Man, there are few things out there more polarizing to people than creamy drinks. And it’s funny, you know, because I think it’s a pretty universal thing that our mouths just water at the sight of a creamy cocktail. Look at a properly made Ramos Gin Fizz. Or a White Russian. Or Egg Nog. How delicious do they look?
But then there’s this guilty feeling that I think kicks in for most people, where it’s like, “I can’t justify drinking something that contains a bunch of fucking cream.” And I get it, I totally do. Personally, I also try to save up those points and spend them during the holidays.
But there’s no getting around the delicious factor. So what about alternatives? I like almond milk in my coffee. I even make my own at home. But one creamy substitute that I can’t live without in my life is horchata. See the previous post for more on that. Anyway, as someone who has been making drinks for almost half of his life at this point, I had to try making something with horchata.
My partner in crime at Clyde Common is a gentleman named Benjamin Amberg. But we all call him (among other things), simply Banjo. Banjo and I have a great way of working on cocktails together. It’s very collaborative, and nobody gets too attached to an idea if a better one comes along. (I wrote more about this process for Playboy, check it out)
And so it happened that we started working on our new horchata cocktail. And, of course, we broke out all of the typical formulas that we’d both seen on menus before: aged rum and horchata; aged tequila and horchata; variations on a White Russian with horchata instead of cream. And none of them were working, and we were about to scrap the whole idea.
But then we had a thought: what if instead of a flabby, creamy drink, we did something more bright and citrusy? We certainly hadn’t seen that done before, and we know rice milk isn’t going to curdle the way cream would. And suddenly, within minutes, we’d assembled what is quickly becoming one of our most popular new drinks, the Southbound Suarez. Named after our favorite song on our least favorite Led Zeppelin album, I like to think the same stands of a reminder of just how tough this one was to create.
1½ oz. reposado tequila
½ oz. agave syrup
½ oz. lime juice
1 tsp. Becherovka
1½ oz horchata
Combine ingredients with ice cubes and shake until cold. Strain over fresh ice in an Old Fashioned glass and garnish with a lime wedge.
A side project, an experiment or just a simple curiosity that turned into a delicious phenomenon that we're still serving to much delight at our bar, barrel aged cocktails explore the gentle manipulation of a drink's flavors over time. This post details the inspiration, the history and the methods behind my barrel aged cocktails.
My problem with homemade tonic water has always been a flavor profile that was too esoteric for the general audience. This recipe takes some of the positive qualities people have come to understand from commercial tonic water and updated them with fresh ingredients.
Turned off by the glop you find in the grocery store, and unable to endure another long egg and cream whipping session, I set out to build an egg nog recipe from the ground up that retained the character of the orginal formula, was easy to make in a few minutes at home or at the bar, and tasted absolutely delicious. See if you agree with the result.
One question I'm often asked is "Do you have any drink-related book recommendations?" Well, funny you should ask, I've compiled a list of the ten books every professional bartender or home mixologist should own. I keep every one of these close at hand and have read most of them several times. I suggest you do the same.
The problem with living in Oregon is the absence of little wooden shacks by the sea that sell cases of fresh ginger beer stacked on back porches. But with some readily-available ingredients, a recipe I've been revising for several years - and a few free minutes - I can easily transport myself to a little fishing boat on the ocean as I sip a Dark and Stormy made with fresh, house-made ginger beer.
It's always mojito season somewhere, so this advice is timely in your area about half the year. Wether you're making them or simply enjoying them, this advice will help you look like a pro in no time at all.
Not to be confused with the Spanish wine-and-fruit-based alcoholic beverage sangria, sangrita (meaning "little blood") is a traditional accompaniment to a tequila served completo; a non-alcoholic sipper that cleanses the palate between fiery doses of agave.
The world of booze can be mystifying to people that don't work in bars or around alcohol all the time. I hear a lot of assumptions about the industry I'm in that are - much like 90% of what you hear in bars - completely false. Here are a few you've probably heard yourself.
The traditional garnish for a Pisco Sour is a couple of drops of bitters in the foam, but I've never been particularly impressed with the way these few paltry drops of bitters sat in their little egg-white mattress and didn't play along with the rest of the drink. I envisioned a Pisco Sour with a uniformly-distributed bitters-scorched foam: slightly crisp as the fire burnt the sugars, and slightly warm as the foam insulated the rest of the frosty cocktail from the heat. A pisco creme brulée in a glass!
I always love showing up to a party with a gallon jug of pre-mixed margaritas, so I've decided to share my recipe. This margarita recipe is the perfect blend of strong, sweet, and sour. But be warned: this recipe packs a serious punch.
There isn't much I can say about this video that hasn't been said already. If you've read anything I've written about cocktails, you'll understand why this video symbolizes everything wrong with the state of bartending in America today. Watch and learn, but be warned: this one isn't for the feint of heart.
My name is Jeff Morgenthaler and I'm the bar manager at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon.
I've been tending bar since 1996 and writing about it since 2004. I started tending bar while getting my degree in Interior Architecture, and slowly I came to the conclusion that bartending was what I really loved, and that I might as well drop everything and focus on being a professional bartender. Over the years I have strived, both behind the bar and with this website, to elevate the experience of having a drink from something mundane to something more culinary.
The writing I do here is intended as a work in progress. My recipes are like my opinions: they are constantly being revised and refined as I work them through my mind and my fingers. Comments and participation are encouraged, so please don't feel the need to tread lightly here.
While this is a topic that has been covered by pretty much every cocktail blog under the sun, I haven’t yet written about it. Why? Well, for one, I’m lazy and never got around to it. But after having made various versions of grenadine for years at my bars and after doing a little research on the web recently, I’ve wondered if the topic of homemade grenadine couldn’t use a little revisit.
There are a few key problems with a lot of the house-made grenadines out there. The first issue you can see immediately: the color is all wrong. Grenadine isn’t brown, and the good stuff, the real grenadine won’t make your El Presidente look like mud. Grenadine also isn’t pale pink, and it shouldn’t turn your Jack Rose grey. Grenadine is a vibrant shade of magenta, a rich syrup that brightens every cocktail it touches with its sweet, slightly tart, beautifully bright, rich, deep and lightly floral flavors.
For many years before this whole cocktail thing really took off, I worked in dive bars. Really crappy dive bars where people would visit – often nightly – for what appeared to be the sole purpose of getting very, very drunk. These bars were loud, they were obnoxious, and at times they could be very dangerous.
We could cut people off as an act of self-preservation. Sometimes it was because we didn’t want to fined by the state liquor control board. Sometimes it was because we didn’t want a particularly drunk patron scaring away other, big-spending customers. And sometimes it was because we were genuinely concerned for our safety.
Which could backfire. I remember one night in college when, after refusing to serve an especially drunk redneck, he announced, “I’m getting in my truck, going home, grabbing my shotgun, and coming back here to blow your head off.” I locked the door and called the cops, who greeted him outside the bar about a half hour later.
And there came a breaking point, when I didn’t want to do that anymore. So I made the conscious decision to try to get jobs in better bars, where people didn’t behave like that as much. Which might be why you’re reading this now, because I devoted myself to learning how to make good drinks and do something more than sling cheap beer and cut people off. Starting this website was part of that process.
I think the question most bartenders have when they’re first starting out is,“Why would I want to stop serving someone that’s putting money in everyone’s pocket?” The answer quickly reveals itself after just a short time spent behind the stick. As I’m sure everyone here knows, being drunk kinda sucks. You can lose your keys, leave your credit card somewhere, say something really stupid to a pretty girl, throw up, text-message your ex, miss work the next day, have a headache, end up with embarrassing photos posted all over Facebook, and – heaven forbid – drive your car into oncoming traffic and kill yourself and a family of four. Believe me on this one. I’ve done everything on that list except for the last part, which I intend on never doing.
But just because now I’m charging eight bucks for a drink doesn’t mean that I’ve found a magic clientele paradise where everyone orders expensive cocktails and nobody gets drunk. It does mean, however, that I’ve had to take a different attitude to service that doesn’t include drawing a line across my throat with my forefinger to indicate that a guest was no longer allowed access to the alcohol.
But as I was trying to illustrate with my earlier story, telling someone “No more” can lead to an uncomfortable situation. So that’s why I now try to approach the denial of alcohol from a hospitality-centric perspective: I’m the one who helped get you into this mess, and now I’m going to be the one who helps you get out of it – a bartender in every sense of the word.
So you have to inform your guest that you can’t serve them any more liquor. It’s a delicate situation, but the most crucial part of the rest of your time together. There are a few points that you need to convey:
You’re not comfortable serving them any more alcohol. This is important because it places the weight of the decision on you. Why are you uncomfortable? Because you’re concerned about their safety. Because you want to make sure they get home safely. Because they’re your guest and you genuinely care about the direction the rest of their night takes.
You want your guest to continue enjoying their time at your bar. Offer them a coffee, offer them water, and if you can swing it, some food from the kitchen on the house. It makes such a big difference and shows that you actually care about their time spent at your bar.
You want them to come back. It’s embarrassing to get cut off at a bar, it makes you reconsider visiting again. I like to tell people that their first drink on their next visit will be on me. It’s a hospitable way of saying, “This isn’t a personal issue, and I look forward to spending more time with you in the future.”
You need them to get home safely. Offer to pay for a taxi home. Help find a ride from a sober friend. I’ve even known bartenders who have personally driven people home while the other bartender covered the bar in their absence. This is the very definition of hospitality.
This is merely a primer and my hope is that all of you will chime in to the comments section and share your thoughts on how best to handle a delicate situation. Personally, I plan on not getting to the point of being cut off this Repeal Day, but if I do, I hope I’m in the competent hands of a caring bartender at the time.
What do you have in store for Repeal Day? It’s only 2 weeks away and you’ve been as quiet as a church mouse!
All the Best,
Gulp. Well, Kris, I’ll tell you. But first, a short primer for those who might not know what Repeal Day is all about. A few years ago, I wrote a piece on this website urging people to embrace a new celebratory holiday: the day Prohibition was repealed, December Fifth. It was something I’d been celebrating in my bars for years, but just threw up onto my blog for a lark. Well, the Internet went for it in a big way and suddenly people were taking Repeal Day seriously.
And so, to answer Kris’ question, I’m headed back to Washington, D.C. for the nation’s largest, most boisterous, celebration’est Repeal Day party, hosted by the DC Craft Bartenders Guild. Here’s what they themselves have to say about the shindig:
“The DC Craft Bartender’s Guild (DCCBG) is holding the Second Annual Repeal Day Ball on December 5th from 9 P.M. to midnight, celebrating the 76th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. Attendees will enjoy craft cocktails from the city and country’s best mixologists and food from renowned chef Peter Smith while dancing along to the Prohibition-era sounds of the Red Hot Rhythm Chiefs. The ball is black tie and will be held at PS7’s restaurant at 777 Eye Street, NW.
This year’s ball location is across from historic Calvary Baptist Church, the first national convention site of the Anti-Saloon League, which launched the legislative agenda for Prohibition. Of course, the DCCBG is pleased to announce our own agenda–to have fun! We will celebrate our freedom in style and have dubbed this year the “Spirit of 76” to commemorate the freedom to drink as adults, featuring our “Founding Drinkers” dressed as the founding fathers.
Dan Searing, vice president of the DCCBG and co-owner of Room 11, calls the event “…a celebration of one of our most important freedoms, to imbibe responsibly. A freedom our founding fathers celebrated enthusiastically.”
Come celebrate too with cocktail creations from local favorites Gina Chersevani, Derek Brown and Todd Thrasher, to name a few, along with special guests–bartending legend Dale DeGroff, nationally-renowned bartender Tad Carducci, and toastmaster Jeffrey Morgenthaler. We will also feature top spirit brands and a special rum and cigar lounge.
Well, folks, it’s time of year again. I repost this recipe every year because I’m a man on a mission. You see, I love egg nog, but I can’t stand the thick, gelatinous goop they sell at the grocery store. Even if you were to cut it with alcohol, it’s still so overly-pasteurized and full of preservatives that it would be anything but enjoyable to slug down at a Christmas party. So a few years ago, I set about concocting the simplest, tastiest Egg Nog recipe I could, and after many trials and errors, here’s what I came up with.
In terms of cocktail history, Egg Nog is nothing more than a brandy or rum (or both) flip made with the addition of cream or milk. The 1862 Bar-Tender’s Guide by Jerry Thomas calls for a nog made up of a tablespoon of bar sugar, a tablespoon of water, a whole egg, cognac, rum and milk, shaken and strained, with some nutmeg grated on top. The problem I have with Thomas’ recipe is all the extra water that comes from the melting of the ice, not to mention that extra half ounce he calls for. Watery egg nog, anyone? Yeah, no thanks.
So I did a lot of research, in cookbooks and on the web, and tried a bunch of different recipes and methods. Some called for cooking the eggs into sort of a custard, but that’s a heck of a lot of work and results in something that can only be described as thick glop. Others required separating the eggs, beating them independently, and folding them together. But again, it’s too thick and I’m too lazy.
This is the recipe I devised. It can be made in just about any home or bar, since the ingredients are fairly simple. It can be done entirely in a blender, so there are no whisks or beaters or rubber spatulas or stovetops needed. It yields two healthy servings, so you can easily multiply it to serve more. It doesn’t use a ton of heavy cream, so it’s fairly light. In other words, it’s practically perfect.
2 large eggs
3 oz (by volume) superfine or baker’s sugar (NOT powdered!)
½ tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
2 oz brandy
2 oz spiced rum (I use Sailor Jerry’s)
6 oz whole milk
4 oz heavy cream
Beat eggs in blender for one minute on medium speed. Slowly add sugar and blend for one additional minute. With blender still running, add nutmeg, brandy, rum, milk and cream until combined. Chill thoroughly to allow flavors to combine and serve in chilled wine glasses or champagne coupes, grating additional nutmeg on top immediately before serving.
One note about blenders. This recipe works great in home blenders, but the commercial models are designed to heat whatever they’re blending, which can result in scrambled eggs by the time you get around to the sugar. If you’re using a Vita-Mix or similar commercial blender, cut that initial blend time down to a quarter minute or so, or if your blender is multi-speed, set it to the lowest possible setting.
Clyde Common Egg Nog
Our tequila-sherry egg nog at Clyde Common has been so overwhelmingly popular that I figured I’d share the recipe here. It’s based on my original egg nog recipe from years back, just slightly modified to incorporate the lower-alcohol sherry into the mix.
Añejo Tequila and Amontillado Sherry Egg Nog
12 large eggs
18 oz (by volume) superfine or baker’s sugar (NOT powdered!)
3 tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
12 oz anejo tequila
15 oz Amontillado sherry
36 oz whole milk
24 oz heavy cream
In a blender or stand mixer on low speed, beat eggs until smooth. Slowly add nutmeg, and sugar until incorporated and dissolved. Slowly add sherry, tequila, milk and cream. Refrigerate overnight and serve in small chilled cups. Dust with fresh nutmeg before serving.
Makes one gallon.
on Small Screen Network
Here, here’s a video of me rambling on about egg nog which you might find helpful. Or not.
I’m humbled to say that my eggnog recipe is featured in the New York Times Cookbook, one of the bibles of cooking out there. Amanda Hesser did a beautiful job of reediting Craig Claiborne’s original 1961 edition and updating it with some more current recipes and techniques. I’m proud to say that my recipe is featured alongside Craig’s, as a sort of modern interpretation of the older technique. Pick up a copy here, it’s indispensable in any kitchen.
No, thisArt of the Cocktail is a new cocktail-centric event in Victoria, British Columbia. Distillery ambassadors, representatives and lounges will be offering tastes of their products or creating sophisticated cocktails for sampling. Wander around the Tasting Room sampling the cocktails that appeal to you while catching tips from mixologists (I guess this is where I come in), authors and reps. Take in ongoing demonstrations on the side stage that will run throughout the Tastings. One-dollar-each tasting tickets may be purchased on the website and are only available in advance – no tickets will be available at the door.
I’ll be there teaching you how to make your own cocktail mixers like ginger beer and tonic water in person, so if you’re in the Pacific Northwest please do stop by what promises to be a great event. Oh, and I’d be remiss not to mention the immense involvement in this event by the hardest working bartender in the business, Mr. Shawn Soole. Try to watch this video of my friend Shawn, if you can get past the fake English accent:
I’m leaving in about an hour to head to the airport and ship off to Europe, so if you have any interest in learning more about what a small-town bartender does from hour to hour as he stumbles across a continent in search of the perfect cocktail, then please by all means follow along with my Twitter feed.
From there I’ll head to Finland to talk about Boca Loca and demonstrate its tasty versatility in Helsinki for two days, and hopefully search out legendary Finnish bartender Timo Siitonen for a cocktail or two.
And finally, we’ll wrap things up in Paris by visiting even more bars, haggling for Tintin memorabilia, and sobering up before the long flight home.
Now, all of this is predicated on my finding a reasonable deal on a European SIM card for my phone, but assuming all goes well I will be posting regular updates to the account.
Oh, and if you’re in Portland this weekend, be sure to check out the Great American Distillers Festival, featuring a mixology competition sponsored in part by the Oregon Bartenders Guild. I’ll be missing my chance to cast judgement on the entries alongside Robert Hess, but I’ll be there in spirit as I sip cane spirits with some of the finest bartenders in Europe. See you all when I get back!
You may or may not have known this, but I like making cocktails out of wine. Or things that were once wine. Or things that were made from wine. However you want to say it, I like making cocktails out of wine. So when I saw that there was a cocktail competition coming up that called for the use of sherry (a type of wine made from white grapes grown around the town of Jerez, Spain and fortified with brandy), I was like, “I’m all over this.”
So I reached for the Morgenthaler Standby Formula book and grabbed this old chestnut. First, I bolstered the sherry with something bitter, put in a touch of something sweet, and finished it with something absinth-y. Then I dumped that one down the sink and tried about ten other combinations. The result is this cocktail, The Solera Club.
I like wine-based cocktails, because they don’t punch you in the face the way, say, a 94-proof gin-based cocktail is going to. This means these drinks are going to be more versatile, and drinkable on more occasions than a big spirit-driven monster. A lot of my customers like to end the night with one of these low-proof sippers, but I take a more European tack myself and delight in them during the late afternoon, noshing on Marcona almonds and watching the sidewalk traffic without getting falling-down drunk.
So in the spirit of early autumnal afternoon sipping and enjoying the sunshine while it still lingers, here’s the recipe:
2 oz sherry (cream for a sweeter, rounder drink, dry sherry such as an amontillado for a more drier, more austere drink)
1 oz Cynar
½ oz creme de peche
1 tsp absinthe
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. If you’re going the cream sherry route, I’d recommend garnishing with a lemon twist as I’ve done here. If you’re using the drier, nuttier sherries, try using an orange twist.
(I couldn’t find an appropriate photo, and I wanted to get this out there before I head to work tonight. Sorry – JM)
I went to the bar last night with a coworker, whom I was treating to drinks on my tab. When we got the bill, it was very high, so we asked to have an itemized list of the drinks we were charged for. That’s when another bartender told us that some girl had been charging Jack and Cokes on my tab, without my knowledge.
Well, long story short, our bartender, a young girl, came right back WITHOUT an itemized list, but with a smaller bill, excluding the Jacks, I guess. While outside, her friends said, “Do you think that girl (me) knows that we drank on her tab?”
So, now I am very leery of starting tabs, especially at my local, favorite bar. Got any suggestions to prevent this from happening in the future?
It sucks, doesn’t it? When you enter into a trust-based relationship with a professional, there is an unspoken agreement that, to me at least, feels somewhat binding. What you’re saying, in effect, when you hand your card over to a bartender at the beginning of the night is, “Hey, bartender. I promise not to get so wasted that I leave this bar without signing my tab, stiffing you on the tip, or arguing about every single drink I promised to buy.”
What the bartender is saying is this: “Hey, customer. I promise not to be a gigantic motherfucking douchebag and charge you for a bunch of shit that you didn’t ask for.”
Kat, my dear, your bartender reneged on the contract. So, yeah, I’ve got a couple of suggestions to prevent this from happening to you in the future:
1. Don’t ever set foot in that bar ever again. I’m serious. A bar that can’t be trusted with a simple thing like your tab can’t be trusted with your safety. If they can’t keep a girl from charging her drinks to a stranger’s tab, do you really think the bartenders at this establishment are vigilant enough to prevent someone from slipping something in your drink, diffusing a potentially dangerous confrontational scene or handling any of the other potentially scary situations that can present themselves to female patrons in bars? My advice is to steer clear of this joint, and any other establishments owned by the same proprietors.
2. Only carry cash and never run a tab. Yeah, it sucks. Never mind the fact that you have to find an ATM, you also have to be walking around with a bunch of cash in your pocket. But think of it this way: even if you were to be robbed of your sixty dollars, or even if it fell out of your pocket onto the street or bar floor, wouldn’t that one time still be cheaper than letting everyone in the bar walk all over your tab?
3. Print this post out and hand it to the bartender in question. Then I’ll address the bartender personally. You ready? Okay, here we go:
Dear Bartender I’ve Never Met:
Hey, dumbshit. Some of us are trying to make a career out of this. And you’re fucking it up for the rest of us who actually take our jobs seriously. Did you really think it was okay to just throw a bunch of shit on my friend Kat’s tab without checking with her first? Do you think that anyone else, in any other business in the world, would let that kind of shit slide?
Here’s what advice I’m giving Kat: First, I’ve suggested that she never, ever set foot in your bar again. You’re reckless, unsafe, and a disgrace to the profession. However, if she decides not to heed my advice and does happen to pop in for a drink, I’m recommending that she pays for each drink, with cash, each time. And when she does, I want you to know that she’s only doing it because she doesn’t trust you.
Good luck to both of you. My readers and I all know you’re going to need it.
I was having this conversation with a writer about my new book on cocktail technique last week, and she got on the subject of bar tools. “A lot of this stuff is really expensive,” she said, “Do you have any advice for home cocktail enthusiasts who don’t want to spend a ton of money?”
And I [...]