Category: Food
Recipes, Stuff, Syrups, Tiki Month 2016

Falernum Sous Vide

[caption id="attachment_11008" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Tiki in a pan! Tiki in a pan![/caption] Along with rum itself, there are two ingredients which practically define Tiki: Orgeat and Falernum. Now, vanishingly few Tiki drinks employ all three of this trinity, and indeed, there are Tiki drinks that employ none of them. But in the vast majority of recipes, there is no faster way to identify a Tiki drink than to spot rum and either falernum or orgeat. Truth to tell, of the two, I use orgeat a lot more. It is the Bartender's Ketchup of the Tiki world. Flavors too distinct? Put in some Orgeat. Mouthfeel too thin? Add some orgeat. Delicious but lacking that certain soo se mea lava? Orgeat is your special sauce. It is a bit of a passive ingredient, actually; identifiable more for its effects than for any distinct flavor of its own. Falernum is a much more assertive ingredient. It has strong, unique flavors. As a Tiki tool, it is a bit like a large band saw; employ it with exacting precision and it is fantastically useful. But if you get the slightest bit careless with it, the appeal will become... more selective. What I'm saying is, it is hard to master. Ditto for making it. In fact, falernum may be harder to make than it is to use. No one can agree what's in it. The ingredients that people do agree on require a lot of manual labor. The process is traditionally messy, gross looking, and immediately apparent to anyone in the building with a nose. And it requires a lot of time. As in, you will use your Calendar app, not your Stopwatch app. [caption id="attachment_11010" align="aligncenter" width="650"]This is the world's only known attractive photograph of the falernum process. —Kaiser Penguin This is the world's only known attractive photograph of the falernum process.
Kaiser Penguin[/caption] Fortunately, the increasing availability and affordability of sous vide technology can make this process much, much easier. Almost easy enough to do regularly.... Let's dive into the process, shall we? As I said, there is no definitive recipe for falernum. It's like cole slaw–everyone has their own. All cole slaw has cabbage and mayo. All falernum has clove and lime zest. Beyond that.... Back in the early, heady days of the 21st Century cocktail revival, there was quite a spate of blog activity in search of the definitive falernum. Two of the best results were from Kaiser Penguin (of the photo above), and Paul Clark's Velocity 9 Falernum #9. These days, much of the publishing world at least seems to settle on #9 as the default choice, probably because Paul has "connections"... and also "talent", and "a good recipe".
... aaaand after all that, you aren't going to use Paul's recipe, are you?
No, because I like a few elements of KP's, too. Incidentally, while the point of this post is to end up discussing how sous vide can make making falernum a lot more convenient, do not go and use the recipe blogged by Sous Vide Supreme, the people who make the water bath I own. It is too sweet and insipid in flavor. I realize I just spent too many bytes talking about how intimidating falernum is as an ingredient, but trying to overcome this by using a weak formulation is a bit like punching a bully lightly, or holding the stock of your 12 gauge away from your shoulder because you are afraid of the kick. It will not end well. Take a gallon Ziplock double seal bag. Put in one and a half cups of granulated sugar and three quarters of a cup of hot tap water. Seal and shake. You don't need to fully dissolve the sugar, but make sure there are no dry pockets. Set aside. Put 2 Tbsp of slivered almonds, 1 Tbsp of whole allspice berries, and 40-50 cloves in a small saucepan. Toast lightly over medium-low heat for about four to five minutes, or until your whole house smells like that gardener who smoked clove cigarettes and worked down the street when you were a kid. Allow to cool. Collect the zest of nine good, fresh limes. This is the hardest part of the process, and no sous vide will help with it. You want as much of the green from the peel as possible and none of the white pith. A peeler will probably go too deep, and you will need to finely chop the peel anyway. I use a small microplane and hold the lime with a kevlar glove (because grated Doug makes for funky falernum). It takes a long time and your fingers get sore, even if they don't get scraped. I have heard about a purpose built kitchen gadget called a Zip Zester that may no longer be made. Anyone have experience with this device? Put your toasted ingredients, the bowl of lime zest, and 5 coins of candied ginger into your bag of sugar water. Add three quarters of a cup of decent white rum (I like Cruzan aged light rum for this purpose), 3 tbsp of fresh lime juice, and a quarter to a half teaspoon of almond extract. Seal the bag and shake well to combine and to test. If your kitchen suddenly becomes sticky, you have not sealed the beg correctly. Set your sous vide oven or stick heater to 135° F. Open the seal on your bag slightly and lower it into the water right up to the top. This will force virtually all the air out of the bag. Seal it well again. Lift it out of the water and ensure all the solids are in contact with the liquid in the bottom of the bag and not trapped up above. Submerge the bag in the water and go on with your life for the next two to three hours. [caption id="attachment_11013" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Nope. Still not attractive. Nope. Still not attractive.[/caption] When you are ready, remove the bag and pour through a mesh strainer into a bowl or jar. Discard the spent, smelly, gooey crud in the strainer. Put some cheesecloth in the strainer and strain your falernum through again. Voila! Go make a Zombie. Even with the reduced mess and time of making your falernum sous vide, you still deserve a
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.
  • 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
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.
  • 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.
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