Thursday, July 16, 2009

Slash Food

Tales of the Cocktail 2009 - Day Two

jason littrell
The Randolph's Jason Littrell at Tales of the Cocktail. Photo: Sara Bonisteel
We're moving a little slower today -- in part because it's sweltering in New Orleans. We'd hate to blame the 40 different libations created by mixologists amid a Mardi Gras exhibition at the Presbytere for a spirited happy hour at Tales of the Cocktail, but that might be at play too.

Yesterday saw seminars on the hows of alcohol -- how to taste, how to pair, how to make vegan clover clubs (substitute soy lecithin for the egg whites). It also saw some of the world's most famous mixologists shaking their stuff -- Dale DeGroff, David Wondrich, Junior Merino. Keep following us on Twitter. And click on for a gallery of on-the-scene photos.

Taken From:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Is NY Mag really a big deal?

Apparently, my friend from Texas texted me about this...

What to Drink While It’s Warm Out

6/25/09 at 6:39 PM


Photo: Melissa Hom

The sun’s reappearance reminds us (as does this week’s magazine) that it is summer, after all. So toss off your clothes and order a Hedwig at the Jane Hotel, because it's fun to say. Try Jason Littrell’s beer-and-cilantro concoction at the Randolph at Broome, and see how many coconut martinis you can handle at Pravda. Watch the slideshow for more ideas. If it’s summer, we all ought to be drinking.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Bar show was a bar-joke, but we did have SOME fun.

From: the Dizzy Fizz (.com)

Dizzy Recap: The New York Bar Show


If you ever wanted proof of the clash between the crafty cocktail world and the superficial land of clubdom, it was at last week’s New York Bar Show, an annual food and beverage trade show. Nonetheless, buzzing through aisles of drink samples and girls in bikinis at Jacob Javits Convention Center certainly isn’t the worst way to spend an afternoon. I had hopes of bringing you some news of hot-off-the-presses, must-try spirits or fancy bar gadgets, but alas, I really didn’t learn anything new. What I did absorb (besides several sippy cups of tequila, gin, pisco, absinthe, beer, and vodka) is that the mixology side of the bar business has a long way to go to educate mainstream consumers that it’s worthy of as much attention as the pretty girls who pour your shots. Leading the cocktail teach-in at the Bar Show was the non-stop presentation by the New York chapter of the U.S. Bartender’s Guild. When I strolled by, I found mixologist (and talented photographer) Elba S. Giron mixing the Joie de Veev cocktail, of all things, while mixologists Jonathan Pogash and Jason Littrell handed out information and chatted with passersby. Other highlights included: Mekhong Spirit of Thailand cocktails, Pisco Sours with Gran Sierpe, and Daiquiris with Don Q Rum courtesy of James Menite of Porter House. Workshop sessions (which I didn’t attend) featured mixologists such as Gary Regan, Charlotte Voisey, Junior Merino, Tad Carducci, Brian Van Flandern, and Martin Miller’s brand ambassador Jon Santer. Entertainment came in the form of ice luges, beer pong, Hustlers Club girls, and an inflatable bull (which was just for display, I think). Whether or not this show was the right place to spread the good word of fresh-ingredient cocktails or not, props must be given to the USBGNY for putting in the effort. I would love to see more of a cocktail culture presence next year, or perhaps a separate event will emerge. Check out this video of Jason Littrell at the Bar Show making a Southside using Bols Genever.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Shake it, don't break it.

A Mixologist’s Shake, And What Goes Into It:
Featuring 33 Cocktail Shakes Across New York City

June 2009

Late spring at always means an editorial sweep across New York City, harvesting material for the upcoming editorial calendar year and tasting with candidates for our 2009 Rising Stars. We attended events and tastings armed with Flip video cameras, and the second the shakers were sealed, we started filming, regardless of how dark or loud the bar was. The result is a compendium of shaking styles that reflects work histories, philosophies, personalities—even blood alcohol levels at the time of shooting.

There are three physical factors at work in a well-made cocktail: water content, ingredient distribution and temperature. While some spirits require only a stir to acheive a balance of these factors, others can only attain true cocktail Nirvana with a shake. And, as we learned, a mixologist's shake is like a thumbprint—no two shakes are the same.

According to Joaquin Simo of New York City’s Death & Company, “A shake should wake up a cocktail. Its function is to make it greater than the sum of its parts.” For Simo, shaking is necessary to combine different textures into one.

What types of cocktails need shaking? “Any drink that contains an element that can cloud up a drink,” says 2007 New York Rising Star Jim Meehan of PDT, citing citrus, egg whites and cream as the most commonly shaken ingredients.

The theory behind the shake holds that the back-and-forth motion drives an ice cube to chip at the corners, breaking off bits that dilute and chill the liquid. The remaining chunks of ice further chill the liquid as the cocktail becomes aerated and blended.

Mixologists agree that different cocktails call for different shakes. Recipes call for varying levels of dilution and temperature, depending on how they are to be consumed. A shaken cocktail served up should get a long and hard shake in order to achieve a nice, frothy consistency, as it won’t have ice to keep it cold. Conversely, for drinks served on ice, the shake should be modified accordingly. In the end, it's about what you’re trying to acheive with the cocktail.

Albert Trummer of New York’s Apothéke suggests always using the proper proportions of ice and liquid inside a shaker. That means not too much of either, and no shaking more than two drinks’ worth of alcohol in one tumbler. Shaking should stop when the metal is near frozen.

Things get more complicated when you take into account the different types of ice and the process used to make them. On our tastings across the country, we've seen a little bit of everything, from 300-pound slabs of industrial ice broken down with ice picks to house-made ice cubes carved into diamonds with sashimi knives. Premium ice machines like those manufactured by Kold-Draft have also become a popular tool for bars that are serious about their cocktail program.

At Little Branch in New York City, ice is a matter of preference—Mixologist and 2008 New York Rising Star Sam Ross uses single in-house frozen blocks of ice. “It has to be efficient as possible” Ross says. “You want maximum chill with minimal dilution”.

At Long Island City, NY, bar Dutch Kills, Giuseppe Gonzalez and co-owner Richard Boccato replace the usual mixing glass with a smaller metal tumbler to obtain a better seal on cocktails and a colder temperature.

Also, without the metal tumbler, the slow-frozen block ice used at Dutch Kills would simply shatter any mixing glass, especially considering the brute force of certain shakes like Gonzalez's or Brian Miller at Death & Company. If using a mixing glass, double-tempered bottoms are a must.

Another distinctive style is the “hard shake.” Developed in Japan to give a whipped mouthfeel to ingredients like cream, the hard shake chills liquids to the point of surface ice formation. In our video featuring shaking styles across New York City, look for the hard shake from Eben Freeman, Shinichi Ikeda, Takaaki Hashimoto, and Kenta Goto.

“Function begets form,” says Back Forty’s Michael Cecconi. The New York mixologist’s high shaking style evolved from the need to avoid colliding with servers and managers passing through the bar during service. Apothéke's Miguel Aranda cautiously shakes to the side to avoid spraying patrons should the seal break.

As anyone would expect, shaking 200 cocktails a night can cause significant wear on a person’s body. Mixologist Alex Day of Death & Company adopted his style as a variation on the hard shake, modified to protect him from shaking-related injuries he’s seen occur to colleagues. At Apothéke, Orson Salicetti adopts a martial arts-inspired stance to protect his back.

All shaking technicalities aside, mixologists will always be front-of-the-house employees, at the service of his/her guests. Where cocktails are taken seriously, the shake itself is an integral part of the entertainment factor in the dining/drinking experience. “A shake should be pleasant to watch,” as Meehan puts it. And he’s right. Regardless of how hard the shake is, or who is shaking the drink, patrons will always turn their heads when they hear the familiar "ka-chunk, ka-chunk" sound sailing out from behind the bar.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Star Chefs!

In Cocktails, Beer Goes a Long Way

June 2009

In the heyday of updated classic cocktails, and rediscovered interest in tequilas and mezcal, a newcomer is creeping into the mixology scene’s spotlight: beer. Beer cocktails possess a refreshing quality and an affinity for varied flavor pairings, although their diverse flavor profiles and levels of carbonation make them a challenge for bartenders when it comes to mixing with spirits.

For Rising Star Mixologist Jim Meehan of New York City’s PDT, beer cocktails are a spin-off of the nose-to-tail kitchen philosophy, a direct result of mixologists looking to get the most out of their bars’ existing ingredients.

"If I have house beers and still wines, I should try and incorporate them" explains Meehan, who has put one beer cocktail on each season’s menu since 2007. So far, Meehan has used stouts, pumpkin beers, white ales and Pilsners in his creations.

In the case of JoeDoe, an 8-month-old, 26-seat restaurant in New York's East Village, the beer cocktail program was born out of necessity. Storing a large selection of wines wasn't an option for co-owner Jill Schulster, nor was there the financial means to stock and sell the usual extensive spirit selection found at most restaurants and cocktail bars.

Fortunately, commonsense and beer cocktails came in handy. Schulster stocks her bar with a small selection of carefully picked spirits that she uses to fashion all of her alcoholic beverages. Her list of approximately 10 featured beer cocktails are made with JoeDoe’s usual stock of house beers. Schulster’s beer preferences depart from popular Mexican-style beers and explore the sophisticated flavor profiles of artisanal brews. In particular, her choice of bitter pale ales pair well with a variety of spirits, and additional salty, sour, or sweet elements that appear in the drink as well as in the form of garnishes.

New York City Mixologist Philip Ward, of newly opened Mayahuel, finds beer in cocktails to be underutilized in general.

"It's strange because it's a bit finicky" says Ward, explaining that the carbonation and general mouthfeel of beer make it trickier to pair with spirits than one would think. Ward suggests incorporating citrus as a consistent ingredient in beer cocktails, as it intensifies the refreshing qualities of beer. He also points out that beer can be used as more than just a topper for shaken spirits—it can be rolled in a shaker until it loses its carbonation, and then be subjected to further treatment.

Once the right proportions are found, different beers can be taken down simpler or more complex paths. Both Ward and Jason Littrell of New York City’s The Randolph at Broome modify the Michelada template, opting for the deeper complexity of Negra Modelo beer over the traditional lager-style. Michael Cecconi of New York City’s Back Forty goes for a more drastic (but sensible) substitution, replacing Champagne with a German-style Pilsner from Pennsylvania. But things shouldn’t be taken too far. "You couldn't substitute beer for the whisky in a Manhattan" Meehan advises.

With our New York mixology tastings still fresh on our taste buds, here are six ideas for beer cocktails.

Penn Shandy
Mixologist Michael Cecconi of Back Forty – New York, NY
Cecconi’s riff on a French 75 cocktail (Champagne, gin, citrus and syrup) substitutes the bubbly with beer and adds ginger by infusing it into the gin. The result is a highly refreshing summer drink with tart, citrus notes and a welcome bite.

Spring Forward
Mixologist Jill Schulster of JoeDoe – New York, NY
A Pilsner glass rimmed with locally sourced wildflower honey and seasoned with kosher salt leaves a delightful salty-caramel flavor, prolonging the cocktail's taste. Schulster’s choice of DH Krahn Gin shaken with lemon juice provides a citrusy and almost sweet counterpart to the Left Hand Brewery’s Sawtooth Ale.

Here Comes the Sun
Mixologist Jill Schulster of JoeDoe – New York, NY
In this well-balanced play on the Tequila Sunrise, the orange juice and tequila transform the hoppy flavor profile of the India pale ale used in the cocktail. A salty preserved orange wheel rounds out the drink, making it great as a standalone cocktail or companion to spicy food.

Beer and a Smoke
Mixologist Jim Meehan of PDT – New York, NY
Mezcal’s smoky, peaty character (lent from the oak-fired baking of the agave plant’s mashed hearts) makes it an ideal match for a Pilsner-style beer. A celery salt rim gives a savory finish to the drink, confirming that beer cocktails benefit from a salty element.

El Jimador’s Shifty
Mixologist Philip Ward of Mayahuel – New York, NY
Ward’s beer of choice is a crisp and malty Negra Modelo, which adds body and gives the cocktail a cola-esque quality. The mezcal is subtle and pleasantly complemented by the lingering heat of the salt, sugar and cayenne pepper rim.

Beer and Cilantro
Mixologist Jason Littrell of The Randolph at Broome – New York, NY
Fresh herbs can also be used to flavor beer cocktails, and muddled cilantro makes Littrell’s particularly refreshing. An aged tequila provides a pleasing hint of wood in the aftertaste, proving that tequilas, mezcals and beers go well in almost any combination.

New York Cocktails Examiner!

Summertime cilantro

June 4, 7:41 AM · Add a Comment
Add a Comment

Photo by Jason Littrell

Summertime is perfect for fresh fruits and vegetables, and fresh ingredients make for fantastic cocktails! A favorite herb to use in summer is cilantro, because its distinct fresh taste is great in cold salads and cold drinks! Cilantro is extremely popular now in new culinary and beverage recipes. Jason Littrell from a cool local bar called Randolph at Broome, between Bowery and Elizabeth in Soho, created a fantastic cocktail using cilantro, tequila and beer! Cheers!
Cilantro and Beer
1 1/2oz ultra premium anejo tequila
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
¾ oz Simple Syrup
Negro Modelo Beer

Muddle cilantro into your mixing glass. Pour in the tequila, lime juice and simple syrup. Give a good shake and strain into a Collins glass. Top with Negro Modelo Beer. Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs.