Category: Food
Orange Liqueurs, Recipes, Rum, Sweets, Tiki Month 2016

Tiki Molecular Mixology

Keeping with the theme for this year's Tiki Month of "Modern Tiki", I'd like to present what has become a staple when I entertain during Tiki Months: Mai Tai Gels. These are cool for a variety of historic, philosophical, and practical reasons. When you consider truly 21st Century trends in the cocktail world over all, none is more truly such than Molecular Mixology in general and especially solidified cocktails. I like these treats in particular, as they combine perhaps the perfect classic early Tiki Cocktail with modern technique, all in a kitschy late-era Tiki look. And as an added bonus, they are bog easy to make. [caption id="attachment_10943" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Yummy... Yummy gummie[/caption] Rather than use any of the fancier liquid solidification techniques, I simply use gelatin. The result is sturdier than other methods, and since they are meant to be eaten as candies, that is a good thing. Aside from said gelatin, the recipe is exactly the same as the Mai Tai recipe that I believe to be closest to Trader Vic's original cocktail superweapon.
MAI TAI GELS
  • 1 oz. Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still rum (alternatively Smith & Cross)
  • 1 oz. gold or aged rum (e.g. Appleton V/X, Coruba, etc.)
  • 0.75 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz. Dry Curaçao (or Cointreau)
  • 0.5 oz. orgeat
  • 0.25 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 packet Knox Gelatine
  • 1.5 oz. water
The water is about the amount of melt you'd get from the ice if you were drinking it. It makes the gels taste right, and helps the gelatin bloom and set. Pour the gelatin into the water and stir. Let sit for five minutes to activate, then stir again. While this is blooming, heat the lime juice, orgeat, and simple syrup in your smallest pot to almost a boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low and scrape in the bloomed gelatin. Stir until the mixture is clear. Remove from heat and add in the rums and curaçao. Stir some more. Moai Ice Tray Set aside and prepare your molds. I use this cool moai ice tray. It has the virtue of being nearly the exact size needed to accommodate this recipe, with but a drop or two of waste. Before filling, simply give the tray a light spritz with Pam, and wipe off all excess with a paper towel. You will want to fill each mold to the brim, so I advise setting the mold on a tray or piece of cardboard. The molds are very flexible, and without support, you will spill some. Once you pour, carefully place in your fridge for at least three hours, preferably more. When you are ready to serve, peel the gels out of the ice tray with your fingers. Flexible silicone ice trays like the one I linked make this process easy. It will look like you are going to squash or tear the gels, but go slow and they will peel out perfectly. They are quite sturdy while chilled and can be eaten with you or your guests' fingers. Garnish as befits a true Mai Tai by laying each on a large mint leaf.abc
Lime Juice, Rule 2, Syrups, tiki, Tiki Month 2016, Whiskey

Modern Tiki Drink: Permanent Holiday

As I said in my Opening Post for Tiki Month, I want to focus to a large extent this year on the new creations that illustrate the strength of the current Tiki revival. The first drink I want to examine this month also illustrates how modern Tiki is expanding upon the previous array of commonly used ingredients to find new ways to create the feelings that somehow define Tiki. [caption id="attachment_10891" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Permanent Holiday Permanent Holiday, by Trey Jenkins via The Hardest Working Blogger in the Cocktailosphere[/caption] Here's the recipe. You'll see that it follows the Tiki formula of a bunch of different boozes, some citrus, and some syrup that defines the overwhelming majority of Tiki drinks. But the alcohols are all out of whack to the traditional eye.
PERMANENT HOLIDAY
  • 1 part bourbon
  • 1 part Averna
  • 1/2 part Licor 43
  • 1 part (pink) grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 part fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 part passion fruit syrup (Homemade or BG Reynolds')
Shake with ice until well chilled, then strain over crushed ice in a Tiki vessel. I used an orange peel wrapped around a spent tattooed lime husk. Depending on who's drinking it, a sprig or even a bunch of fresh mint would not go amiss.
I was seriously curious how this collection of ingredients was going to come out feeling Tiki. When you think upon the genre, bourbon (though a certain prominent exception applies), Italian amaro, and a Spanish liqueur that did not reach American shores until well past Tiki's formative years are not the ingredients that leap to mind. But it works. First of all, it is a good drink. It tastes good. It is interesting. It has a whole lot going on. Secondly, it has that exotic, somewhat undefined flavor profile that triggers all sorts of different flavor impressions in different people which I associate strongly with the best Tiki drinks. This is just the sort of new creation that will help keep Tiki in the craft's consciousness. Drinks like this one expand the "artist's" palette and creative options, while at the same time expands the Tiki market to that guy thinks Tiki drinks sound great, but "who really only drink (Spirit X which isn't rum)".abc
Bartenders, Rule 4, Syrups

I’ve got a bone to pick with a lot of good bartenders

a4e16f05-4f3f-4f1c-b1e5-505823ed2b48 Hey bartenders! You know many of you number among my favorite professionals in the world. Ofttimes, I will value some of your opinions above my own. (Well, sometimes....) But there is a current complaint about customers going the rounds among a lot of even the elite among you that you all need to realize is a bad conceit. I was triggered to write this little rant by an otherwise excellent post at Spirits & Motors by Robby Nelson named I'm a Bartender. He has seven enumerated points that are each funny, true, and ought to be required reading for any number of idiot customers out there. Read the post. It's good. But in the final wrap-up, he throws out this:
For your part, trust that I know what I’m doing. When you tell me that you want a drink that’s “not too sweet,” all I hear is that you don’t want me mess up your drink, which makes me think that you think that I’m a hack, which makes me sad. Do you ask the chef to make your food “not too undercooked?” I recommend abolishing that “not too sweet” phrase from your vocabulary.
Um, no. Robby, here's the thing: I am a very experienced bar customer. I know what I like, and more importantly, how my tastes differ from other people. I probably have one of two very good reasons for asking you to, yes, not mess up my drink. One, I may have drunk at your establishment in the past. I therefor know how your house recipes are balanced. I may have even ordered this particular selection before. And I judge that your house profile is too sweet for my taste. Two, I my know that my own taste in drinks runs to the very dry. You may well have had your Cosmopolitan recipe handed down to you by Dale DeGroff himself, inscribed on a stone tablet. But I know I want mine less sweet than that.
Dale-DeGroff-as-Moses
See? Like Dale always says, he didn't come up with the recipe himself.
I am, in fact, trusting you to either punch up the lime, or use a drier orange liqueur, or whatever you, in your professional opinion, believe will produce a less-sweet drink with the same underlying flavor profile. If you know that you make that drink a lot less sweet already than most, feel free to do your regular thing. Sophisticated palates can and do disagree about the amount of sweet they need to make any given drink perfect. It is frankly insulting to the customer to grump about how you know better than them about their desires. It's a bit like a server who says the chef recommends the duck be medium rare, then gets all huffy when the customer says he'll have it medium anyway. Here's the point. I am giving you valuable information about me (and my desires) when I say I want my drink "not too sweet". I am going to be, without doubt, one of two guys. I could be, well, me: a customer who has long experience with cocktails, who understands the market, who is making an educated judgement that your drinks may well run sweeter than he really wants, and who knows that you (like him) could fix a drink with too little sugar, but you'd have to dump one that is too sweet and start over. I could also be the cocktail version of the wine poseur who asks for "any Loire red from the north bank, nice and tannic, maybe with a hint of plums or elderberries." All I know is that I've read on the blogs that most cocktails are designed overly sweet to appeal to inexperienced drinkers, and since I fancy myself to be sophisticated, I signal my elite status by asking for my Lemon Drop to be "not so sweet". If I am the Idiot pole of this Boolean gate, you could make that Lemon Drop with 50-50 vodka and lemon juice, or 50-50 sugar and Citron, or just back off the sugar in your regular recipe a bit. As long as you slide it over the bar to me with a conspiratorial smile that will say to them, "Lots of my better customers agree with you about Lemon Drops being too sweet. I think you'll find this to your liking," they will guzzle it down and run off to Yelp to bugle about how they've finally found a bartender who "gets it". But if I am the other possibility, and you choose anything other than the last option, I'm going to think you are a hack, or a douchebag, or possibly both. I singled out Nelson here only because he was unfortunate enough to have me read his post right when I had time to rant about it. I've been hearing this increasingly lately and it has got to stop. Let's not put another row of bricks in the Craft Bartenders Are Rude, Douchey Snobs wall, shall we? Save your (well-hidden) scorn for Tanqueray Martinis with no vermouth, or Piña Coladas, or guys who order friggin' Grey Goose on a first date while she's knocking back Knob Creek neat. It'll be a helluva lot more profitable for everybody. Trust me. abc
Eggs, Gin, Recipes

Buttermilk Maple Gin Flip

Buttermilk Maple Flip I've really come to love egg cocktails lately. And it is not just because they piss off all the right enemies, like the clueless nutrition nazis and the overzealous food safety inspectors. Eggs can do things for a drink that nothing else can really even approximate. The fats in a yolk can provide a rich, unctuous texture on the tongue that is pleasantly... sturdy. Even heavy cream doesn't make the mouth seem as full as a good egg yolk. And whether it was the finest professional molecular mixology I've had across the land, or my own feeble efforts, I have yet to see a foam that matches the frothy protein matrix of a well shaken egg white. Certainly there are fat or foam effects that you can't manage with an egg, but for the basic task of creating sheer cozy decadence in a glass, there is no substitute for the incredible, edible egg. That said, I don't drink a lot of egg cocktails. They double the prep time of a drink, and usually the cleanup time too. And egg drinks are calorie bombs, too. I can't help getting older, but I do make sporadic attempts to stop getting fatter. So while egg drinks are a serious indulgence, they do have the good graces to taste like one too. Now that I've convinced you to drag a few eggs down to your basement bar, what shall we do with them? How about a Flip? Flips are one of those magnificent cocktail multi-tools, like Rickeys, Sours, and Juleps, that are not so much recipes as templates. A Sour is: spirit, citrus, sweet. Juggle the specific ingredients and ratios to your taste. A Flip is: spirit, egg, sweet, and spice. (If you add cream, you technically have a Nog.) You will often these days see the yolk of the egg swapped out for cream. I think this is because cream is a lot easier to employ that egg yolks, and even the hardest-working bartender in the world can get kinda lazy fast when customers start clamoring for eggs. I think this tendency is why I have never been totally satisfied with Flips I've been served in bars, and why I had not really experimented with them at home, because Holy Foghorn Leghorn, is an egg white and yolk Flip a cut above an egg white and cream one.
risky-business-tom-cruise-eggs Kids, that's a convoluted Risky Business reference. It was a movie from back when we thought stories about how the way to get into Princeton was to run a whorehouse out of your parents' home and milk your buddies out of their college funds were logical and reasonable. It was the 80's, you wouldn't understand.
This Flip, lifted from Serious Eats, shows off both the awesome power of the egg, but also the wonderful opportunities for matching specific spirits in multi-tool cocktail categories like Flips.
BUTTERMILK MAPLE GIN FLIP
  • 1 whole egg, separated
  • 1 oz. buttermilk
  • 1/4 oz. maple syrup (1/2 in the original)
  • 2 oz. gin (I used Watershed's Guild Series Chamomile, which you probably can't get.)
  • nutmeg (optional)
Plop the yolk in your shaker with a few ice cubes and shake break it up. Add whites, buttermilk, syrup, and gin with more ice. Shake for up to a minute. Strain into a cocktail coupe. Grate some nutmeg over the top if needed.
I chose this recipe because I was looking to use this delicious, but frankly weird, Guild House Chamomile Flavored Gin I just bought. It is a custom expression for Cameron Mitchell's Guild House restaurant by Columbus's Watershed Distillery. It's defining characteristics are of course the chamomile, but also a distinct nutmeg element. The Guild House is not a delicate gin, but it is bright, and I guessed, correctly, that the sturdy flavors of the buttermilk in this recipe would stand up to this gin in a complimentary fashion. I omitted the nutmeg, which is the traditional spice in a Flip, because the Guild House brought its own to the party. And I halved the maple syrup called for in the original recipe because I think maple is a cocktail bully that will take over any cocktail it is in if you don't keep it under control. The only place to buy the Guild House by the bottle is at the distillery, so if you want to try this variation elsewhere, I'd try something like Bluecoat. Definitely add back in the nutmeg, though. Finally, remember this is a Flip. Do whatever the hell you want with it. It's a template. Drop the gin entirely and use a rum or rye. I think I'll actually try some tequila next. I'll swap the maple for agave syrup, and drop the buttermilk. I doubt nutmeg will work, though. Any suggestions for a spice? abc
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