Wednesday, August 16, 2017

midnight marauder

1 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida (Montelobos)
1 oz Bonal Gentiane Quina
1 oz Cynar
1 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a Nick & Nora glass (cocktail coupe).

Two Wednesdays ago, I scanned through my new purchase of Emma Janzen's Mezcal book and decided upon the Midnight Marauder. The recipe was created by Joaquin Simo of Pouring Ribbons and described as "the dark & twisty sibling of the Negroni." Since the combination of Bonal, Cynar, and chocolate worked so well in the An Epic and a Limerick, I was definitely curious to see what mezcal would add to the combination.
In the glass, the Midnight Marauder proffered smoky agave with chocolate and grape notes to the nose. Next, a grape and caramel sip led into smoky mezcal pairing well with funky bitter flavors on the swallow and a quinine and chocolate finish.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

pimmsy whimsy

1 1/2 oz Pimm's No. 1
1/2 oz Redemption Rye Whiskey
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with 2 oz ginger beer, top with ice, garnish with a cucumber wheel and mint sprigs, and add straws.
Two Tuesdays ago, I wandered down to Backbar and found a seat in front of bartender Amanda Greenfield. For a first drink, I asked Amanda for the Pimmsy Whimsy off of the menu which she described as being Kat Lamper's creation. In the glass, the garnishes provided fresh vegetal cucumber and mint aromas. Next, a carbonated lemon, honey, and fruity sip gave way to ginger, rye, and herbal notes on the swallow.

Monday, August 14, 2017

yellow flower

2/3 Dry Gin (1 1/2 oz Citadelle)
1 dash Parfait Amour (1/4 oz Marie Brizard)
1 dash Orange Curaçao (1/4 oz Pierre Ferrand)
1 dash Dry Vermouth (1 oz Noilly Prat)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. I added a lemon twist.
Two Mondays ago, I turned to Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 for a nightcap. There in the gin section was a floral Martini riff called the Yellow Flower that seemed worthy of a go; often I am skeptical of parfait amour drinks due to the liqueur's candy vanilla-violet note, but here it was utilized in a light touch. Once prepared, the Yellow Flower presented a lemon, pine, orange, vanilla, and floral bouquet to the nose. Next, a sweet orange sip led into gin, vanilla, and violette on the swallow. Perhaps cutting the two liqueurs down to a barspoon each would have made this drink more dry and Martini like.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

miracles take longer

1 1/2 oz JM Rhum Agricole Blanc
1/2 oz Mezcal Amaras
1/2 oz Maple Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
For my drink of the day at Loyal Nine two Saturdays ago, I was inspired by the Mr. Howell to create a smoky Sour. Originally, I wanted to go with pisco as the main ingredient with mezcal as the smoky accent which worked well in the Firecracker Cocktail and the 1491; however, we were running low on pisco upstairs at the bar and perhaps a funky agricole might pair better with the mezcal. I kept the Mr. Howell's maple syrup and lime juice components but added in some Angostura Bitters spice to dry out the maple a touch. For a name, I decided on a song title from the Television Personalities from 1987 that was perhaps named after a 1984 British television drama series.

Friday, August 11, 2017

la tour eiffel

2 1/2 oz XO Cognac (2 oz Courvoisier VS)
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Suze (Salers)

Stir with ice and strain into a flute glass (Double Old Fashioned) rinsed with absinthe (Kübler). Garnish with a lemon twist.

Two Fridays ago, I decided to make another recipe from the Gary Regan article on Sazerac variations called La Tour Eiffel; I wanted to make this one before the Creole Sazerac, but I had run out of lemons for the garnish. Gary created this riff while on a tour of Cognac distilleries, and he was asked to create new drinks with a Cognac base as part of the event. He wondered what it would be like if the Sazerac had been created in Orleans, France, instead of New Orleans. Since Sazeracs began as a Cognac drink before Phyloxera shifted it to a rye whiskey drink, he took that direction as well as keeping the absinthe rinse. However, he figured that a French bartender might have swapped the simple syrup for Cointreau, and instead of Peychaud's Bitters, perhaps a gentian liqueur might work.
Once prepared, La Tour Eiffel gave forth lemon, anise, and gentian aromas to the nose. Next, an orange-tinged sip gave way to Cognac, more orange, and gentian flavors with a light anise-herbal finish.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

rougarou daiquiri

1 3/4 oz Barbancourt 8 Year Rum
3/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 bsp St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
During Tales of the Cocktail, I met a New Orleans local who told me about his childhood fears of the Rougarou, a werewolf that roams the Bayou and snatches up little kids. The term is believed to have stemmed from the French word loup-garou, and the spelling and pronunciation change was probably through the Cajuns in that region. So for the drink of the day two Thursdays ago at Loyal Nine, I tried to capture the funk of the swamp and the swamp monster itself in a glass, and I came up with a Daiquiri variation inspired in part by the Navy Dock Daiquiri and the Frequent Flier. I was originally going to go with the Smith & Cross Rum in the Navy Dock Daiquiri, but instead I opted for the slightly funky Barbancourt 8 Year Rhum especially given the Haitian connection to mysticism.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

route 287

2 oz Tequila
1/2 oz Lillet Blanc
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a Highball glass, and top with ~4 oz IPA beer. Gently stir, garnish with a pineapple wedge-grapefruit slice flag, and add a straw.
After Yvonne's, I made my way over to Stoddard's where I found a seat in front of bartender Tony Iamunno. For a drink, I asked for the Route 287 which was Tony's tribute to perhaps the north-south highway that runs through Texas. Once prepared and served, the Route 287 gave forth pineapple and grapefruit notes to the nose from the garnish. Next, a malty and pineapple sip slid into tequila on the swallow with a cinnamon and grapefruit finish.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

rose thorn

1 1/2 oz Hendrick's Gin
3/4 oz Combier Liqueur de Rose
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Grenadine

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass, fill with crushed ice, garnish with mint sprigs, and add straws.
Two Wednesdays ago, I ventured to Downtown Crossing and began my evening at Yvonne's. At their library bar, I found a seat in front of bartender Tom Hardy and requested the Rose Thorn from the menu. Tom described how this recipe was created by bartender Bruno Prado. In the glass, the Rose Thorn offered up a mint bouquet to the nose that led into a fruity sip from the lemon and pomegranate notes. Next, the swallow gave forth gin and rose flavors with the latter coming across in the similar way as violet can in drinks.

Monday, August 7, 2017

:: the daiquiri time out ::

In my book, Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told, I wanted to get at the heart of the Boston-born (or re-born) phenomenon of the Daiquiri Time Out (DTO). My curiosity stemmed from a bartender in town claiming to have been there when the DTO was first started, but the math did not add up into making sense. Therefore, I asked DTO founder Andrew Dietz if I could ask him a few questions to nail down the history. Here is an excerpt of the full interview that appears in Drunk & Told:

What year did the DTO start for you? What were the circumstances?
The DTO started in the summer of 2010. A group of like-minded friends and myself were out on Martha's Vineyard (specifically Chappaquiddick) discussing some historical situations and how they may have played out differently had the people involved stopped, taken a moment, and had a well-made Daiquiri to pontificate upon. We didn't make a decision for the following week without a Daiquiri in hand.

Are DTOs full sized drinks? Are they split?

A DTO is a celebration of the act of taking a moment through one of the most simple and versatile cocktails of all time. Everyone's DTO is different. It can be a shot or large format. It can be classic, blended, or an obscure rift just as long as time slows down.

Describe how the momentum behind the DTO built up to the room at Boston's The Thing 2013 and Tales of the Cocktail 2015?
The Daiquiri has a tremendous amount of history here in Massachusetts. Starting with the storied history of rum production, to the favoring of the cocktail by the Kennedys, to the modern resurgence of classic cocktails, this was bound to be a cocktail we aligned with here. I got back from Martha's Vineyard that summer and grabbed all of Boston's best bartending talent including Jackson Cannon, John Gertsen, Pat Sullivan, and many others, and lobbied that this is the way we should greet one another and celebrate our industry, and it took hold. The Thing was an event to celebrate Boston's best bartending talent, so it was only fitting that we stopped in the middle to take a collective time out. As for Tales, the DTO has spread across the country and even the globe, so given that Tales of the Cocktail is our national/global cocktail festival, Ann figured this was a good way for everyone to take a moment and celebrate what it is we all do.
Where does the Daiquiri fit into the cocktail craze?
The Daiquiri fits in beautifully for a couple of reasons. It is one of the simplest cocktails to make well while providing an incredible canvas for improvisation. I think the Daiquiri will be an important cocktail for many years to come.

What have you learned about bars from their Daiquiri theory and quality?
Watching the different variants of the DTO has taught me a lot because the DTO is as much about hospitality as it is about quality. I have seen bars create DTO-only cocktail lists, mail DTOs via FedEx, make frozen DTO popsicles, dehydrate DTO into powder, [use] DTO-filled squirt guns, and many more. It has taught me all of the different ways that we can celebrate and collaborate in this industry and have a great deal of enjoyment doing it. As for the Daiquiris themselves I have seen an endless amount of variations at this point so honestly it has only challenged my understanding of just how incredibly versatile a drink like this can be.

Who else would you credit for building up the DTO as we now know it?
The list goes on and on and there are too many shout outs to mention. I will say it truly calls home here in Boston, so I would have to give particular love to Patrick Sullivan, Ted Kilpatrick, John Gertsen, Jackson Cannon, Kevin Martin, and Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli. That is barely even scratching the surface just for Boston, but it's a start. Outside of Boston, the satellite offices of DTO seem to be in Denver as a result of Sean Kenyon, Seattle because of Jim Romdall, and Nantucket because of Clinton Terry. I've heard of DTOs being taken in Montréal, Vancouver, Taipei, Munich, London, and Paris, but I'm not totally sure whom to credit.

The full interview along with about 20 essays and bartender spotlights and 850+ drinks from 100+ bars and restaurants in and around Boston can be found in Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and often the Boston Shaker store.

piñata punch

1 1/2 oz Blanco Tequila (Cimarron)
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1/4 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
1/4 oz Honey Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with two offset cucumber slices (nasturtium flower).
Two Tuesdays ago, I was sorting through the booklets that I picked up in the various Tales of the Cocktail tasting rooms, and I came upon the one for the Exotico Tequila 2017 Cocktail Competition's Finalist Recipes. In that collection, I was drawn to the Piñata Punch by Seattle's Brandon Weaver, and the combination of Green Chartreuse and apricot liqueur reminded me of the Final Voyage. Moreover, the general structure was reminiscent of the Mexican Fix and Vagos Motorcycle Club. Once in the glass, the Piñata Punch presented a peppery floral aroma to along with tequila notes; the nasturtium flower seemed to match the tequila perhaps as well as the cucumber slices would have. Next, honey, lemon, and pineapple on the sip transitioned into tequila, apricot, and herbal flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

journalist

2/3 Rye Whiskey (2 oz Old Overholt)
1/4 Sloe Gin (1/2 oz Atxa Patxaran)
1 dash Cointreau (1 tsp)
1 dash Maraschino (1 tsp Luxardo)
1 dash Picon Bitters (1 tsp Torani Amer)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
After I got home from Tales of the Cocktail on Monday, I was in the mood for a nightcap. Therefore, I reached for Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 and found the Journalist that reminded me of the Mother-In-Law and slightly of the sweet vermouth Brooklyn. Once in a glass, the Journalist shared a dark orange and bready rye aroma. Next, malt, dark berry, and orange notes filled the sip, and the swallow offered rye, bitter orange, and nutty cherry flavors.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

:: jews & booze ::

One of the talks that I really enjoyed but skipped over in the first pass was "Jews & Booze" by moderator Noah Rothbaum (DailyBeast, The Art of American Whiskey), Allen Katz (NY Distilling Co.), Jason Horn (Liquor.com), and Max Watman (Chasing the White Dog) to cover the forgotten history of Jews and Distilling. I was somewhat surprised that this topic would covered in New Orleans until the person next to me in the media line on that Friday afternoon was a reporter for a New Orleans Jewish newspaper; the eye-opening topic of Jews in the South was later discussed.

Noah began by describing how while researching his book on American whiskey, it was not the good ol' American boys doing the work, but a lot of immigrants. Jews have always made their own wine and spirits and oversaw the process to provide Kosher certification, so the skill set was there. Jason continued by mentioning how as Jews filtered around Europe, Russia, and North Africa, they were not allowed to have high standing occupations, but they could become merchants. Jobs like tavern keeping and distillation were jobs that Christians or Muslims did not want to do. For example, in 1492, the year the Jews were kicked out of Spain, the Jews took their anise-flavored spirit recipe with them. Whether it was called ouzo, arak, raki, or mahia, it was all the same thing with brandy distilled with anise and fennel under different names. Since Muslims did not distill, it was the Jews who made it (although the Muslims did purchase it).

Noah confronted the rumor that Jews did not drink. Max later added that one "can only appear drunk [in society] if they are secure in the world." Noah continued that governments relied on Jews to distill for taxation purposes, and Jews were also running bootlegging operations using Christian fronts to sell it. Max was surprised in America how much of the Jewish population moved South; however, given that Jews are linked to peddler tradition, the rural South was an obvious market for them. The Jews utilized their outsider status to sell to both blacks and whites, and they were well known for treating blacks with respect. As for the whites, the South is full of Baptists who do not want to be associated with making spirits, but many of them love drinking it. Eventually, the peddler tradition centralized into stores.

Allen discussed some of the more famous Jews in distilling in America after mentioning Chris Blackwell along with other Sephardic Jews moved to Jamaica to become one of the earliest owners of Appleton Rum. In America, I.W. Bernheim came to the country as a teenager with no money so he started as a peddler. By 1872, his family joined him and the Bernheim brothers started in the whiskey business as I.W. Harper; the company name shed the Jewish surname and instead opted for perhaps the name of his favorite horse trainer. Later, Heaven Hill would produce a straight wheat whiskey called Bernheim in honor of I.W. The book The Bourbon Empire suggested that a quarter of the whiskey business was Jewish despite Jews only making up 3% of the populations. At Prohibition, 25% of all distilleries were owned by Jews. And during Prohibition, Jews frequently became Rabbis to get access to sacramental wines. In fact, one town in Ohio has 27,000 rabbinical licenses.

The five brothers who opened up Heaven Hill in 1934 were the Shapira brothers from Lithuania. The parents progressed from peddling up to owning stores and their sons opened up a distillery. The money came from family members since banks were worried that Temperance would return plus they were unlikely to give money to Jews at that time. Jews were also the ones to help the Beams after they lost their brand Old Tub. Given the Beam family's amazing distilling knowledge but lack of money, they turned to outside investors.

There was a discussion of Jews in the modern spirits world including NY Distilling, Few Spirits, Koval, and Milagro. Moreover, there are companies who got Kosher certification to gain favor with Jewish communities such as Glenmorangie, 209, Absolut, and Johnny Walker (in Israel). And at the end of the talk, we all raised a glass of I.W. Harper Bourbon now produced by Diageo but as a continuation of the 1872 brand (that up until 2015 was unavailable in the States for a 20+ year span).

Friday, August 4, 2017

:: great hoaxes of cocktail history ::

For my final talk that I attended at Tales of the Cocktail 2017, I wrapped things up with a discussion of propagated falsehoods in the booze world that was led by authors David Wondrich and Robert Simonson. Wondrich started with a mention that forgery was as old as writing. "Apocryphal" is another word for forgery, and it dates all the way back to the Bible where splinter groups would forge their own Gospel. While Wondrich provided a few examples of how forgery was utilized for financial gain, he alluded that more of the alcohol-centric forgery was done for amusement. For example, The Squire's Recipes allegedly from 1784 was debunked though it used an 18th century style of language and had papers "aged" in an oven. This book written in 1912 got into the wild and caused a stir until it was pointed out that it called for ingredients like Old Tom Gin that was not around until 1810 as well as other ingredients such as grenadine, tartaric acid, and sweet vermouth that were not very common in the 1780s.

A forgery begins when there is a hole to fill -- a vacuum. Can the author create something that people can trust? Effective forgers have a date and often a location. The description needs to seem real and solid, and it will often cite unnamed sources such as "a book in my possession" or "personal communication."

Simonson covered falsehoods after Prohibition. He began by describing how after World War II, newspapers launched articles and concepts onto the leisure class. Often corporations farmed things out to publicity who fed it to newspapers. This included stunts like during the 1940s how Pimm's hired a PR person to raise the brand in the United States. A rehearsed stunt of an orchestra leader and a few actors and actresses walked into a bar as duos with one pair requesting a Pimm's Cup with cucumber and the other with mint. The argument over which one was right led into a catfight and arrests. This story found its way into all of the newspapers with a lot of useful information about Pimm's for the general public's consumption. There was a similar stunt with the Pink Squirrel where a squirrel was painted pink to promote the drink with similar earmarks as the Pimm's story: a club, a pretty actress, and outlandish behavior. "Shocking pink squirrel wreaks havoc in bars" read one newspaper headline. This stunt was probably hired by Bols that made both of the liqueur elements in the drink.

Wondrich returned to bring up the example of the Singapore Sling. Gin slings were popular throughout British Asia with the earliest definitive reference to a Singapore Sling being in 1903 as a "pink gin sling." It was most likely made pink with Bols Cherry, Cherry Heering, or sloe gin. The Benedictine and bitters components fell out of favor in the 1960s as the ingredients became more expensive. The Raffles Hotel in Singapore needed to up their business so they "found" the inventor's recipe in a safe. Except that this recipe had less expensive ingredients and a lot of fruit juices. There was a similar fabrication done with the Harvey Wallbanger where a businessman was trying to increase sales of Galliano, and he noted that a good amount of Galliano was sold at Manhattan Beach in California. He linked the idea to a surfer and that story lasted for decades. He also hired a caricaturist to put a face to the story, and then gave out swag if people hosted Harvey Wallbanger parties.

The Seelbach Cocktail was another recent hoax that came to light. In 1995, Adam Seger was hired to improved the Louisville hotel's bar program as his first job out of college. He figured that since F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed there and mentioned it in The Great Gatsby, that there had to be a house cocktail. He fabricated how the house cocktail was created before Prohibition when a bartender spilled a Manhattan into a glass of Champagne and the combination worked. Gary Regan while working on the New Classic Cocktails book that was published in 2002 badgered Seger for the recipe, and then it ended up in Ted Haigh's book as well. In October 2016, Seger admitted two decades later that his story was a fake and wanted to unburden himself. He wanted to keep his job and make his mark, so he made up the story and the drink. Perhaps he wanted to come clean due to guilt, or perhaps he felt angered that he had created a great cocktail but he could not tell anyone that the recipe was his. In the end, the drink world was spit between feeling betrayed and thinking that it was awesome that he got away with it for so long without anyone asking to see the original recipe.

Finally, it was time for Wondrich to come clean. While working on his 2002 Esquire Drinks that was published 3 years into his work with Esquire, he succumbed to forgery. Esquire was paying him for a drink of the week while he was a junior professor needing money, and forgeries happen when there is a need. Drinks like the Swinging Chad, the Zamboanga Monkey Tail, and others were "all rectally sourced." The Dulchin was another, but it was one that effected me. Houston's Anvil put it on their 100 drinks list and I went out to a bar to have it made for me since I lacked the eau de vie at the time. Turns out that there was a need for pisco drinks, and it was created for a friend of his, but it was made to sound like an Art Deco era drink. The Vera Rush was not created for a "silent film queen" but for his wife Karen (nicknamed Vera) for a drink that she liked to order in dive bars. The Swinging Chad was not found in the "Clarion Shopper" in the 1960s but was named after the 2000 election's paper counting scandal in Florida. The dash of bitters and Pernod was a trick that Wondrich acquired from Jeff Berry's Tiki work. With that one, Wondrich learned that it is possible to be too obvious and people questioned him about that one.

Wondrich rounded out the talk by stating that he knocked off his own hoaxer status while working on his book Imbibe and realized that he had to be taken seriously. He also dropped the fact that Benedictine was not 500 years old from 1510 but was created in the mid-19th century. And finally, "You can bring a drunk to water, but you can't make him think."

Thursday, August 3, 2017

:: we the people -- cocktails in the colonies ::

On Saturday morning, I had set wake-up alarms in triplicate for I was presenting that morning along with moderator Brian Maxwell (bartender Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co) and fellow panelists Wayne Curtis (author of And a Bottle of Rum etc.) and Warren Bobrow (author of Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails etc.). Brian started things off by declaring that this was not a punch seminar: it was about individual serving-sized drinks in the American Colonies.

Wayne began by describing how rum dominated American drinking from the 1600s until about the Revolution in the late 1700s (with beer and cider also playing a role with some imported wine and Madeira as well). A year after Columbus discovered the New World for the Europeans in 1492, he brought back sugar cane plants to the West Indies from the Canary Islands. As luxury items like coffee, tea, and chocolate began to take off in the mid-1600s, these bitter foodstuffs required sugar to make them more palatable. The cooked down, caramelized molasses that was a byproduct of sugar production was of little use for a while until plantation owners learned the value of mixing it with a little water to allow it to ferment. Soon, sugar plantations could cover their costs on just the rum and molasses and the sugar was just profit. Wayne pointed out that it was not just the Thirteen Colonies, but 26 colonies under England rule if you included the islands. The northern colonies supplied the food and lumber while the islands traded back rum and molasses.

Wayne described historical accounts such as Israel Acrelius' where brandies such as apricot and peach were made domestically whereas grape brandy was imported. The Flip of rum, sweetener, and a hearty beer heated with a red-hot piece of iron had a good run until around the 1780s. The caramelization of the sugar and the toasting of the grains added a heavenly flavor that Wayne was not allowed to demonstrate this year (the fire marshal probably caught on since I saw Wayne demonstrate it at Tales of the Cocktail 2011). The egg was most likely not in this hot Flip for the result would end up chunky akin to egg drop soup. The evolution into a cold drink with eggs most likely happened in the 19th century.

Warren took over with a description of how water was a major source of food poisoning. We take for granted that our water is pure today, but in the Colonies, water had to be boiled or mixed with alcohol to cleanse it. Vinegar was also used extensively along with bitters to heal the stomach. That vinegar ended up in acidulated beverages called Shrubs that were a method of fruit preservation.

Next, Brian discussed how the pineapple became the symbol of hospitality in the Colonies as it was hung to signify that someone was back from a voyage. While the Tea Stamp Act got most of the attention in the history books for leading to the Revolution, it was the 1764 Molasses Act that showed the first signs of rebellion. It also shaped how the country drank for when sugar, molasses, and rum became taxed, the country focused more on making our own alcohol with grain.

I rounded out the talk to discuss how the concepts and drink recipes that the other panelists mentioned could be brought into effect in a modern bar given my experiences as head bartender at Loyal Nine, a Colonial-inspired and East Coast revival theme in Cambridge, MA. Here are excerpts from my notes with links to the drinks (instead of putting up a slide deck). Since I was given a lot more time to fill than expected, I ended up providing a lot more detail, extra pointers, and side anecdotes:

"I first met our chef, Marc Sheehan, back in 2012 through one of my bartender friends who partnered with him to do a historically themed pop-up dinner series called Brass Tacks. Marc was cooking at one of the better restaurants in town but he wanted to utilize the love of history that he went to college for. When I saw an ad for a bartender in January 2015 for Marc's own brick and mortar restaurant, I applied since I wanted to work with his energy and respect for history and it was time to move on from the bar I was working at. The restaurant is named after the Loyal Nine who along with the Sons of Liberty spawned from the Boston Caucus Club. The Caucus Club was a tavern society formed to discuss issues of how England was financially and socially constricting freedom in the Colonies. While the Sons of Liberty were the politicians who fomented the Revolution, the Loyal Nine were a secret society of tradesmen and craftsman that included printers, distiller, jeweler, metal workers who opposed the Stamp Tax. They all worked with their hands and were trying to institute a change – not unlike what we are trying to do at our restaurant.

We at Loyal Nine focus on the 3 main spirits that were drank around that time: brandy from the Old World, rum from the New World, and Madeira which was a tax loophole. Madeira was a trade loophole for British law forbade colonists from importing goods directly from Europe – they had to pass through England and pay taxes and shipping costs; however, Madeira is an island off the coast of Africa and it was exempt. It is also fortified and also very shelf stable with Madeiras being fine two hundred years later. Madeira was what was drank at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. We do have other spirits but with less depth such as only having one blanco tequila and one mezcal especially in deference to one of the finest agave bars in the city, Lone Star Taco bar, being across the street.

There are three ways that we approach Colonial drinks and older styles of drinking
a) recreate the classics as close as possible
b) reconsider the old & updating them with modern flavors
c) rethink the modern to bring an aspect of it back a few centuries

Recreate the classics as close as possible:
Switchels have some similarity to shrubs in that there is a vinegar component to make it refreshing, but it is a mix of the vinegar, ginger, sweetener, and water; often, that sweetener was molasses but honey, maple, and various sugars have been utilized. The drink's origins began in the Caribbean, but it traveled up to New England where it took hold in the late 17th century. It was also dubbed the Haymaker's Punch for it was very popular with New England farmers especially on hot days. I worked with my chef to see what housemade ingredients he had that I could play with that included a fermented molasses that we use on our ribs and Russet apple cider vinegar that he had made from last year's harvest. I also used the house fermented ginger beer that one of the owners makes as the ginger element. To make it boozy, I opted for rum as a base which was temporally accurate if there was any mixing done back then. As an off menu item, half the servers described it as a Switchel and half as a Haymaker's Punch, with the latter being a better seller. It would not be the last time that name choice was key. At the bar, I connected with guests by describing the drink as a “Colonial Dark & Stormy” – an old combination that matches modern sensibilities.

For Winter one year, I made a Hot Buttered Rum batter that utilized the regular spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and clove. I also worked with the kitchen to match the food by including in Piccalilli spices which were a British condiment spice blend based on Indian spices that made its way over to the American Colonies. It was an easy sell to offer this with the dish or dishes that utilized Piccalilli spices with guests commenting on the beautiful pairing. Also very easy to sell when the temperature drops to the single digits. At our Holiday party, I made this for our chef Marc with his favorite liqueur Malört as a joke – except he really loved it. We put it on the menu below the rum option as “…or drink like chef with Malört” and it sold very well. People love to drink like the bartender or the chef. Which leads me to the next concept...

Reconsider the old with modern flavors:
When I did the Black Stripe that appears in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 cocktail book, I opted for the hot version of rum, molasses, and water. Obviously a very old and basic combination. Here, I subbed out half of the rum for Malört – a wormwood based herbal liqueur. Despite the cold weather, when it was called a “Black Stripe,” no one bought one. The following day, I pitched it to the servers and the bar guests as a “Toddy” and it sold rather well. Adding the herbal liqueur added some pizzazz as well as modernized it.

As a tribute to the predecessor of the Loyal Nine, I created a Rum Flip to honor the Caucus Club. While keeping Colonial flavors like honey and Madeira, I also added some modern ones like Amaro – here, Averna. Another Flip was based off of Jacob Grier’s sherry-based PX Flip that utilized a whopping amount of Angostura Bitters. Using extreme amounts of bitters is definitely a modern trend that can be a selling point to certain guests where a Madeira Flip alone would not be as convincing to them.

Rethink the modern to bring an aspect of it back a few centuries:
One of the only drinks that predated the restaurant’s hiring of the bar staff was the Dirty Martini. I remember at my job interview, one of the owners told me that there would be a Dirty Martini on the menu. I replied that if there was a way to elevate this drink, that would be awesome, otherwise we shouldn’t waste space on the menu. I wasn’t told how it would work, but I had faith. The Dirty Martini here ties in with our kitchen by using sauerkraut brine (as well as sauerkraut salt and pickled vegetable garnishes). Lactic pickling is Colonial and similar to shrubs but is often more done with vegetables than fruit. It also utilized a byproduct of our kitchen. When we opened, we did not have olives in house for they were not very New England. However, guests expected them and servers made emotional pleas to make their current and future guests happy. Eventually, we had to bring on olives and olive brine and make sure that the guest wanted the Dirty Martini on the menu. Unlike the kitchen, the bar is expected to be more general and for everyone’s taste sensibilities.

Another modern drink style that could be merged with the exploration of the Americas during the Colonial times is Tiki. Rum and citrus were very Colonial. So were tea, tamarind, guava jelly, Madeira, brandy, and other ingredients that work well with the Tiki style and the Colonial theme. Here, I riffed on Hell in the Pacific subbing out the 151 rum and swapping it for Madeira and adding some spice element to make Hell in the Atlantic. We also utilize Colonial Tiki mugs (bird-shaped planters) instead of exotic ones.

Points to consider:
• Just offering the drink verbally or on the menu is not enough.
• Think about the name and consider renaming it to something more modern or approachable.
• Sell it with enthusiasm.
• Use more modern ingredients, flavors, and styles to gain the guest's trust.
• Figure out how to compare the old to modern drinks.
• Utilize the moment of bartender's choice or gifting “thank you juice”
• Use flavor and spice combinations that pair well with dishes and desserts and sell it that way as a pairing. Work with the kitchen to generate this synergy.
• While you can design your food and drink program any way you wish, the bar is still believed to be more general purpose. My chef would not put a burger on the menu (he did put a sandwich on the bar menu) for example, but Cosmos, cold glasses of vodka, and olive-laden Dirty Martinis still are requested and made.
• It is surprising how many people declare that they are “foodies,” and then a beat or two later say that they only drink vodka.
• Our menu has diversity from modern to Colonial and hybrids in between to make things approachable. Also, life would not be as livable without a Negroni, so we definitely offer a variation on the menu as well as make the original."

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

:: making money while breathing fire ::

My middle talk on Friday at Tales of the Cocktail had one of the more curious titles, namely "Make Money while Breathing Fire." The name was not about breathing actual fire but how bar teams can differentiate into the greeter and the speed person/drink maker. The panelists were JJ Goodman (owner of London Cocktail Club), John Lermayer (Miami's Sweet Liberty), and Zach Patterson (West Hollywood's Melrose Umbrella Company) with moderator Adrian Biggs (Bacardi ambassador).

The premise of the talk was that with the cocktail renaissance, there was a lot of pressure in making ice, appearances, glassware, ingredients, and cocktails perfect, but at what cost? Bars and bartenders became too elitist and the guests had to follow the rules of the house. It became a trade-off of either getting a good cocktail but having a poor vibe, or having a good vibe but having to deal with getting a beer and a shot at best. At some point, party and craft needed to cross. Unfortunately, as I wrote about in Braintending and Three Phases and elsewhere, if a guest get a good drink but a mediocre experience, they will not return. And many times a bad drink with a great experience is preferable. Zach explained it better with how one can walk into the best cocktail bar and have the best drink but still have a horrible time and not want to return. At a dive bar where they "fucked up the drinks" but you had a great time, you will probably return (and cross your fingers that the next time, you get a better drink).

Zach during his introduction discussed how people are his battery, and during interviews, he likes to ask "Do you like people?" and "What drives you? What about hosting and entertaining? And does it awaken you?" Adrian during his introduction pointed out that in 2011, none of the bars in the list of the top 50 cocktail bars that year played music; by 2016, there was a generational shift to be more fun and raucous and that was portrayed in the top 50 list that included Dead Rabbit, Attaboy, and Clumsies.

John explained that the secret at Sweet Liberty was simplifying what they were trying to accomplish. They narrowed it down to 5 things: drinks, food, atmosphere (lighting & mood), music, and service. This was supplemented by their core values of pursuit of happiness and respect every shift. For the former, it required promoting a healthy work environment; John explained that it was not the absence of sickness but bringing out his staff's best. For the latter, things start with self respect and respecting each other including the use of please and thank you. An owner or manager can get the best out of workers if they feel comfortable.

Adrian then continued on to capture the title of the talk in describing the bar team as being a combination of fire breathers and money makers or ones that provide great guest interaction and ones that make most of the drinks. A good duo will have someone say "I'm going to make 50 drinks and you go make us some money." Zach explained that the designation between the speed person and the greeter cannot be too focused; if it is not intermixed, the guests will just feel like a ticket that gets passed down the line. John explained that a fire breather is needed to get people to loosen up, for moods are contagious.

John explained some of his thoughts on team building and how it was not a family. John exclaimed, "I have a family and I love them, but I wouldn't have them work for me... [Here,] if you fuck up, you're off the team." The team itself has to make the new recruits feel comfortable; if the new guy faces an internal clique that he cannot crack, he will leave.

JJ described his opening bar concept as, "A bartender's paradise. A bar where you can dance on the table while drinking a perfect Dry Martini [while] listening to AC/DC." The concept included a consideration of how to generate repeat business which is the strongest currency a bar can have. John explained how making people feel comfortable (which Zach described as having to feel like home) with every design element having an effect on the guest. Design of the space was crucial. Moreover, in restaurants, you try to turn tables, but in the bar industry, you try to get people to stay. One way is by creating memories down to having a cool bathroom and layering their experience; design will help accomplish that. JJ reminded that the matching the neighborhood is important in design, and it is key to map out the room to figure out what every guest will see from every spot in the room. As for the bartender cockpit, figure out the proper well design, bar depth, and seat height; moreover, get a bartender to design the bar itself.

JJ later put forth the concept of a triangle of atmospherics that are essential for a party: music, temperature/heating, and lighting. If the guests are not comfortable with these three, they will probably not stay. John concurred and mentioned that the first thing that he does when walking into his bar is adjusting the lights and noting whether the music is at the right volume with the correct playlist for the night. He also highly recommended getting a lighting professional.

In terms of guest relations, the bartender has to work to raise their confidence. John proffered the idea of complimenting the guest on their choices whether it be their cocktail selection or their watch; confident people spend more money since they feel good. Also, do not "vodka shame"; JJ later suggested putting a familiar drink like a Mojito on the menu -- it makes them feel comfortable and lets them judge you on how excellently you can make it. Zach compared the bar to the kitchen in a house party. Therefore, do not just drop the menu, but treat people like they walked into your own kitchen. Both Adrian and Zach mentioned how drinks should not be comped for someone you know but for only someone you just met; Zach takes it one step further by bringing over a manager or bartender and introducing that guest to them.
The presenters put up this quote to discuss team development. A good bar manager will figure out every person's strengths and weakness, and will try to make them better a long the way. The team should be rotated to give everyone experience in all the positions. Perhaps do not put the weaker person on that station on a Saturday night, but perhaps on a slower night or slower part of the night. After all, the bar is a business.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

:: when good beer goes bad ::

I began Friday morning at Tales of the Cocktail with a talk on beer flaws that was moderated by Elayne Duff (Global Manager of Training at InBev, prev. Diageo head mixologist) along with presenters Mirella Amato (Global Director of Beer Knowledge at InBev, master cicerone, and author of Beerology) and Steve Riley (founder of BetterBeer.com, certified cicerone).

The seminar discussed the many reasons why beer goes bad. Beer unlike spirits is a delicate beverage. Even if it was perfectly brewed, mishandling will change its aroma and flavors, and these new notes are called "off flavors." Learning to identify these off flavors are useful in addressing customer complaints (or using them to detect them before they get into the hands of customers). Beer has four major enemies: time, heat, oxygen, and light. In addition, bacteria such as those that break down sugars into lactic acid are an enemy as well.

To demonstrate three flaws, Budweiser was spiked with lab samples of off flavors with a sample of pure Budweiser offered as a control to determine baseline notes. The first off flavor was T2N (trans-2-nonenal) which provided no aroma but came across as a flat taste of wet cardboard, dusty books, and old (or Dollar Store) lipstick. The causes of this flaw are oxygen, and these oxidative flavors are precipitated by both heat and oxygen. For a light lager, these notes can develop in a few months, and more complex beers can mask these notes. Storing beer cold will help to delay this change; always store the beer colder than the temperature at which it was fermented. Moreover, always check the expiration date on beer when it is delivered and practice FIFO (first in, first out) inventory rotation. In unopened beer, this is often a packaging error at the brewery. For keg beer, some bars still use air compressors instead of CO2 of N2 tanks, and this fills the keg with oxygen; while frequent in the past, these units are rare but still in the market. In comparing beer to fortified wines, liqueurs, and spirits, oxygen and heat will cause color changes in St. Germain, give off flavors in gin, and decrease the creaminess of whiskey. However, oxygen is useful in developing flavors like rancio, the nutty flavor in Cognac that appears after a decade or so in barrels, as well as the nutty flavors in some aromatized wines like Spanish vermouth. In fact, there are a few beers that are stored with oxygen to generate madeira and sherry-like notes.

The second off flavor was mercaptan which is known as lightstruck. This flavor is the reaction of hop's bittering compounds and ultraviolet light that quickly occurs in clear and green bottles, slowly in brown bottles, and not at all in cans. This aroma is reminiscent of skunk, cat litter, and sewer gas, and it is generated when ultraviolet light triggers alpha-acids (bittering agents in hops) to break off a free radical that combines with a sulfur compound in beer to make a chemical that is close to that found in a skunk's glands. Miller High Life gets around this problem by using hop extracts that are isomerized to deliver bitterness while being light insensitive. On premise places can get sleeves to go over their fluorescent light bulbs to block out some of the UV. While incandescent and LED lights have little effect, daylight can effect the beer in as little as 5 minutes. Light can also change spirits such as whiskeys losing their color which can effect perception by consumer. The panel could not come up with any positive uses of ultraviolet light exposure.

The third off flavor was diacetyl that comes across like buttered popcorn, smells like the bar the morning after, and offers a slick mouthfeel; the butter and creaminess was compared to a Werther's candy. The issue is generally attributed to dirty beer lines that contain anaerobic bacteria such as lactobacillus and pediococcus. However, diacetyl can also be a byproduct of fermentation that is generated by the yeast themselves. One major difference is that yeast do not add a sour note, while these bacteria do, so buttery + no acid stems from a brewery issue, and buttery + acid stems from the bar's equipment and maintenance. These bacteria can be prevented by being mindful when changing kegs, visually inspecting and cleaning the coupler every keg change, never resting the coupler on the floor, and wiping the faucet with hot water to clean off bacteria. Line cleanings generally take a minimum of an hour to clean 10 lines properly, so if your service is faster than that, it is probably incomplete.

Not all lactic acid bacteria are bad for it can be utilized in the ferment to control the growth of other bacteria and it can create the proper pH for yeast to work such as in sour mash in whiskey. It can also be used in rum such Jamaican ones where the backset in dunder contains lactic acid bacteria to create a more flavorful product. Finally, certain German beer styles such as gose and Berliner weisse utilize these microbes to good effect.

A longer list of flaws and their descriptions can be found here as well as in many beer books.

The final point that was brought up was glassware and how to improve cleanliness. A clean beer glass will have CO2 gas bubbles cascading up to make a head on the beer that lasts, and after each sip, the head will leave lacing on the glass. A dirty glass will have large fisheye bubbles, lose carbonation and head, and will have bubbles stuck to the glass' wall. Some frequent causes are finger print oil from the "spider-carry", dairy (such as when the staff uses that glassware for coffee), sugar resin from soft drinks, and oils from greasy silverware and napkins being jammed in during a table clearing. Three compartment sinks are not efficient at cleaning off oils, and a pub scrub such as KissKlean can be utilized to remove grease. Finally, frozen glassware will create flat tasting beer akin to sticking a beer can in the freezer.

little boots

1 oz Diplomatico Planas White Rum
1 oz Amaro Montenegro
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Orgeat
1 tsp Bittermens Tiki Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass, and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with 1 dash Angostura Bitters and a lemon twist, and add a straw.
As I was approaching Compere Lapin, I bumped into Tad Carducci who was leading a bus-drawn Diplomatico Rum cocktail crawl across the city. Tad invited me to join them at the Cure, so I agreed and hopped on the bus. There, we were treated to a small menu of Diplomatico drinks, and I selected the Little Boots created by Cure bartender Ryan Gannon who also was the one who mixed it for me. Once prepared, the Little Boots gave forth a lemon, clove, and cinnamon bouquet to the nose. Next, a creamy lemon sip transitioned into rum, nutty, and clementine flavors on the swallow with a spice-driven finish.