29 February 2012

Woodland Martini and Wood Bitters

Woodland Martini
Amontillado Sheers
Homemade Woodland Bitters (Cedar, Maple, Sequoia)

The Woodland Martini is one of the newest drinks created in the Drink Factory Lab and on sale at 69 Colebrooke Row. The drink plays host to Beefeater Gin, Amontillado Sherry and homemade Woodland Bitters.

The bitter were developed with layering in mind. Similar to a perfume the bitters needed to have a base, middle and top notes to complete a rounded flavour. Straying from the normal path though, the emphasis has been placed on the base note being the most dominant while the top and middle notes are more subtle and tasted solely at the beginning of the cocktail. Beyond adding a framework for the cocktail the bitters were also laced with umami to create a mouth feel and a delicious sensation which is separate but inclusive of all the flavours and adds to the overall experience of the drink.

The bitters have been a Drink Factory project for the past 12 months and have undergone many variations in ratio and recipe. The woods used range from a lighter to darker more heavy woods. Maple, Cedar and Sequoia were finally settled upon.

Maple Tree - Predominantly native to Asia, with a few varieties found in Euopre the latin name Acer is derived from the latin word for "sharp" describing the leaves of the tree. Maple syrup is by far the most well known product of the Sugar Maple Tree, which is produced from the sap of the tree and boiled down before being turned into maple syrup or sugar. It adds a slightly sweeter woody note to the bitters.

Cedar Tree - Can refer to several different kinds of tree from all over the world. There are 3 main families of Cedar, the Pinaceae family, the Cupressaceae family and the Meliaceae family. The flavour is slightly smokey buy still light.

Sequoia Ree (Redwood) - A much more oaky, smoked and musty scent the sequoia is a genus of the Redwood family and are the largest living things on earth. The bark can be up to 4ft in thickness and some of the largest trees measure 35 feeds in diameter

The most common method for creating home bitters is a fairly simple process of steeping your ingredients in alcohol for several weeks or months then straining and adding any other desired notes to make the flavour your own. The pitfalls of this method are numerous, maybe most amongst them is the time consumption and difficulty in keeping a consistent flavour throughout batches.

To address this problem a Gastrovac was employed. Used for cooking and impregnating under vacuum, it creates an artificial, low pressure, oxygen free atmosphere which means the cooking temperature is a lot lower. This often results in texture, colour, and delicate nutrients being maintained.

Similar to a generic vacum machine the Gastrovac can be used to create the "sponge effect". This happens when the atmospheric pressure is restored and the food absorbs the liquid surrounding it meaning an infinite possibility of food and flavour combinations.

When translating the "sponge effect" to bar use this can mean a number of things. Maybe the simplest and most fun is infusing fruits or garnishes with another fruits flavour. Chery pineapple for instance.

Similar to a Rotavapor, the Gastrovac allows you to heat and cook very delicate flavours and products that would normally have their volatiles destroyed at normal boiling temperature. A rose or jasmine flower are examples of this.

The principle is basically vacuum cooking rather than vacuum distillation. We are heating to cook rather than boiling to produce vaporise.

We will offer a more detailed breakdown of a gastrovac in the coming weeks.

The result is a product of a scene from which the drink took its original inspiration. A starkly accurate image that describes the cocktail journey and flavour profile perfectly. Imagine entering a wood still moist from the morning dew with sunlight breaking through the thin foliage that grows on the edge of the forest. As the walk takes you deeper into the trees, the mood and scene becomes denser and thickets. The light darkens and the moisture and scents grow heavy.

As the drink begins, the lighter more subtle top and middle notes from the bitters are noticeable but brief. As the drink continues it is the base notes that you begin to ride and the umami that carries the deliciousness around your palate and keeps the tastes dynamic.

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