Welcome to the January Bar None Drinks Newsletter.
Hope you all had a great New Year! This year is looking great and so far we have lots of new things lined up. This issue will feature our usual buffet of recipes (Valentine's themed) as well as some great articles.
Please be smart, don't drink and drive! Enjoy the following recipes in moderation and take a cab if you need one.
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Faithful readers of The Ravens Caw,
I spent most of today searching the great world wide web in an attempt to find a decent subject for which to tantalize your minds. I was mostly unsuccessful. Instead, Ive found a short list of fairly odd, and in some cases disturbing, developments in the field of alcohology which I feel compelled to share with you.
The first of this shadowy cadre comes to us from out of Las Vegas, at the Double Down Saloon. It is in this little corner of Sin City that you can try the relatively unknown Bacon Martini, which you would be quite astute in assuming contains bacon. Whats more, the bacon is not introduced at mixing of the cocktail, but instead is infused in the vodka long before its ordered by the patron. Though it may sound like a repulsive mixture, the reports are that it actually improves the flavor of rotgut vodka. Who knew?
The next interesting bit is the launch of Anheuser-Buschs latest venture, Long Tail Libations, and the debut product, Jekyll and Hyde. I saw this in the store the other day and had to pick it up; through subsequent research Ive found its origins. Jekyll and Hyde are a pair of liquers (well, in current vernacular, a cordial and a liquer) that were designed to be served together in the same shot. Jekyll is a cordial that is said to possess a wild berry flavor, while Hyde is an herbal liquor with a licorice essence and a secret ingredient that makes it burn on the way down.
Seen on a major news network, the drinking game Drinko has been pulled from the shelves of major retailers. This was due to the work of activists that complained that this and other mass-marketed games are responsible for encouraging binge drinking. After seeing the news article, I went out and bought my own copy of Drinko, if only for posteritys sake...someone has to preserve it. Im torn on this one; the activists are again taking away the notion of personal responsibility and putting it on the corporation, thus reducing personal choice as well.
Finally, something I caught on the Sunday morning news: Hangovers not just for drinkers anymore! In what may amount to the Duh! moment of 2007, a woman working for Health magazine was on news explaining to viewers that any activity that stresses or poisons the body can lead to waking in the morning with hangover-like symptoms. Now you can blame the hangover on the three deadlines youre under, or all the wings you had last night at the bar, instead of your martinis and beer.
Well, in any case, it was an interesting month. I hope all is well and I will see you next month for another installment of The Ravens Caw.
About The Raven
J.T. "Raven" Centonze has been a long time student of the art of alcohol. Initially interested in keeping conversation at parties, his love for alcohol grew to an obsession in college. In between his real job of running a college bookstore or two, he is the part owner/operator of his own winery. He bartends at private parties which allows him the innovation of many new, unique drinks.
Having a different wine glass for every wine variety you drink seems a little excessive, not to mention a barrel of laughs when it's time to clean up. No matter where you stand on the issue, here's the deal on how they work and why you'd consider adding them to your wish list.
THEY ALLOW A WINE TO SHOW OFF
If you drink coke out of three different glasses, it won't make a scrap of difference to the taste. But if you drink wine from the very same bottle out of three different styles of wine glasses, you'd swear you were drinking three different wines.
This is because of the wine itself. Wine is a concoction of potentially wonderful smells and tastes and flavours, but one with reasonable temperament. You see these qualities are harder to notice if they're not encouraged out of their capsule. Like a rock star with an ego, wine will only work to its best form in certain environments. A lot of which has to do with space.
When some wines get this space they put on a show -- a big, sultry, sassy, dancing act that fills the whole stage. The act is so big they need all the space in a glass they can get and use it to show off all of their big bawdy smells and characters -- like a hound on heat. Give some other wines this much space and you can barely see or hear them. They become the timid little dancing girl whose squeak can barely be heard at all within the empty auditorium that is the glass. They need small stages where their gentler and subtler act can be noticed.
Generally, the lighter the wine, the smaller the space they need to fill.
They feel good. Think about things that are nice to hold -- ergonomic veggie peelers, guns, a warm mug of tea, bums and breasts -- they just feel good, even sensual. It's the same with glasses. Wrapping your palm around a bowl of a cabernet glass, fingers spread around the glass like legs stretched across a king size bed, your palm flat to the glass where it's nice and warm is far more pleasing than swishing the same red around a pokey little pop glass. Feeling is all part of the experience.
They make good wine better. It's all about enhancing the wine experience. Investing a load of cash in glasses is certainly not for everyone, but they let those people who do appreciate wine, who wanna go that little extra, do so. Keep in mind, they can only reveal or enhance what is already there and while they may make a good wine better, they won't make a crap wine good. Sorry.
HOW THEY MAKE A DIFFERENCE
1. The rim: Glasses come with a rim that is either cut flat across the top or one that is rolled. A minute thing perhaps, but it actually affects where on your tongue the wine lands, thus affecting the taste. Wine specific glasses know what characteristics are coming up in the wine, where on the tongue it's best tasted and put it there for you. Clever, huh?
2. The bowl: This is the part of the glass where the good smells and vapour collect. You should always pour your wine to the widest point of the bowl which may seem frightfully low in the glass. This just allows enough room for all of the vapours to collect for you to smell and start the wine experience. Remember the smells are sparked up when the oxygen hits the wine, so it's in your best smelling interests to get more oxygen in contact with the wine. For this reason, it's the surface area of the wine that's important, not the depth. This also allows more room for all that ferocious swirling you'll do to agitate the wine.
The size of the bowl depends on which wine you're drinking. White wines, which usually have light, perfumed, gentle puffs of aroma, require smaller glasses. The smaller glass also helps to regulate the temperature of the wine. As white wine is generally served at a lower temperature but in warmer environments, pouring smaller serves means it's drunk faster and there's less of a chance for it to get too warm. Red wine glasses have bigger bowls so the bigger flavours can breathe and fill the space. Also, red wine has more complex aromas and by allowing your nose to actually get into the glass, you expose your senses to more of them.
3. The stem: It's better to have one on your glass than not. It allows you to swirl and agitate the wine to release more of its smells, allowing you to get a better picture of what the wine is about. Also, you can hold the wine without turning up the temperature with the heat from your hand.
4. The opening: The rim or opening of almost all wine glasses narrows from the bowl. This prevents any spillage when you're swirling and it also helps the aroma of the wine to focus -- brings it all together on a smaller platform from which you can smell the wine. Again, the size of this opening depends on what sort of wine you are drinking -- the bigger the opening, the bigger the wine.
5. The glass: Special wine glasses are colourless so you can see variations in the colour of the wine. Better quality glasses are thinner and uncut -- fancy patterns etched out of the glass only distort any visuals within the wine that can otherwise be seen through the glass.
6. Sparkling glasses: The traditional flute style that most sparkling is served in is designed to focus the gentle smells of the original white it's made from at the same time as controlling the flow of bubbles. By allowing too many of the bubbles to escape, the champagne will go flat and lose its spark much faster, hence the narrow glass. This is why those dish cups that are now only reserved for frogs-in-the-pond at kiddies birthday parties are no good. Some glasses even feature an etch at the bottom of the glass that the bubbles start from.
WHY THEY MAKE A DIFFERENCE
For wines that have gentle delicate puffs of aroma. A small bowl makes sure the aromatics don't get lost while the smaller opening makes sure you have a focused platform to smell them on. Capture the delicacies of your riesling, pinot gris and gewurztraminer in this one.
For wines that have stronger more complex smells compared to the gentler aromatic whites. Bit of room to breathe in the bowl but still with enough focus. Top glass for the gutsier whites like sauvignon blanc, semillon and chardonnay.
A fairly wide bowl still allows the wine to kiss enough oxygen and blossom, but with a focused nose so the softer red wine aromas aren't lost as they move toward the top of the glass. Good for softer reds like pinot noir.
I told you that I'd find another "absolut"ely great girl to continue with the great recipes! Here's hoping that Michelle has a wonderful Valentine's Day and that the rest of you enjoy these great recipes!
Set the mood for an unforgettable romantic evening with these delicious signature recipes from ABSOLUT and Level Vodka. With the super-premium status of Level Vodka, you can create high-class, signature cocktails like Raspberry Chocolate Love and Heart Shaped World sure to please the palates of you and your sweetheart. Or, serve up something fresh like A Lovely Pear with the first new flavor to hit the shelves in 2007: ABSOLUT PEARS. What about a simple sparkling cocktail something classic and tasty? Try the ABSOLUT Celebration with RUBY RED.
Celebrate and toast love with one of these delicious cocktails:
RASPBERRY CHOCOLATE LOVE
Shake first five ingredients with ice and double strain into a rocks glass with chocolate sauce in the bottom. Garnish with a chocolate-filled raspberry.
Shake all ingredients, and strain over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a strawberry and colorful conversation hearts.
A LOVELY PEAR
Pour first two ingredients (chilled) into a champagne glass. Sink Chambord to the bottom.
Our latest Rober Plotkin article explores the do's and don't's of being a professional bartender. Robert is the founder of BarMedia.com
For the past 17 years, Robert Plotkin, has been working to provide beverage operators with the right career tools they need to attain success. He has created the best management systems, tools, software and books available in the hospitality industry. His nationally acclaimed products are in the offices and behind the bars of the most successful hotels, nightclubs, restaurants and hot spots worldwide.
A quick look around the room tells the story. The guy in the corner booth...the one with the irritated expression...has a drink sloshing over the rim with little pieces of sopping paper napkin stuck to the sides. He looks a lot happier, though, than the suits at the bar. Theyve been waiting easily ten or twelve minutes with empty glasses. The impatient rapping of their glasses on the bar is a sure sign theyre a lost cause. A few short minutes later the two briskly head out the front door with the deportment of men who have tolerated enough bad service for one night.
The problem is that the bartender is otherwise occupied occasionally making drinks for the servers, washing a glass or two and flirting with the coed sitting by the station is about all the young man can handle.
Murphys Law people get the worst service on those dog days when they can least emotionally afford it.
We all have our thresholds. Rankle our sensibilities, trod on our concepts of lounge etiquette, and well rebel. There are unwritten conventions governing professional bar conduct. You know most of them intuitively. Then why is it that so many bartenders consistently step on those conventions? And why do they all seem to wait on you?
One such convention suggests that inquiring if a customer would like another drink when the persons glass is still half full (or empty) is pushy and waiting until he is spinning the glass upside down on a length of sip sticks is inattentive. The time to ask is when the persons drink is about a quarter full (or three-quarters empty).
In a perfect world, glasses wouldnt sweat and cocktail napkins would last longer than 2-3 minutes. In this dimension were left with the reality that these ubiquitous paper squares disintegrate when wet. Soggy, tattered napkins belie the quality of the service rendered. Cocktail napkins should be changed with regularity. Either that or switch to coasters.
Few things disturb gin and tonic drinkers more than bartenders who drop in lime wedges without first squeezing the juice out of them. Fishing a lime wedge out of a drink is low on most peoples list of fun things to do in public. Along the same lines, a lemon twist is so named because it is meant to be twisted, an action that will express the lemons essential oils and fragrance into the drink. The outer peel is then rubbed along the rim of the glass so that the flavor of the lemon can be appreciated. Do the same thing with speared olives or cocktail onions.
Tacky too is a bartender who is conspicuous when counting his tips. Gratuities are a private matter between two people the customer and bartender played out in a public setting. Counting ones tips in view of guests is inappropriate. Likewise, tip jars overflowing with large bills and treasury notes should be kept out of view. It is unlikely that it will make people want to dig deep to contribute and some may actually find it offensive.
Another source of ruffled feathers is failing to acknowledge that customers exist. When people sit down at a bar, they will extend the bartender a certain grace period before she sidles over to take their order. Miss the grace period and shell have to nearly kill them with hospitality to overcome the snub. If the bartender is temporarily too busy to wait on guests, that grace period can be easily extended with a smile and an Ill be right with you.
If youre one who likes to keep score, forgetting what a person is drinking leaves a negative impression (minus two points), while recalling a regular customers name and using it correctly in a sentence is a major bartending coup (plus six points). Being friendly and polite is still politically correct (plus five), but gratuitous, overly friendly behavior is as convincing as a soap opera love scene (minus 3).
A bartenders professionalism is most apparent when the bar is busy. Whether its that certain calm under fire quality or their precise bursts of movement, really good bartenders are a pleasure to watch. On the flip side, a bartender who loses his cool, making the customers bear the brunt of his anger, is like a cold hard slap of reality. People get slapped around plenty in their day-to-day life without being subjected to it during happy hour.
Customers are notorious for asking bartenders for drink suggestions and a shrug of the shoulder is an inappropriate response. Bartenders are well advised to have a repertoire of good tasting, creative drink recipes in mind that will fit the bill. They should also make sure that they hear drink orders in their entirety, noting any and all pouring instructions such as ...with a twist, ...with a splash or ...with a water back. Customers seldom hide their irritation when their drinks arent made up to their specifications.
If nothing else, when all else fails, bartenders should frequently air-out their sense of humor. After all, it may be the only time the customer laughs all day.
Ten Do's &
Don't's For Behind the Bar
Fill glass with ice. Add the Plymouth Gin and lime juice (freshly squeezed). Add the ginger cordial and syrup de gomme. Top with sparkling water. Stir and garnish with lime wedge and mint sprig.
Interactive shots are in the house!!! Get the party started with Shotgun Shooters for Jello.Fill these 5" tubes with your favorite Jello shot mix, add caps on both ends, chill and serve. Great for home parties or commercial bar use. Don't forget to purchase a foam test tube rack to hold your custom made shooters.
Why not try them with your favourite Valentine?
Adam and Eve, Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella and Prince Charming, Mickey and Minnie, Lancelot and Guinevere. Since the beginning of time the world has seen great couples, both real and fictional. Known as lovers, partners or soul mates, they will forever be remembered for their bond, their passion and their adoration for one another. Their standards for love have surpassed all others and are unmatched by most in this world. No matter who you spend your Valentines Day with this year, you can experience the same romance and enchantment as these couples simply by making Pallini Liqueurs part of your holiday.
All three Pallini flavors are made from the finest fruits grown in the most romantic of countries. Only Italy could produce the luscious white peaches used in Peachcello, the wild vine-ripened raspberries, blueberries and black currants used in Raspicello, and the fragrant peel of Sfusato Amalfitano lemons used in Limoncello. Each smooth and tangy flavor is just as tantalizing as the next.
Though each Pallini flavor is truly appreciated when enjoyed chilled or on the rocks, this Valentines Day we invite you to discover romance and intrigue done Italian style with a few cocktails courtesy of Pallini Liqueurs. Simply open the attached recipes, and youll undoubtedly experience the romance and passion shared only by the greatest lovers on earth each time you enjoy a cocktail with any Pallini flavor. Youre sure to experience a zest for love and a zest for life! Enjoy Pallini responsibly. Its the most stylish thing you can do.