|Bar None Drink Recipes Newsletter|
Wow, what a month! Raven and I attended Tales of the Cocktail as promised and in the coming months we'll treat you to some great features based on that event. You should be there next year!
We've also picked up Dr. Bamboo as a writer, well at least this month. We hope that he'll grace us for many months to come. He, as well as others we met in New Orleans have a great tradition in writing some awesome drink columns. Cheers to them for stepping up and helping us out.
We've also implemented a RSS feed to update you on all the latest entries to the database. You can find the page here...
Please be smart, don't drink and drive! Enjoy the following recipes in moderation and take a cab if you need one.
Wow, what a great trip to New Orleans and Tales of the Cocktail. If you get the chance, this is a must see event for anyone interested in cocktails and the culture.
Besides the great people that attended, the event was a huge body of knowledge. As we go through the next couple of newsletters, I'll have some articles about the event and some of the things that went on.
I'll also update you on the dates for next year as soon as I know them. For now, stay tuned here or drop by the Tales of the Cocktail website to learn more. Click the banner below.
Hello again, Bar None Drinkers. This is The Raven, returned to Los Angeles from the Big Easy, and, now that the 9-to-5 has been straightened out a bit, I thought I'd give y'all a run down of the event known as Tales of the Cocktail. I suppose I should start by explaining what exactly ToC is, which will be no small task.
Tales of the Cocktail is a combination trade show, food festival (o.k., drink festival), business meeting and of course, party. There are seminars given by some of the great luminaries in the cocktalian world. I like that word; cocktalian. It's a new one for me, but apparently that just because I don't get out much. I attended two seminars given by Paul Pacult, author of The Spirit Journal, and Kindred Spirits (1&2). One was more or less a class on how to taste liquor like a professional critic; the second was using this knowledge to taste 5 whiskies and a cognac that easily cost more than a day's pay. A once in a lifetime event, to be sure, and I got to do it twice.
I could go down a full list of all of the seminars I attended, but that wouldn't leave much for the next few months of newsletters. It would also require a bit of thinking at this point, as I'd have to sort through the piles of documents for confirmation that I attended. And let me cut you off at the pass; it's not (entirely) due to an extended inebriated state. We made an effort to see as much as we could and by the third day...let's just say we'd reached sensory overload. A complete list of all of the offered sessions is available at the ToC website; I'd recommend going to see it now, before they reset the site for next year. If you see a session you'd like to know more about, there's about a 50% chance that one of us attended it. Ask! I'll try to make up some sort of approximation as to the schedule I ended up observing in the next few weeks.
Here's where things got difficult. In addition to up to five different sessions in each time block, we were also offered tasting rooms from some of the great up and coming brands (and some of the old standards too!) These tasting rooms usually contained three or four different cocktails that showcased the sponsor's products. Folks...they were pouring premium liquor and handing it out to anyone who showed interest. On top of all this, the cocktails were being mixed by some of the world's best 'tenders and 'tailians. The tasting rooms were usually manned by the representatives of the brands, and not just anyone. I met no fewer than a half dozen master distillers over the week. There are few things that can compare to being handed a drink by the man who oversaw the creation of the liquor inside it, and then chatting with him about it's history.
This was, of course, just the beginning of the day's activities. There were four time blocks daily that followed this kind of session/tasting room format. The last sessions got out at 6 o'clock, which, for some of my new companions, was just the start of the say. The first party usually got out around 8:30-9:00, which just meant it was time to go to the next party. When that one finished, we headed to some of the after parties in the suites, and after that (somewhere around 2:00 a.m.) there was someone who had managed to acquire a bottle or two that they just felt they had to share, in their room, for a smaller but no less jovial party. My record for a single night was 5 different parties (with no fewer than two expertly mixed cocktails each). I think Dan beat me by two parties that night.
Now, lest I be accused of being a lush, I did go for some time during the event sober (and no matter what Dan says, it wasn't just while I was sleeping!) If the whole event was just what I've described, it would have been worth every penny. But Tales of the Cocktail is so much more.
First, the Hotel Monteleone. If you've never been to this hotel and seen the Carousel Bar, you haven't been to the French Quarter. I won't go into its history (you can find that on their site), but the present is absolutely enchanting. They have the nicest staff of any hotel I've experienced. The rooms are beautifully apportioned, and the views of New Orleans are postcard worthy. Even their breakfast wasn't bad (for which Mr. Pacult will probably disavow any knowledge of me, but my palette isn't quite as developed as his.)
Next on the list of what made the event great: the people. Being in a room with people who appreciate nearly every facet of the industry is a genuine thrill. I've never felt like such a pretender to the scene, or so accepted by those I was pretending to be. The trip would have been worth the ticket just to meet the folks I met. This is where I give my shout-outs to Marleigh and Dan, Dr. Bamboo, Kevin (both the Fatman and the Thirsty Traveler), Meg, Lisa and Sabrina, Chuck and Wes, and Kim just to name a few of the great folks I hung out with. (For everyone else, please accept my apology for having inadvertently implying I've forgotten about you.) If there was a down point to the entire event, it was the sheer volume of people; growing pains for an event that is destined to become ever more popular, particularly if I have anything to say about it.
Finally, no discussion of Tales of the Cocktail could be complete without mentioning the host city, New Orleans. I've been asked by many of the locals I met to reiterate to my readers that the city isn't under water. It is the patriotic duty of anyone able to make the trip to venture to the Big Easy and see what the city has to offer. They've recovered from Katrina, known locally as "The Storm", and they are ready for us to come visit again. It is my hope that I can turn this event into a yearly trip for myself, and next year I'm planning to add a few extra days so I can see more of the city. If you enjoy rock or jazz, or have ever dug into a bowl of gumbo, or appreciate the vampire and ghost lore of modern literature, or just want to experience one of the most culturally rich places that our continent has to offer, you owe it to yourself to get to New Orleans. They'll appreciate the visit, and you won't regret having gone.
Ladies and gents, as part of my reporting from N'awlins, I am bringing you what is now possibly my favorite cocktail. The history of this cocktail is almost as impressive as the drink itself. But I won't keep you waiting: The Ramos Gin Fizz
Shamelessly lifted from www.gumbopages.com Thanks Chuck!
From here, you've got a ton of options. Mr. Ramos is rumored to have included the soda water before he shook the drink, which was done vigorously for more than five or six minutes, or until the soda water was no longer effervescent. Some folks nix the egg, and others add the soda water after the shaking (still five or six minutes long.)
To catch the history, you'll have to tune in to a later newsletter...it's that good!
And one final note, The Raven now has his own e-mail address at the BarNoneDrinks. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions related "The Raven's Caw" to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also accepted at this address are job offers, death threats, marriage proposals, offers to enlarge certain parts of my anatomy, awards nominations, petitions for absolution and anything else The Raven might need to know about.
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.
According to the dictionary, muddle, a verb that most likely is derived from the Dutch or German language, has several meanings. It can mean to make a mess of or to act or think in a confused way. In terms of creating drinks, it can also mean to mix ingredients together in a less than neat kind of way.
Though you may not necessarily be familiar with the term, it is a technique that bartenders have been using for quite some time to create the drinks that you enjoy. In fact, the technique is probably used just as often and is just as important as straining, stirring, and shaking.
When muddling, ingredients are combined by pressing them together with a tool called a muddler. This is usually done right in the mixing glass that is being used to create the drink, and is completed prior to most of the drink's liquid ingredients being added to the glass.
While it may seem as if the technique is fairly cut and dry, there are actually several ways to muddle. Some people find that smashing the ingredients using an up and down motion is the way to go. Others use a less aggressive approach by twisting the muddler to combine the ingredients. Others, still, use a bit of both techniques to achieve the perfect results.
But, they key to muddling is using a muddler.
If you've never used one before, and aren't sure what a muddle even looks like, it resembles a pestle that is used in conjunction with a mortar to mix together cooking ingredients, such as spices. It looks much like a baseball bat, with a larger end for the muddling and a smaller end that is ideal for mixing.
You can find muddlers in almost any store that carried bar equipment. There are usually two types to choose from--wooden and steel. Wooden muddlers are the most common, but the sleek, steel version is quickly gaining in popularity because it is so easy to use and is a cinch to clean.
Many bartenders find that a wooden muddler is preferable to use over its steel counterpart, but the type of muddler you choose is completely up to you. In fact, if you don't have a muddler on hand, you can even use the back of a metal or wooden spoon or any other hard tool that you may already have in your kitchen.
Even if you've never muddled before, it is definitely a technique that should be added to your drink making repertoire. The reason why is simple. Muddling can make the difference between a so-so drink and one that is extraordinary. It brings out the extra flavor from certain ingredients, such as fruits and herbs, that you wouldn't get if they were just thrown into the drink. So, the next time you find a recipe that calls for muddling, don't shy away from it. Grab your muddler and muddle away. Your taste buds will thank you for it.
Val, Val Val. What do we say about Val? I can say that she's been doing a bunch of work for us here at Bar None for the last few months, but most of it site related, not for our newsletter. However, I think she'll start becoming a regular feature here so we hope you enjoy her writing from some little place called Hoboken or was it Halifax? Hmm, maybe it was Hammonton. Wherever it was, she's doing a fine job and we're happy to have her aboard.
'In An ABSOLUT World, LIGHTS, CAMERA, VODKA!' Starting today, everyone can have a taste of the LA lifestyle as the world's most iconic vodka introduces ABSOLUT LOS ANGELES, a limited-edition, city-inspired flavor honoring the City of Angels. Celebrating the city's trend-forward ideals, the bold, new flavor is made with an all-natural symphony of blueberry, acai berry, acerola cherry, and fruity notes of pomegranate. ABSOLUT LOS ANGELES will be available beginning in July at bars, restaurants, nightclubs and retailers nationwide.
In the late 1980s, ABSOLUT launched its "Cities" advertising campaign with a wink and a nod to the intrinsic flare and historical heartbeat of what made each city special. Last year, the brand brought the "Cities" campaign to life with the launch of ABSOLUT NEW ORLEANS, a flavor reminiscent of the Big Easy - mango with a spicy black pepper kick. To introduce the limited-edition series and to support the rebuilding of the region, ABSOLUT donated all profits of the product - $2 million - to five Gulf Coast charities. With the launch of ABSOLUT LOS ANGELES, ABSOLUT once again revives the campaign with style and shine, inviting everyone to enjoy a taste of Hollywood.
"Through our 'In An ABSOLUT World' campaign, we challenge consumers to imagine their own ideal, and Los Angeles is one of the most idealistic places on earth," said Tim Murphy, Vice President of Marketing, The Absolut Spirits Company, Inc. "For this city-inspired flavor, we wanted to capture the opportunity that LA represents to so many - reaching for the stars and recognizing their dreams. ABSOLUT LOS ANGELES will evoke an inimitable new 'taste' that honors all the attributes that makes the City of Angels so exclusive and awe-inspiring - from the stunning packaging to the unique flavor profile, all wrapped inside the iconic ABSOLUT bottle."
Found a bottle for your liquor cabinet? My eye in the sky reporter Zlata has come up with the following for your consumption...
Absolut La La Land
Build ingredients over ice into a hi-ball glass and garnish with a squeeze of lime.
The Sunset Strip
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with Watermelon on pick.
Tequila Honeysuckle with Watermelon
Shake Ingredients with ice and strain over fresh ice into a hi-ball glass. Top with Soda. Garnish with Blueberries and Mint Sprig.
An Apple a Day
Shake all ingredients and serve chilled in a martini glass. Garnish with Slice of Apple. - Marita Leonard, Ortinaque on the Mile, Miami
Ok, just wanted to give a quick shout out to Gene Song and Tom and Hollis Bulleit. I have to say they were great to me down at Tales of the Cocktail. Gene was kind enough to buy me a number of drinks made with Bulleit Bourbon, invite me a great Bulleit event and just be a generally nice guy.
I also have to admit that bourbon is one of my favourite drinks. I'll be mixing up some cocktails in the near future and will be sharing them with you. Mike, that means we need to get a bottle here...
Thanks again to all the Bulleit guys and gals!
Our latest Rober Plotkin article talks about freshly squeezing juices.
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.
You don't need a college degree to know that the best cocktails are crafted using the freshest ingredients. The resulting drinks are more flavorful, vital and exuberant on the palate. Today, master mixologists are not only using freshly squeezed juice in their cocktails, they are also making their own bitters, syrups and drink mixes.
While using freshest possible ingredients seems to be the path to cocktail glory, it does pose operational challenges. Fruit needs to be procured and juiced on a near daily basis. Because the juices are not pasteurized, or laced with preservatives, continually ensuring their freshness is an ongoing process. The amount of prep work involved and the labor costs incurred makes the concept of "fresh" too steep for many operators.
"Fresh juices and ingredients are definitely the basis of better beverages, but the use of fresh juice is no guarantee of better drinks. That's largely a matter of balance," says noted beverage consultant David Commer. "It's common today to make drinks with super-premium spirits that can easily cost $1.00 per ounce. It makes no sense to me to compromise the quality of a signature cocktail by saving 3¢ an ounce on sweet 'n' sour. There are ways to overcome the labor objection including preparing fresh juices ahead of time for that shift, or using high quality prepared, or partially prepared products."
Barry Carter, vice president of beverage operations for Dave and Busters, has spent the majority of his career fine-tuning the inner workings of bars. "Do fresh juices and scratch ingredients enhance the flavor and character of cocktails? Sure they do. For upscale, one-off, or multi-unit independents, it's highly advantageous to employ a 'Bar Chef,' one whose passion is working with fresh-squeezed juices, purees, infusions, reductions, bar syrups and whatever else his creative juices can concoct. There are guests who will gladly pay a premium for these cocktails."
Carter continues on to say, however, that they're likely not in the mainstream. What about operators whose clientele aren't so loose with a buck? Or those concerned about the higher labor and product costs and speed of service issues that are thought to beset the 'fresh' strategy? Is there a middle ground where they too can take advantage of this burgeoning mega-trend? Carter and others insist there is.
Operationalizing a Fresh Strategy
Developing the techniques and standardized procedures for incorporating fresh ingredients into your beverage operation may seem daunting and riddled with pitfalls. The following expert advice though is being offered to make the process less maddening and the learning curve less steep.
Bottled Mixes Range From Good to Outrageous
A great drink mix is a thing of beauty even if it's packaged in a bottle. Pour them over ice, add a spirit or two, splash in a few modifiers and even the most beverage challenged amongst us can thrill the crowds.
For decades prepared drink mixes have been the cornerstone of the bar business. Most are made using natural flavors and are stabilized and pasteurized. It's their ease of use, consistency and utterly reasonable cost per ounce that makes bottled mixes so alluring. Ah, but do they measure up to contemporary standards?
Depending on how high you set your sights the answer is yes. Locking in on the exact brands that best suit your bar though is half the battle. As is the case with all products at the bar, the process ultimately renders down to making the pragmatic decision of quality versus cost.
Evaluating drink mixes is an art form with a shallow learning curve. Start by sampling light bodied, light flavored mixers first - sweet 'n' sour, Margarita and Mojito - before working with heavier products such as Piña Colada, Bloody Mary and Strawberry Daiquiri.
Taste the mixes side by side, sampling a version of each at room temperature and then another flight with the mixes over ice. Make note of the mix's color and opacity and compare that with your notion of what a scratch version might look like. Does the mix have an engaging bouquet?
The last qualifier is, of course, taste. Swirl it around your mouth, assessing flavor, mouth feel and eventually its finish. The winners will taste marvelous alone in a glass. If they can stand-up to that degree of scrutiny, they're bona fide keepers.
Proven Strategies for the On-Premise Operator
This may be the best resource guide ever written for controlling, managing and operating a beverage operation profitably.
Covering virtually every aspect of a beverage operation, Robert Plotkin has left no stone unturned. From analyzing bartender and server productivity to explaining how to use pour cost formulas to increase profits, it is a guide that anyone can use to increase their profits, reduce their costs and understand how to do it in a step-by-step format.
created by: Eben Freeman, mixologist at Tailor in NYC
A spiced-up version of a greyhound cocktail (gin and grapefruit juice, classically); Freeman nicknames this frozen drink the "Hot Dog." As your mouth turns cold, you're bombarded with that most elusive of taste sensations: citrusy icy-hotness.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and let rest in the refrigerator for half an hour. Remove chile, add liquid to molds, and freeze. Serves about 10.
Averna ran a cocktail competition from January 1st through March 31st. All entries were divided into three geographical regions: Northeast, Southeast/Midwest and West. A judging panel of leading spirits experts selected 10 semifinalists from each region to move on to the regional semifinals scheduled in San Francisco, New York and Miami respectively. A total of five semifinalists were selected from the three regional competitions (two each from the San Francisco and New York competitions, one from the Miami competition)
This was created by Don Lee, PDT New York
La Cola Nostra
Shake and strain into a long glass with ice. Top with Champagne.
Being a shameless gin-hound, there was no event at this year's Tales of the Cocktail I was looking forward to more than the "Juniperlooza" session. The opportunity to learn about gin in all its various permutations while tasting many of them was something I just couldn't miss.
In a nutshell, the session was a breezy 90 minute romp through the history of gin, accompanied by 10 (yes 10!) samples of straight gin and 3 gin-based mixed drinks. I'll spare you an overly detailed account of the proceedings and simply touch on a few highlights that will hopefully entice you to both explore gin yourself and also get to Tales of the Cocktail next time around.
Speaking of which...
One of the most pleasant surprises I had during my time at Tales of the Cocktail was tasting the "Pepper Delicious" cocktail, which was offered toward the end of the Juniperlooza event. It was a big hit with many others in attendance, and I can't recommend trying it highly enough.
~~~ Pepper Delicious ~~~
In a pint shaker glass, add red bell pepper slices and mint leaves and hand press with a muddler. Fill glass with ice and shake vigorously for 6 seconds. Double fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
This drink is a revelation not only because it's good, but it's one of those recipes that looks like it shouldn't be. On paper, this recipe doesn't seem to add up to a pleasant-tasting drink, but it will surprise you. It's tart and refreshing, and the flavors marry well. Give it a shot!
~ Dr. Bamboo
Who is Dr. Bamboo? Some say he is a renegade scientist who renounced his original field of study to dedicate himself to the advancement of cocktail culture. Others claim he is a powerful shaman who practices the forbidden arts of a long-forgotten civilization. Still others maintain he is actually a traveler from a faraway world, sent to our planet as an ambassador of intergalactic fine living. Whatever the truth may be, one thing is certain: He makes a mean Martini. When he's not foraging for obscure drink ingredients and vintage barware, Dr. Bamboo works as a freelance illustrator and is the drinks columnist for Bachelor Pad Magazine.
DeKuyper, the best-selling line of cordials and liqueurs in the U.S., announces a new product line that eliminates complicated mixing in order to make great tasting and unique drinks. DeKuyper® Burst Bar Shots are pre-mixed shots containing all ingredients in one bottle so that all the consumer needs to do is "Open, Pour and Party!" Burst Bar Shots come in three great-tasting favors: Red Headed Burst, Kamikaze Burst and Washington Apple Burst and are based on very popular shots that you can find in just about any bar.
"Burst Bar Shots are designed to help consumers when entertaining at-home and reduce the number of ingredients needed to create one great, mixed shot," stated Sheryl Rosenberger, senior brand manager, DeKuyper.
Once every four years something amazing happens in the world of sports. For a few short weeks, over 10,000 athletes from 202 nations unite to compete in the greatest, most honorable sporting event in the world. Castle Brands invites you to get into the Olympic spirit with a few of our spirits. Enjoy our "international" cocktails inspired by the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass.
Italian Double Gold
Shake ingredients and serve on the rocks.
Shake ingredients and serve over ice in a rocks glass.
Build ingredients in a tall glass with ice.