28 October 2010

Rotavapor Masterclass at the Sipsmith Distillery

Tony and Jared Brown gave a demonstration into the applications and uses of the BUCHI rotovapor at the Sipsmith distillery in Shepherd's Bush. Given in the shadow of the copper still, Tony and Jared discussed the differences and benefits of vacuum distillation- illustrated in a practical demonstration of a distillation run.

21 October 2010

Our new favourite book (review)! Punch - Dave Wondrich

Following on from the canonical Imbibe!, our favourite historian and friend of the bar with no name, Dave Wondrich casts his eye to the matter of the bowl and investigates the long history of punch. Written in his incomparable style to include in-depth research and his trademark wit, it provides a thoroughly enjoyable exploration of this fascinating beverage.
A must read!

Book Review- Cooking for Geeks, Jeff Potter

The book covers aspects for both the professional and home cook. Adapting information from various sources, he gives not only illumination on techniques and the science behind the happenings, it also gives practical solutions for how to adapt the methods. An enjoyable and informative read!

Book Review- Culinary Tea, Cynthi Gold, Lise Stern

The book beautifully documents a series of recipes varying from savoury to sweet- all including different varieties of tea. Describing the attributes of each type of tea and regional differences, the recipes give ideas as to what variables will result. Ranging from more commonplace pairings to more esoteric ones, it covers a wealth of different combinations and methods of incorporating the teas. Interspersed with other aspects of tea rituals, it provides interesting reading into the category of transporting tea into other uses. Although it mis credits the Earl Grey martini which belonged to Audrey Saunders.

19 October 2010

Vintage Jamaican Rum

In and amongst the celebrations, and in the presence of Martin and Jeff, Tony unearthed (almost literally!) a bottle of old Jamaica Rum, and with a careful extraction of the deteriorated cork, decanted a sample that had not seen fresh air for over 60 years. Incredible on the nose, it had the unmistakable aroma of Jamaican rum- pot still heavy, rich and pungent- but failed to deliver on the palate. Although interesting and spicy, it had a thin finish and lacked the body the nose suggested. Still, another chapter in the bar with no name's historic tastings

The Bar With No Name and the Weekend of Win

And The OFM Winner for Best Place to Drink is... Thank You!

Thank you to the Observer, to it's esteemed readers and writers, and a huge thank you to everyone of our customers over the past year that deemed us worthy of their vote.

The accolade of an Observer Food Monthly Awards gong is a genuine honour indeed ~ thank you!

Also over the weekend, the bar with no name picked up the award for Best New Bar at Class! Up against very fierce opposition, we were very pleased to receive the award.

To add to the celebrations, Ryan battled with the creme of bartenders from around the UK for the national final of the No.3 Gin competition and walked away with top spot!
See you soon!

Camille, Tony and the Team ~ X

15 October 2010

Drink Factory Interview- Chad Solomon and Christy Pope

Chad Solomon/Christy Pope Drink Factory Interview

Christy Pope & Chad Solomon have been an integral part of the New York cocktail scene for the past decade, having worked behind the bars of Milk & Honey, Pegu Club, Little Branch, and Flatiron Lounge, and have since consulted on beverage programs for hotels, restaurants and bars around the world. In 2006, Christy & Chad emerging from their collective work at Milk & Honey, founded Cuffs & Buttons Cocktail Catering & Consulting.

1. What is the first cocktail you ever made?

Christy: I am afraid all the drinking has left me a bit foggy on the actual first drink I ever made, so I will answer this in two parts…
-First drink that I ever “uncovered” was the Casino cocktail form the vintage book “Just cocktails.” I remember finding the recipe and taking it in to M&H the next night, I was working with Joseph Swartz and we looked at the recipe and adapted it, he made it, we drank it, and soon I was recommending it to guests with great delight, and thus it was cemented into the Milk & Honey drink compendium.
-First drink that made that made me “think” I was “the shit”, the “show off” drink was the Queenspark Swizzle, it was always such an “ooh, ahh” presentation, and swizzling just felt sooo good ; )

Chad: Margarita, at the Cellar bar in the Bryant Park Hotel- it was the first drink I served behind any bar, on my first night on the job. It’s funny that it turned out to be a Margarita, because I’m originally from Texas and my birthday falls on Cinco de Mayo, which is like national Margarita day.

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

Christy: Old- Classic Daiquiri: 2 oz Light Rum, 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice, ¾ oz Simple Syrup
New- Red Hook: (variant of Brooklyn by Enzo) 2 oz Rittenhouse Rye 100pf, ½ oz Punte Mes, ½ oz Luxardo Maraschino
Mine- Tequila Eastside (aka. Platino Fresca, or South Central): Same drink but has been put on menus with different names- 2 oz Silver Tequila, 1 oz Lime Juice, ¾ oz Simple, muddled cucumber and mint

Chad: This question is a non-starter for me, and my usual smart-ass response to this type of question is, “the one in my hand.” When and where am I drinking my supposed favorite drinks? For me it boils down to the time/place/occasion that I’m going to consume a drink in. I’m pretty equal opportunity if the drink is well made and the occasion is appropriate, and I don’t play favorites with my own creations.

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

Christy: Asian Green Peppercorn… probably seems obvious, but true Asian green peppercorns do not exist stateside, not even at the NYC spice mecca Kalustyan’s… they have bags labeled “green peppercorn” but they are black in color and do not compare in flavor to the bright crisp heat of the Asian variety. My initial discovery was made 2 years ago when Chad was consulting on a project in Egypt and he came back with all these amazing bags of spices he got at the souk, and my favorite was the green peppercorn… beautiful Kelley green in color and taste, it’s a fresh heat. Then, a couple of months ago I was consulting on a job in Hong Kong and had an amazing dish of beef and green peppercorns in sauce, and again, these amazing Kelly green colored peppercorns dotted the plate with such a bright intensity! Much brighter in intensity with a round and lingering heat compared to the black, white, or pink peppercorns.

Chad: Until recently I had never tasted turmeric on its own. I haven’t done anything with it yet, but it’s something I’d like to explore.

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

Christy: Don’t run before you walk… Bartenders in their first year are trying to make molecular cocktails and they can’t even execute a proper sour. Learn and understand the fundamentals… they create the foundation from which you can then build on.

Chad: Ask a lot of questions (especially how and why) about everything that happens behind the bar. Curiosity can’t be stressed enough.

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

Christy: For me, I am very excited about my future, which means focusing on our own brand, Cuffs & Buttons™. We are in the process of obtaining our own storefront…i.e. bar which will mean that we are able to showcase our point of view on cocktails, as well as I will be dedicating more time and energy to further growing C&B cocktail catering… we have already built such a great foundation in the catering community, and I’m excited about growing further in that direction. As for the future of the industry, it’s going to be interesting… I think that TV is going to get hold of the community at some point and I am a bit leery of how that might affect things, but overall there will always be a few auteurs working on a smaller scale, and pushing the cocktail further.

Chad: For my future plans: Ditto Christy’s answer. With the exception of NYC and SF and a couple of smaller markets, the cocktail renaissance/revival is still very young in America, so there is tremendous opportunity here to open establishments and educate in the secondary markets. Also, I think for this to really take hold and grow, it has to reach out to a wider audience beyond bartenders and cocktail geeks.

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

Christy: It has brought me out of my shell. I am (to my deficit) a very quiet and reserved person, bartending makes you interact, it’s taken me a while, but I am far more social than I used to be. Also, I know I can walk into any party and make it better by shaking up a few drinks!

Chad: The people I’ve met, and friends made both in and out of the industry. Aside from all of the learning and the passion for cocktails and bartending, you never know who you’re going to meet sitting across the bar from you.

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?

Christy: I have two…
-Manhattan… the power conversations and deals that have been made with this cocktail in hand would be both fascinating and quite salacious too!
-French 75… pure romance, the name, wartime, its masculine and feminine, it evokes the true glamour of Hollywood, and it was on the set of Casablanca!

Chad: I could say the Cock-tail, Manhattan, Martini…. But, I’d be much more interested to talk to Pisco Punch, to hear about all of the terra it supposedly stomped in late 19th/ early 20th century San Francisco… or better yet- Aleister Crowley’s Laudanum Cocktail- that would probably be a real boomer.

8. What influences your drinks from outside the industry?

Christy: Pop culture.
Chad: The exploration and search to achieve better flavor takes you straight to the more advanced kitchens/Chefs. Outside of that- travel, books, music, and humor are all places I find inspiration.

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

Christy: I’ve never been a rules person, there are exceptions to everything.
Chad: Break them all and often… there are exceptions to everything, the important thing is to use common sense.

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

Christy: Ambiance. At the end of the day, it’s only us in the industry that nit pick over exact balance and brands and technique. The general public just wants something that tastes good and gets them on their way to being happy and relaxed, in an environment they enjoy. It is important for us to labor over the details of cocktails and make them as delicious as possible, but the ambiance is just as critical and should never be left behind.
Chad: The setting and the experience a person has while drinking them.

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

Christy: For an aromatic, it doesn’t get better than an Old Fashioned. For a sour base cocktail, the Daiquiri is my fancy!
Chad: Thug Passion.

12 October 2010

New drinks at the bar with no name

There are a few additions to the menu as the best of the summer weather fades away. The light, crisp and fresh Elegante has been replaced by the house Bloody Mary- a rich, spicy autumal alternative that is more fitting of the cooler months. Based upon the bar's cold distilled Horseradish Vodka, it also features a black pepper distillate for a touch of complex heat, a homemade aged Habanero pepper sauce for a rich, deep flavour, worcestershire sauce, homemade celery salt and the house tomato blend

In addition, we also have the return of the Vintage El Presidente (much to the joy of several guests) building up to the phenomenal 1 year vintage due for release at Rumfest
after party on the 17th October.

Vintage Vintage Cocktails?

The aged cocktail project begun by Tony over 6 years ago appears to have been echoed some time in the past... Drink Factory and 69 Colebrooke Row amigo, and venerable cocktail historian Dave Wondrich appears to have found references to a similar technique used some time ago. Great minds think alike!
However, the "Club Cocktails" advertised by Heublein and Brothers offered cocktails aged on wood. Interestingly, Manhattans were on offer. These would not have been able to stand up to the length of time of the cocktails on offer in the bar with no name have aged, as 6 years in wood would have developed into a very dry, very woody drink after this time, and lack the mellowing as described by Harold McGee that occurs with the bottle ageing.

Is ours a slight variation of this project? In as far as they are just bottle aged and for a lot longer a period?
It does not specify ages; were there any aged for very long periods? Does anybody know?

And just how cool are the posters? Very Cool!

Vintage Manhattan project continued

The secondary ageing is furthermore developing well. Now into a deep amber colour, the sweet notes of oak are mingling well with the previously steely Manhattan.
A certain oilyness is also apparent as the wood leaches into the spirit- an aspect which can be seen in non-chill filtered products. A slight clouding can be expected when the drink is mixed.

Interestingly, the light wood infusion has developed more with the bourbon notes- a sweeter medley of vanilla, lemon fudge and eucalyptus on the nose whereas the dark wood has marched further down the richer route, with tobacco and christmas spices evident but playing much more into the vermouth.

03 October 2010

Chrysanthemum Distillate (almost)

Dia de los Muertos approaches, and attempts to find a fitting drink to accompany lent an eye being cast towards Chrysanthemums. Symbolic and representative of death (but not deadly), they befell the fate of being drowned and passed through the Rotovap. Initially a deep green/black, the crystal clear liquor that came off was separated into heads, hearts and tails to determine where the true essence of the flower resided. As water was added, the oleoresin present in the distillates louched a gentle cloudiness and opened up the aroma. However, despite a noticeable difference between the cuts, and interesting aromas of glasshouses, humid foliage and gentle aromatics, the delicate floral notes were lost. An informative failure; 69 Colebrooke Row- human after all!

01 October 2010

Damson Gin: the bar with no name VS the Charles Lamb

The gauntlet has been thrown!

As Autumn roles around, wild plum trees yield fresh damson berries and the stroll towards the winter period begins, the two venues are busy preparing batches of homemade Damson Gin. Who will create better results though? The bar with no name are utilising their knowledge gained from work in the lab so are bringing a new school method to the mix whilst the Charles Lamb are sticking with the more traditional (slow) techniques. All bets are on.