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Pousse Cafe Discussion


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27 replies to this topic

#1 marty mccabe

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 12:23 PM

I must confess to not knowing a whole lot about pousse cafes (other than the general theory), but apparently there are traditional glasses to serve them in, noted for their straight sides, with or without a stem.

I tried Ebay and Googled it, to no avail.

Any help is greatly appreciated, as it's a gift (when I find it) for an old friend...

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#2 eje

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 12:35 PM

I think a 1 1/2 or 2 ounce narrow straight sided cordial glass is what you might be looking for.

Cocktaildb link

I didn't have any, (need them for various cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book,) and found some passable examples at Crate & Barrel.

It doesn't seem like Riedel or Spiegelau have anything appropriate.
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#3 Gifted Gourmet

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 12:45 PM

another example of this type of glass and the drink ... just imagine how lovely it looks when filled .. must be a bartender's nightmare though ...

The colorful Pousse cafe drink :shock:

Edited by Gifted Gourmet, 04 September 2006 - 12:54 PM.

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#4 KatieLoeb

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 05:48 PM

must be a bartender's nightmare though ...


Yes. Absolutely, yes.

Katie M. Loeb
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#5 Gifted Gourmet

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 05:50 PM

must be a bartender's nightmare though ...

Yes. Absolutely, yes.

View Post

Grenadine (red)
Creme de cacao (brown)
Creme de menthe (green)
Parfait Amour (violet)
Maraschino liqueur (white(
Orange curacao (orange)
Brandy (amber)
Use a tall, straight-sided glass. Pour the ingredients in the order in which they are listed over a the back of a teaspoon into the glass. Make beautiful, colorful layers.


time consuming and delicate ... :wacko: probably doesn't happen too frequently though ...

Edited by Gifted Gourmet, 04 September 2006 - 05:51 PM.

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#6 KatieLoeb

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 09:35 PM

I have a hard enough time memorizing drink recipes. I really don't want to have to memorize the specific gravity of different liqueurs so I remember to pour them in order. Yeah sure - it looks really cool but how's that going to taste??

It's easier to drain the bar mat into a shot glass and hand it over. :laugh:

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#7 Snowy is dead

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 10:01 PM

I thought I saw (maybe on this site) a chart with booze listed from lightest to heaviest.

#8 Dignan

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 05:49 AM

There was an SCTV medly type movie in the '80s where Martin Short played a James Bond imitation secret agent who would repeatedly order a pousse cafe rather than a martini-shaken-not-stirred. Each scene featured a puzzled bartender, a drink reference book, shots of the bartender painstakingly assembling the drink as the plot scene played out in the foreground. Then as the bartender placed the completed pousse cafe on the bar, the story development would call for Short to rush off somewhere else and leave the drink untouched. It was a good little gag.

#9 eje

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 08:53 AM

I thought I saw (maybe on this site) a chart with booze listed from lightest to heaviest.

View Post

I believe there's a chart in Gary Regan's "Joy of Mixology" listing various liqueurs and liquors and their specific gravities.

Idle question for the bartenders in the group: Do customers order these sorts of drinks?

I can't recall ever seeing one prepared in a bar, at least recently.

I do remember noticing there were quite a number of layered shots in an English cocktail magazine I picked up, (Difford's Guide 5.1,) and wondering if it was a European thing.
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#10 KatieLoeb

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 04:53 PM

Idle question for the bartenders in the group: Do customers order these sorts of drinks?


Mercifully, no. I've only been asked for one once. I thought my eyes would roll out of my head. :rolleyes:

I do remember noticing there were quite a number of layered shots in an English cocktail magazine I picked up, (Difford's Guide 5.1,) and wondering if it was a European thing.


I suspect ordering something that sounds as pompous as a pousse cafe is not something that most Americans would attempt. Unless they were trying to torment the bartender. :biggrin:

Katie M. Loeb
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#11 divalasvegas

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 05:36 PM

Allegedly this little kit makes creating these drinks a breeze:

Shot Float Kit

Here are some sample drinks. Kinda pretty I think. Some seem like they might even taste good. Nice glasses too.

Layered Drink Photos/Recipes

Here's the above site's complete list of drinks. Check out "The Traffic Light."

Cocktail Recipe Link

One trick I learned is that you can change the specific gravity of a liqueur by adding vodka thus expanding your layering and taste repetoire and enabling one to craft a layered drink with compatible (hopefully enjoyable) tastes.

Many of the drink recipes I've seen on other web sites about layered cocktails seem to be all about the visual affect and the taste, which at least by my reading of the suggested liquors/liqueurs, sound pretty gagtastic :raz:
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#12 mkayahara

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Posted 12 September 2006 - 08:38 AM

I don't know whether it's reliable, but there is a small chart of specific gravities here.

Edited to add: There's also one here on Webtender, and I imagine many, many more available online through the magic of Google!

Edited by mkayahara, 12 September 2006 - 08:41 AM.

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#13 KatieLoeb

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Posted 12 September 2006 - 09:40 PM

Stop encouranging the madness!!! :angry:

All of you need to stop looking up specific gravity tables and start realizing what we bartenders really mean when we say the blender is broken. :biggrin:

Katie M. Loeb
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Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol


#14 donbert

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Posted 13 September 2006 - 12:44 AM

All of you need to stop looking up specific gravity tables and start realizing what we bartenders really mean when we say the blender is broken. :biggrin:

View Post


Blender Pousse Cafe... :wacko:

#15 mkayahara

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Posted 13 September 2006 - 11:10 AM

Stop encouranging the madness!!! :angry:

All of you need to stop looking up specific gravity tables and start realizing what we bartenders really mean when we say the blender is broken. :biggrin:

View Post


Yeah, but think of it this way: if we're looking up the specific gravity tables at home, then we're not going to ask you to make the pousse cafes at the bar. :biggrin:

Right? :hmmm:
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#16 eje

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 06:45 PM

IF you want a cocktail challenge how far can you push a pousse cafe (pun intended) and still make it drinkable. Seven layers is known, but 10 or more? Can you make one that will reform if stirred? I can think of four layers (solid, water based, oil based,float like ice or marshmallow or the like), but more?


Egullet user jackal10 posed the question above to me.

I was not particularly surprised to discover that there isn't a thread dedicated to layered cocktails or Pousse-Cafés. To me they are niche cocktails, which are more about appearance than flavor.

The most layers I have so far mastered were 4 in the Angel's Kiss.

I have to admit I am intrigued by foams, gels, and other manipulations of the specific gravity of solutions. Though, beyond egg whites and cream, a lot of it isn't particularly friendly to home bartenders.

Is there a way to make this category of drinks palatable and relevant to today's cocktail culture?
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#17 ThinkingBartender

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 06:56 PM

The most layers I have accomplished was 11; this was made through trial and error, rather than from a recipe.

The bottom half of a pousse cafe is sweet, with the top half becoming high-strength alcoholic spirits.

The only way of creating a mixological pousse cafe would be to restrict yourself to about 3 layers, and then only use ingredients that compliment each other, as well as floating in a pleasant layer.

Also, the drink can be drunk from bottom to top with a straw; or from top to bottom by knocking it back. Which way suits the flavour better?

#18 GlorifiedRice

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 05:56 AM

Is it possible to make non alcoholic Pousse Cafes?
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#19 Kerry Beal

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 06:19 AM

I would think so. All you need is liquids with different densities. I suspect most of them are going to be kind of sweet.

Around my house I've got the syrup from candying orange rinds, that's got a really high brix, so it would probably go on the bottom. One layer could be the syrup from maraschino cherries or ribena concentrate, grenadine syrup, all those syrups they make for flavouring coffee drinks.

You might want to make some sugar syrups of different densities then add those other syrups to them so the flavour isn't too strong.

#20 jlo mein

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 12:16 AM

I tried my hand at layered drinks for the first time today. I attempted a B-52, substituting Cointreau for Grand Marnier. It was pretty easy separating the bottom two layers of Kahlua and Baileys, but I found it very difficult to layer the Baileys and Cointreau. Is it because these two orange liqueurs are not perfect substitutes? Or do I just need more skill? I was very slowly pouring from a jigger onto the back of a coffee spoon, into a 1.5oz pony glass.

#21 eje

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 11:01 AM

Darcy O'Neil has a very interesting technique for layering B-52s over on The Art of Drink:

How to Make a Layered Shooter

As for making a B-52 using a pipette, you need to do the Bailey's layer last and you need to place the tip of the pipette between the Grand Marnier layer and the Kahlua layer. The only reason you do this is so the Bailey's doesn't mes up the sides of the shot glass. If you put it in after the Grand Marnier it will streak the bottom of the shot glass and the Kahlua will look cloudy.


I would guess that cointreau has a slightly lower specific gravity than Grand Marnier; but, that shouldn't make much difference, as you're adding it last and either Cointreau or Grand Marnier should float on top of the Bailey's.

Layering with high proof, low specific gravity ingredients like Cointreau or actual spirits is the hardest. They do tend to mix with other layers. Pour very, very slowly.
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#22 MaxH

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 11:55 AM

...I was not particularly surprised to discover that there isn't a thread dedicated to layered cocktails or Pousse-Cafés.  To me they are niche cocktails, which are more about appearance than flavor.

Couple of details on the larger context of these drinks aren't in recent online mentions I've seen, nor the current Wikipedia entry. (I did not get any of the following information online.)

First they're somewhat cyclic in US interest. I've seen a couple of these cycles -- didn't realize the drink had returned until this thread. Footnote I wrote last decade to help explain a scene in a 1940s Warners film-noir: Café brûlot, spiced black coffee flamed with brandy, was an old-fashioned cliché of elegant dining, like silver toast racks, midnight Champagne suppers, and Russian salads. Multilayered pousse-cafés (rediscovered every few years) do not qualify, Toulouse-Lautrec notwithstanding, because they make you sick.

The last, facetious, remark reflects eje's point, they are mainly a visual thing. After all, liqueurs in general are niche products, few people consume them regularly. (They were more routinely offered with coffee a generation or two ago.)

Second, larger point: pousse-café has a much more general meaning than you'd know from this thread (or Wikipedia etc.) It's standard informal French for a liqueur served after coffee (like something that pushes the coffee down). I've seen Europeans surprised to hear that US bartenders understand the word in the special sense of a layered cocktail. Cassell's reference French-English dictionary defines pousse-café only as familiarly a liqueur after coffee. (This situation parallels the even more atypical US use of beignet, from New Orleans, not the main francophonic meaning of beignet. )

I notice also that Grossman's classic Guide to Wines, Spirits, and Beers (mentioned in this forum before) has a table of specific densities (and alcohol contents) of a couple dozen cordials, for use in the multilayered pousse-cafés.

#23 eje

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 12:43 PM

Interesting information Max!

Since posting above a year ago I had the pleasure of seeing a bunch of slides from a dinner party in the late 1940s or early 1950s. My wife's Grandfather was quite the shutterbug, so the slides were from every 15 minutes or so. Aside from seeing pictures of my wife's family, it was really neat to see the progression of the drinks. From before dinner Old-Fashioneds, Manhattans, and Martinis to wine with dinner. One of the more interesting things was to see what was for offer on the post prandial table: Coffee, cigarettes, and liqueur bottles. There was Grand Marnier and a bunch of other bottles I couldn't identify. My wife's Dad said one was probably Creme de Menthe, as it had been quite popular at that time.

I grew up in a dry family, so this display of sophisticated drinking seemed pretty cool.

Edited by eje, 20 October 2007 - 01:21 PM.

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#24 MaxH

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 01:07 PM

Exactly, eje: That was a fairly common international custom when entertaining for dinner -- for many years, until recent decades.

The quaint, clinking "post-prandial" cart of liqueurs and brandies still appears at US meal functions put on at restaurants by a wine organization I belong to, based in Europe. The table is conspicuous for being so uncommon now; few people partake, and those normally are not driving. (When I organized one of these events, I didn't bother offering those drinks.)

I rarely think of more drinks after a good meal, even when there's no driving. But it seems like a charming custom and in the right circumstances, good company, etc., liqueurs after coffee might be a very fine end to a meal.

#25 jlo mein

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 08:11 PM

Just curious if anyone has tried some B-52 variations or has some suggestions. I served B-52's to some friends who did not particularly enjoy the Grand Marnier with the other flavours.

Has anyone tried other sweet liqueurs that could complement coffree and irish cream flavours? I was thinking maybe amaretto, or maybe even creme de cacao (although creme de cacao may have layering problems?).

I ask because my bar is limited and doesn't currently include amaretto or creme de cacao. I'd hate to buy a whole bottle and find it doesn't work.

thanks

#26 lemon_twist

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Posted 09 November 2007 - 11:12 AM

It seems it should be possible to customize a pousse cafe to any particular taste profile by using home-infused (and colored) liquors. The harder part is customizing the specific gravities while maintaining the desired flavor. This seems possible by varying the proof, adding cream, simple syrup, or perhaps some glycerin or some such thing.

One point that may sound silly. When one sips on these drinks from a proper glass - does everything mix together, or do you get the flavors in different doses? Or are they all pretty much shots? If you get "waves" of flavor - then I would think the drinks could be relevant to today's cocktail culture. If there appeal is purely visual... then not so much.

(btw - I'm using us the layered drink definition of PC if that's not obvious)

#27 eje

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 12:50 PM

Found this amusing passage regarding Pousse-Cafés in the 1948 edition of "Bartender's Guide...by Trader Vic":

Another ass who makes bartenders blow their corks is the show-off who orders fancy drinks–usually when the bar is crowded and the rush is on–just to impress his companions. I almost lost one of my best men one night; it took three guys to hold him when one such nit-wit ordered an eight-color Pousse-Cafe. The bartender sweat bullets getting the damn thing cooked up; spoiled the first two because he couldn’t remember which liqueurs were the heaviest (you get an order for one of the fool things about once every five years), but he finally sent it to the table with pride. It was beautiful, glowing with color. And what did the guy do but display it to his friends and then down it with one gulp like a straight shot! In case there’s anyone who doesn’t know how to drink a Pousse-Cafe, it should be sipped, one color at a time.


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#28 brinza

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 11:02 AM

My experience with pousse-cafés is limited, but my first attempts at it were seemingly successful. I received a book called "Shooters" for Christmas, which, if nothing, else was chock-full of pretty pictures. I decided that this could be a fun New Year's Eve activity (at home, mind you!) when our friend who always spends New Year's Eve with us came over. Wisely, we realized that if we were going to make these, it should be done before we got down to more serious drinking, otherwise, we'd just be making a mess (and wasting good liquor).

One interesting point of note that I had never seen anywhere else was that this book suggested freezing your liqueurs beforehand which makes them easier to layer. That seemed to help because the process wasn't as difficult as I'd expected it to be.

First we tried the five-layered Pousse-Café (I've seen other recipes for the namesake drink, but this is how it was laid out in this book):
Grenadine
Green Creme de Menthe
Kümmel
Galliano
Brandy

results:
Posted Image

Another one we tried was the Nuclear Fallout. This one is interesting in that it's what you could call an "action" pousse-café. The idea here is to add the most dense liqueur last, so that it falls down through the other layers creating a maelstrom of color.
Raspberry syrup
Maraschino
Yellow Chartreuse
Cointreau
Blue Curaçao

Duck and cover:
Posted Image
Mike

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