Friday, November 9, 2012

Feels Like Fall

As the leaves start to change and the temperature drops (admittedly later than it ought to), I always find my preference for beverages turns towards aged spirits and heavier, more robust flavor combinations. There is something very comfortable about a richly-flavored (often spirit-forward) libation at this time of year, when everything slows down just a little bit.
The palette of ingredients that comes to mind is wide and varied, featuring many of the items with which I so love to play. Well-aged Brandies, Rums, Whiskies and Tequilas form a sturdy backbone of flavors. Fortified wines like Sherry or Madeira, bitter Amaro, herbal distillates such as Suze or Chartreuse, fragrant Vermouth and Chinato can delicately (or forcefully) bring exciting elements of taste.
Seasonal produce - Apples, Figs, Pumpkin or Pears - make for toothsome delights, particularly when combined with aromatic spices like Allspice, Cinnamon and Ginger. Base sweeteners change too - now is the time for full-bodied Honeys and complex Sugars; wonderful when balanced with souring agents like fresh Verjus or housemade Shrub.
I considered these feelings (and the many ingredients that inspire them) extensively when selecting and designing the drinks that would appear on our new Fall Cocktail menu at Catherine Lombardi. Here's one of my favorite creations; dark and rich, with an earthy undertone of coffee-like aromas. Served over a large-bore ice ball, it's the perfect thing to slowly savor as the sun sets on summer...
Rare Earth
½ oz. Rhum JM Elevé Sous Bois
½ oz. Ron Zacapa 23yr Rum
¾ oz. Amaro Averna
¾ oz. Pedro-Ximenez Sherry
½ oz. Verjus
2 d. TBT Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice & stir. Strain to a Rocks glass over a large-format ice cube or sphere.

Whether you mix one up at home or swing through the bar for a round or three, be sure to let me know how you like it (or any of the other delightful concoctions on-offer)!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Or, "A Crazy, Criminally-Fun Shift"

On the last Sunday of September, the bar was overrun by pirates. And not just any pirates, but a quality crew of sarong'd scalawags, comprised of such inestimable personages as Julie Reiner, Brian Miller, Ryan Liloia and Garret Richard. To be fair, we invited them aboard our boat, enticing them further with a whole roasted Pig and the fabulous distilled nectars of Martinique's Rhum JM.
The theme of this epic gathering was a bold inland incursion (to the wilds of New Jersey) of the weekly event known as Tiki Mondays with Miller, formerly hosted at the island stronghold of Lani Kai in NYC. As with past examples of Tiki Monday, a menu of tropical libations selected by Captain Miller was on-offer. Accompanying these delicious beverages was a complimentary tasting of Rhum JM's complete portfolio of Rhum Agricole, which were also the principle spirits used in the evening's potions.
While I love drinks of all sorts, readers here may note that I have always had a soft spot for all things R(h)um and it's most tricked-out champion: Tiki. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I was stoked to be involved with this event. 
Three minutes into the Lime Massacre
As I prepared for the arrival of our guest crew, the spent shells of Limes, Grapefruit and Pineapples piled up around me - too numerous to count. [Not true, actually. I hewed through 268 of the former, 70 of the next and 8 of the latter, but the theatrical version sounds better. Besides, it's my job to keep track of these things.] A profusion of new housemade ingredients filled my refrigerators (vying for space with our sizable collection of such things) and an abundance of Rhum was arrayed on the backbar and speed rails.

Bar prep, now with 400% more Pirate!
As Julie, Brian, Ryan and Garret stepped behind the bar, they hefted insulated chests smuggled across the Hudson, brimming with ingredients rare and forbidden: fragrant syrups, spices and orchids. Together we festooned the Catherine Lombardi bar with pirate colors, mixed up batches of a few final ingredients (Don's Mix, Spices #2, &c) and cut a not-so-miniature mountain of various garnishes before donning sarongs and war paint for a festive rumbullion with no quarter offered...
And what a shift it was! Julie and Brian manned the forward bar station (the helm), while I got down and dirty in the service bar (the poop deck). Ryan and Garrett, along with my faithful barback Allison, moved tirelessly back and forth down the line of cannon, putting out (and occasionally starting) fires wherever necessary.
As they arrived, our guests were treated to a potent glass of punch in the form of a classic Scorpion Bowl, prepared with (in a slight twist on Trader Vic's 1946 recipe) JM's Blanc and Elevé Sous Bois Rhum Agricole. To accommodate both the sheer size of the bowl (three recipes worth!) as well as the time it would spend over ice, we served it over cracked cubes derived from the 3"x3" molds we ordinarily use for ice balls.
With their initial tipple finished, our guests were able to select from five classic Tiki cocktails as well as an original one developed by Julie in honor of Lani Kai and the great times it inspired while open. Captain Miller's menu read as follows:
(Trader Vic, c. 1944)
This drink truly is outta this world…mai tai roa ae!!
Rhum JM Blanc, 12yr Demerara & Dark Jamaican Rums,
Lime Juice, Orgeat, Orange Curacao
(Don The Beachcomber, ci. 1965)
Peace of mind is what you will achieve after just one sip of this.
Rhum JM Eleve Sous Bois & Guatemalan Rums, Lime & Orange Juices,
Acacia Honey Syrup, Velvet Falernum, Don’s Spices #2, Angostura Bitters
(Don the Beachcomber, c. 1937)
“A gully in a field” is where you might wind up after a few of these.
Rhum JM Eleve Sous Bois, Lime Juice,
Don’s Mix, Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters
(Julie Reiner)
A tasty tiki tipple in honor of our old ship & all those that sailed on her.
Rhum JM Blanc & 3yr Demerara Rums, Lime & Pineapple Juices,
Grenadine, Cherry Heering, Cointreau, Benedictine, Angostura Bitters, Club
(Don The Beachcomber, c. 1937)
Too many of these is what did in tonight’s guest of honor.
Rhum JM Eleve Sous Bois & Dark Jamaican Rums, Cognac,
Lime & Pineapple Juices, Passion Fruit Syrup, Angostura Bitters, Absinthe
(Mannie “Blackie” Andal, Hawaii Kai Restaurant, NYC, c. 1960’s)
You know how pirates love their buried treasure!
Rhum JM Blanc, Lime & Grapefruit Juices,
Coco Lopez, Acacia Honey Syrup, Orgeat, Blue Curacao

The turnout was mai tai roa ae; full of friends from New Jersey, New York and other ports of call. Our house regulars were out in force, complimented by a delightful contingent representing the Tiki Mafiaaarrrgh and a few special guests turned up quite unexpectedly. Imagine my delight when, looking up from a particularly long and complicated order ticket, I saw none other than Jeff "Beachbum" Berry and his lovely lady standing at my bar. Many thanks to the Bum for dropping anchor in 'Jersey; likewise to the merry motley of guests who dropped in for a drink or six.
Finally, much love and a major mahalo to Julie, Brian, Ryan and Garret, without whom none of this would have been possible. It was an honor and a pleasure to pull a shift on your ship; may its colors never be struck.
Cheers & Mahalo!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Convoluted Narrative; With Swizzles!

As the summer season hits a stride, it occurs to me that we haven’t revisited one of my favorite types of hot weather libations in quite a while: Swizzles.

Well, quite frankly, we haven't revisited anything for altogether too-long, but that's neither here nor there. So while there are no shortage of formulas that might benefit from such a treatment, a truly brilliant one springs to mind (pretty easily considering I just enjoyed two of them in a row) and I thought I might jump back in to share it with you, good reader.

I was introduced to this delightful draught sometime last year at a Thursday Drink Night event: the Chartreuse Swizzle. As might be expected when discussing something which arose from the weekly cocktail symposia held there, from there on the tale grows even more sordid and convoluted…

Originated by Marco Dionysos, at last glance the head bartender at San Francisco’s Clock Bar, this outstanding beverage in its base form was originally introduced to the Mixoloseum crew through an article by Marleigh over at SLOSHED! It truly is a wonderful Swizzle (and appears in a fair number of places on the interweb already), with an intriguing blend of complex flavors. Much of this stems from the interplay of the Chartreuse (my love of which is well-documented), Pineapple (which absolutely must be fresh by-the-by) and spicy Falernum syrup (homemade of course). When the recipe came to light, following a bit of devious consideration Rick of KaiserPenguin suggested the addition of one-quarter ounce of J. Wray & Nephew's overproof Rum to the recipe; and from there it was all downhill.

Upon sampling this wonderful alteration, I was intrigued by the even-more fascinating interplay of flavors inside my well-frosted glass. The Vanilla notes present in the rum played off of the Falernum’s spices especially nicely and the additional alcohol – smoothly integrated by the dilution that a proper swizzling imparts – only served to magnify the remaining flavors.

As so often happens when I get thusly captivated, I began messing with the recipe. The results of my manipulations run in a slightly different direction from the original, yet remain equally delicious. Last year at 'Tales the collective palettes of the Mixoloseum House drank more than a few of these (and its progenitor, the original Green Chartreuse Swizzle) to beat the sweltering New Orleans heat back. And so, short and sweet, I give you the following summertime libation (©):

Golden Sands Swizzle
1 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
½ oz. Lemon Hart 151° Demerara Rum
1 oz. fresh Pineapple juice
¾ oz. fresh Lemon juice
½ oz. Falernum syrup
Combine ingredients in a tall Collins glass and fill ¾ with crushed ice; swizzle until the glass is frosted. Top with additional crushed ice; garnish with a sprig of Spearmint and a grate of fresh Nutmeg.

So on your next sweltering day, when the heat really has you down, ransack your liquor cabinet. Try the original, then another with a touch of J. Wray; then move along to mine. I promise you won’t be disappointed by any of the results. But after three Swizzles (working on my third right now), really, how could you be disappointed by anything..?

Cheers & Enjoy!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Food Français…

…holds a great appeal to me for a variety of reasons. Say what you will of the French nation and its inhabitants, but one should first consider the debt which modern Western cooking most assuredly owes them - in matters of technique and codification, if nothing else.

Then again, it may be the composite flavors of the culinary tradition; the herbes fines, various ‘mother’ sauces or even the generous application of cheeses, shallots, charcuterie, wine and mushrooms that often characterizes the cuisine. Flavors subtle and bold (sometimes both), with almost any and all of them delightful in their own rights. But, to make no bones about it, any culinary tradition that flings offal, Cognac or duck fat around so willfully (and skillfully) certainly deserves a major vote of confidence!

And indeed, more often than not the very best examples of the French cuisine on which I wax so fondly are the oft-simple preparations; the “peasant fare” or regionally-diverse preparations which crop up all about the country. The oft-bewildering entirety of haute cuisine which one so rarely encounters these days (Escoffier anyone?) is, broadly-speaking, derived part & parcel from the “elevation” of such dishes.

While each section of France certainly has its own signature dishes, I think some of my favorite examples hail from disparate ends of the country. Normandy in the far north and Gascony to the south – both of these encompass culinary traditions which, particularly in the colder months, bring about immense gustatory pleasures.

Right about now you’re probably asking yourself where I’m going with this particular ramble – is it an altogether too-lengthy introduction to a discussion on some tidbit of cookery (admittedly something unseen here for quite a time). Sort of…

It just so happens that one of my favorite holidays has just gone by; an affair filled with delights both culinary and social in nature. Better than Thanksgiving, my longstanding tradition of hosting a dinner party for friends which eschews the classic ‘turkey with trimmings’ has finally come - and as of this posting, gone. Previous incarnations of this event (ironically-entitled “Turkey Day”) have seen every kind of fare from Turkish to English/Irish pub ‘grub.

But now - finally - we’ve made it round to French, which, from my musings above you may note I am rather fond of. To best honor the culinary traditions featured this year, the menu is composed of tasting portions, so that each might be conveyed in a few delightful bites to the guests. Hell, we even had a Green Hour...

So, without further ado, I should like to present the menu from this gloriously Armagnac-soaked event for your perusal good reader. If you should find yourself curious as to the exact composition of anything you see, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to pass along a recipe or three…once the gout dies down…

Canapés de Brie aux Damsons
Butter crackers mounted with Brie cheese & Damson Plum preserves
Fromages et Crutons
Gruyère & Brie cheeses; served with Garlic-toasted slices of homemade Baguette
Trois Oeufs a la Diable
Devilled Eggs served three ways - black Truffle-fried Leeks; Gruyère & Bacon; Paprika & Garlic-spiced
Rillettes de Canard
A coarse pâté of Duck confit, Armagnac and Prunes; served with toasted slices of homemade Baguette

Tranches de Pain avec Beurres Composé
Homemade Baguettes; served with Rosemary, confit Garlic-Marjoram & pink Sea Salt butters
Salade Verte de Mesclun
Romaine and Chicory Endive tossed with caramelized Pear, Bôucheron cheese & a Walnut-Cider vinaigrette

- I -
Saucisses de Lapin aux Pommes
Pan-seared sausages of Ginger-spiced Rabbit; flambéed at-table with caramelized Apples
Gold Potatoes poached in Duck stock; stuffed with melted Raclette cheese, black Truffle Butter, Garlic and Thyme

- II -
Brochettes de Pruneaux au Romarin
Bacon-wrapped Prunes; lightly-grilled on skewers of fresh Rosemary
Confit de Magret au Pommes de Terre à la Sarladaise
Confit of Duck breast with herbs; served over Yukon Gold Potatoes sautéed with Duck fat & fresh Sage

“Vichyssoise” de Canard
A petite serving of creamy soup; Gold Potatoes and Leeks simmered in Duck stock; served chilled

- III -
Echalotes Caramélisées
Coarsely-chopped Shallots; caramelized with herbs and Côtes du Rhône then baked until crisp
Coq au Vin
A classic fricassee of free-range Chicken; simmered in Côtes du Rhône with Mushrooms & herbs until tender
Salade Tiède de Lègumes et Lapin Confit
Julienned Mushrooms, Celery, Apples and Almonds sautéed in dry Sherry & Dijon Mustard; tossed with pulled confit of Rabbit

- IV -
Sauce des Pommes au Pruneaux
A coarse purée of spiced Apples and Plums, spiked with Armagnac brandy; served warm
Galettes de Potiron
Crisp pancakes of spiced Winter squash; served warm with a Chervil & Vanilla-spiced Crème Fraiche
Rouelle de Veau au Cidre
Veal shanks & Mushrooms slowly braised in dry Cider; served over Pasta finished with black Truffle Butter

Sables de Caen
Buttery Shortbread cookies
Glace Crème au Miel de Lavande
Homemade ice cream; made with Lavender Honey from Provence
Café du Monde (au Lait)
Orleans-style dark-roasted Chicory Coffee; served hot with raw Sugar & warm sweet Cream alongside

Served with Sugar cubes and ice Water for the traditional ‘drip’ preparation:
Kübler - a Swiss-style Absinthe blanche (white); extremely well-balanced
Vieux Carré - an American Absinthe verte (green); light with Spearmint notes
Served straight, iced, with Soda or ‘en Momisette’ (Soda with Almond syrup):
Herbsaint - a spicier, herbal-flavored American pastis
Pernod Liqueur d’Anis - a sweeter-flavored French pastis
Manguin Pastis au Víolette - a rare, drier-flavored French pastis; flavored with Violets

Ponche de Gascogne
XO Armagnac brandy, homemade Fig, Date & Honey liqueur, black Tea, fresh Lemon and Bitters
Hugel "Gentil", Gewürztraminer, 2007
Paul Jaboulet Aîné “Parallèle 45”, Côtes du Rhône, 2006
Cidre et Bier
Woodchuck #802 Cider
J.W. Dundee Honey Brown Ale

In closing I should like to extend a tremendous thanks to those who assisted with much of the prep for this event - it would not have been possible without you my vatos locos! Equal thanks to those who attended this year's event - I hope you had as much fun eating as I did cooking!

Cheers & Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

PS - Yes, I am well-aware that Vichysoisse is not, in fact, a French invention. It's no less delightful for the fact. Deal with it friends...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Highlighting Flavors…

…in creations of the kitchen as well as the bar, is so often a question of paying close attention to ones’ ingredients. In the case of spirits, particularly well-crafted ones, this can alternately be quite straightforward or delicately-complicated; but it is always a joy, both in the compounding as well as the final result(s).

The goal of a well-made cocktail should, of course, always be a balance of its constituents; a poise achieved by manipulating the characteristics of the beverages’ ingredients according to their nature(s). Sometimes the desired outcome is as essential as highlighting flavors found within the ingredients. In other instances, a completely new flavor – one formed by the interaction of a drink’s various components – is aimed for.

The key to achieving either result is to know the ingredient(s) – particularly the really important stuff: how they taste and smell, with particular notice paid to the volume or intensity of such characteristics. In terms of such factors, what flavors stand out? What lurks subtly in the background? How assertive (or not) are they? Do these flavors, aromas, &c. draw to mind any other ingredients (whether experienced singly or in-tandem), alcoholic or not?

These remain questions one should always ask before beginning the delicate additions and subtractions of other ingredients which so often lead to quality recipes. On the topic of such questions, calculations and considerations of ingredients, some time ago a lovely bottle of Cachaça passed into my hands - an artisanal example of the spirit called Boca Loca.

A fairly-unique example of the distillate, Boca Loca's product seems to veer away from the flavor profile of most Cachaças. Within the category, even among the better examples, there seems a tendency towards bold and (sometimes agreeable) oily flavors of grassy sugarcane. In well-treated and carefully-distilled products, the complex, peppery ‘funkiness’ this can lend is often a pleasure, while in poorer (or “industrial”) distillates this character comes through as smoky and rough.

Not so with Boca Loca, however. This Cachaça is light in texture, with very little of the oily character mentioned above, while remaining redolent in both flavor and aroma. It does possess the grassiness one would expect, but this is offset by a number of more (and less) ethereal flavors. Heavier notes of Apricot or Peach are immediately obvious, while ghosts of white Pepper, Honey and berries come through in a more subtle, if pleasantly-so, manner.

So what to do with this rather intriguing spirit? To be sure, it makes a perfectly-acceptable Caipirinha, but the heaviness of the Lime and Sugar has a tendency to bury the base spirit. So why not try and play up (or off of) some of those interesting flavors found within by bringing in some complimentary ingredients? For the first of these, I (shamelessly) stole a page from the inestimable (and generally-speaking, equally shameless) Jeffrey Morgenthaler – whom Boca Loca apparently employs to compound drinks for them…

Earlier in the year, Jeff wrote of a small concoction – the Caneflower - he had come up with, using St. Germain liqueur and Aperol to play up certain elements in the Cachaça. It’s a really fantastic drink already; one where the floral sweetness of Elderflower plays delightfully against the delicate sugarcane grassiness of the base. But what about coaxing that grassy note, or the peppery-honey flavor that lingers on the Cachaça’s finish, to the foreground? For that we’ll turn to a different floral ingredient (and bitter modifier); re-jiggering Jeff’s formula to run in a different direction…

Honeysuckle syrup
1 Cup: Water
1 Cup: superfine Sugar
2½ Tblspns. dried Honeysuckle
2 Tblspns. Clover Honey
⅛ Tsp. fresh Lemon zest
If you’ve purchased dried Honeysuckle rather than collect it locally, pick out only the flowers, discarding any leaf or stem you may find. Combine ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over low-medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer gently – do not boil – for two minutes before removing from heat. Cool to room temperature (~20 minutes), fine-strain by preferred method (cheesecloth, chinois, &c) and bottle.
Give it a try in the following cocktail; though make some extra, as it’s showing considerable promise with Rhum Agricole & certain Gins too (©):

Videira de Caña
1½ oz. Boca Loca Cachaça
¾ oz. RinQuinQuin
¾ oz. Honeysuckle syrup
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and shake well. Strain up into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with small twists of fresh Lemon & Tangerine.

Another idea stemmed from the aforementioned presence of various stonefruit(s) in the overall flavor profile of the spirit; one which proved well-worth highlighting through the use of the following ingredient:

Apricot-Tea syrup
1½ Cups: superfine Sugar
1 Cup: Water
1x Tazo Vanilla-Apricot teabag
1x slice: candied Ginger, julienned
1x dried Apricot, julienned
Combine prepared ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan & bring to a gentle simmer over low-medium heat, stirring to dissolve the Sugar. Simmer gently for one minute before removing from heat. Cool to room temperature (~20 minutes), fine-strain by preferred method (cheesecloth, chinois, &c) and bottle.
Try it out in the following twist (©) on the venerable Clover Club cocktail:

Capricious Club Cocktail
1½ oz. Boca Loca Cachaça
½ oz. dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
½ oz. Apricot-Tea syrup
½ oz. fresh Lemon juice
½ oz. fresh Egg white
Rinse ¼ oz. Apricot Brandy (a drier brand; Marie Brizard)
Combine ingredients and dry-shake to emulsify; add ice & shake well. Rinse a chilled coupe with the Apricot Brandy. Strain up into the prepared glass & garnish with a thin slice of dried Apricot.

I enjoyed the flavors which the stonefruit combination highlighted and wondered how the spirits’ characteristic would fair in a cleaner/simpler format. Quite well indeed if this variation on Tí Punch – a standby of (the similarly-grassy) Rhum Agricole - is any indication (©):

Loca Tí
1½ oz. Boca Loca Cachaça
½ oz Apricot-Tea syrup
1 d. Fee’s Peach bitters
1x dried Apricot, halved
1x small slice: Lemon peel
Combine prepared dry ingredients - Lemon peel should be cut from the side of the fruit and be no larger than a quarter - with syrup & bitters in a short glass (~6 oz) and muddle. Add Cachaça & fill with crushed ice. Swizzle briefly to chill and incorporate; top with crushed ice & savor.

Cheers & Enjoy!

In the interest of full disclosure, a sample of Boca Loca Cachaça was provided (some time ago) for my use.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bitters Make it Better, part III

As I’ve been wont to say on numerous occasions, delightful flavor combinations can often be found in the culinary cultures of one's neighbors - even if said neighbors tend to live several thousand miles away on a different continent. The flavors enjoyed in the farther reaches of the planet (or, depending on your locale, right down the street), which were so coveted by our ancestors, are often culinary delights to even the most jaded palette and in many instances can create truly unique experiences in the works of both the kitchen and bar...

Such is certainly the case with the spice blend(s) known as Ras el Hanout, which typically hail from the distant (to me at least) shores of Morocco in North Africa. Literally-translated as “head (sometimes “top”) of the shop”, the term is used to describe a combination of (the best) spices whose composition - in modern times as well in days long past - was the provenance of its compounder.

Much like Curry or Garam Masala, the actual ingredients of a given Ras el Hanout are many – some blends are purported to contain as many as eighty (!) ingredients – with no standard ratio of preparation and therefore can vary widely based on the recipe of the shop, business or individual who blended them. Typical additions include spices common to the region (and its cuisine) such as Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cumin, Coriander, Mace, Nutmeg and various types of Peppercorns; though more unusual flavorings also crop up regularly. Certain examples of the blends’ are formulated according to function. “Standardized” (by modern commercial spice companies) recipes sold under the name (often including the above ingredients alongside Paprika & Turmeric) are commonly used on poultry or meats.

Yet as the blend varies, so do its potential uses. There exists varieties for pastries or other confections, others utilized in flavoring couscous, rice or bulgur and dozens of others which accommodate culinary applications as widely-varied as the ingredients that make up a Ras el Hanout. It is to one of these blends – a mysteriously-complex and spicy combination of fourteen ingredients – that we turn our attention to today.

However, it is in the application of this mixture (which as a dried spice is ordinarily used for flavoring coffee) that I think you will find the most interest. For you see, good reader, today we’re going to make a new (and positively delightful) variety of bitters with it…

Ras el Hanout Kahwa bitters
8x green Cardamom pods, crushed
6x Cloves, whole
2x Allspice berries, cracked
1x Nutmeg, cracked
1” piece: Canella Cinnamon, crushed
1½ Tsp. Sesame seeds, whole
½ Tsp. Aniseed, whole
½ Tsp. Fennel seeds, whole
½ Tsp white Peppercorns, cracked
10 oz. 151° Demerara Rum (El Dorado)
4 oz. Bonded Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse)
4x Rosehips, whole
3x pieces: Galingale, thinly-sliced
1x piece: Ginger, thinly-sliced
2x blades: Mace
Prepare the ingredients as specified; Ginger & Galingale should be sliced to the approximate dimensions of a half-dollar. Combine the first nine ingredients in a non-reactive pan & toast over low heat until fragrant (~1 min). Place toasted ingredients in an airtight container; add the remaining six ingredients & shake very well. Infuse for eight days, shaking occasionally, before straining by preferred method (cheesecloth, chinois, &c). Reserve this infused liquid (setting ½ oz. aside) and ‘used’ spices in separate containers.
3½ oz. Water
½ oz. Infused liquid ()
6x Espresso beans, cracked
⅛ Tsp. Gum Arabic powder
⅛ Tsp. Quassia bark
Combine ingredients in a small non-reactive saucepan. Bring water to a light simmer – do not boil - over low-medium heat, stirring vigorously to dissolve the Gum. Continue to simmer for two minutes then remove from heat & pour over the reserved ‘used’ spices while hot. Infuse this mixture for three days before fine-straining by preferred method (cheesecloth, chinois, &c). Combine this infusion with the remaining reserved liquid, shake well and rest for a final three days. Fine-strain by preferred method, as necessary, until liquid remains clear & bottle.

The resulting bitters match up very well (obviously) with any beverage, hot or cold which contains coffee. As such, the addition of a few dashes to any of the classic hot coffee drinks (the Café Diablere, Nero, or Brûlot, for example) adds a mysterious bittersweet spiciness which is not to be missed.

In other applications, these bitters mix quite well with a number of ‘brown’ or aged spirits; most notably spicier Ryes and mellow Cognacs. A Manhattan with equal dashes of these and Angostura Orange is a delightfully-unique twist, as is a Rum Old-Fashioned treated in the same way. Likewise, they show serious promise when mixed with equally-complex modifiers such as Carpano Antica Formula, Benedictine and certain (sweeter) potable bitters like Amaro Nonino. Hell, after a little experimentation I found two dashes of them even improves upon a pair of cream drinks – specifically a Brandy Alexander and White Russian.

Even if you don’t want to compound this formula as a bitters, I might recommend adding the Gum Arabic to the other dry spices (nixing the liquids, Quassia & Esspresso beans from the blend) and running the whole mix through a spice or coffee grinder until finely-powdered. Once sieved, the resulting spice blend makes for a truly incredible cup of coffee – merely add a ¼ teaspoon to every ½ cup of your favorite ground beans prior to brewing it…

Cheers & Enjoy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Flirting with Flora: Bubbles, pt. I

If past articles here are any indication to you, good reader, I've got something of a fond place in my palette for exotic or unusual taste profiles. Not the least of these are floral or botanically-derived flavors; examples of which I am constantly seeking to incorporate into (or play off of already-existing elements in) my drinks. For inspiration (in all things, not just this particular flirtation), I often turn towards ideas hailing from culinary cultures outside of my own or from days long-forgotten. I reason that I couldn't possibly be the first half-clever (and that's a generous evaluation) git to realize that A plus B with a dash of C tastes great, and then acts upon this notion to mix it up...

Take my favorite floral ingredient – Hibiscus - for example. As I've discussed here in past articles, this lovely tropical flower (which apparently grows quite well in New Jersey, go figure) is often compounded into a tisane. The same beverage is made just about wherever Hibiscus grows - in the Middle East its called Karkade, North & West Africans refer to it as Bissap or Tsobo, while natives of Hawaii & the Caribbean islands know it as Red Sorrel. Sometimes the resulting infusions are spiced to add an additional character, sometimes not.

But note what our clever friends in Mexico have done with the traditional agua fresca: carbonate the already-refreshing brew into a soda. To be frank, all they've really done is integrate a floral ingredient into the ranks of the modern (sugar & soda-saturated) palette; to re-introduce to younger generations ingredients & flavors which their parents, grandparents (and earlier relations still) were wont to compound into something delicious with fair regularity.

In much the same vein, observe a centuries-old European floral ingredient which has only recently become widely-celebrated (again) for its considerable virtues: the Elderflower. Similarly, an uncommon (and uncommonly tasty) blossom hailing from the same regions: Meadowsweet - while still (occasionally) a botanical constituent in Gin, it was once also a component in tisane recipes of all stripes. And what of Honeysuckle - the delicately-sweet perfume of spring & summertime evenings? Finally, the bane of suburban gardeners and amateur winemakers alike: Dandelions, whose slight bitterness is often offset by coupling with yet another all-too common meadow weed: Burdock.

In some way, all of these edible flowers (and many others too) were well-regarded in the kitchens of days gone by. A primary reason for this is that, in certain proportions, all five of them play off of or highlight the other ingredients with which they are mixed in a multitude of fascinating ways. Such blending, to say nothing for these ingredients' already marvelous flavors on their own, allows for the creation of wholly-unique flavor profiles.
Such is certainly the case with the following three homemade sodas (& the delicious libations made with them), so dust off your soda siphons and meet me in the middle...

Strawberry Fields soda
2¾ Cups: Water
1¾ Cups: fresh Strawberries, hulled
½ Cup: superfine white Sugar
¼ Cup: dried Meadowsweet flowers
¼ Cup: dried Honeysuckle flowers
2 oz. Elderflower cordial
Scant ⅛ Tsp. Pectic Enzyme (optional)
Clean, hull & halve the Strawberries. Place in an airtight container & toss with Pectic Enzyme, if using. Freeze for several hours.
Bring Water, Meadowsweet & Sugar to a light simmer over low-medium heat in a non-reactive saucepan. Simmer very gently (the volatile oils in these flowers are a bit delicate) for approximately two minutes until sugar is dissolved; add frozen Strawberries. Simmer very gently (again,
do not boil) for five more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature & add Elderflower cordial. Fine-strain several times by preferred method (cheesecloth, chinois, &c.) to remove any particulate; pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.
Pour into a soda siphon (should fill a standard iSi exactly). Carbonate, shake & chill according to your model's instructions
, then give the following libation a try (©):

Morango Campo
1½ oz. Boca Loca Cachaça
½ oz. Yellow Chartreuse
½ oz. fresh Lemon juice
5-6 oz. Strawberry Fields soda
Build ingredients in an ice-filled Collins glass. Stir gently; garnish with a slice of fresh Strawberry & an edible flower.

If you happen to be out camping (as in the picture at left; by Ken Cleary) a pair of brandied Cherries will probably do just fine for garnish.

When creating new recipes, or even fiddling with established ones, there is a concept which chefs & sommeliers often espouse. Having seen it spawn more than a few delightful combinations, I also tend to agree with said notion, wherein "things that grow together, are often best served together". Examining this thought a bit more broadly, flavors (or combinations thereof) which are popular in a given locale often blend beautifully with other ones enjoyed in the same general area.

Again, take the delightful agua fresca known as Jamaica; a refreshingly-tart, floral beverage well-suited to the climate of Mexico. Even better for our purposes (and in line with the aforementioned theory), it blends wonderfully with Tequila. Particularly a smooth, grassy - almost sweet - example of the category like Tequila Ocho's 2008 Plata. Better still, certain of this artisanal spirits' component spice notes - a pleasant blend of Cinnamon & Citrus-y flavors - are themselves a common addition to a glass of Jamaica; like so:

Jamaica soda
3½ Cups: Water
¾ Cup: dried Hibiscus flowers
¼ Cup: raw Sugar
2 oz. light Agave nectar
1½ oz. Cinnamon syrup
¾ Tsp. Citric Acid
¾ Tsp. fresh Lime zest
Bring the Water & dried Hibiscus to a boil in a non-reactive saucepan before stirring in the Sugar & Citric Acid. Reduce heat & simmer for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stir in Syrups & Zest, cover & cool to room temperature (~3 hours). Fine-strain by preferred method (cheesecloth, chinois, &c), pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible.
Pour into a soda siphon (should fill a standard iSi exactly). Carbonate, shake & chill according to your model's instructions
, then give the following libation a try (©):

Paloma de Flor
1¾ oz. Tequila Ocho Plata (2008)
¼ oz. fresh Lime juice
5-6 oz. Jamaica soda
Build ingredients in an ice-filled Collins glass. Stir gently; garnish with a twist of fresh Lime & an edible flower.

As an optional touch, two sprays via an atomizer of good-quality Mescal into the glass prior to building lends a further agave complexity.

For our final homemade soda we turn to the aforementioned bane of many an amateur winemaker (I’ve never seen an old home vintning guide that didn’t include one such recipe): Dandelions.

The moderate vegetal bitterness (think Mesclun) that the green portions (which won't be used below) of this ubiquitous weed impart is offset considerably by its roots and flowers, which provide a vaguely-honeyed sweetness. Furthermore, the addition of another common aromatic wildflower, the dull purple Burdock, rounds out the bitterness with a complex (almost like a fruity take on star Anise) herbal flavor. This combination has been a popular flavor in British sodas for many years, and quite rightfully so. When blended with a bit of rich sugar and offset by a touch of citric acidity, the resulting ‘fizz is delightful - particularly with a measure of flavorful Gin tossed in. But don’t just take my word for it:

Dandified soda
3¼ Cups: Water
1 packed Cup: dried Dandelion (½ root, ½ flowers), cleaned
½ Cup: dried Burdock (½ root, ½ flowers), cleaned
½ Cup: light brown Sugar
2 Tblspns. white Sugar
2 Tblspns. golden Raisins
1½ Tblspns. fresh Ginger, minced
2 Tsp. Cream of Tartar
¾ oz. fresh Lemon juice, finely-strained
Peel of 1 Lemon, pith removed & julienned
Bring the flowers, roots, Raisins, Ginger & Lemon peel to a boil over medium-high heat in a non-reactive saucepan. Slowly stir in the Sugars & continue to simmer for about fifteen minutes. Remove from heat & cool slightly (10 minutes or so). Strain once by preferred method (cheesecloth, chinois, &c.), pressing gently on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Stir in the Lemon juice and Tartar, then set aside & cool to room temperature. Strain again if necessary.
Pour into a soda siphon (should fill a standard iSi exactly). Carbonate, shake & chill according to your model's instructions,
then give the following libation a try (©):

Posh Dandy Cooler
1½ oz. Hendrick’s Gin
¼ oz. blended Scotch (Yamazaki 12yr)
¼ oz. Honey syrup
1d Fee’s Cherry bitters
1d Peychaud's bitters
5-6 oz. Dandified soda
Build ingredients in an ice-filled Collins glass. Roll once to mix; garnish with a Lemon twist & brandied Cherry.

Something Completely Different
As I indicated in my last post, the past month or so has been full of experiments and the fine-tuning of a great many new recipes, ideas, etc. One group of these, inspired by conversations at ‘Tales and carried out primarily at my portable bar, has involved the use of a soda siphon. Good thing you dusted it off, no?

The conversations in question pertained to carbonation, both in long drinks as well as some speculation about a new gadget which is appearing in certain circles – the Perlage/PERLINI system. Seems some clever folks cobbled together a device which (in addition to preserving Champagne) is capable of efficiently-carbonating spirits; causing, as Robert Hess put it, “[Tequila] to drink just like Champagne.”

An interesting if very scary proposition, I think. As for the long drinks, certain aspects of the (hazy – this was ‘Tales after all) discussions in question centered around the problem of incorporating a carbonated mixer into the remaining non-carbonated ingredients, say a Tom Collins, without losing an undue amount of the ‘bubbly…

Stirring gently, rolling, allowing the roiling carbonation to blend everything (as in a French 75). Even the old Fizz-maker’s trick of adding a spoonful of sugar at the last moment; all of these work reasonably well. But I couldn’t help but feel that sometimes a given drink would benefit from having its ingredient combined and well-incorporated, then carbonated together; especially when a homemade soda (in particular those made with heavier syrups) gets involved. The presence of an additional siphon (lent by a friend; in which I could keep Seltzer while carrying out my trials) at the bar only helped to facilitate these experiments.

In short – it works brilliantly. Every single sip positively pops with the fat, roiling bubbles a good siphon creates. The components blend seamlessly with no separation of flavor and the introduction of carbonation into ordinarily-still ingredients such as juices and spirits makes for a delightfully-smooth, fascinating textural component that I daresay even improves upon old standbys.

After compounding five beverages - Singapore Sling, (Morgenthaler's) Dark & Stormy and the three already listed above in this fashion, the results were positively fantastic. The Singapore Sling in particular – a drink which I make with more than passing regularity – was one of the best I think I’ve ever had.

As for how this is done – in short, very simply – merely total up the volume of your recipe, determine how many ounces your siphon will hold and do the math. The only point on which one should be cautious is in fine-straining your mixture, particularly if citrus or other juices are included, as you wouldn’t want to clog your siphon up with particulate. For instance, the drinks I’ve already discussed thus far are prepared in my siphon (which comfortably holds about 32 oz.) like so:

Morango Campo (via Siphon)
6 oz. Boca Loca Cachaça
2 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
2 oz. fresh Lemon juice, fine-strained
22 oz. Strawberry Fields soda
Combine ingredients in a pitcher and stir well to incorporate (or just combine in the siphon & shake well). Pour into siphon, carbonate according to manufacturer’s instructions & chill. Serve & garnish as above.

Paloma de Flor (via Siphon)
7 oz. Tequila Ocho Plata (2008)
1 oz. fresh Lime juice, fine-strained
23 oz. Jamaica soda
Combine ingredients in a pitcher and stir well to incorporate (or just combine in the siphon & shake well). Pour into siphon, carbonate according to manufacturer’s instructions & chill. Serve & garnish as above.

Posh Dandy Cooler (via Siphon)
6 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
1 oz. blended Scotch (Yamazaki 12yr)
1 oz. Honey syrup
4d Fee’s Cherry bitters
4d Peychaud's bitters
23 oz. Dandified soda
Combine ingredients in a pitcher and stir well to incorporate (or just combine in the siphon & shake it well). Pour into siphon, carbonate according to manufacturer’s instructions & chill. Serve & garnish as above.

Cheers & Enjoy!

In the spirit of full disclosure, samples of both Boca Loca Cachaça and Tequila Ocho Plata (2008 bottling) were generously provided for my use. And bloody fine acquisitions both of them were...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Long Journeys & an Unexpected Absence...

...but not without cause, or rather a variety of them. By my feeble calculations, in the not-insignificant period of time since my last posting, I've traveled some 3500 miles! Between work, all this 'legging about the country and the requisite prep/cleanup prior to or following such travels, my (deplorable) absence from writing here might be understandable, however unfortunate it may be.

Yet, by way of apology, rather than wax poetic on every tiny detail accross a handful of posts, I reasoned a collection of highlights might serve best to catch you, my good reader, up on my spirits-doused activities of th
e past month or so.

'Tales 2009
First up in early July, my trip down to (all-too sunny) NOLA for this year's Tales of the Cocktail - an incredible and educational exerience to be sure. While at this spirited event of the year I attended seminars on all manner of fascinating cocktailian topics, sampled spirits from all over the world, wiled away the evenings in the friendly company of my fellow bloggers over at the Mixoloseum house and, in the end, nearly gave myself a hernia hauling home the mountain of 'schwag that was foisted upon the attendees at every turn.

I also took part in a cocktail competition of fairly epic proportions - a joint effort between the various chapter cities of the
USBG and the wonderful folks at Leblon Cachaça. The theme of said competition was to craft a riff on the venerable Caipirinha, and the collection of immensely-talented individuals (two for each USBG chapter city) chosen to compete certainly brought some of their best tricks to bear, much to the delight of the ~400 person guest list!

Such was assuredly the case with my teammate (& fellow New Jerseyian), Tad Carducci of
Tippling Bros. & USBGNY fame, who took the People's Choice Award for the event. Likewise with Tobin Ellis and Andrew Pollard of the Las Vegas chapter, who took the Judge's Choice Award. For a glimpse at the incredible show that Leblon, the USBG & all eighteen of us put on (as well as the various recipes concocted for the evening) check out the video stream below (the idiot in red with Pelé socks on his arms would be yours truly):


Pennsic 38
Of Portable Bars...
For those of you who have been tuning in here for a while (and who haven't been terribly put off by my recent absence), you may recall that this is the time of year when the Pennsic War takes place in the wilds of upstate Pennsylvania. Although this year's trip out was considerably shorter than previous years' (in span, the journey was just as mind-numbingly long), I could hardly miss it, as this was our local group's 30th Anniversary - which corresponded exactly with the date of our annual party. But more on that in a moment...

Along for the ride, as always, was my very own portable bar (which some of you may recall I promised pictures of last year). Finally having gotten around to actually getting photos taken of the thing, I reasoned that this is the perfect opportunity to present my hand-built creation in all it's devious detail, including its spirited contents. This handy tool & workspace is a direct solution to the many frustrations I often encountered at my first bartending gig; a catering outfit.

The overall design is fairly straightforward - three moulded countertops of treated mahogany, poplar & oak which bolt together discretely to form a back-bar with plenty of work & storage space. Straight and rear-facing angled legs of spun oak screw onto plates on the bottom. A number of "speed rail" boxes which fit into several positions on the bar surfaces (dependant on my needs at a given event) via fitted wooden pegs. Space for additional spirits runs along these boxes (which are watertight, so that ice may be placed inside of them in especially hot conditions) with a large drawer & watertight hinged box providing additional storage space for tools or miscellaneous items.

Other features include folding hooks on the bottom of each segment from which small baskets can be hung, a wall-mounted bottle-opener on one of the legs, an angled marble cutting board (complete with a removable trough for catching juice & seeds) and a pair of inset stainless steel foodservice bins for holding my bar tools. Bottles of Simple and Demerara syrups are mounted on a speed pouring rack (which dispenses 1 oz. pours), a butane-powered burner provides heat for warm drinks or making syrups when necessary. A combination of magnetic lights and lanterns provide me with light in the evenings and a sterile space is alotted for drying & storing my glassware. And yes, good reader, I bring glassware out camping...

A pair of double-walled coolers accomadates my mixers (Vermouths, Champagne, soda, juices, additional fruit &c.) and Ice, respectively. As ice can be a devilish thing to maintain without refrigeration in hot weather, I do the best I can by procuring several 10lb. blocks of ice, then pack cubed ice around these. For stirred drinks (or others requiring careful control of dilution) I utilize a brass hammer and ice pick to secure suitable chunks from the blocks, while shaken drinks get a combination of cubed & block ice (with careful attention paid to shaking times & temperatures). And as for what I actually stocked for all this mixing; my selections are listed from left to right more or less as they appear on the bar itself (pictures courtesy of the incomparable Ken Cleary):

Plymouth, Bols Oude Genever, Bols Genever, Boodles, Bluecoat, Tanqueray, Right, Beefeater, Beefeater 24, Martin Miller's, Distillery 209, Citadelle Reserve, Magellan.

Gomme, Pineapple Gomme, Ginger, Falernum, Cinnamon, Orgeat,
Horchata de Melon, Raspberry, Passionfruit, Elderflower, Berry-Apple Shrub, Hibiscus Grenadine.

Salignac Cognac, Lautrec VS Cognac, Cardinal Mendoza Solera Gran Reserva, Fundador Solera Reserva, BarSol Quebranta Pisco, Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy, Metaxa 5-star.

Sazerac 3yr & Old Overholt Rye(s), Hudson, Bulleit, Old Graddad & Evan Williams 7yr Bourbon(s), Yamazaki 12yr, Pig's Nose Scotch.

Rum & Cachaça
Brugal white, ONO white, Cavalier Antigua white, Ron Zacapa 23, Mount Gay XO, Appleton's V/X, Rhum Barbancourt 3-star, El Dorado 5yr Demerara, Neisson Rhum Agricole Blanc, Sailor Jerry spiced, Lemon Hart 151° Demerara; Boca Loca, Leblon & Inacca 5yr Cachaças.

Bitters & Tinctures
Angostura, Peychaud's, Regan's Orange, Angostura Orange, Fee's Peach & WBA, Spiced Lemon #1, Honey-Tangerine, Boker's, Improved Bitters mix; Orange Flower Water, Rosewater, Jasmine, Tahitian & Bourbon Vanilla(s), Candied Ginger; Atomizers of Del Maguey SV Mescal &
Bitters Mist.

Tequila & Mescal
Inocente Plata, Tequila Ocho Plata 2008 & 2009, El Jimador Reposado, Del Maguey SV Mescal.

Amaro, Pastis & Absinthe
Pimm's No. 1 Cup, Torani Amer (Picon), Zucca Rabarbaro Amaro, Amaro Nonino, Fernet Branca, Campari, Aperol; Pastis au Violette, Herbsaint, Pernod; Vieux Carre, Obsello, Kübler Absinthes.

Speed Spirits
Benedictine, Grand Marnier, Luxardo Maraschino, Amaro Abano & Amaretto, Yellow Chartreuse, Carpano Punt e Mes, Morello Cherry-infused Carpano Antica Formula, house dry Vermouth, house sweet Vermouth.

Wines & Liqueurs
Dry Sack & Lustau PX Sherry(s), Cockburn's Ruby Port; Cointreau, Tuaca, Marie Brizard Apry, Tia Maria, Hiram Walker Crème de Cassis & Crème de Cacao, Chateau Trimbach Pear, Domaine de Canton Ginger.

Oval, Van Gogh Espresso, Zubrowska.


...And (Quite) Successful Parties
As I mentioned previously, our local group reached its thirtieth year of existence this year, fortuitously on the precise date of our annual Pennsic party. And despite the intense chill of the evening (heralded by a poor, if ultimately inaccurate, weather forecast) after our best estimates, somewhere in the vicinity of one thousand people passed through our camp over the course of the evening!!

I daresay our reputation for hospitality and entertainment won us this more than steady influx of guests, and in that regard we surely did not disappoint. As we were perhaps the only camp group at this years' event to procure the proper licensing (admittedly something never before needed at Pennsic) for fire-spinners (i.e. Poi), we were visited by large a number of this art's master practioners (as pictured at left & below).

Similarly, and much like last year's festivities, we provided kegs and cases of beer & hard cider (Guinness, Smithwicks & Woodchuck); all were tapped before the night's end. As my own contribution to the event, I prepared and served up a large volume (15 Gallons in-total) of batched libations for our guests' pleasure. One of these was a slight variation on a warm beverage (at ~55°F it was quite chilly after all) compunded in moderate batches all evening long to help our guests (and me) fend off the evening's chill. These libations (including an unplanned, yet thoroughly delicious addition prepared a la minute) went something like this:

Swamp Sunshine

200 oz. Peach-infused Vodka, house-made 60 oz. Saffron-infused Bianco Vermouth, house-made
20 oz. Canton Ginger Liqueur
200 oz. Peach Nectar
60 oz. Ginger syrup
20 oz. fresh Lemon juice
1½ oz. Fee’s Peach bitters
½ oz. Sunshine bitters (modified to include Quassia bark)

4x fresh Peaches, julienned
Combine ingredients in a 5-Gal cooler & stir very well to incorporate. Prior to serving, add a 7lb. block of ice and stir well to chill. Serve over ice & top with 1 oz. of Seltzer (fresh from an iSi siphon).

East's Interdiction
300 oz. Sandeman's Ruby Port & Lustau PX Sherry (house-aged blend, 3:1)
4 oz. Lemon Hart 151° Demerara Rum
80 oz. → 64 oz. distilled Water, mulled & reduced in advance with:
* 15x Allspice berries, bruised
* 15x blades Mace
* 10x Canela Cinnamon sticks, bruised
* 10x Green Cardamom pods, bruised
36 oz. superfine white Sugar
24 oz. candied Ginger
30x fresh Oranges
10x fresh Lemons
80x whole Cloves
Bitters mist, for brûlée
Nutmeg, for garnish
Quarter the Oranges & Lemons and stick each segment with 2 whole Cloves. Reserve over ice. Prepare mulled Water by bringing specified spices & 80 oz. of distilled Water to a boil. Simmer until reduced to 64 oz. then fine-strain solids from water & reserve.

To compound each batch
(prepared here in 8 batches to ensure warmth):
Combine the following in a large pan:
15x Orange segments
5x Lemon segments
8 oz. mulled Water
Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat & add:
4½ oz. superfine Sugar
3 oz. candied Ginger
Carefully brûlée the pan's contents with the Bitters Mist (for approximately ten to fifteen seconds), then add 37½ oz. Port-Sherry blend and continue to warm over medium-high heat until steaming. Add ½ oz. 151° Demerara Rum and carefully ignite. Flame for approximately thirty to forty seconds before extinguishing with the pan's lid. Remove from heat and pour the entire mixture in a heatproof 5-Gal cooler. Serve in 3-4 oz. portions with a grate of fresh Nutmeg over the top.

The next beverage had great sentimental value for many of the older members of our group, though I'll admit, I varied the ingredients towards the fresher side. Nevertheless (or perhaps because of my alterations) it vanished alarmingly quickly:

Lynchburg Lemonade
20 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
20 oz. Old Granddad Bourbon
20 oz. Old Overholt Rye
30 oz. Cointreau
40 oz. fresh Lemon juice
10 oz. fresh Orange juice
20 oz. Simple syrup
10 oz. candied Citron syrup
64 oz. Seltzer
Combine all ingredients except Seltzer in a 2½-Gal Cooler & stir well to incorporate. Prior to serving, add a 3lb. block of ice & gently stir in Seltzer (2x full iSi siphons).

As the 'Lynchburg (& its accompanying libations) was relatively short-lived, as the crowd waned (briefly) I made my way to the portable bar at the rear of camp, to quickly prepare a new batch of beverages. I struck upon the bottle of Pineapple Gomme syrup (originally intended for Pisco Punch) & immediately recalled a drink of a different variety:

Developed by the inestimable Eryn Reece of NYC's Louis 649, the recipe (which I tripled; substituting in a bottle of ordinary Beefeater and 2 oz. of green Tea) for Desmond Punch was apparently crafted to honor Beefeater's master distiller (and creator of Beefeater 24) Demond Payne. Quite a tribute, I must say!

Despite the presence of Gin (sadly, a touchy subject for many), this wonderful punch lasted for even less time than its' predecessors and recieved many compliments from our guests. Check out the step-by-step recipe in the video stream at below (with Ms. Reece herself; courtesy of Embury Cocktails) - I promise you'll be delighted with the results...


And so, after returning (dead tired) from Pennsic, the last of my travels is complete. Consequently, my long absence from authoring long-winded articles here is now over and regularly-scheduled (!?) posts will begin apearing soon.

Throughout my time away I have been far from idle, learning of and experimenting with all manner of new (or at least new to me) ingredients, tricks, ideas & recipes. Many of these & more will be appearing here over the next few weeks - as a teaser, next up is a bit of fun to have with your pet soda siphon - so be sure to tune back in soon...


An enormous thanks to everyone from both 'Tales & Pennsic (and anyone in between) who has made these last few weeks an absolute pleasure; especially to those of you who were kind enough to share your excellent photography (Ken, Anna, Dani, Susan - you guys rock)!