Monday, April 13th, 2009
It’s been busy times here in Portland, but I thought I’d take a break from all the hot bar-managin’ action to post a aggregated update of what’s been happening in my world lately – loose ends, mostly:
Last week I attended the Grand Marnier/Navan Mixology Summit in Vail Colorado. One hundred bartenders from around the country were chosen from over 800 applicants to prepare original cocktails, attend seminars, and to learn from each other and the AKA Wine Geek team. I was there with my good friends from around the country, enjoying lavish meals, incredible Grand Marnier, Cuvées du Centenaire and Cent Cinquantenaire and Navan cocktails, and – of course – skiing and enjoying gorgeous Vail.
If you happen to be a Twitter user, please feel free to follow along with me for a more detailed account of what’s happening day to day. I always try to provide a running commentary when I’m on these booze excursions and Twitter can be a great way to peek in on the action.
I’ve got another video up at Imbibe Magazine’s website, which is also viewable on YouTube and subscribeable as a podcast via the iTunes Store. In this second video, I show you how to make an Old Fashioned the way I like to drink them – as a simple drink with a surprising amount of flavor, considering the very limited ingredient list.
My last video for Imbibe turned out to be much less of a disaster than everyone anticipated, so with any luck Episode Two will be remembered as my Attack of the Clones.
I believe that is all. Please go back to what you were doing and stay tuned for another drink recipe sometime this week.
Friday, March 20th, 2009
Hey, here’s a fun way to illustrate karma. If you’ve, say, built a large web presence upon a not-so-generous string of public criticisms of bar-related web videos [1, 2, 3, 4], then one day somebody will ask you to appear in a series of videos yourself.
That’s what happened last month when Imbibe Magazine called me up and stuck it to me by asking that I appear in some instructional videos for their new website. And like a rabbit to a carrot I leapt at the big, bright, orange opportunity called fame.
So grab yourself a scorecard and sit back, relax, and count the screw-ups as I try to demonstrate the difference between shaking and stirring a cocktail:
Monday, March 16th, 2009
The list of increduble experiences I had last fall while attending (and speaking at) the Bar Convent Berlin is a mile long, but up near the top of the list is the afternoon chat I had with Andreas Redlefsen, owner of St. Lucia’s Elements Eight rums.
Elements Eight is virtually unknown in this country, but occasionally you will hear of it whispered in hushed tones between rum aficionados as the brand has acquired a sort of mythical status. Fortunately there was plenty on hand to taste in Europe, and I had the man himself to tell me all about it.
Elements Eight begins with molasses made from Guyanese cane (cane production is no longer commercially viable in St. Lucia). The distillers then take that molasses and ferment it in three separate batches with three different yeast strains from the island. The resulting ‘beers’ are then distilled in three different stills, which results in nine unique rums.
The first is a traditional John Dore copper pot still, the ‘Rolls Royce’ of pot stills – creating a rum that is heavy bodied, pungent and full of flavor. This rum will gain complexity as it is aged and will impart a lot of depth and complexity into the final blend. Still Two is a Vendome pot still – originally constructed for American whiskey production. The end result is a lighter rum than that produced in the John Dore. Aaaaand, still number three is a column still. Very light rum.
Anyway, all of these different rums are hand-blended and aged in used Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels in St. Lucia, which provides a unique microclimate between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic ocean. The warm Caribbean climate helps expand the rum into the barrel, and the chilly Atlantic evenings contract the liquid and help wash that flavor from the wood.
Both rums are aged, the gold for a minimum of 6 years, the platinum for a minimum of 4 years. Yes, the platinum rum is then charcoal-filtered in order to remove the color before it is packaged and shipped.
And what about the flavor? Both are light, clean, buttery, sophisticated and delicate, with the gold providing a touch more richness and caramel than the crisper platinum. Sippable neat, but perfect for mixing in cocktails. I’ve made crisp mojitos, smooth, buttery rum old-fashioneds, light daiquiris and Mai Tais that defy the laws of gravity.
Already available in Europe, Elements Eight is slated for release in the States late this year or early 2010.
Friday, March 6th, 2009
Speaking of great cocktails made with cachaça, let’s take a moment before the weekend and see what our old friends at the American Bartending School would do when confronted with a bottle of the stuff.
In this segment, we’ll learn how to make the Brazilian classic, the caipirinha (kai-peer-EEN-ya)
1. Announce to your friends that you will be making them a
kah-pree-ANN-nah kah-pree-EE-nah kah-pree-EE-nah.
Note: the caipirinha is made with a special type of Brazilian liqueur called cachaça (kuh-CHA-ka, or however it’s pronounced). Like rum, cachaça also comes in different colors.
2. Introduce your friends to the cachaça bottle, then return to its original location. It will not be needed again during the construction of this cocktail.
3. Take your rock glass.
4. Add an undisclosed number of pieces of lime and some simple syrup.
5. Mash limes with a miniature baseball bat.
6. Add ice and top with one ounce of “cachaça”, which is suspiciously identical to the simple syrup bottle.
7. Top with either soda water or sweet-and-sour mix.
Monday, March 2nd, 2009
With my recent move to Portland and consequent adjustment to a new work environment, new living situation and new selection of great bars and restaurants to explore, I’ve been a little lax on the new drink recipes.
Fortunately I have my cruel taskmasters at Boca Loca Cachaça to keep me toiling away, day and night, churning out recipe after recipe using their incredible product.
If you haven’t experienced Boca Loca yet, I urge you to give it a try as I firmly feel it is the finest cachaça available on the market today. The spirit is light and fresh, and free from a lot of the oiliness and heavy smoke you’ll find in other – sometimes inferior – cachaças available out there. There is grassiness, big stone fruit, some white pepper and a very light honey finish. Boca Loca is a beautiful product and it’s a pleasure to work with.
So for the spring I set about creating a series of cocktails that showcased the cachaça in a different way. This is my first entry.
Inspired in part by a gorgeous cocktail created by my good friend Gonçalo de Souza Monteiro, the Comte de Sureau, I turned the drink around and twisted the proportions to highlight the cachaça, and then finished the whole thing with a little lemon oil. It’s simple, petite, and a beautiful thing to sip on.
1½ oz Boca Loca cachaça
¾ oz Aperol
½ oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
Stir ingredients with cracked ice and strain into a small chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with a generous twist of lemon.
Friday, February 20th, 2009
I’m a big fan of my friend Eric Tecosky and his company, Dirty Sue. So when he asked me to judge the upcoming Dirty Sue Cocktail Competition, I accepted without hesitation. Also, he’d just said some nice things about me on the internet, so I felt obliged.
Anyway, here’s the deal. Grab yourself a bottle of Eric’s Dirty Sue Olive Juice and whip up an original creation that uses at least ¼ ounce of the stuff. Then send your creation to info at dirtysue.com
Then Eric’s going to strip all your names off of the submissions, send them to me, and I’m going to make each one in my kitchen and pass them around my apartment to my friends. We’ll critique and belittle your creations, all the while trying to stay coherent enough to grade them and select the best drink recipes.
The first place winner will win $250, a year’s supply of Dirty Sue, and some Dirty Sue merchandise, which I can personally attest is pretty sweet – seriously. Second place gets a hundred bucks and some merch. Third place? I’ll publish your recipe here on my website. Sweet deal, see more info below.
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
Portland, Oregon is the best, as everyone knows. The city is largely unhindered by the cruel oppression of the sun’s toxic ultraviolet rays, which keep skin cancer and unnecessary happiness at bay. Mount Tabor, a dormant volcanic “cone” lies within the city limits, which is in no way absolutely terrifying. And a large near-sighted Amish population brings their rich cultural heritage to the table and fills the streets with the soothing sounds of emotional music, which nobody ever grows tired of.
But what few people realize is the many contributions that my tiny hometown of Eugene, just a hundred miles to the south, has made to Portland over the years.
One-way streets, which are never super annoying, first made their appearance in Eugene and have since been adopted by Portland for their awesomeness. The Nike swoosh, which nobody has ever gotten tired of looking at, credits Eugene as its birthplace and now calls Portland its home. And now, the vast cadre of antics of one Mr. Jeffrey Morgenthaler, which are impossible to tire of, have been generously donated to the city of Portland by the town of Eugene.
Yes, one month ago I filled up a large truck with a bunch of liquor, cocktail-related reading material – and a small bed – and headed for my new home of Portland. I am in the process of taking over the cocktail program at Clyde Common, from current bar manager extraordinaire Kevin Ludwig. While I’ve been using my time as of late to adjust to the new bar, absorb all I can from Kevin before he leaves to open his own venture Beaker and Flask, and generally make the adjustment to a larger city, I will be slowly implementing, along with the powerhouse staff currently behind the bar at the Clyde, an aggressive cocktail and spirits program of my own.
So stay tuned for updates, new posts, and possibly even a new drink or two – I’m sure you’re all tired of looking at that darn egg nog recipe over there on the left considering it’s February and all.
Thanks to Clyde Common, Portland, and you, dear reader, for all the support. And special thanks to Mr. Thomas Ngo for the above photo of me behind the bar at Clyde Common on my first night.
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