discuss the development of flavours and compounds and resulted in an analysis of Tony’s Vintage cocktails. Harold explained, using a chromatograph reading illustrating the compounds present within aged and un-aged examples, how ageing created a complex interplay between the compounds- shown with batches of Vintage Manhattans- that leads to not only a mellowing of flavours, but also the creation of new ones. The combination of vermouth, Bourbon and bitters interact over time and create a very different product to that of a fresh mixture.

From this, Harold could develop on to his studies into the effects and behaviour of alcohol molecules, and his findings showed how in high concentrations, it behaves similarly to that of oil when in the presence of water. This was an important revelation, as it seems that alcohol molecules form micelles; whereby the hydrophobic heads of the molecules cluster together to minimise water contact (akin to the indicative droplets of oil in water), the application of this may not be enormous to the average chef or bartender, but an interesting report nonetheless!

A fitting end to the showcase of the Barshow, and an enormous wealth of information passed on by all the guest talkers, with the signed posters being sold for charity quickly snapped up. With new works soon available from a few of our lecturers, this was a perfectly timed conference!