Gaelic Kir

•November 16, 2008 • 6 Comments

Before I write about my recent travels to Prague and New York, I’m going to pump out a couple of quick posts to continue with the “wine-tails” theme.

This next libation marries the unlikely couple of wine and scotch, making for a perfect winter “wine-tail”.

While you may think that this is one match that would never work, I should just need to remind you of such great classics as the Rob Roy and Bobby Burns, both of  which which utilize red vermouth, for all practical purposes a flavored, fortified wine. In this instance we substitute the vermouth with a tannic red wine which will more than balance the cassis and simple syrup that is also added.

Bring out the bottles and mix up a:

GAELIC KIR

1 ½ oz Cabernet Sauvignon
1 ½ oz scotch
¼ oz cassis
¼ oz simple syrup
dash Angostura bitters
dash Peychaud’s bitters
stir with ice
strain into a chilled cocktail glass

While I normally like to pair Peychaud’s with scotch, I found that the Xmas flavours of Angostura worked well with the Cabernet, so both were used. The simple syrup here (2:1 sugar to water) is added solely for texture (as opposed to sweetness). I find that this drink felt a little flat without the added texture, as the Briottet cassis I use isn’t overly thick or sweet.

This is a pleasant drink, bound to please a scotch drinker as well as someone looking for something a little lighter to begin, or end, their evening with.

Gaelic Kir

Gaelic Kir

Pictures and drinks by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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Early Xmas Shopping

•October 30, 2008 • 1 Comment

I received Dale Degroff’s new book in the mail yesterday, and let me tell you, it’s a doozy! Entitled The Essential Cocktail, The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks, this tome covers it all, from classics like Flip and the Clover Club to more common drinks like the Long Island Iced Tea and the Stinger.

My favorite feature of this latest work by the King of Cocktails is the variations that he offers next to those standards that you know so well. For instance instead of just offering up the recipe for the Gimlet (the histories of the libations are also provided), he will also give you two variations: the California Gimlet and the Yuzu Gimlet. Fine work indeed!

For those of you who are curious about molecular mixology, Dale touches upon this as well, offering up recipes that incorporate foams, with a whole page devoted to the subject alone.

Christmas is coming, do you really need more incentive to have you and your loved ones start drinking better?

Here’s one to wet your whistle while you wait for your copy to arrive:

RITZ COCKTAIL

¾ oz Cognac
½ oz Cointreau
½ oz Luxardo Maraschino
½ oz lemon juice
Champagne
flamed orange peel, for garnish
In mixing glass, stir together the cognac, Cointreau, maraschino and lemon juice with ice.Strain into a large cocktail glass and fill with Champagne. Garnish with the flamed orange peel.

On a personal note, I’m off to Prague in a couple of days to teach some seminars for the Czech Bar Awards and then stopping off in New York on my way back home to participate in the Martin Miller’s gin Masters Competition, so don’t expect a new post anytime soon!

Happy Halloween y’all, and let me know if I should bother comin’ back to the States after the election, will ya? (I’m trying to come off folksy in hopes of becoming as popular as a Palin)

Buy me now!!!

Click the book and buy me now!!!

Calling All Bartenders!!!

•October 28, 2008 • 1 Comment

It’s that time of year again!! The Grand Marnier/Navan Mixology Summit  is accepting applications to their consultation workshops (ahem, read: party with like minded individuals from across the country). I’ve heard from many ‘tenders that this event is a blast so click here and get you application in before November  30th.

All Hallows’ Punch

•October 25, 2008 • 7 Comments

Halloween is but a week away, and I’m sure we’re all busy picking out costumes (I can’t seem to find a Jerry Thomas costume anywhere!) and planning our respective parties down to the finest details. When it comes to the house party, it is always best to try and make as little work for yourself as possible, so that you can experience the party that everyone else is enjoying. While this means that there will still be a lot of work in preparation, you don’t want to be stuck behind a makeshift bar the entire night mixing up cocktails for your increasingly inebriated guests. The solution? Hire a bartender, or serve a punch.

If you decide on the cheaper and easier of the two options, why not start your party off with the:

ALL HALLOWS’ PUNCH

6 parts sparkling rosé
2 parts Cognac
2 parts maraschino liqueur
4 parts gingerale
place all into a punch bowl
add a large block of ice
garnish with slices of blood orange

Insanely easy to make (and damn tasty too) the key to the punch is to not add the bubbly components until your first guest wants a beverage, thus ensuring that your precious bubbles will last longer.

Another key component of punches and punch bowls is the ice. Instead of using small ice cubes, fill a large bowl with water and place in the freezer the night before. Right before your party starts, take your large, curved ice block out of the freezer and place it into your punch bowl. This large-format ice will make your punch cold without melting instantly into a watery tepid mess.

So there you have it, a low-stress way to serve guests and ensure that you have time to enjoy the fruits of your labours.

Happy Halloween all!

For those of you that listen to the radio and live in the Seattle area, I’ll be on the Ron and Don Show (97.3 KIRO FM) on Halloween night from 5 to 6 pm. What will we be discussing? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’m sure talk of booze and cocktails will surface!

UPDATE: the radio show has been postponed to another date. Also, if you’re here looking for Halloween drink ideas, don’t forget this and this!

All Hallows Punch

Drink and Pictures by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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Ignis Fatuus

•October 19, 2008 • 12 Comments

Continuing with the “wine-tail” themed post this week we encounter the Ignis Fatuus. Not content to just do a libation with wine as the main component, I’ve decided to have the next two wine-tail posts have a Halloween theme as well. The ingredient that makes this Halloween-y would be the spiced pumpkin pie mix, an item that I’m sure we’ll all have left over after making pumpkin pies for the neighborhood.  (People still do that in the States, right? This is the 1930’s after all, as my stock broker keeps telling me.) We are lacking a spirits tasting note for the Cognac, for at this time, I do not have any samples of Cognac that have been sent my way (hint hint).

IGNIS FATUUS

2 oz Chardonnay
1 oz cognac
½ oz simple syrup
½ oz apple cider
1 heaping teaspoon of spiced pumpkin pie mix
shake hard and fine strain into a cocktail glass

Why the moniker Ignis Fatuus you ask? While it may translate into Fool’s Fire, it was the name given the phenomenon of glowing lights in bogs produced by natural methane gasses reacting with chemicals that were present in the swamps. People, unable to account for these spectral lights created tales around the phenomenon. The more common names given Ignis Fatuus that you may recognize are Will-o’-the-wisp and Jack o’ lantern, and it is with this last one and its connections to pumpkins that the name was decided upon. (I told you that I have a difficult time naming drinks, didn’t I?)

You may notice that the instructions ask you to fine strain this libation. If you are unsure of what that means, I am asking you to not only pour the liquid through your Hawthorne, but a tea strainer as well. Click here to learn more about bartending tools.

Ignis Fatuus

Picture and drink by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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Well, it’s (almost) official!

•October 14, 2008 • 24 Comments

For those of you that haven’t heard, I am now at a bar called Tini Bigs. Over the last month or so, I’ve been working at revamping the cocktail program, and as of today the new list is out. We’ve ordered new glassware, new ingredients, new ice (for our whiskies and the Chocolat Cochon) and am now just waiting on a few minor things to make the transformation complete. What else is to come? New web site, new menu covers, a Captain’s List, new plate ware, cutlery and some minor cosmetic changes (with major effect) over the next few months. For those of you that enjoyed the old Tini Bigs “martinis”, we’ll still be able to do most of them, and we have preserved a selection of those for the list as well.

If you haven’t been to Tini Bigs in a while (and from those that I’ve asked, that’s a lot of you) please come on by and check us out. I’ll be there on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, (with the exception of my trip to Prague and New York in the beginning of November) and am excited to make you a proper cocktail while behind a bar that was built in 1909.

Tini Bigs drink list teaser…

CHOCOLAT  COCHON
circa 2008, inspired by PDT, NY
bacon-infused bourbon, cherry, chocolate, amaro, bitters

MEXICAN  CLOUD
circa 2008, original.
tequila, pomegranate, rhubarb, elderflower, and Chartreuse

BREAKFAST  COLLINS
circa 2008, original
rum, boysenberry preserves, lemon, bitters, and soda

CHAMOMILE  SOUR
circa 2008, inspired by Pegu Club, NY
chamomile-infused scotch, lemon, and whites

LA  BICYCLETTE
circa 2006, Jamie Boudreau
gin, sweet vermouth, elderflower, and peach bitters

RED  HOOK
circa 2003, Enzo Errico, Milk & Honey, NY
rye, Punt e Mes, and maraschino

TWENTIETH CENTURY
circa 1939, Chicago
gin, Lillet, cacao, and lemon

WIDOW’S KISS
circa 1895, George Kappeler, Holland House Hotel, New York (adapted)
calvados, Benedictine, Chartreuse, lemon and bitters

PRESBYTERIAN
circa 1890, USA
scotch, house-made ginger beer, soda, and bitters

BRANDY CRUSTA
circa 1840, Joeseph Santini, New Orleans City Exchange
cognac, maraschino, Cointreau, lemon, and Peychaud’s

RUM  SHRUBB
circa 1807, United Kingdom
rum, blackberry, raspberry, sugar, red wine vinegar

WINE  COBBLER
circa 1800’s, pervasive
Pineau des Charentes, peach and grapefruit bitters, and orange

Hope to see you soon!

Rum Shrubb

Rum Shrubb

Picture by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

Bitter Love & Bluecoat gin

•October 10, 2008 • 2 Comments

And so we continue with our “wine-tails” posts, again paired with spirit tasting notes. This week we are going to experience the beautiful Bitter Love and the bombastic Bluecoat gin, because I’ll never miss an opportunity for alliteration.

Bluecoat Gin

Categorized as American Dry Gin, Bluecoat is distilled in Philadelphia, and as many times as I have fingers on my hand (my good hand that is: let the speculations begin). Unlike most spirits on the market, Bluecoat is pot distilled in a hand-hammered copper pot still. For those of you that follow the latest idiotic trends like lemmings to the cliff-side ocean, Bluecoat is also made from all natural, organic ingredients (nothing against Bluecoat, I just have a problem with everything being labeled organic lately. Remember when “fat-free” was the key word and all we really got was anal leakage? I’m counting the days before “organic” and “anti-oxidant” gets its backlash. Enough ranting though, this is supposed to be about gin, after all.)

Bluecoat bottles at my preferred gin percentage: 47%. I’ve always preferred gins in the 45%-47% range, as I feel that the extra alcohol better extracts flavours from the botanicals. And speaking of bottles, this gin is packaged in a striking blue bottle that is much deeper in hue than Bombay’s. This is definitely a bottle that stands out on one’s liquor shelf.

Tasting Notes

You’re going to call me crazy, but on the nose there is a very distinct aroma of….. popcorn. Citrus and lightly buttered popcorn. The palate gives one a hint of the juniper that you would expect from a gin, but that is quickly overpowered by citrus (lemon and lime?) and angelica. The finish is quick, again without any juniper. Bluecoat is good gin for mixing, but I feel that it is not assertive enough for a gin and tonic. Save Bluecoat for the vodka drinker that is beginning to transition to gin, but is still a little apprehensive about juniper.

We’ve talked about the gin, now let’s grab a bottle of chardonnay and make some Bitter Love.

BITTER LOVE

2 oz Chardonnay
1 oz gin
¼ oz Campari
2 oz grapefruit juice
shake hard and strain into a cocktail glass

Light in alcohol and slightly bitter, this is one ethereal cocktail that will get the mouth salivating and the gastric juices flowing. A perfect way to begin one’s evening before cooking dinner, it may even make the jaded paramour realize that love, even if bitter, is better than no love at all.

Bitter Love

Pictures and drink by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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Chatelaine & DH Krahn

•October 4, 2008 • 5 Comments

Over the next number of posts we are going to explore wine-based cocktails and, when possible inject tasting notes of various spirits. Today’s example explores the Chatelaine, using white wine and DH Krahn gin.

DH Krahn gin

This gin has a close place to my heart, not because it is distilled here in the United States, but because one of the founders, Scott Krahn, is a BC boy, hailing from Kelowna. While my opinion was going to be leaning in the direction of favoring this gin due to our Canadian ties, I found that I did not need to use my bias when judging this gin.

DH Krahn is a perfect example of how one doesn’t need to distill 3-5 times to get a smooth spirit. Using a Stupfler System Alembic (the only one in this hemisphere), they distill their gin only once, and then age it in steel barrels for a  period of no less than three months, further mellowing the final spirit.

Tasting Notes:

Immaculately clear in composition, after nosing, this gin shows that it is light on the juniper, preferring to offer up notes of citrus and light forest/botanical aromas. Upon tasting, one is greeted by a medium-bodied spirit that is sweet and viscous, with the juniper finally showing up around mid- to late palate. As I usually find with most gins, making this “Navy Proof” by bumping up the alcohol to 44-46% would probably do this spirit wonders. Overall this is a fine specimen to fit into your lightly junipered category of gins.

Now that we have a gin to use, why don’t we make a:

CHÂTELAINE

2 oz crisp white wine
1 oz gin
½ oz elderflower liqueur
1 oz pomegranate juice
¼ oz simple syrup (if unsweetened pomegranate)
shake all with ice and fine strain into a cocktail glass

I’ve found that wine based “cocktails” make excellent aperitifs as well as being a good tool to keep your alcohol consumption down over the course of an evening. One can now enjoy twice the number of these “wine-tails” as cocktails with the effects being equal. One could almost put them back like Nick and Nora Charles with seemingly little effect!

This wine-tail is light and fruity, which is sure to please the châtelaine in your life, and the rich red hue will seal the deal, if the anti-oxidants from the pomegranate don’t.

Chatelaine

Chatelaine

Drink and picture by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

Got your Imbibe?

•September 28, 2008 • 7 Comments

I’ve just realized that I forgot to tell everyone that my recent trip to Kentucky has been chronicled by yours truly in this month’s Imbibe.
While I had originally posted the details of my trip here, I had to take it down after the good people at Imbibe picked up the story. So, if you don’t have a subscription to Imbibe (and really, why don’t you?), get your butts down to your nearest well-stocked book store or magazine shop and find out what happened down in Kentucky. Right now. I get paid by issues sold, not by letters typed, people. (Well, let’s just pretend that’s the case, anyway)

You killed Jamie!! You Bastards!

•September 26, 2008 • 6 Comments

Those bastards have done it! They’ve crushed my potential empire before I could even get it started!

What am I griping about now, you ask? Well, those bastardos over at Fee Brothers have put out yet another flavor of bitters, this time cherry, in direct competition with my Boudreau’s Cherry Bitters. Ellen Fee describes her bitters as such: “I wanted a strong, fruity flavor of the cherry and the cherry pit. Then a dash of mystery background, followed by a punch of bitter. I thought in terms of an 1800’s farm wife creating this product with ingredients available ain that time period.”

Now, instead of buying a plethora of ingredients and then macerating, filtering, blending and aging, all one has to do is go to their nearest well-stocked liquor store (or Fee’s website), and purchase their very own bottle of cherry bitters.

My goal of world bitter domination was to begin with my version of Boudreau’s Cherry Bitters, and it has now been crushed, as if it were a bothersome mosquito upon the arm of a banana-eating camper.

Bastards!

Fee's Cherry Bitters

Picture by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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Alabazam

•September 16, 2008 • 15 Comments

First off, let me apologize for not writing in a while, but I’ve been busy doing things like re-working a bar program, writing a chapter of the next Food & Wine Cocktails book, helping found a bartender’s guild, planning seminars for the upcoming Czech Bar Awards, and coming up with recipes for the next Hendrick’s gin book, all the while dealing with work, travel, family and the recent influx of visitors to Seattle.

Mixology Monday, hosted by Joe and Dinah over at Bibulo.us, has finally dragged me to the keyboard with an interesting theme this time: Nineteenth Century Cocktails. Combing through my sources and finding a lot of plagiarism between authors as well as an awful lot of bizarre (and not in the good way) concoctions, sometimes with ingredients that are now defunct, I began to worry that it would be next to impossible to find a unique entry that would also be palatable. Then I came across Leo Engel’s 1878 opus, American and Other Drinks.

While my eyes flitted over such concoctions as the Flip Flap, Heap of Comfort, the Magnolia (a la Simons) and the Square Meal (which could’ve been substituted for one, what with the two egg yolks and salt and pepper before we even get to the boozy ingredients), it was the Alabazam (it should really have an exclamation point after the name, shouldn’t it?) that intrigued me enough to actually waste good booze on a trial run.

Leo Engel, an expat by way of New York, came up with the following libation while tending bar at the Criterion’s American Bar:

ALABAZAM

Use tumbler.
One tea-spoonful of Angostura bitters; two tea-spoonfuls of orange Curaçoa; one tea-spoonful of white sugar; one tea-spoonful of lemon juice; half a wine glass of brandy. Shake up well with fine ice and strain in a claret glass.

This was converted (by me) to:

ALABAZAM

1 ½ oz Cognac
2 tea-spoons Cointreau
1 tea-spoon Angostura
1 tea-spoon sugar
1 tea-spoon lemon juice
stir all until sugar has dissolved
add ice, stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
marvel at the spiciness!

The Criterion is a restaurant which still exists in London’s Piccadilly Circus to this day, although I suspect in a much smaller format as this celebrated bon-vivant’s tome makes mention of a smoking room, a grill room, a cigar shop, the buffet lounge, the west, east and south rooms as well as private dining rooms and the grand hall, not to mention the Theatre.

What intrigued me about the Alabazam, besides the name, was the use of a whole teaspoon of Angostura. As anyone who regularly uses bitters knows, this is an enormous amount of product for something that is usually measured in drops and dashes, but, tempered with the sugar and Cointreau, it really works in this drink.

Deep red rust in tone and with tons of spice from the Angostura, this cocktail will cure what ails you as you step back in time to an era where drinking was about more than getting blotto’d, it was about following doctor’s orders.

Alabazam

Picture by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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Matusalem and the Hop Toad

•August 17, 2008 • 3 Comments

Matusalem Gran Reserva is an old friend. I think we first met many years ago when I was tending bar at the Blue Water Café in Yaletown, but we didn’t become really tight pals until we buddied up at my stint at Lumière. It was one of several rums in my well, and over my tenure we became quite close.

But then Seattle called, and while my dear friend came with me, she seemed to play second fiddle to new, exciting rums such as the Ron Zacapa 23 Year and the Zaya 12 Year, even though they held different places in my repertoire of Sugarcane Companions.

Microsoft’s “ding!” of new email soon changed the situation, asking me if I was willing to try a sample of Matusalem Gran Reserva. “Abso-freekin-lutely!” was the quick (and sane) reply. While I naturally knew this bottle, it had been a long time since we had a good sit down.

And so sure enough, just the other day I got a knock on the door and there she stood, in all of her elegance, not the least put off that we had not spent much time together in the last year (she always did have class). I invited her in, got a glass, and we talked about old times. As the minutes slipped into hours we waxed nostalgic, as if not a minute had passed between us. Every bit as witty and complex as I remembered her, I decided to whip up a cocktail much used in my old Lumière days, the Waldorf-Astoria’s:

HOP TOAD

1 ½ Matusalem Gran Reserva rum
¾ oz Apricot liqueur (I used Giffard’s Abricot du Roussillon)
½ oz lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters
shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

While the Gran Reserva is a fine sipping rum, I’ve also found that she plays along well with other ingredients, especially ones like apricot, passion fruit and mango. Because she is an elegant spirit, go easy with citrus, as you don’t want those harsh acids to overtake Matusalem’s subtle nuances of bittersweet caramel, maple and vanilla.

Matusalem blends in perfectly with the apricot and the lime in the Hop Toad. If you can’t get Giffard’s Abricot then I suggest Rotham & Winter’s Orchard Apricot, but a quality apricot brandy/liqueur is a must in this cocktail. Cocktails, as with all things in life, are only as strong as their weakest link, so by ensuring that we are using a premium rum, quality liqueur and fresh lime juice we know that our libation has a good basis from which to start.

Happy mixing, and until next time!

Hop Toad

Pictures by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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Housekeeping

•August 15, 2008 • 4 Comments

Just a quick note to all of you regulars that reference or bookmark my blog. The web address is and always will be SpiritsandCocktails.com.

I’ve noticed that a lot of you are using the spiritsandcocktails.wordpress.com address (stop it!), and this is by no means a permanent address, so if you always want to be up to date, change (now!) to the simpler of the two addresses.

I point this out now, because it won’t be too long before I change servers again (yes I had a blog before this one), and I want you guys to be able to find me and also have your past links to this site work in the future.

Thank you for paying attention to this service announcement: you may now carry on about your daily business.

MxMo XXX:Local Flavor

•August 10, 2008 • 12 Comments

This month’s Mixology Monday, themed Local Flavor, is hosted by Kevin over at Save the Drinkers (I didn’t know that I needed saving). The idea is that we use ingredients that represent the city that we come from, or that we use an older recipe from our respective city and attempt to revive it.

I’m a Canadian, in every sense of the word, as I’ve spent time in most of our major cities, from coast to coast. So, in that vein, I’m going to start by renaming this month’s MxMo XXX: Local Flavor to MxMo:XXX Local Flavour, in order to get into true Canadian form. Now that my “u” is properly placed and I’ve warmed up my fingers on the keyboard (aboot, oot, toque, cheque, poutine, eh? to zed, Kokanee) let’s get down to the fun stuff: drinking.

Since I was born in Montreal, Quebec, I’ve decided to start off with two cocktails from La Belle Province:

Martin Casa

2 oz Jamaica rum
½ oz Apricot Brandy
½ oz Cointreau
juice ½ lime
stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
circa 1945, Café Martin, Montreal

A variation of the Leap Frog, this libation is made even better with the addition of a dash of bitters. Ensure that you are using a quality apricot brandy as well, as a cheap version just doesn’t do this creation justice.

Habitant

3 parts rye
1 part lemon juice
1 part maple syrup
dash bitters
shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
circa 1945, Larry Denis, Seigniory Club, Quebec

What’s a Canadian cocktail if maple syrup isn’t involved? The Habitant is a simple Whiskey Sour with maple syrup in place of the simple: often heaven can be found in the simpler things in life.

On to the West (or Left) coast we find that the white spirits are preferred, and in the case of these two recipes: gin. As Vancouver was the last Canadian city that I lived in, and also the place that I’d consider home, the next two cocktails hail from this beautiful cosmopolitan host of the 2010 Olympics.

Hotel Georgia

2 parts gin
1 part orgeat
½ part lemon juice
10 drops orange blossom water
1 egg white
shake hard with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
circa 1945, Hotel Georgia, Vancouver

The Hotel Georgia, currently under a massive renovation, first opened in 1927. The recipe supplied here is an odd one, but I find that if you dramatically reduce the orgeat you’ll find yourself with an elegant summer sipper.

Vancouver

1 ½ gin
¾ oz sweet vermouth
¼ oz Benedictine
2 dashes orange bitters
stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
origin unknown, source: Stan Jones Complete Bar Guide, 1977

The Vancouver cocktail is right up my alley: a twist on the Martinez with Benedictine instead of maraschino. If you prefer a drier cocktail, by all means pump up the gin to a full two ounces.

There you have it another MxMo under our belt and four cocktails to choose from. If you live in the States as you imbibe one of these Canadian creations be sure to keep this tidbit of trivia in mind as you patrol the southern border: the US is Canada’s Mexico, complete with stronger currency! Discuss….

Santé!

Vancouver Cocktail

Picture by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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Let Me Be! There’s TV That Needs Watching!

•July 28, 2008 • 5 Comments

You’ve bitched and you’ve moaned and I’ve finally acquiesced. You may notice, to your right, that there is now an index of posted cocktails. If you want to search cocktail recipes by spirit, just use the Categories section, also to your right.

I’ve tried to ignore the emails so that I wouldn’t be stuck with the extra work, but dammit, you wore me down.

I hope you’re all happy; I’ve just missed the Daily Show.

MxMo: New Orleans (Ambrosia)

•July 27, 2008 • 8 Comments

Having just arrived back home from Tales, I was extremely tempted to offer the following for my Mixology Monday, New Orleans themed “cocktail”:

PAIN, PAIN GO AWAY

18 oz slightly chilled water
4 Tylenol extra strength
1 can Red Bull
1 bottle Gatorade (any flavor)
place two Tylenol in mouth and follow with chilled water
breathe
place the remaining Tylenol in mouth and follow with Red Bull
breathe
sip Gatorade as you scavenge for food: STAT!

Fearing that our congenial host Paul Clarke, might not have approved, I thought better of leaving you with the above recipe, and began to research something more befitting of the New Orleans cocktail moniker. Trolling the hazy depths of my besotted memory for drinks consumed in the past week, and realizing that someone, somewhere was going to discuss the Sazerac, Ramos Gin Fizz, Vieux Carré, Hurricane, Pimm’s Cup, French 75, Brandy Milk Punch, and/or the Café Brûlot, I decided to crack open the books and dig up something a little different (hopefully).

From Stanley Clisby Arthur’s, Famous New Orleans Drinks & how to mix ‘em, we find the Ambrosia. Our good author goes on to say that “Ambrosia is popularly supposed to have been the drink concocted by the Greek gods on Mount Olympus, and was calculated to put sparkle in Grecian ladies’ eyes and hair on Grecian gentlemen’s chests. At Arnaud’s, one of the better French restaurant’s in New Orleans’ Vieux Carré, a modern version of the Mount Olympus is served. We have it from the proprietor, Arnaud Cazenave (“Count Arnaud” to his familiars) that the ambrosia he brews is one the lovely Hebe might well have served Juno, Jupiter, Ganymede, and the balance of the Olympus crowd. We who have sampled it agree.” It should be noted that Jupiter is actually a Roman god and that our dear author had meant to say Zeus, but because this potation is just so darn tasty, we’ll forgive the transgression.

Gather about the following ingredients and elevate yourselves to the status of a Grecian god(dess) by having your servant concoct this fabulous nectar, befitting of a palate as noble as yours:

AMBROSIA

1jigger (1 ½ oz) Cognac
1jigger (1 ½ oz) applejack (I used Laird’s 100 proof Apple Brandy)
1 dash Cointreau
1 lemon (juice only) (½ oz)
champagne
Mix all but the champagne and pour into a thin 6 oz glass. This mixture will half fill the glass. Pour in the champagne to the brim. Drink while sparkling.

Full of winter flavor, but brightened by the addition of lemon and champagne, it is easy to see how the Ambrosia was a hit at Arnaud’s, regardless of the season. Hopefully the bartenders at their French 75 Bar will one day tire of making (incorrect) French 75’s (they use cognac, which makes it a French 125) and begin offering their guests this lovely concoction instead. I won’t hold my breath.

Ambrosia

Ambrosia

Picture by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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Tales Wrap Up

•July 24, 2008 • 14 Comments

In our world of big names, our true heroes tend to be anonymous. In this life of illusion and quasi-illusion, the person of solid virtues who can be admired for something more substantial than his well-knowness often proves to be the unsung hero: the teacher, the nurse, the mother, the honest cop, the hard worker at lonely, underpaid, unglamorous, unpublicized jobs.

-Daniel J. Boorstin

Click here for more Tales blogging!Tales of the Cocktail is built on the generosity of some and the hard labor of others. I, myself was on three panels this year (and bartended seven more), and this was but a mere shadow of what others contributed. Leaving out the spirit ambassadors and the Robert Hess’ of the event, there was one group of professionals who single handedly made the event run and were not given proper recognition. I speak of course, of that rag-tag group of rock stars that prepped almost every single cocktail created at this enormous event.

Those of you who attended Tales, but did not present a seminar, would’ve been unaware of the scale of the behind the scenes work that was accomplished by this group of elite bartenders. Billed as a Cocktail Apprentice Program, this team organized ingredients, squeezed citrus and prepped recipes for five days straight, with little to no rest. And while this may seem to be a necessity at an event such as this (and it is), it must be shouted to the heavens that these were no mere apprentices, but rather some of this planet’s best mixologists, from New York to San Francisco, from London to Switzerland and places in between, anonymously doing work that most would have bar backs do at their respective places of employ. To give you an idea of the scope of their task, here are some of the numbers proudly touted from last year’s event (keep in mind that this year’s event was much, much bigger):

7250 mint leaves
3580 lime wedges
800 watermelon cubes
560 gin soaked dried cherries
1390 orange slices
2 tons of ice and more for 12,000 sippers!
I don’t even want to imagine what the prep was like for the Tiki Block Party (damn Tiki drinks and their 5ooo ingredients!).

So, the next time you are out on the town, and you see one of the following bartenders, be sure to buy him/her a drink, or if at their bar, leave an extra big tip, for they put their own pleasure, sanity and pocketbook before others in the name of making cocktails and bars better the world over.

In no particular order (and forgive me if I forgot someone) let’s stand up and salute:

Phil Ward
Don Lee
John Paul Deragon
Ryan Fitzgerald
Alexander Day
Josephine Packard
Armando Archundia
Marian Beke
Maxwell Britten
Rhiannon Enlil
Catherine Fellet
Chris Hannah
Thomas Waugh
Jim Kearns
Jacquelyn Leon
Kimberly Patton-Bragg,
Joaquin Simo
Peter Vestinos
LaTanya White

So what else happened at Tales? Well, I didn’t get to observe many seminars as I worked most of the ones that I attended, but I did attend many after-seminar events, my favorite easily being the Bartender’s Breakfast which began with our celebration of the death of the bad cocktail. What did this entail, you ask? Well, after the awards ceremony, everyone met outside of Harrah’s where a New Orleans funeral procession was about to get under way. Being put to rest? The Appletini. After a lively eulogy, we marched down Canal street (yes we had police escort, and yes they shut down New Orleans’ main street on a Saturday night for a mock funeral) until we got to Café Giovanni, where upon everyone tried to jam into the bar for a cocktail. Talk about clowns and cars in reverse. So for all of you that weren’t there: the Appletini is dead. If someone orders one, you’ll have to explain why you can no longer serve it (oh, to be a fly on the wall for that conversation).

As for my seminars, I thought they went fairly well, and hopefully people were entertained. I do feel that I have to offer somewhat of an apology, however. Last year, after Tales was over and I had sat back rummaging through my hazy recollections of the events that had just transpired, I came to the conclusion that a lot of actually useful, “meaty” information wasn’t shared. And I was a little disappointed. When I offered to do the seminars for Tales this year, it was of the mindset that I would rectify that wrong. And I tried. But what I had failed to realize last year, and am completely aware of now, is that it is almost impossible to offer a concise seminar due to the limitations that are presented.

Limitation number one (and the biggest limitation) would be the audience. Now before you get up in arms and call me a coward for blaming my inadequacies on the poor people who happened upon one of my seminars, let me explain. When planning a seminar we have to consider who it is for. In the case of Tales, it is for whosoever wants to buy a ticket, and this means beginning bartenders, cocktail geeks, the crème de la crème of the bar scene as well as media and the average curious Joe off the street. This means that I can’t really dive right into the meaty part of a subject as I have to begin with a lot of basic ground work, ensuring that the whole room will understand what I’m talking about when I get to a topic as complex as, for instance, hydrocolloids and their uses.

Limitation number two is the time constraint. All seminars are 90 minutes long, which may seem fine, but after taking into consideration that the preferred panel has at least three people, and factoring in introductions, setup and question and answer periods, you are left with approximately 25 minutes of presentation time per person. Not a heck of a lot of time for details.

I’m not making excuses here. I just know that a lot of the people in the room might have wanted a little more detail, (and I wanted to offer it) but in reality all I was offering were jumping off points and inspiration. In my opinion, the most interesting information was shared during the question and answer period, which almost makes me want to do a seminar that is 20 minutes setup and 70 minutes Q & A. Oh well. ‘Nuff said.

I’ll leave you with a cocktail created by one of the experts on my Introduction to Molecular Mixology panel, the esteemed Eben Freeman, who requested that all of us bloggers “don’t talk shit about him”. We would never think of it…

CASCADE COCKTAIL

2 oz Tanqueray gin infused with cascade hops
1 oz Martin & Rosso Bianco
stir over ice and strain

Eben making the Cascade Cocktail

Eben making the Cascade Cocktail

Picture by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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Dunkin Cocktail

•July 15, 2008 • 12 Comments

St Germain has been kind enough to throw after-parties at Tales of the Cocktail this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and I have been kind enough to guest bartend on the Friday night party. The theme of the soiree is Bartenders of the World, and as such they have commissioned bartenders from Japan, Australia, South Africa, France, Italy, Mexico, England, and of course, Canada (that’s me).

We were asked to come up with a cocktail recipe that best exemplifies our country, and after much scratching of the head, and no desire to work with the much clichéd maple syrup (besides, St. Germain must be an ingredient, and I like to go easy on the sweeteners), I came up with a drink that had rye (OK, maybe most Canadian whiskey is lacking rye, but once upon a time it was plentiful, and there are some Canadian rye whiskeys) as well as eau-de-vie for ingredients. Many people aren’t aware that Canada makes some sensational, award winning eau-de-vies (we do have orchards you know) and what better time to tell the world of our bounty than when I’m half-cut, and slopping drinks for other, fully-cut, bartenders.

Without further ado, the:

DUNKIN COCKTAIL

1 ½ oz rye
½ oz Pear Eau-de-vie
½ oz St. Germain Elderflower
1 healthy dash Angostura bitters
stir all over ice
strain into a chilled cocktail glass

I’ve named this cocktail after the Christopher Dunkin who, in 1864, introduced into Canadian law a temperance act named after him. Unlike the Volstead Act of the United States, the Dunkin Act was all gums, as it only permitted each county to vote to prohibit the sale of alcohol within its borders (consumption was still A-OK). In 1878 this gave way to the Scott Act, which had a few more teeth, but as we Canadians are much more civilized when it comes to nasty things like Prohibition, the country was never completely dry for more than a year, and in reality, even that was mainly because of the Great War and not our “morals”. I also find it fitting that it was my birth province, Quebec, that was the first to end Prohibition (in Canada, each province got to vote whether it wanted to be dry: ain’t democracy a lovely thing?)

There you have it: I’ll see you at the St. Germain suite!

Drink and Hastily Taken Picture By:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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Mai Tai 3000

•July 13, 2008 • 20 Comments

My last entry until I get back from Tales of the Cocktail will be a final treat from the land of molecular mixology (MM). As I am moderating this introductory seminar, and want to get bums in the seats, I feel that it would only be fitting that I continue the theme of late. This one was created for a Slovakian bar magazine as well: as of late it appears that media demand the most esoteric of these techniques.

Although I usually avoid solid “drinks”, this one was actually pretty tasty, and would be a great warm-up “drink” to get ones palate awake.

MAI TAI 3000

1 lime chip
1 rum square
1 dollop orgeat foam
1 pinch fine orange zest
build in order given
To “drink”: place all in mouth at once and chew

Lime Chip

freeze one lime
slice thinly in a meat slicer
soak in simple syrup
place on tray and place in oven at 100˚ F until sugar has slightly caramelized
let cool

Rum Square

3 oz water
1 tsp agar
3 oz Appleton V/X rum
1 oz Lemonhart 151 rum
place water and agar in a pot for 15 minutes
heat until all agar is dissolved
add rums and stir well
pour carefully into a shallow tray and refrigerate
cut into squares when solid

Orgeat Foam

4 oz orgeat
2 oz water
2 dashes Angostura bitters
3 egg whites
place all ingredients into an ISI charger and charge

Orange Zest

Freshly grate orange peel with a fine spice grater.

This is an obvious deconstruction of that 1944 Trader Vic classic, the Mai Tai. Trader Vic’s original recipe called for rum, lime, orange curaçao, rock candy and orgeat. When building the recipe for the Mai Tai 3000, I had to keep in mind all of these flavors in order for the “drink” to be recognizable. The rock candy was replaced with the simple syrup that soaked the lime chips, and the curaçao was replaced by a touch of orange zest on top of the foam. It is important not to go overboard with zest as it is extremely flavorful and will easily overtake the all other flavors. I chose zest over Cointreau dust as I wanted this “cocktail” to have a brightness to it that will get the consumers taste buds tingling.

So there you have it, my last MM post for some time (surely you know that I prefer obscure classics and their twists by now!), and my last post for at least a week, as I will be in the Big Easy, vainly attempting to remain coherent and sober (where’s the WTCU when you need them?!?!)

Drink and picture by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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All Hail iPhone….

•July 12, 2008 • 11 Comments

Those of you that know me are aware of my love of CocktailDB. Well, my love has just grown exponentially now that I have the Cocktail App for the iPhone.

Created by the same wizards at CocktailDB (everyone, say hi to Martin Doudoroff) the Cocktail App is like the website, but on steroids. Not only does the App have all the recipes from the original website, they’ve also added recipes from Harry Johnson’s Bartender Manual, Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology, Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, The Savoy and more. Extra recipe modules will also be added in the future.

One can easily navigate the over 1500 recipes alphabetically, by base, type, flavor, ingredient or the Search bar. It gives you variations of recipes, each one color-coded depending upon how old the source is (the older the recipe source, the older the background “parchment”, and yes, that means that he has included his source for the recipe). You are able to choose your favorite recipes as well, by touching a star that will be placed in the background of the ingredient list, and you are able to search just through your favorites if you so desire. Apparently you can even share recipes with friends through email or twitter, and change the units of measurement from imperial to metric.

And the best part for me? I no longer have to wait for CocktailDB to load via the web as the App is downloaded onto my iPhone.

UPDATE: I was just informed that the iPhone App’s recipes are completely different than those on the web site. Looks like I’ll have to put that shortcut back on my phone!

Glory, glory, glory days!!

Bohemian Cocktail

•July 10, 2008 • 24 Comments

In keeping with the Tales of the Cocktail inspired Molecular Mixology theme, I’m going to give you a quick cocktail that employs the technique of fat-washing.

Used popularly by esteemed colleagues in New York (see Tailor and PDT), fat washing is an easy way to add flavors to alcohol that wouldn’t have led to favorable results before this technique. Essentially, fat washing entails infusing high fat foods in alcohol and then freezing the alcohol in order to separate the fatty solids from the liquids. In this cocktail, I’ve used bacon-infused bourbon, but when it comes to this technique, the sky’s the limit (I’ve used popcorn-infused Cognac to good effect as well).

This cocktail was also submitted to that good Slovak magazine, hence the use of Becher’s Cordial, the sponsor of that issue.

Bohemian Cocktail

1 ½ oz bacon-infused bourbon
½ oz Cordial
4 dashes cherry bitters
stir all ingredients with ice
strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Bacon-Infused Bourbon

slow-cook two pieces of bacon
place bacon (along with fat) in a jar with 10 oz Bourbon for at least six hours, shaking occasionally
remove bacon
place jar into a freezer overnight
strain out solid fat pieces
filter bourbon through a coffee filter

The honeyed texture of Cordial practically screamed at me to add this to my bacon-infused bourbon, and indeed it did pair nicely. Cherry bitters were a nice foil to the sweetness of the cordial, but Angostura would work just as well.

Try experimenting with different types of bacon, the one that I used for this cocktail was cherry-wood smoked, (hence the addition of cherry bitters) but different types of bacon are sure to work just as nicely.

Stay tuned, as there will be one more molecular mixology inspired “drink” before I go off to Tales.

Picture by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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Becher Negroni

•July 5, 2008 • 5 Comments

As Tales of the Cocktail is just around the corner, and I’m teaching a seminar entitled Introduction to Molecular Mixology (MM), I figured it’s about time that I give you another MM influenced cocktail.

While I’m sure Eben Klemm and Eben Freeman will go off into the more bizarre and extreme tangents of Molecular Mixology (much to the delight of the attendees) I usually prefer techniques that are easy to replicate with minimal equipment and still produce final products that resemble liquid cocktails.

A recent example of my style can be seen in a cocktail that I’d created for a Slovak bar magazine using a local ingredient: Becherovka.

Becherovka, a 200 year old elixir created by Bohemian pharmacist Josef Becher, is a bitter liqueur that tastes not unlike many a treat that could be found in my grandmother’s candy dish. Sweet, medicinal and complex, Becherovka is traditionally served cold as a digestive aid, but is also versatile as a cocktail ingredient. In the Becher Negroni, I’ve used it as an ingredient in the cocktail, as well as its garnish.

Becher Negroni

1 ½ oz gin
¾ oz Cinzanno Rosso
½ oz Becherovka
dash orange bitters
stir all ingredients with ice
strain into a chilled Becherovka-dust rimmed cocktail glass

Becherovka Dust

pour 8 oz Becherovka into a shallow tray
place into food dehydrator and dehydrate
grind solid Becherovka with mortar and pestle
(if you don’t have a dehydrator, leave Becherovka near a warm place for about a week or until it is no longer wet and has formed a crust-like texture)

The dust adds a different texture to this modern adaptation of that classic of classics, the Negroni, introducing the imbiber to the idea of Becherovka even before the liquid hits the palate. When making this dust, some of the bitterness of Becherovka faded, with the delighted consumer being treated to the sweeter aspects of Becherovka before its characteristic bitterness comes along in the finish, reminding the bon vivant what a complex spirit this truly is.

Picture by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer &
Mixologist At Large

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Ghosts….

•July 1, 2008 • 1 Comment

They haunt me, those cocktailian tomes from the past of which I only get fleeting eBay glimpses. I try to capture them, but I’m either not quick enough, or my wallet just isn’t thick enough. Either way they disappear into the night, rarely, if ever, being seen again.

Until now that is.

Our good eBay friend Greg, of Mud Puddle Books, has looked kindly on those of us without trust funds and has started to release those legendary opuses of bygone barkeeps. The first set of five will be available on July the 10th (my birthday, but don’t fret, I already have my set coming) with at least eight more on the way (including that one book that every single bartender must possess, Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks).

Here’s what you can pre-order right now:

1. Barflies and Cocktail by Harry McElhone (a reproduction of the 1927 edition) with a new introduction by David Wondrich.

2. Bartender’s Manual by Harry Johnson (a reproduction of the 1900 edition) with a new introduction by Robert Hess.

3. American and Other Iced Drinks by Charlie Paul (a reproduction of the 1895 edition) with a new introduction by Dale DeGroff.

4. How to Mix Drinks; A Bon Vivant’s Companion by Jerry Thomas (a reproduction of the 1862 edition) with a new introduction and appendix by David Wondrich.

5. The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David A. Embury with new introductions by Audrey Saunders and Robert Hess.

6. The Mixicologist by C.F. Lawlor (a reproduction of the 1895 edition) with a new introduction by Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh.

7. Modern Bartender’s Guide by O.H. Byron (a reproduction of the 1884 edition) with an introduction by Brian Rea.

And, last but not least, a new publication by our good Seattle neighbor, Robert Hess.

1. The Essential Bartender’s guide by Robert Hess with cocktails from some of your favorite bartenders included (even me!)

I’ve actually held some of these in my hand, and they are fine reproductions.

Christmas has come early for me this year (I feel giddy like a little schoolgirl)!!!

Thanks Greg!

What A Tool!

•June 30, 2008 • 18 Comments

bar toolsAs I’ve been travelling quite a bit lately, trying to get gigs wherever they may be (my San Francisco trip will be posted soon) I’ve had to find a way to bring my bartending tools with me. Now you may be wondering why I would bring my own tools when I’m going to work at a full functioning bar, but let me start off by saying that the expression “A spoon is a spoon is a spoon” is not true. If I’ve confused you, excellent: read on.

Good chefs have, since the beginning of time brought their own tools to work. For that matter, every true professional (in jobs that involves hands-on creativity) uses their own tools, whether they are a sculptor, mechanic, carpenter or stone-mason. There is a relationship that one develops with tools over time, whether that tool is a chisel, hammer, knife or Hawthorn strainer. As bartending begins to be taken as a serious profession in the US (which really hasn’t happened since Prohibition) and people choose this noble profession as an end (and not a means to an end: i.e. acting) the tools that a professional bartender uses should be given more thought.

Let’s start by examining the first examining the basics, slowly working our way to the more esoteric tools that one may need and finally ending on which carrying case to choose.

The Mixing Container

For most people a well constructed Boston shaker will do the job as you are able to shake and stir with one tool. The key to picking out a well-made Boston shaker is to check to see if the metal part is all one piece with no obvious seams. This not only makes for a better shaker that will have a more consistent seal, but it won’t be able to fall apart on you, unlike those other two-piece metal shakers. As for the glass part of the Boston shaker, try to find one without any writing on it. If you can’t find a proper set, just go to the glass section of any kitchen store with the metal part of your shaker in hand and find a pint glass that will make a good seal.
I personally prefer an all metal shaker for shaking (the drink gets colder faster) and a large glass container for stirring (you can see what’s going on and add tons of ice for proper chilling). The metal container that I carry in my travelling case is WMF, who also makes a good mixing glass. I’ve found, however, that a much cheaper mixing glass can be had by using a Bonjour French press insert. Why Bonjour? Easy, they have the least amount of writing on the glass (and are also cheaper than Bodum). When I hit the lottery I plan on upgrading my metal shaker to one of silver.

The Hawthorn Strainer

There are a plethora of cheap strainers on the market, most of them with loose springs that fall off easily. I personally look for a strainer that has some weight (doesn’t feel flimsy) and has a nice tight coil that would also be difficult to take off if, I so desired.
While WMF makes a pretty good strainer, I’m just in love with the one that OXO makes. Tight coil, raised lip, finger rest: what’s not to love?!?!

The Julep Strainer

I’ve yet to find a source for a good quality julep strainer. However, it is handy to have one in your repertoire (even if you can’t find a stellar example) as you don’t want to use your Hawthorn when straining out shakers that have leafy ingredients in them like basil or mint.

The Spoon

This should be of solid metal construction. A twist down the middle of the base encourages a certain style of stirring as well as slows down liquids when making your pousse-cafés.
I am a big fan of the solid metal end: never use a spoon with a plastic end! I have spoons with round knobs for the end (excellent for stirring) as well as the flat disk (which is excellent for layering) and enjoy using both. The shape of the end of the spoon is not as important as material that it is made with. You haven’t used a plastic spoon since you were eating pureed apples and carrots for dinner; why would you use a plastic spoon for bartending now?
This is the spoon I use. It has lasted for years and has great weight. I can’t imagine using another.

The Wine Opener

A simple waiter’s corkscrew is what you’re looking for here. Make sure it’s doubled hinged and Teflon coated (the spiral is black). A serrated blade will stay sharp longer that a straight edge as well.

The Jigger

Jiggers come in all shapes and sizes, but I’m a HUGE fan of the OXO jigger. The fact that it measures from ¼ oz to 3 oz and is easy to read make this jigger a must have for me.

The Muddler

For this you want something that is made of hard wood, has little to no writing and definitely no paint (it flakes off). Remember to get some food grade oil to take care of your muddler; it’ll thank you by lasting a lifetime.
As everyone’s hands are a different size, I’ll let you choose your muddler, but let it be known that I’m a big fan of Pug!

The Knife

Ensure your knife is of high quality and is always kept sharp. Knives are a very individual thing so go to your local kitchen store and hold several to make sure that it feels good in your hand. Some bartenders prefer to have two knives, one for paring and cutting small fruit and another for cutting larger fruit like watermelons or pineapples.

The Cutting Board

Any quality board will do, but I’m a big fan of thin lightweight cutting boards: I am lugging all this equipment around after all! I usually choose black cutting boards, because for some reason I always seem to spill some Angostura bitters on them, and Angostura stains. Right now my travelling cutting board is from Epicurean.

The Juicer

A handheld juicer is always important to carry as you never know what kind of situation you will be walking into when you travel. While I like larger juicers for home and bar, a solid handheld juicer is always good to have as a backup. Handheld juice presses like this are a good start. If space is of a premium, you could also use a reamer.

The Fine Strainer

Also known as a tea strainer this is used for double straining cocktails. This tool is great for keeping out smaller bits of fruit and ice that your Hawthorn strainer just can’t catch. There are a million of these, but I’m a fan of all metal ones like this.

The Zester

When it comes to zesters, I always have two: the Y-Peeler for extremely thin wide zests with no pith, and the channel zester for the classic twisted zest that looks better in a Champagne flute. When choosing your channel zester, ensure that it is sturdy (see if it bends easily at the point where the handle and the head meet) and that you can feel the “teeth” of the zester. If you can’t feel those teeth, it probably won’t do a good job. Available in every kitchen store.

The Spice Grater

Extremely useful in the winter, the fine grater can also be used to add fine zest to a cocktail as an ingredient (think toddy) or garnish on foam. Microplane seems to be the authority on graters.

The Ice Tongs

While most bartenders nowadays don’t have a use for ice tongs, I use them every time I bartend. Not only are they useful for putting single cubes of ice into that cask-strength whiskey, but they are a great way to introduce a straw into a glass without getting your grubby little mitts all over it. I find people tend to appreciate the fact that you place a slice of lime on the rim of a glass with tongs: it’s a touch of class. When using tongs in this manner, you’ll want to find a set that is fairly flat; you don’t want a huge space in between the teeth when you squeeze the tongs together or you won’t be able to hold your straws. These are bad; you want something more like this.

The Lighter

Useful for flaming orange zest, in tandem with the Mister (see below) and charming the ladies that need to go out for a smoke, I’ve always used the Atoll Robusto (if you hunt around you can find them for about $75). Besides being handsome, this lighter has a double flame that stays lit without your help (useful when flaming the rosemary in a Rubicon).

The Bitter Bottles

I can’t depend on the cities or bars that I visit to have ready access to bitters, so I always pack some with me when I travel. While I like using fancy bottles to sit on the bar (yup, WMF again), for travelling purposes I go to Specialty Bottle, which has bottles of all shapes and sizes. I usually pick small bottles for travelling which in turn allows me to carry more variety than if I had just used the original bottles that the bitters came in. On another note, WMF also makes dasher tops which can be used in antique bitter bottles that one may find on eBay.

The Rags

Really? You need me to tell you which rags to get? OK then, make sure you have at least two (a damp one for under your cutting board and one for your spills) and make sure that they can absorb liquids. If the rag for spills gets too dirty, swap it for the one under your cutting board. That’s it.

The ISI Container

While this isn’t a necessary item, it is certainly handy if you want to make drinks that have whipping cream, or better still, foams on top. These can be found in any quality kitchen store.

The Frother

I’m probably one of only two people that I know that uses this tool, but I love it nonetheless. Again I’ve gone to Bonjour for this tool; it’s the lazy man’s way to incorporate egg into your cocktail. Much more effective and faster than dry-shaking, the frother ensures that my flips and sours have a large head that is there to stay!
Tip: Make sure you get a frother with hard blades and not a whisk-style end.

The Mister

Another item that isn’t a necessity by any means, the mister can be used to spray subtle flavors on a glass before filling it (think absinthe) or as a torch if filled with high-octane booze (check out my Rosewater Rickey video). You want to get a quality stainless steel mister as the cheaper ones clog easily and fall apart before long.

The Case

Here’s where you can have some fun.
While some, like Robert Hess, may prefer to use a doctor’s bag, I like to go one step further. My traveling case may cost a fair bit more than the doctor’s bag or even a camera bag (which I’ve used in the past), but it looks quite a bit more professional, and ensures that I never leave a tool behind.
To start off, one needs to find an old suitcase. You know the kind I mean, an old, battered (maybe not too battered), solid hard case with lots of room that your grandfather (or great-grandfather) used to use. They can almost always be found at any antique store (or eBay) for around $20-$40.
Once you’ve found a suitable case, grab your local Yellow Pages and search for foam shops (the kind that sell foam mattresses) in your area. Give them a call to ensure that they make custom foam molds and bring your case, along with all of the bar tools that you want to travel with, down to the foam shop. Don’t worry about figuring out what tool needs to go where: they’re professionals and will take care of this for you.
My setup took about a week to make and cost around $100, which may seem like a lot, but when you consider that the kit is airplane proof, and will last a lifetime, it really is a paltry sum. Also, as I’d alluded to before, because each tool has its own mold, I always know if I’ve forgotten something.

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There you have it, pretty much every tool that you will need when making drinks away from your home/bar.

Happy Traveling!!!

Travelling Bar Case

Pictures by:

Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer

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Bonanza!

•June 26, 2008 • 13 Comments

Exciting times are soon to be had by all obscure classic cocktail drinkers in the State of Washington. Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz was in town yesterday and has informed me that the following products are either in Seattle already (waiting to go on shelves) or on the way. Even better, they are all reasonably priced from $15.78 – $31.56 (the eau-de-vie being by far the most expensive, but worth it as it is darn tasty).

1. Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur of the Alps
2. Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur
3. Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette
4. Rothman & Winter Orchard Pear Liqueur
5. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
6. Hayman’s Old Tom Gin
7. Pear Williams Purkhart Alto Adige Eau-de-Vie
8. Blume Marillen Apricot Eau-de-Vie
9. John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
10. Batavia Arrack van Oosten
11. Lauria Alpensahne Alpine Cream Liqueur
12. Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur

Look for them on your shelves at a store near you (or at the very least at Store 101 in Seattle) and start making proper Aviations, Self-Starters, Corn N’ Oils, None But The Braves, Boomerangs, and finally, at long last, an Old Tom Martinez.

On another note, a little birdie told me that Robert Cooper of St. Germain Elderflower fame will be releasing his Crème Yvette and Forbidden Fruit very soon, and that some of it will be available at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail.

I almost forgot, Ted Breaux was also in town yesterday with news that his Jade Nouvelle-Orleans absinthe will soon be available in the US. To find out about the twenty-something other absinthes that are already here or on their way, click here.

Exciting stuff indeed!

Crappy picture taken in dark bar by:
Jamie Boudreau

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