29 February 2012

"In The Lab" with Tony C part 2

The second and final part of Ian Cameron's unparallelled look into the working of not only the Drink Factory Lab and it's day to day running but also what has driven Tony C to persue a path which was imagined as far back as 1999 and many neysayers have described as madness on the way.

In part 2 Tony gives insights into scaling the mountain because it is there, how drinks will change in dynamic and rival food experiences, and always making sure that the fun and humour of junior school is never to far away.

"What will the drinks of the future look like? A few years ago, the work of Eben Freeman in New York and his world of Solid Cuba Libres and Absinthe Gummi Bears briefly inspired a generation of imitators. While at Shochu Lounge Tony himself also played with caviars, jellies and the like - since then foams and emulsions have since become par for the course at many bars, though Tony has not played with texture in such a way since."

""I think that sort of 'molecular' style is beyond passé. We've never had anything like that on the menu at 69. I realised a long time ago it's more important what you do with flavour than texture. A drink is majority flavour, not texture, unless you know what you are doing. It can go wrong, terribly wrong.""

To read the full article follow THIS LINK

Matt Pyke Digital Art

Anybody a fan of modern artistic techniques will enjoy this video. The short comes from our friends at Nowness, who created a beautifully worked film of the original lab above 69 Colebrooke Row shot by Todd Selby, if you missed it you can watch it HERE.

The film below is a glimpse into the mind of Matt Pyke from his digital fantasy land installed at Super Computer Romantics which was the first major exhibition at Paris' La Gaite Kyrique. Based in a log cabin studio he is an a digital artist, curator, designer, painter and animator.

“I’m interested in bringing life and empathy into digital art rather than keeping its cold, abstract, machine sensibility,” Pyke says.

The English mastermind is behind design studio Universal Everything, a collective of designers, programmers, musicians and artists known for their boundary-pushing commissions for clients including Chanel, MTV and London's 2012 Olympics.

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.

Barrel Aged Salts & Sauces

We live in a time when ANY kind of waste is frowned upon, and rightly so. The drinks industry has always been quite good about recycling and turnover, whether it be a leftover neutral spirit, barrels used for aging or simply glass.

A small company has recently come up with a new use for re-purposed bourbon barrels. The barrels are used to infuse distinct notes to small batch sauces and spices rather than other spirits.

Based out of Louisville Kentucky Matt Jamie is using a novel method to re-purpose his borboun barrels. Named Bourboun Barrel Foods. They have started producing micro-brewed and barrel aged soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, marinades and forghum salad dressing as well as barrel smoked salt, sugar pepper and paprika.

Typically the barrels would be used once to make bourbon after which they would be exported to be used in making scotch, irish whiskey, rum or tequila.

Process differs for each product. For instance each batch of soy is aged for 12 months in whiskey casks, which infuse a smokey flavour not usually found in the original Japanese product.

The reason I mention this apart from it being quite interesting, is the current trend in "Bar Aged" products. Bars are striving more and more to create a product available in one place and one place only. This in itself is an immediate draw, a point of conversation and intriguing angle for any customer to be wrapped up in.

This maybe well be the next step in the trend. Though we are still in the relative early days or the "Bar Aged" movement when compared to the rich history or barrel aging in Louisville, you would imagine there are already a few barrels sitting by the wayside waiting to be pointed toward their next purpose,

This has potential to go in a few directions. If you are lucky enough to have a kitchen as part of your establishment, why not bump heads with the chef and get him working on home made barrel aged sauces and infusions.

The idea could be embraced on a simpler and more local level by creating barrel infused sea salt or peppercorn to add to some bar snacks or if you are feeling adventurous create a cocktail with a bourbon salt rim.

However they might be used, we seem to be at a point where this kind of bespoke and original creativity can start to become the norm and what may seem to be leftover waste can be re-purposed and used to build an even more unique personality of a bar.

Flavour of the Week - Sage

Sage is known in Latin as Salvia Officinallis and is a naturally going shrub found throughout mediterranean regions.

Highly famed, throughout many cultures for its extensive healing abilities, it is one of the few herbs which has been proven to actually act in this way by modern science. Within a monastery an "officina" was a storeroom where herbs and ointments would be kept and "salvia" refers to the Latin term "to save".

Medieval Europeans believed sage strengthened both their memory and promoted wisdom. It was also widely used during times of plague by thieves who would rub sage and rosemary infused water over themselves to protect against infection, before riffling and looting the dead in the streets.

In a recent double blind, randomised and placebo controlled study sage was found to be effective in the management of mild to moderate Alzheimers disease.

Sage has a slightly peppery sharp flavour that is traditionally used in cooking fatty meats. The herb often lends itself well to heavier, smokey meats, which would potentially translate into a good pairing with darker spirits.

Flavour: Sour, peppery, sharp, hint of camphor, herbacious.

22 February 2012

Harold McGee Interview

Harold is an American author who writes on chemistry food and cooking. His first book was published in 1984. It was a 680 page compendium titled "On Food and Cooking: The Science * Lore of the Kitchen". The book struck a chord with the industry at the time as both the US and Britain were awakening to the pleasures of good food and to the diversity of world cuisines. in 2004 a completely revised edition of "The Curious Cook" was published. The book was significantly expanded and went on to win several awards.

Harold contributes to the scientific journal Nature, and has written articles for The New York Times, The Wold Book Encyclopedia, The Art of Eating, Food and Wine and Physics Today.
Harold is currently working on a book about flavour, and contributing a columnn on science and food, titled "The Curious Cook" to the New York Times.

1.What is the first cocktail you ever tasted?

It was probably a gin and tonic when I was very young, maybe 10, and my parents were having one during the hot Chicago summer. But I don't remember for sure.

2.What was the first flavour you really fell in love with and why?

I'd say coffee ice cream--I guess because it was milky but different. That goes way back, maybe 3-4 years old.

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

When I went to Brazil for the first time last summer I tasted cupuaçu, the fruit pulp of a relative of the cacao tree. Powerfully fruity and flowery, but like nothing I'd tasted before. I also tasted an experimental "chocolate" made from cupuaçu seeds, and that special aroma somehow came through again.

4. If you could pass just one thing, on to someone looking to enter your side of the industry what would it be?

Take everything in the scientific literature with a grain of salt, and always listen to what cooks and bartenders tell you. They're the ones with the most hands-on experience of foods and drinks in all their complexity, and science is always trying to simplify. There's always something new to learn from both sides.

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

I'm writing a book about taste and smell and flavor. The future of the industry . . . I would never have predicted that we'd be where we are now, so I have no clue!

6. What has been your biggest satisfaction from working with food and chefs/bartenders?

Tasting such a tremendous range of different foods and drinks all over the world, and learning how to appreciate them more fully from the people who make them.

7. If you were to have a conversation with a cocktail or dish, (and presuming it could talk back to you and tell you its past). Which would it be and why?

Boy that's a wacky one! I guess I would ask a slow-cooked braise to tell me what's happening inside it as it slowly relaxes and develops flavor, or any shaken spirit whether it really feels beaten up.

8. What, outside of the industry, inspires you to continue experimenting and working with food and drink?

It's my own personal curiosity about how things work, and the pleasure I take in good food and drink.

9. If you where to break a kitchen golden rule what would it be?

The one I break all the time is Be careful with knives. I'm a lazy cook and always try to minimize cleanup, so instead of cutting properly on a cutting board I'll often slice things while holding them. Lots of nicks to show for that.

10. Outside of flavor and the craft of the cuisine what in your opinion effects the appreciation of taste the most?

Personal experience--the flavors that you've encountered in the past, and the circumstances of those encounters that make them memorable or not, pleasant or not.

11. If you where to champion a dish which would it be?

Good tinned sardines, raw tomatoes, and grilled or toasted bread. My default supper in summer, 10 minutes to put on a plate (quarter the tomatoes in your hand), and delicious.

"In The Lab" With Tony C

Though we have had various journalists, friends and family come through the new lab, few have had such an in depth peek at it's inner working as Ian Cameron does in this two part article just published in Class Mag.

The article looks at the machinery, the philosophies and the people behind Drink Factory and offers a chance to find out where the concept was born and where it all leads.

In the first of a two-part feature, Tony Conigliaro gives us a guided tour of his lab and explains the origin of many of his cocktails.

If there was one particular moment which turned Tony Conigliaro on to the path he now follows - one which blurs the line between bars, gastronomy and science - it was a day in 1999, when he was working at Isola restaurant in Knightsbridge.

"I had a sort of realisation," he recalls. "I wanted to make a pear and cinnamon purée for a Bellini, but couldn't find any pear purées that I liked or that worked with Prosecco. I started talking to the pastry chef about purées I could source, and that turned into talking about how I could make a purée from scratch........

You can read the rest of the article HERE

Layered Screwdriver Video

Though we may not be partaking in this kind of trickery at the moment and layering almost seems quite old fashioned and a thing of the past to many, this video offers a very simple and easy to follow tutorial to learn a simple but effective technique both for the home and the bar.

As with any service the key to incorporating something like this into a busy shift is prep. In this case you would need to have the drink pre-made and ready to serve, however you could easily incorporate one of the layers as a pre-made mix meaning you wouldn't need to refrigerate and could serve immediately.

The cocktail shown here is a Screwdriver, which is essentially a posh way of saying Vodka+Orange. In this example the only addition is gelatin and sugar.

To one container add:
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
1 sachet of gelatin
250 ml of vodka
mix the two using a blender or whisk and leave for 5 minutes

In a separate container add:
1 sachet of gelatin
1 tbl spoon caster sugar
300 ml orange juice
mix the two using a blender or whisk and leave for 5 minutes

In a serving glass:
Add first layer of orange juice and refrigerate for 15 minutes
add first later of Vodka and refrigerate for 15 mins

You can repeat the process as many times as you need, just be sure to refrigerate for 15 minutes after each layer is added.

Dunhuang Letter of Regret

We've all been there.....some more than others. The wine ebbs and flows, the conversations rise and fall with each course. Pause is only taken to allow for quick quaffs of wine or hurried portions of food to be wolfed down. The atmosphere is vibrant, one feels completely at ease with the evenings company. Just as you make a mental note of how this must be one of your best dinner party outings ever you breach the topic of religion, feminism, or sexual deviance. The conversation stops immediately. All eyes turn and fix on you. People look on expectantly, waiting for the end of the sentence that will put all of this into context, as this could only be an absurd joke or play on words...... Sadly your response is to grab the nearest glass and continue quaffing.

Fair enough, this may be an ever so slightly exaggerated example, however the sentiment holds true. People may take comfort in knowing that there is, in fact, an official etiquette for dealing with such situations that dates back to the 9th Century. Created by the Dunhuang Bureau of Etiquette was a template they insisted officials used to send apologies to any offended dinner guests.

The shamed diner would copy the template text, add in the concerned parties names, sign the letter and then offer it with the head bowed.

The letter was discovered in Western China and is part of the International Dunhuang Project.

The apology note read as follows:

"Yesterday, having drunk too much, I was intoxicated as to pass all bounds; but none of the rude and coarse language I used was uttered in a conscious state. The next morning, after hearing others speak on the subject, I realised what had happened, whereupon I was overwhelmed with confusion and ready to sink into the earth with shame."

Written centuries ago yet still applicable to this day.

Flavour of the Week - Patchouli

Cultivated in hot tropical climates such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and The Philippines patchouli is a bushy herb that is an offspring of the mint family. The flowering shrub of the patchouli are extremely fragrant and white in colour.

It's heavy, distinct and musty sent has lent itself to perfumes for hundreds of years. You will often find it acting as a base note in both male and female perfumes. Recently patchouli has been used in incense, and is growing acclaim in the alternative remedy field, being used for relaxation and to ease headaches, nausea and abdominal pain. The flower is also used as an intidote to snake venom in Malaysia and Japan.

Similar to wine patchouli oil will improve and mature over time making it a very versatile scent.

Flavour: Rich, earthy, woody, musty, subtle fruitiness.

15 February 2012

Challenging Beliefs About Flavours

Kevin Liu, formerly of Why Cook, has recently embarked on a new project and joined forces with similar minded food and cocktail lovers over at Science Fare. The four editors describe themselves as four geeks who like to experiment with food and together have created something more awesome than the sum of it's parts.

The preeminent expert in the field lays the foundation for a new brain-based understanding of how we experience food.

When Modernist Cuisine, the Art and Science of Cooking finally came out in early 2011, food geeks around the world rushed to buy it (assuming they had saved up the requisite small fortune). But that enthusiasm soon turned to dismay, even fear, for many of them. It seemed that Modernist Cuisine had succeeded in pondering, unequivocally answering, and even gorgeously photographing every imaginable food and science question in existence. The curious masses had no more need for experiments, hacking consumer goods, or scouring obscure food forums. They needed simply to turn to page 2^25, and lo, their questions would be answered. Was there nothing else in the food world worth exploring?

Enter “neurogastronomy.”

Author Dr. Gordon Shepherd, a neurobiologist by trade, answers few questions in this book. Rather, he elucidates the framework for a whole new set of food questions for his fellow geeks to explore. His language often slips into difficult-to-decipher academic terms and references to specific experiments with only vaguely promising results. But in its own way, Dr. Shepherd’s style can be surprisingly refreshing. Neurogastronomy is not Malcolm Gladwell’s clever and witty if somewhat exaggerated simplification of other people’s work. Both Shepherd’s name and legacy appear on the majority of the research he cites; his expertise is unquestionable. His takeaways are not always easy to find or understand quickly, but they are important enough to merit an extra moment or two of consideration.

The book opens with a staggering claim: whereas the tongue can only sense 5 (maybe 6, max) different tastes, the nose knows literally thousands of different scents. As a result, the majority of what we know as “flavor” actually comes from the nose. Of course, most people think flavor comes from the mouth, but this actually results from a nervous system property known as “referred sensation”

Taste and smell are perceived by completely different parts of the brain. Most people have a rough understanding that the nose plays an important part in flavor perception. But Gordon Shepherd knows a lot more about the topic than most people. For example, our perception of smell is processed by the prefrontal cortex (PFC) portion of the brain – the newest and most complex part of the brain, responsible for language and rational thought. Tastes from the tongue, on the other hand, are processed by the thalamus and the insula, more primitive brain areas that respond more quickly to inputs. These differing pathways help to explain why even babies understand that sweet deserves a smile while bitter begets “icky face,” but a sommelier might spend years training her nose.

I personally keyed in on the fact that the tongue can sense over 100 different shades of bitter. While the tongue experiences the other four tastes only in terms of intensity, it had to evolve a keener perception of bitter agents because bitterness in nature often implies poison. For the modern gastronomic homo sapiens, however, this means that bitterness can add a complexity to foods other basic tastes cannot. Also see my post on bitterness and cocktails.

The section of the book explaining smell receptors sheds some light on the developing field of “flavor pairing.” Flavor compounds are all organic compounds varying in length and constituent parts. Smaller, lighter molecules more easily escape into the air when food is chewed, so they are more likely to be sensed by the nose as we breatheout (this is called retronasal smell). Our noses are lined with thousands of olfactory receptors that each respond to a broad spectrum of scents. Every imaginable scent triggers a different subset of these receptors; a sort of “smell image” is created in the brain as a result. Most interestingly, our smell images can be amplified or even transformed when certain flavors are experienced together – when they are paired.

A recent academic investigation of flavor pairing revealed that western palettes prefer flavor compounds that match each other, while Asian cultures tended to avoid consonant tastes. But are these preferences learned? Are the genes responsible for olfactory receptors somehow different between races? Is there a certain type of flavor contrast Asians prefer that creates particularly sharp smell images?

Shepherd himself uses the latter fourth of Neurogastronomy to pose his own questions about food and the brain. Is an overload of pleasurable flavor compounds in modern foods responsible for widespread obesity? How much of flavor perception is conscious versus unconscious? Eating ties directly into the reward and punishment centers of the brain, areas that handle much of our decision-making. How does flavor affect the food we choose? What about other decisions? Like the trained scientist he is, Shepherd declines to conclusively answer any of these questions outright. Instead, he conservatively asserts that ongoing research holds promise.

The book Neurogastronomy might not be able to answer any of these questions outright, but the field it precedes will likely get to them in due course. In the meantime, serious food geeks (like you, I hope) should definitely get this book to foster curiosity and experimentation. Everyone else can wait for Gladwell’s summary.

Written by @Kevin Liu

Only Orson Welles.....

Very few people could manage this and still make it look suave and cool. Known for his work across directing, producing and acting Orson Welles is still one of the most recognisable names of our time.

When it comes to the Paul Masson brand of wine, most would maybe not be so familiar.....until you mention the fact that Orson Welles was the face and voice of the wine during the 1970's.

The promise went "We will sell no wine before it's time". Being the savvy drinker that he was Welles had a clause written into his contract promising him generous quantities of free wine. Welles, however, was eventually sacked by Paul Masson after stating that he never drank Paul Masson wine on an American talk show.

The outtakes below are from one of the commercial Welles was involved in.

Rose Sugar Cubes Now On Sale

The "Rose" cocktail, formerly sold at 69 Colebrooke Row was a delicious champagne and rose drink that housed a sugar cube deep in the depths of the glass. The cube was infused with rose essence which would tear away and flavour the cocktail as the cube broke up and disintegrated.

You can now buy the cubes pre-flavoured from the bar.

Email - drinks@69colebrookerow.com for more information.

New Beefeater Cocktails

As we previously reported, Colebrooke Row has been updating it's menu. Beefeater plays bass to two of these delicious new concoctions. The first we mentioned previously "Barbershop Fizz" and new arrival "Woodland Martini".

Woodland Martini
Beefeater 24
Woodland Bitters (sequoia, cedar, maple & oak)

Barbershop Fizz
Pine Infused Beefeater 24
Birch Syrup
Patchouli Infused Mint
Lime Juice

What is the Best Utensil To Stir Your Martini?

Science. Not only is it fun, it's also informative. Questions that plague the average man can be answered in a few short hours after the most simple experiment by an omniscient scientist.

Along with the shaker, the bar spoon is arguably the most common utensil you'll find secured beneath the bar top. The varieties that seem to exist are becoming endless, with spoons made for specific drinks, multi functional spoons, spoons that also act as knives. Have you ever questioned whether your bar spoon is the right tool for the job of stirring though?

The report comes from New Scientist who were looking at the best way to get your martini to the perfect temperature. I will avoid any Bond metaphors and references as I think we all know there are some fundamental errors in his martinis, especially with the quality of spirit we now have on the back bar.

The results were half surprising and half, if you thought about them they do actually make sense. The best tool to get your drink the coldest is in-fact a piece of wood. Ideally you could use one of the long paddles often served with take away coffee, or in lieu of that, one person recommended a pencil because it has:

"less mass, less surface area, a lower specific hear and will therefore conduct less hear from the hand."

The information is based on the fact that metal is too good of a heat conductor which means it would warm the drink too much. A stirrer with a bigger mass will have a bigger potential effect on the temperature than a smaller one. Which basically means if you used a big table spoon the drink would be hotter than with a long thin bar spoon.

What are to do with this information? I'm not entirely sure however I do not imagine we will see many people whipping out their be-spoke bartender pencils from their top pockets and giving your martini a good stir, leaving a subtle but delicious hint of lead. However maybe this does open the door to vintage waterproofed bar spoons, wooden shakers, or stocking up on paddles from Cafe Nero. We can certainly cross our fingers.

Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award Nominations Now Open

Tales Spirited Nominations are now open! Currently the form linked below is to nominate only, NOT to vote for a winner of any category. As always Tony Conigliaro, Drink Factory and 69 Colebrooke Row would be immensely grateful for your nomination and then (hopefully) subsequent votes!

"Upon the close of the nomination period, all nominees that meet all criteria will be sent to the judges, who will vote on the final 3 nominees for each category."

"The final 3 nominees for each category will be invited to the Spirited Awards® Ceremony to be held in New Orleans, Louisiana on Saturday, July 28, 2012"

You can nominate your favourites HERE

This years categories are:

World’s Best Cocktail Bar

World’s Best Cocktail Menu

World’s Best Drinks Selection
World’s Best Hotel Bar
World’s Best New Cocktail Bar
Best Cocktail Writing

International Bartender of the Year

Best International Brand Ambassador

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book

Best New Product

Best Restaurant Bar

American Bartender of the Year

Best American Brand Ambassador

Best American Cocktail Bar

Best High Volume Cocktail Bar

Best Bar Mentor

Flavour of the Week - Peppermint

It seems peppermint is often overlooked, amongst the mint and herb family. It may have something to do with some pretty awful liqeurs of questionable colour that have found their way into various shots and onto backbars, or it may not, who knows.

The liquers to one side a home infused gin, or tea used in a drink can add both a subtle coldness or a bold flavour to build upon.

Peppermints were originally thought to be an individual species however they have now been proven to be a hybrid between spearmint and water mint.

Cultivated and found, often growing freely, throughout Europe and some part of Asia, they thrive in moist soil. It is also easily available as an oil.

Although they shade slightly in medicinal uses compares to spearmint, peppermint has been proven to enhance and aid memory, help with insomnia and aid digestion.

Flavour - peppered, mint, crisp,

08 February 2012

Dave Wondrich Cuban Cocktail Recipes

Drink Factory friend and often partner in crime Mr Dave Wondrich, gave a very compelling talk this past Monday at The Museum of the American Cocktail. The talk was the most recent in a series of monthly events that feature renowned figures from within the industry.

Dave, the author of "Imbibe" and "Punch", delved into the rich and cultural history of Cuba, exploring the Cuban cocktail before, during and after prohibition.

Five cocktails were demonstrated during the seminar including El Presidente, a Daiquiri and a Gin Mojito. We are very pleased to bring you two of the slightly less well known drinks, the Longines Cocktail and the United Fruit. Sadly we don't have any images to accompany the drinks but tasting them should make up for it!

Longines cocktail
Put 1 oz strong, cold tea into a cocktail shaker
Stir in 1 barspoon sugar
Add 1 oz Ferrand 1840 cognac
Add 1 oz Anis del Mono
Strain into chilled cocktail glass and twist a swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top
For the tea:
Pour half a cup of boiling water over a black-tea teabag and let stand for 5 minutes.
Remove the teabag and chill the tea until cold

United Fruit Cocktail
Shake well with ice:
1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz Benedictine
3/4 oz Martini & Rossi red vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dash Pernod 68 Absinthe
Strain into chilled cocktail glass

New Beefeater Drinks at 69 Colebrooke Row

The advent of a new season is on the horizon, even if the weather would have us believe we are just reaching winter's peak. With that in mind 69 Colebrooke Row have added several new drinks to the cocktail list including two Beefeater 24 cocktails.

The first to be added is called the Barbershop Fizz. We will have more recipes and photos in the coming weeks however In the meantime be sure to sample the drinks for yourself.

Barbershop Fizz Ingredients
Beefeater pine infused gin
Birch and vanilla syrup
Patchouli infused mint
lime juice
(Image on the way)

Beefeater 24 Science Of Love Masterclass

Is there a better way to say "I love thee" than with a cocktail and a masterclass? I think not. Beefeater 24 and Tony Conigliaro are giving a limited number of guests a chance to do just that with their latest masterclass "The Science of Love".

The unique class is completely free and will also feature a behind the scenes look at the Drink Factory Lab as well as giving cocktail lovers an insight into the world of mixology.

The class will start within the lab itself and later move a short way down the road to 69 Colebrooke Row where guests will sample the drinks demonstrated within the lab.

Date - Saturday February 18th
Address: The Drink Factory, 35 Britannia Row, N18QH.
RSVP spaces are limited - david@bacchus-pr.com

Social Media is MORE Addictive than Alcohol

The latest booze-news- study wasn't directly setting out to find out anything about booze. It just so happens that the results have offered an interesting comparison for the general public to speculate on.

The study was led by Wilhelm Hofmann and Chicagos University Booth Business School. They looked at 205 people between the ages of 18 and 85 in Germany who were asked seven times a day over a week to describe which desires they were experiencing and the strength of said desire.

Now, reassuringly, and slightly boringly, the study found that we are not all slaves to our dark and hedonistic selves fuelled by alcohol drugs and parties, as sleep and leisure topped the list of desires. Slightly more interestingly though next in line of "self control failure rates" was checking in with social media, email and work which came in way ahead of the first drink of the day.

Obviously checking in with social media is a little bit simpler and more sociably acceptable than having a shot on the train at 9am, so the comparison is not completely airtight. Dr Hofmann explains further in the quotes for the Guardian below.

"Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not 'cost much' to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist," Hofmann

"With cigarettes and alcohol there are more costs -- long-term as well as monetary -- and the opportunity may not always be the right one," Hofmann added. "So, even though giving in to media desires is certainly less consequential, the frequent use may still 'steal' a lot of people's time." Hofmann

If somehow we did get a buzz out of social media and it cost us the same as a pint we may see very different results. However it does lead to another point that I'm glad to bring up which is why we are seeing more and more bars using social media to their advantage.

How does the old saying go, "if you have a good experience you tell 6 people, if you have a bad experience you will tell 20" Factor that into modern culture. "If you have a good experience you post it on your Facebook page, tag six people, it gets shared by 6 more which then gets seen by their friends who share it once more and tweet it too their 100 followers, one of whom RT's to another 100 followers……….. and so on, you can see where I'm going with this.

If nothing else this is a brilliant incentive for establishments to create a social persona, something personal which customers can interact with. Whether it be venting frustrations, which can quickly be suppressed with the promise of a free drink or an invite to come back and try again. Even encouraging customers to message the bar directly with a quick review including any staff grievances they might have had.

By sharing photos and talking directly with customers you can create both an approachable and rich profile that can be viewed online. It gives people a chance to see what the personality of the bar is really like, before even entering. To encourage the word being spread it is a simple task to run offers and exclusive content through social networks keeping people engaged and encouraging them to share with friends without having to use the old fashioned method of words and sounds.

Flavour of the Week - Red/White Currants

Born of the gooseberry family and predominantly found growing in Northern Italy, France, Netherlands, Germany, and Northern Spain the berry can also be found growing wild throughout the UK and Poland.

Through the early stages of growth the berry is very very tart and lacks any sweetness. However when it reaches full maturity the red currant has an equal sweetness to a Black Berry but it still more tart. A white currant is sweeter than both but just as tart as a red currant.

Often used as a garnish, or addition to salads, I found a simple and delicious sound recipe for white currant wine, which you can see at the bottom of the post.

Flavour: Tangy, tart, sweet, fruity

White Currant Wine

4-5 lbs ripe whitecurrants

2½ lbs granulated sugar

6½ pts water

1 crushed Campden tablet

1 tsp yeast nutrient

1 pkg Burgundy wine yeast

Put the fruit in primary and crush. Add 1 quart water, crushed Campden tablet and yeast nutrient and stir. Meanwhile, add half the sugar to 1 quart water and bring to boil while stirring to dissolve. Add to primary and stir. Cover and allow to cool overnight. Add activated yeast, recover, and stir daily for 5-6 days. Strain through nylon sieve and transfer juice to sanitized secondary and fit airlock. Bring another quart of water to boil and stir in remainder of sugar until dissolved. When cool, add to secondary and refit airlock. After 3 additional days, top up with water, refit airlock and set aside until fermentation stops. Rack, top up and refit airlock. After 60 days, rack again, top up and refit airlock. After additional 60 days, rack into bottles and age 6 months before tasting.

01 February 2012

Beefeater Creative Competition Results & Recipe

The Beefeater Creative Cocktail Competition has drawn to a close. Based in Sweden the competition, was made up of two parts. The first was a creative design, where entrants were asked to design a special edition Beefeater bottle which was an interpretation of how London looks.

The second aspect was a cocktail competition where contestants were asked to create a signature drink for Beefeater London Dry Gin based around their version of how creative London tastes.The winning drink would be served in various bars around Stockholm.

The winner of the design round was Emma Hoglund, with her Beefeater guarf inspired bottle, which you can see at the top of the post.

Our personal favourite Trader Magnus made it to the top ten cocktail section, but sadly missed out in the no.1 spot, which went to Svante Garsten Schon who won the cocktail section with a his recipe London Calling.

Londons Calling Recipe
50ml Beefeater Gin
1 bar spoon Noilly Prat
1 bar spoon orange cordial reduction
1 dash orange bitter
orange zest
Stir & double strain

Orange Cordial Reduction Recipe
1 part water
1 part fresh orange juice
2 parts sugar
heat until thick

Announcing The Young British Foodies Awards

A new awards is on a nationwide search to unearth the next generation of talented bartenders with Tony Conigliaro leading the judging mixology category, alongside Nick Strangeway and James Chase.

As the YBF awards 2012 comes to an end in late February, this is a chance for drinks-creatives to make a name for themselves. All they need to do is enter their 150 word winning recipe or idea asap; the winner gets £1000 to go towards their bibulous enterprise amongst other prizes.

Enter at www.the-ybfs.com
or email entries@the-ybfs.com until the end of February

Why bother entering? It's a chance to show off your capabilities. It's a chance to get publicity for any project you're working on – the YBFs has been covered in the FT, Independent, Olive mag to name a few. Even better, you'll get the chance to be mentored by Tony Conigliaro, working for two days at his acclaimed Drink factory. Then there's the £1000 cash prize. There will also be a chance to perform your art at Rob Da Bank's Bestival and Camp Bestival at the YBFs tent.

What's the ethos of the awards? As the British food and drink scene's been galloping pace, it rivals any over the pond. The awards is to celebrate everything new in our burgeoning scene and to bring together a movement.

Explaining it, Co-founder and Metro's food and drink editor, Chloe Scott, says: 'In the 1990s, the emerging artists of Britain were celebrated and touted the YBAs. Now it's time we found the YBFs in Britain and celebrated the UK's creativity in food and drink - food and drink is the new art. We're looking for really bold and creative recipes and people.'

Both professionals and amateurs are welcome. All you need to do is email your 150 word drink idea. If you get through to the second round, Tony C, Nick Strangeway and James Chase will judge your concept by sampling and viewing your technique, followed by a short interview.

How old do I have to be? It's a lawless affair – you can be 108 years-old if you've got a delectable cocktail up your sleeve. It's 'young' in spirit, not in physicality.

The judges and categories are:
For the alcohol -
Tony C, Nick Strangeway and James Chase
For Cheffing - Nuno Mendes , Bompas and Parr
For experimentation -
Bompas and Parr
For baking-
Lily Vanilli
For charcuturie -
Meatliquor's Yianni Papoutis

The eight categories are: Mixology, Street-food, Coffee, Baking, Meat, Cheffing and Experimental. The final one is Honorary YBF, which is for ANYONE with a passion for food and drink.

For news, follow on twitter @TheYBFs

Dave Arnold opens Booker and Dax

The Red Hot Poker John Mahonney

Our friend Mr Dave Arnold has finally branched out and set up his own cocktail bar, Booker and Dax. Situated at the rear of David Changs Momofuku Ssam Bar, this could spell the beginning of a new generation of progressive cocktail bar, built from scratch, with the sole purpose of catering for "scientific'y" cocktails. More importantly, though, it's the idea that the cocktails are prepped hours or days in advance so the evenings service is just as quick and fluid as a normal bar's would be.

The bar is home to such gadgetry as liquid nitrogen, centrifuge a downstairs laboratory and a homemade red hot poker, that sits at a comfortable 1500F in it's holster behind the bar.

Most impressively, the bar has resisted the urge of technique and show for the sake of "ooh and ahh" factor. The methods are used with the sole intention of making the drink more delicious and more efficient. It is rare to, and only on occasion will you see head high flames or wisps of smoke and fog rising from behind the bar to offer entertainment to the waiting customer. Interestingly the drinks list is broken down by way of technique. For instance there is a section titles "Hot Poker" and "Carbonated".

Dave offered an insight into two of the techniques, to magazine Popsci, which are being used behind the bar. The first is a clarification and carbonation of a simple Gin and Juice. Grapefruit juice is freshly squeezed and then clarified using pectinase enzyme and a pair of clearing agents chitosan and kleselsol, often used in the wine industry. The mixture is then spun in a centrifuge resulting in a pasty texture separating
from the juice and leaving by a slightly tinted liquid that can be filtered through a super bag to seperate from any remaining pulp.

To this they add water, sugar and alcohol which is then bottled, carbonated and chilled. When served, the glass is cooled to below zero using a splash of liquid nitrogen that is swirled around the glass and left to evaporate.

The hot poker technique has been around for hundreds of years, although it was very crude and often left an undesirable after taste. Today we most often turn to hot water, which has the unwanted side effects of diluting and not adding any flavour to the drink to create Hot Toddy's or Irish Coffee's.

Dave has built his own "holster" to house his poker and keep it safe behind the bar. As well as heating, the poker also caramelizes sugars, ignites the alcohol vapours adding to and augmenting the flavour of the drink to stimulate your sense of smell as well as taste.

Turning Water into Whisky

The Whisky Water Trick from Casey Neistat on Vimeo.

This is a very very simple but very very fun video. It's something we've all pondered on occasion. Staring at a bottle of water and trying desperately to concentrate so hard that upon opening our eyes the liquid will be thick, dark and woody. Despite my best efforts I have gotten nowhere.

The video plays on the simple fact that alcohol is lighter than water. This means it will do one of two things. Either sit on the top or sink to the bottom. It may do both, however it is impossible that it will do neither.

Thanks to film maker Casey Chan for creating the video.

Valentine Scent Seduction with The Cocktail Lovers

As we inch ever close to one of the most wonderful or awfully lonely and depressing days of the year, Valentines Day, it's time to start planning. What better way then to take your partner to an evening fuelled with scents, seductions, naughtiness and alcohol.

"It doesn't get more romantic than cocktails and fragrances. That's why we've teamed up with specialist perfumery Les Senteurs to host the second in our specially themed cocktail clubs - Valentine Scent Seduction."

"Celebrating Valentine's Day we'll be exploring sensuality and the senses with delicious, specially created cocktails to echo the mood of the world's most sensuous scents.
The evening is a celebration of the tastes and perfumes that effect the brain to produce physical stimulation and guests will be seduced by some of the most delicious ingredients ever to intoxicate the senses - ranging from flirty to downright naughty. And to get you in the spirit, we'll be serving sexy mini cocktails based on the fragrances highlighted throughout the evening.
So come join the party, have a few drinks and pick up some tips along the way. And don't forget to indulge in a little bit of romantic shopping while you're at it. With classic and contemporary scents from top names including Creed, Caron, Annick Goutal, Frederic Malle and Juliette Has A Gun, there's something here for everyone."

Valentine Scent Seduction takes place at the brand new, super-chic Les Senteurs Boutique on 14 February, from 6.30pm-8.30pm. Tickets cost £25 per person; £45 for two people booking together and includes Champagne on arrival, nibbles, cocktails and goody bag.


Flavour of the Week - Dried Apricot

We could expand this easily to include apricots, however the dried apricot has a very specific sweetness that you do not have with the run of the mill fruit. After drying the water is removed from the fruit, meaning, you find the flavours are sweeter and more concentrated. Essentially you are un-diluting the fruit.

The apricots origin is slightly confused and some have theorized that it may have began life in Armenia. However this is based on their high number of exports and production rather than any proof. The fruit thrives in continental climates and embraces cold winters.

There is a great old recipe that featured dried apricots being flash fried in brandy which created a brilliant warm sweet tangy flavour. It will also infuse under sous vide or over time very easily and offer a sweet tangy addition to a neutral spirit like vodka or a darker more flavoursome spirit such as rum or whisky.

Flavour - Sweet, tangy.