Posts Tagged ‘rum’

Workshop, pt. 3: prototyping

October 17, 2008

After looking over the rules and the format of the comp comes the time at which I’ve got to start making drinks.

Yeah, I know. Crazy.

There are times when I set out with a clear idea of what I want to do with a cocktail, but there are just as many times that I come across the basic idea for a drink entirely by accident, and that works pretty well when serving customers or brainstorming a new cocktail list. But for competitions (particularly one like the Legacy comp), I usually have to set myself certain targets. Here’s what I’m aiming for this time:

Easy to make: I want to be able to make this drink quickly. Part of the challenge of the Legacy competition is to get a drink widely adopted on menus, which will be tough to do if it takes five minutes to make each time.

Old school values meets new school know-how: the judges are looking for competitors to explain the inspiration behind their cocktail and that, in a nutshell, is mine.

With those two targets to aim, I grab a notebook and start throwing out a couple of ideas. I settle on a couple of things pretty early on. I’m tending towards making a daiquiri-style drink – what better way to celebrate an iconic rum brand than in an iconic rum cocktail? I also decide on honey as my sweetening agent, eventually going for a light Acacia honey.

Prototype 1
Part 1:
25ml Bacardi Superior
1 barspoon Acacia Honey
1 dash Orange Bitters
Stir with ice; strain over cubed ice in rocks/old-fashioned glass.

Part 2
25ml Bacardi Superior
2 pieces Root Ginger
10ml Tuaca
10ml Lime Juice
1 dash Egg White
Shake with ice; strain into rocks/old-fashioned glass on top of part 1. Garnish with flamed cinnamon dust.

I don’t end up making this one. I probably will, because there’s a bunch of interesting stuff going on in there (maybe too much), but not right now because it fails on one of my stipulations. Imagine being asked for a two-part drink when you’re four deep at the bar on a Saturday night, one part of which involves stirring down honey. Back to the drawing board, but there are things I take with me. I like the idea of the flamed cinnamon garnish, which will work well if I shake the drink with egg white to give it a base. I also like the combination of the honey with fresh ginger, and I take that as cue to start playing around with some more fresh ingredients.

I remember the stipulation that all ingredients must be “commonly available” in the competition rules, and bearing in mind I want something that’s going to play well with both ginger and cinnamon, I end up turning towards chilis.

The thing that makes chilis hot is called capsaicin and one of its interesting properties is that it isn’t soluble in water. It’s why chilis burn no matter how much water you drink, and it lights up a little bulb in my head. I can use egg white to bind flavours to capsaicin, which will bind itself to the taste receptors in your mouth, which will – hopefully – enhance the finish of my cocktail. There are downsides to this plan. Firstly, I don’t want to singe the palates of anyone who tastes the drink. Second, fresh chilis on a busy bar are the definition of an accident waiting to happen, especially those rich in capsaicin. So then, how to get some capsaicin into the drink without using fresh chilis? The answer is one of the most commonly stocked products behind any bar.

Tabasco Sauce. Any decent cocktail bar should be able to make a Bloody Mary, which means any decent cocktail bar should have Tabasco Sauce. All the benefits of chilis without the risk of rubbing non-water soluble irritants into your eyes. With the capsaicin question settled, the rest of my recipes falls into place fairly quickly.

50ml Bacardi Superior
1 barspoon Acacia Honey
2 pieces Root Ginger
25ml (freshly squeezed) Pink Grapefruit Juice
1 dash Tabasco Sauce
1 dash Egg White
Muddle ginger in base of shaker; add honey and grapefruit juice and stir until honey dissolves. Add other ingredients and shake with ice. Fine-strain into a chilled martini/coupette glass, and garnish with a sprinkle of flamed cinnamon dust.

Now I have a recipe. All I need is a name.


Workshop, pt. 2: the rules

October 14, 2008

In any competition, there are rules, and the Legacy competition is no different. Some of them are obvious:

4. Bacardi Superior Rum must be the dominant spirit ingredient.

5. All cocktails should contain no other competitor rum brand.

These aren’t at all surprising – after all, the competition is to provide a drink for the Bacardi Legacy book. There’s also a number of rules relating to the format of the comp and things like the copyright of the drink (any entered drinks essentially become part of Bacardi’s IP, with accreditation “wherever possible”) which are pretty standard too. There are two rules that stand out; they’re the ones which are going make my life a lot harder.

7. All cocktails should use commonly available ingredients.

This isn’t unexpected but it is annoying, mainly because there’s no guidance given on what constitutes “commonly available”. I always take it to mean if a bar can’t get an ingredient from a supplier, they should be able to get it from a shop, which means no interesting fruits that are only available in one store, in one town.

8. Cocktails with house specific ingredients will not be eligible unless these are easily made and a full recipe is included.

Well, that’s helpful. The phrase “easily made” is so ambiguous as to be entirely useless. One of the cocktails (Ben Carlotto’s The Lady Wears Red) in the first edition of the Legacy book contains homemade bitters, so that would seem to set the benchmark.

Right now, I’m wondering if my homemade Grapefrucello is eligible, but I suspect it won’t be. So, next step? I’m going shopping.

Workshop pt. 1: the what

October 10, 2008

Two things are rattling around my head as I write this. The first is Bacardi’s 2008 Legacy Cocktail competition, with a shot at 10 month stint as a de-facto ambassador for both Bacardi and your own cocktail. The second is Wired’s fairly awesome Storyboard blog, which followed a feature article for the magazine from conception to completion. The deadline for entries for the Legacy comp is October 16th 2008 – one week from now (a little under, if you’re being picky) – and I’m going to use it as an opportunity to look at how I go about creating a new drink. Read the rest of this entry »