Wednesday, December 6th, 2006
Ouch. Maybe we can get Alka-Seltzer to take out an ad next year…
Here’s a fun little game you can play. Go ask someone – preferably someone not wearing arm garters or quoting Jerry Thomas – and ask them what’s in a Hot Toddy. The more people you try this game with, the better, because you’re going to get a lot of varied answers. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you’re gonna hear a few of the following ingredients: Lemon… ginger… honey… cinnamon sticks… cloves… cayenne pepper.
The funny thing is that if you look at the earliest Hot Toddy recipe as it appears in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 Bar-Tender’s Guide, it contains none of these things. Here’s the recipe:
1 tea-spoonful of fine white sugar
1 wine-glass of brandy
Dissolve the sugar in a little boiling water, add the brandy, and pour boiling water into the glass until it is two-thirds full Grate a little nutmeg on top.
Water, sugar, brandy, nutmeg. Not even a lousy lemon peel. If you can’t think of anything less interesting or appetizing to drink, take a look at the recipe for the Hot Gin Toddy sometime. Anyway, as I was trying to standardize our Hot Toddy recipe for the bar a few years ago, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to stay true to the historical recipes while still offering a drink I felt our guests would enjoy. In the end, I decided to tell Jerry Thomas to take a flying leap and came up with something much more reflective of the style of cocktail we serve.
So, sure. We came up with a nice recipe that uses ginger and lemon, big deal. But during recipe testing something consistently came up that I felt was a common problem with Hot Toddies offered in many bars these days: they’re never hot enough. So I devised a solution: enter the Bartender’s Bain-Marie.
The technique is simple: fill a shaker tin halfway with very hot water, and build the drink sans water in a second tin nestled in the bottom shaker. Stirring the ingredients for a minute will raise the temperature to the point where we’re no longer serving cold or room temperature ingredients mixed with hot water. The now-warm drink is added to a preheated glass and finished with piping hot water.
Easy to do, and a hell of a lot safer to do at home than heating alcohol on the stovetop (note: do not heat alcohol on your stovetop). Here’s the recipe I landed on for those who want it:
1½ oz bourbon
1 oz ginger syrup*
¾ oz lemon juice
1 tsp allspice or pimento dram
3 oz boiling water
Stir bourbon, ginger syrup*, lemon juice and allspice or pimento liqueur in Bartender’s Bain-Marie until warmed through. Transfer to preheated mug and top with boiling water. Garnish with orange peel.
I always refer to this as the “San Francisco Ginger Syrup” method, as I stole it from Jon Santer, who I believe learned it from Thad Vogler, who probably didn’t steal it from anyone because Thad is a genius. At any rate I’ve rarely heard of bartenders in other cities doing it this way and when I have, it’s because they’ve learned it from someone from San Francisco. It’s easy to make, and delicious to use.
Simply combine cleaned (no need to peel the ginger) and roughly-chopped ginger (each piece should be about the size of your pinkie-tip) in a blender with equal volumes of sugar and boiling water. For this I’ve used 8 ounces of chopped ginger, 8 ounces of sugar, and 8 ounces boiling water. Blend on high until mixture is smooth, and then fine-strain through a sieve.
That’s it. Enjoy, and stay warm.
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.
The flavors of the Richmond Gimlet are imbued with sunshine. Fresh mint mingling with the herbaceousness of gin and the tartness of lime have made this drink a Eugene classic for many years now.
You'll get a lot of snarky advice on this site about how to make a proper drink, but if you ever need to know what not to do, this is the video for you.
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 get so many visitors looking for tips on how to write a bartending resume that I thought I should finally post a tutorial on how to write your own. Click the headline to read more.
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.
Ouch. Maybe we can get Alka-Seltzer to take out an ad next year…
Well, the troops came out for Repeal Day here in Eugene. We started the night off at Luckey’s Cigar Bar, which opened its doors in 1911! Young barmeister Jon Wilson set us up with some good old-fashioned whiskey in a glass and a beer to wash it all down. Yum!
Here’s the lineup of hooligans at the bar. Scott got the night off work so that we could both be out at the same time – a rare occurrence to be sure!
Then it was off to the venerable Max’s Tavern, which opened in 1933. Repeal Year! The crowd was lively, and Chase and Kim kept the atmosphere energetic with trivia, including a question about Repeal Day!
We met up with Carla and Jeff at Max’s, and our group’s numbers began to swell. Then, as things were starting to get a little foggy, we made a last stop at Rennie’s Landing for a round (or two…) of shots outside on the fireplace-lit patio.
Thanks to everyone who came out, the bartenders who put up with us, and all of you, the readers!
I have been given the honor of hosting next month’s Mixology Monday here, and since it is in such close company with December 5th, which is Repeal Day, I’ve decided to try to combine the two and have a little fun with it.
So, for this round of MxMo, you’re going to need to write about a pre-Prohibition-era cocktail, tell a Repeal Day story, create an original drink inspired by Prohibition, etc.
So crack open your new copies of David Wondrich’s Imbibe!, plan a Repeal Day event, or reach deep into your inspiration well and come up with something to wow the world with. We’ll all meet back here on Monday for the round-up.
Update – the folks at Dewar’s scotch sent along this video to help get the juices flowing:
That is all. Carry on.
This being my first ever time hosting Mixology Monday, I’m a little nervous. So bear with me. Also, my schedule has taken a turn for the busier… I’m leaving tomorrow morning to celebrate Repeal Day with the folks from Dewar’s scotch in New York City!
As Repeal Day is coming up on the 5th, I thought we should all get in the spirit by mixing our favorite Prohibition-era cocktails. On to the entries!
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Thanks to the efforts of the good folks at Dewar’s scotch, I flew out this morning to New York City for Repeal Day.
After a few late take-offs and missed flights, I finally arrived in Manhattan in time to check in to my hotel and scrub my travel-weary face before heading out on the town for a short visit.
My day started at 1PM today, at a lunch at Pete’s Tavern, one of the oldest
the oldest continually-operating bars in New York City. I had a great meal and met some of the people at Dewar’s that have been working so hard to spread the same message that I’ve been touting for some time now myself, people without whom some of you would never have heard of Repeal Day or contemplated its importance.
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When I travel, I have a list of bars and bartenders that I want to see in whichever city I’ll be visiting. My recent trip to Manhattan was no exception, and after the Repeal Day party I made a point of heading out into the snowy night in eager anticipation of having some world-class cocktails.
The first bar on my list was the Flatiron Lounge, near Gramercy Park. All of the reviews I’d read told me that this was the place to be treated to some serious bartending, and judging by the cocktail menu that was placed before me, I was going to be in for a treat.
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I just looked at the calendar and realized that today is a crucial halfway-point in the year – and that I only have six months to prepare myself for my favorite American holiday: Repeal Day!
Last year was a big year for Repeal Day. We saw the launch of RepealDay.org, the official home of Repeal Day on the web and a source of information for an astounding 50,000 visitors in the month of December alone. Repeal Day parties sprang up everywhere across the country, and the good people at Dewar’s Scotch generously brought me out to New York to help them celebrate Repeal Day, of which they’ve been proud supporters since the beginning.
But as monumental last year’s Repeal Day celebration was, it should look like nothing at all when compared to this year: The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition. I’ll be updating not only this website but also expanding the valuable information at RepealDay.org and reporting on what Dewar’s has got in store for all of us this year. Stay tuned!
PS – If you’re new to the site, please take a minute and read my thoughts as to why I feel Repeal Day is so important. As always, thanks for reading.
Our good friend Erick Castro recently posited a question on Facebook about bartenders’ footwear of choice, which got me thinking about mine. So I thought I’d share my experience with you in the hopes that folks could chime in and build a discussion that might be of help to other bartenders out there.
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