Archive for March, 2009

Week Twelve: Kitchen Special No. 1

March 29, 2009

Being honest, I’m pretty cocktailed out at the moment. We’re just put the finishing touches to a new drinks menu at work – featuring some of the drinks I’ve posted here – and I’ve been making the most of not thinking about combinations of spirits and liqueurs. That said, there are still times when I do want something a little more exciting than a beer or spirit/mixer.

The problem here is that I’m genuinely awful at keeping my kitchen stocked. I’d save a pile of money if I actually planned meals rather than getting takeaways or eating at work. So, using whatever I had lying around the kitchen…

Kitchen Special No. 1
45ml Amsterdamsche Oude Genever
15ml Punt E Mes
15ml Elderflower Cordial
Dash egg white
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine-strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon zest if you’ve remembered to go shopping this week.


Newsdesk: best in Britain

March 25, 2009

This edition of Newsdesk is sponsored by local pride coloured with a touch of envy.

Week Eleven: Spring Orchard

March 18, 2009

We’ve just finished putting together a new cocktail program for the Paris bar at work and everytime we take on this kind of exercise, there’s a point when someone says “we need x cocktails with this spirit in them,” because we’re only ever going to have y drinks ready, and y is always a number less than x. But, that thing they say about necessity? It’s true.

This drink also ended up being a chance to use Galliano. It’s one of the those bottles that seems to be on almost every backbar without seeing a lot of use, and it’s one that always prompts curiosity whenever I pick it up. The overriding flavour is vanilla, but there are also hints of anise and citrus which makes it an interesting alternative to vanilla-flavoured vodkas.

Spring Orchard
1/8th green apple (muddled)
25ml vodka
12.5ml Galliano
25ml red grape juice
12.5ml lime juice
1 barspoon elderflower cordial
Muddle apple in the base of a shaker. Add the liquids and shake. Fine-strain into a chilled champagne flute and garnish with an apple slice on the rim.

Newsdesk: maximising the minimums

March 16, 2009

(Graphic from BBC News.)

This week’s news is minimum drink pricing, because you can’t keep a controversial public health policy down.

(Happy St Patrick’s Day!… by shannonpatrick17, licensed under Creative Commons.)

Week Ten: Winter’s End

March 13, 2009

11:44am on March 20 2009 marks the Vernal Equinox, one of the two points of the year at which the Sun is directly over the Earth’s equator. Or the Earth’s equator is directly over the Sun, if you want to be picky about it. See, astronomy lessons and everything.

The Vernal Equinox marks the end of winter and the start of spring, unless you happen to be in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case it’s the end of summer and the start of winter. If you are south of the Equator, I’m so sorry. You’ve got…ooh, 186 days until this post becomes topical.

And so spring is coming like a badly-driven haulage truck on an icy road, which is cause for much celebration in Northern Europe. Perhaps this will be the year when spring is accompanied with temperatures north of 20°C and bikinis for everyone, but I think that’s unlikely. It doesn’t mean the occasion shouldn’t be marked with some kind of mixed drink.

Winter’s End
40ml Amsterdamsche Oude Genever
10ml St. Germain
15ml Noilly Prat Dry
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a single mint leaf.

Newsdesk: aquae vitae

March 11, 2009

(The Alchemist from Chemical Heritage Foundation, licensed under Creative Commons.)

The discovery of distilled spirits was welcomed by the alchemists of Old Europe as the key to one of the great mysteries of their art: the elusive aqua vita, the water of life that would cure all ills. Hundreds of years later, these same spirits are often seen as the cause of many of society’s troubles. But every once in a while, they are credited with something good.

“A lot of research shows that people who drink moderately flat-out live longer than those who don’t,” Lloyd tells Page Six. “From the pre vention of the common cold to the pre- vention of the onset of Alzheimer’s to preventing certain types of cancer, regular drinking can be very beneficial.”

MxMo: the first time

March 4, 2009

For everything in life, there’s an inside and an outside. This month, LUPEC Boston asks us how we’d welcome the unsure to the cocktail party. It’s Mixology Monday, and we want to know one thing: do you remember the first time?

Imagine a swamp. It’s dark, misty and humid. There’s a weird kind of steam coming from the marshes and you’re pretty sure the twisted vegetation is home to any number of nasty beasties ready to devour the unwary. You’ve heard a rumour that there’s a paradise on the other side of the swamp, and that’s it’s not that hard to cross anyway, but right now, up to your ankles in liquid you don’t want to think too hard about, swatting away flies the size of staplers, you’re not thinking about that. Right now, all you want is not to be in the damn swamp.

(swamp by Lawrence Whittemore, licensed under Creative Commons.)

Hold that feeling in your mind and the expression on your face is going to resemble that of someone picking up a cocktail list for the first time. It’s something I see quite a lot at work, that mix of curiosity and utter, utter fear. Some of those exhibiting the look of rabbit soon to lose its third dimension ask for help, some don’t. Read the rest of this entry »

Newsdesk: no, you can’t

March 3, 2009

Week Nine: Flame’s Edge

March 2, 2009

New drinks are weird, intangible things. Sometimes, they can be engineered. Sometimes, they come from little more than an instinct. And sometimes, they just happen.

We’ve been hosting cocktail masterclasses at work for a while now. They’ve proven to be popular with birthday and hen parties, possibly because it provides a decent excuse for exposing the guest of honour to phenomenal amounts of alcohol. There’s a standard format for the session – a champagne cocktail of some description on arrival, followed by a demo of the different ways of making cocktails before getting each member of the group to make their own drink. Depending on the size of the group and how much time we have, I sometimes try to mix up a couple of drinks based on suggestions from the group. Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to come up with something that ticks all the boxes. Every once in a while, though, it’s a bit tougher.

On Saturday night, they wanted fire.

(Flaming Cassanova by cr03, licensed under Creative Commons.)

The problem was that I had totally run out of overproof rum, removing the easy option for fuel. So, I decided to go for Jamie Boudreau’s Rubicon – only to discover that the kitchen was out of rosemary.

It was starting to feel like one of those dreams where you turn up to your high school graduation naked, but the idea behind the Rubicon has intrigued me since Jamie posted the recipe. In his words:

The burning Chartreuse also has the benefit of cooking the rosemary, releasing a lot of aroma and allowing the flavors to better permeate the beverage as oils are released. As for the “wow” factor, when you extinguish the flame with the rest of the ingredients, a thick white smoke develops.

I’m pretty certain blue flames come under “wow”, too. So, taking the Rubicon as a starting point (after all, there’s no going back from this point), here’s what we ended up with.

Flame’s Edge
An orange
10ml Green Chartreuse
40ml Monkey Shoulder
15ml Lemon Juice
20ml White Creme De Cacao
Strip three long strips of peel from the orange with a channel knife. Place two of the strips in a rocks glass with the Chartreuse, keeping one aside for garnish. Pour the whisky, lemon juice and Creme de Cacao into a shaker, add ice and prepare to shake. Before you do, light the Chartreuse in the glass with orange zests. Shake the remaining ingredients and strain into the glass, extinguishing the flame. Fill the glass with crushed ice and garnish with the remaining orange zest twist.

Monday Night Open Mic: Plan B

March 2, 2009

Imagine if careers advisors suggested ‘bartender’ as the ideal profession for your child.

“Well, Mr. Smith, young Jimmy is basically a nerd, but with a bit of coaxing, I reckon he could develop a drink habit and an astonishing ability to withstand hangovers while essentially whoring himself for change from people who inevitably think they’re better than he is.
“I imagine his projected earnings would be somewhere in the ballpark of minimum wage, but he’d have tips on top of that.
“Excuse me? Sorry if I wasn’t clear. Tips would be related to the whoring, yes.”

I’ve been working full-time in a bar/brasserie/hotel/nightclub complex for about three years now. Before that, I spent somewhere north of two years working for a nationwide chain of food-serving pubs while at university. I’m still young – relatively speaking; among the staff at work I’m technically in the Ancient category (thankfully not in the Old/Creepy subset, so I’m told) – so there’s a chance that I could try a new profession in the future, but the hospitality industry looks like it’s become a career. Which was totally not the plan.

Read the rest of this entry »