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Archive for May, 2010

*Recent ruminations from LUPEC Boston, originally published in the Weekly Dig.

by Pink Lady

A favored tipple of grandmas and Brits, sherry hasn’t been popular among young’uns like us in a while. We happen to love the stuff. At the Manhattan Cocktail Classic in New York last week, we attended a seminar on sherry drinks that convinced us sherry will be the next hip thing. Here’s a primer, so you know what to expect when you see it pop up on cocktail lists everywhere.

Most people think of sherry as a sweet wine, but it’s actually made in a variety of styles ranging from super dry pale finos, to the rich, lush wines made from Pedro Ximinez, one of the sweetest wines you’ll ever taste.

Sherry is a fortified wine made in Jerez (southern Spain). Palomino fino is the base grape for most sherries, and it yields a regular wine that is light, pleasant to drink and straightforward, if a bit uninteresting. The sherry-making process changes this wine completely, developing complex flavors that make it an interesting ingredient in any cocktail.

Sherry wines are aged in barrels called “butts” (hehe), under a thick layer of yeast called “flor,” which prevents oxidation of the dry fino wines. After aging for six months, the winemaker checks the wines and determines, based on the flor’s thickness, if the wine will be a fino, or a nuttier, oxidized style, like amontillado or oloroso. Each style is then placed in its own solera, a special system of fractional blending, in which old wine is constantly refreshed with new wine. The barrels are stacked on top of one another in rows called “criaderas,” with the oldest butts on top. In some sherry houses, these criaderas house wine for years. Each time the sherry is bottled, an equal amount of vino is drawn off from each of the criaderas in the solera. That wine is then replaced with wine from the next oldest criadera, and winemakers are careful to blend horizontally and vertically across the rows in the solera. It’s a crazy complicated system, brimming with tradition and, in our opinion, a little bit of magic.

Sherry may be perceived as grandmacore, but back in the Golden Age of cocktails, the sherry cobbler was one of the most popular drinks around. It’s a light, refreshing sip, perfect for spring, and one we highly recommend resurrecting on the patio.

THE SHERRY COBBLER
Adapted from IMBIBE by David Wondrich, based on Jerry Thomas’ recipe

4 oz sherry of your choice

0.5 oz simple syrup

2-3 slices of orange

Shake ingredients with cracked ice, pour unstrained into a tall glass, with fresh fruits in season as garnish.

Dr. Wondrich suggests that Jerry Thomas would have been mixing this with fino sherry, but play around and see which you like best. For fuller, sweeter sherries like Pedro Ximinez or oloroso, scale back the sugar.

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*Recent ruminations from LUPEC Boston, originally published in this week’s Dig.

by Pink Lady

Consider the gimlet: Like the Manhattan, it’s a drink that’s outlasted many of its contemporaries and is still commonly served in the modern bar. It’s a drink we could categorize as exempt from extinction … or utterly bulletproof.

The gimlet was born over 100 years ago on the seven seas. Its medicinal and Navy parentage has origins in the Merchant Shipping Act of 1867, which enforced a daily ration of citrus juice for all sailors to prevent scurvy. That same year, Lauchlin Rose introduced a sweetened lime juice that could be preserved without alcohol, known as a lime cordial. It had the same effect as the fresh-squeezed stuff but was less bracing on the palate. Rose’s Lime Juice can still be found behind even the most basic bars today. Add a little English gin to your Rose’s, and you’ve got yourself a cocktail to last through the ages.

Many modern bartenders will call a drink made with gin, fresh lime juice and simple syrup a gimlet. While that may taste refreshing and delicious, a gimlet it is not. The original gimlet recipe calls for lime cordial (Rose’s to be exact), and for many bartenders, this is the only way it can be made.

We can’t vouch for the Rose’s of yesteryear, but the modern incarnation is intensely sweet and tastes a little too artificial for our liking. Lime cordial doesn’t have to be this way. A well-made lime (or lemon, or grapefruit) cordial is bright and refreshing. Since cordial is already sweet, you can dispense with the simple syrup and make great drinks quickly with just a bottle of homemade stuff in your fridge. Add spirit, ice and whatever else inspires you.

The lime cordial recipe below comes to us by way of Chicago, from bartender Todd Appel of the Crimson Lounge and Piranha Bros. Cocktail Catering and Bar Planning. It pretty much melted our faces when we sampled it. The recipe’s easy and approachable, and a perfect addition to the syrups series. Try yours in a [faux] gimlet today.
TODD APPEL’S LIME CORDIAL

*To preserve the lime juice in an old-fashioned way, use tartaric acid and citric acid. Lime cordial will last up to six weeks refrigerated.

1 part fresh-squeezed lime juice
1.25 parts sugar
10-15 limes, zested
tartaric acid (optional)
citric acid (optional)

Zest limes, taking care to remove all of the green part and only the green part (white pith is bitter). Cook lime juice with sugar, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add lime zest and cool. Strain out lime zest, bottle and refrigerate.

*If using citric acid and tartaric acid, use 2 tsp each per quart of lime cordial.

Read more of Todd’s own recipes on his blog, Splash Mix Cocktails with Todd Appel. Todd was also runner up in Season 2 of a little bartender reality show, On The Rocks, which you can check out here.

Cin-cin!

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*Recent ruminations from LUPEC Boston, originally published in The Weekly Dig.

We’ve barely broached the topic of tipping. Gratuity is a confusing issue, and we’d like to address the view from the other side of the bar.

The lore of tipping a dollar a drink

Once upon a time, a cocktail was sour mix and spirits and set you back $5. In those days, $1 per drink was a fair tip. But tipping 15 percent on your dinner is no longer enough, nor is tipping a buck for a $10 drink.

“If I open a $3 Bud for you, I don’t expect more than a dollar,” says Hanky Panky, a bartendrix at Drink. “When you tip me $1 on an $11 drink, that’s less than 10 percent.”

“Know how to figure it quickly and easily,” says Pinky Gonzales. “Ten percent of a $12 drink is 1.20, therefore, x 2 = $2.40 to make 20 percent. You can also make it easy on yourself and a little generous for the bartender and round up.”

“My general rule is $1 a drink or 20 percent, whichever is higher,” says Bourbon Belle. That’s easy to remember, no matter how many drinks you’ve had.

Craft counts

Anyone can pop open a brewsky, but bartending at a craft cocktail mecca is a different animal. Bartenders at the city’s finest watering holes spend days—even months—developing tinctures, bitters, syrups and shrubs for the perfect cocktail, or hand-carving a special ice formation to chill your Old Fashioned without watering it down. This extra love deserves a little extra love. And nothing says “I love you” like cash.

Be appreciative

If you roll into the bar at last call and order seven Blue Blazers, put yourself in your barman’s/barmaid’s shoes: You’re just about to log off your computer and go home when the boss rolls over to your desk. Remember that as your bartender tosses flaming hot whiskey between two mugs at 1:45am. Reward your server as you wish your boss would: with thanks. And cash.

If your bartender gives you something for free, a few bucks more than 20 percent is a small way to say thanks, and a small price to pay for the VIP treatment you’ve just received.

Bartending is a demanding job and pays about $6 an hour. Bartenders work long hours—12-14 hour days are commonplace—and the bulk of their salary depends entirely upon tips, which means it depends entirely on you. So tip generously and tip often.

Cin-cin!

TIP TOP PUNCH

1.5 oz brandy
0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
0.25 tsp sugar
0.5 oz Benedictine

Shake in an iced cocktail shaker and then strain over new ice in a tall glass. Top with champagne.

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by Pink Lady

We LUPEC gals are some bitter broads…when it comes to cocktails, anyway. We’ve been fans of The Bitter Truth products since we got our hot little hands on test samples a while back, and eagerly awaited the Boston launch of this brand for years. The Bitter Truth bitters became available in the Bean a few months back and we’re now thrilled to announce that The Bitter Truth founders, Stephan Berg and Alexander Hauck, are coming to Boston, too.

The exciting roster of consumer events lined up include a fabulous Meet & Greet/Tasting at The Boston Shaker from 6-7 p.m. tomorrow followed by a seminar at DownTown Wine & Spirits from 8-9:30. There are still a few spots left for this, so make sure to reserve your spot today!

If you can’t make it to either event tomorrow, Stephan and Alexander will be guest bartending at Eastern Standard on Thursday from 4 – 7 p.m. Come by for a drink and to chat about their famous brand of artisanal bitters.

Cin-cin!

Meet-and-Greet with The Bitter Truth founders Stephan Berg and Alexander Hauck at The Boston Shaker

WEDNESDAY, MAY 12, 2010, 6:00-7:00 p.m., FREE
The Boston Shaker
69 Holland Street
Somerville, MA 02144
617-718-2999
www.thebostonshaker.com

Bitters Seminar at DownTown Wine & Spirits

***A FEW SPOTS STILL AVAILABLE***
WEDNESDAY, MAY 12, 2010, 8-9:30 p.m., $35/per person
225 Elm St
Somerville, MA, 02144
617-625-7777

Join the founders of The Bitter Truth, Alex and Stephan, as they walk through the history of bitters with a focus on the cocktail. From the 18th century through the birth of the saloon to the bar and cocktail culture we know today, this seminar will explore myths, facts, and developments in the world of bitters. We’ll discuss early brands, defunct brands, and changes to the product over time while revealing true historical facts of well-established brands and offering insight into The Bitter Truth range of products.

Sign up via The Boston Shaker.

GUEST BARTENDING: The Bitter Truth’s Alex and Stephan Shaking it Up Behind the Bar at Eastern Standard

THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2010, 4:00-7:00 p.m.
528 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215-2606
(617) 532-9100

Sample drinks made with The Bitter Truth’s sought-after line bitters, shaken and stirred by founders Alex Hauck and Stephan Berg themselves!

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by Pink Lady

For this installment of Bulletproof Cocktails, let us give thanks for the highball. It’s a drink you’ve probably been ordering your entire adult life and one that every bartender in the world knows how to make; a drink with such a lively pulse, you may be wondering how it made it onto our endangered beverages list.

A highball consists of a few lumps of ice and a dram of the spirit of choice topped with fizzy water or ginger ale. If Jack & ginger is your jam, well, so are highballs. It’s hard to imagine that such an intuitive combination would need to be “invented.,” and more curious still that it’s younger than complex tipples like the Sazerac or the Crusta.

The original highball was a Scotch whisky-based drink born in the 1890s during a great influx of newfangled Scottish things, like blended Scotches and … golf. Both were enjoyed by the well-to-do, but Prohibition leveled the playing field. While Americans preferred native spirits, bourbon and rye were difficult to come by. The smugglers of “Rum Row,” the line of ships that hovered just outside American territorial waters, kept their ships stocked with Scotch. Any port in a storm, as they say. The highball became a go-to drink as Americans waited out the long dry years of Prohibition, eventually developing a taste for the strange, smoky whisky.

American cocktail culture struggled to regain its composure post-Prohibition, but many of the great bartenders had gone abroad or retired, and so companies concocted pre-fab drink mixes to replace that talent. But a highball was a drink you could turn to for simple, delicious consistency. They reigned supreme in the 1950s and 1960s—ask your parents or grandparents.

In this modern age, with great cocktail bars turning out enough fabulous concoctions to make your head spin, sometimes a simple, delicious highball may be all you want.

In this case, hit up highballs! Drink Boston and Trina’s Starlite Lounge help you party like it’s 1965 this Sunday, May 9th [3 Beacon St., Somerville. 617.576.0006‎. 7pm/21+/$35 adv, $40 door. trinastarlitelounge.com]. The event includes four highballs, retro delights like pigs in a blanket and DJ-spun, 1960s-era highball-appropriate tunes.

CIN-CIN!

HIGHBALLS

Adapted from THE SAVOY COCKTAIL BOOK by Harry Craddock

2-3 cubes of ice
2 oz of “any Spirit, Liqueur or Wine desired”

Build in—you guessed it—a highball glass. Top with 2-4 ounces of soda water or ginger ale. Add twist of lemon peel if desired.

FOR MORE INFO ON HIGHBALLS! VISIT DRINKBOSTON.COM. FOR MORE GREAT RECIPES, VISIT LUPECBOSTON.COM.

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