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Splificator

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  1. A simple one I threw together last night; mighty tasty, though, I thought. Murmansk Convoy (Christened after the convoys that brought American and British armaments over the top of Norway, Sweden and Finland to the Soviet Union during World War II; one of the most dangerous sea duties there was.) Shake well with ice: 1 1/2 oz Tanqueray gin 3/4 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice 1/2 oz Kronan Swedish Punsch Scant 1/4 oz rich simple syrup 1 drop orange flower water Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Let 2 or 3 drops of Angostura bitters fall on top.
  2. Splificator

    Amer Picon & Torani Amer

    My proportions are 15 ml Everclear and 1 ml Angostura orange bitters for every 100 ml Amaro Ciociaro. Very, very close, and easy.
  3. Painkiller can also point out that their logo is in no way derived from DKNY's and in fact is meant not to echo that or trade on it but rather the common NYC hardcore punk graffiti/logo/rallying symbol from the 1980s and 1990s, HCNY, with the letters grouped around an X in the same way.
  4. Splificator

    The Punch Topic

    There's no hangover like a Regent's Punch hangover. It's like a turbocharged version of an ordinary champagne hangover, universally acknowledged to be one of the very worst of the species. It's the sweaty, desperate sleeplessness that contains its particular cruelty. You have my profoundest sympathies.
  5. Splificator

    Barrel-aged cocktails

    Barrel aging was standard operating procedure for bottled cocktails, of which there were many brands back in the day, including the market leader, Heublein's Club, and Sazerac (they sold several kinds, not including an actual "Sazerac"). Cocktails had to be barrel aged, at least for a bit, as stainless steel wasn't introduced until 1917 or so and you had to mix and store them in something. But there was also a culinary claim. As a Club cocktails ad from 1912 said, "a new cocktail can never have the same flavor as an aged one." That said, this should not detract from the creativity of those who have revived this technique: it's a case of great minds thinking alike, not monkey see monkey do.
  6. Splificator

    Crafty or Crappy?

    Acquiring a taste doesn't mean abandoning discernment. It just means no longer writing off whole classes of things because they share a certain flavor element. Bundaberg--well, let's just say that it's educational. I've always found the best thing to motivate me to acquire the taste for something, be it epic poetry, marching band music or hogo-driven rum, is the belief that our ancestors were no dumber than we are. We know things they don't, but the corny or weird things they liked, they probably liked for a reason, and if we can't see that reason, then we haven't understood the thing. That belief (which applies as much to other cultures as it does to the past, obviously) can lead one to try things to which one has no connection, so it's not always evolution, although it certainly helps to have a foot on the path already.
  7. Splificator

    Crafty or Crappy?

    Yeah, not the most useful or sophisticated definition of art there. In my understanding, art is whatever human creation that transports you out of yourself and into another person's way of seeing, whether it's Michelangelo showing you how he sees Mary cradling her dead son or the Ramones helping you imagine what it's like to be a juvenile delinquent out of a 1950s pulp comic. There are some chefs and drinks-mixers who can do that, others who are equally fine, or better, craftsmen and craftswomen but who are uninterested in doing that kind of heavy lifting. Given that, for me the culinary "arts" straddle the border of "high" art, if you want to call it that, int he same way that architecture and, say, dance music does. That doesn't mean it can't be art, just that it doesn't always have to be. But this is pretty much what bostonapothecary has been saying all along, in this thread and others. A lot of people are looking for this kind of transcendence through a deep immersion in craft and technique, but that's not the only way to get there, or even the most interesting. And yes, Stephen, sign me up for Wally's. I bet there are a few Funkateers who would join us.
  8. Splificator

    Crafty or Crappy?

    Actually, I think it was the other way around. I used to be a musician and always liked stuff that broke boundaries--e.g., Funkadelic, where funk met acid rock. Then I studied literature and specialized in things that were difficult to categorize and took some getting to know. It just took me a while to apply the strategies and aesthetics I had learned in those fields to this one. 'Cause you know, 'I drink that and not this' is pretty ingrained. (And no, I still don't regularly drink Irish Car Bombs, Chocotinis or any of 'those' drinks; but I don't have a rule against it.) All art is universal; all crafts are specific. I don't know if that's true, but it's worth thinking about.
  9. Splificator

    Crafty or Crappy?

    Do you mean to say you've never had a real Irish Coffee? The kind where you dissolve a half teaspoon or so of raw sugar in 3 or 4 oz hot black coffee, add a shot of Powers and top it off with half an inch of unsweetened heavy cream that you have lightly whipped by hand? I envy you. And, Zachary, for my phoney-baloney for-the-sake-of-philosophical-example crafty carbomb, I did go so far as to suggest that the replacement Irish cream be encased in a test tube before being dropped into the stout so that theoretically it won't curdle and it will release itself depth-bomb style as you approach the bottom of the glass, giving you a layered drinking experience just like the molecular guys do. I did not, however, go so far as to test it, which I now must do. As for whether it's a cocktail, where do you draw the line? If we're talking strictly about cocktails, then anything with citrus is out. If we're willing to expand to include sours, then do we draw the line at the Singapore Sling? The Moscow Mule? In general, the world of mixed drinks has grown up and thrived in the absence of disciplining authority; its speech is pidgin, not classical. If you want to convince people to give up that freedom, you have to offer them something equally worthwhile.
  10. Splificator

    Crafty or Crappy?

    Dan--just wanted to add that I reread some of your comments above and that your approach doesn't seem so rigid as I thought. Discretion is everything, and you realize that. As long as I'm correcting myself, I also want to add that in no way am I against homemade ingredients, hand-carved ice, Chartreuse, Pimiento Dram or vests. Some of the best drinks I've ever had have been in bars that deploy copious amounts of all of those, and some of the best times, too. I just don't think their use exempts one from normal judgments of quality.
  11. Splificator

    Crafty or Crappy?

    Actually, I did say the whiskey/cream/Demerara mix was "inserted" into the stout, as in not kept apart at all. But again, I'm puzzled. You say that this "might be delicious," but that's not enough to make it "craft" because a) the flavors don't work together and it will be curdled. But take the ingredients of this "Buama Gluaisteán" (that's 'car bomb' in Gaelic, since we're being fancy here). Irish whiskey and Demerara sugar work together, right? Irish whiskey and cream do, too, as proven by the Irish Coffee (and if you say that's not a craft drink I throw my hands up in despair). There are any number of classic recipes for Posset that involve sugar, ale and cream. Irish whiskey and stout are certainly considered a good pairing by people who like to drink one of each side by side, and that group includes pretty much everybody I know. That leaves the curdling question, which is avoided by keeping the supplement in a little test tube inside the pint. (I think--I made this drink up for the purpose of example and have not actually mixed one up.) So if you're going to exclude this from craft drinking, it can only be because it's an echo of an Irish Car Bomb, which is vulgar. In other words, you're relying on the same on-the-fly, case-by-case aesthetic judgment as the rest of us do when evaluating drinks, and those boxes--"craft" and "not craft"--are merely personal. There's nothing wrong with that. Totally agree, both about problem solving and in particular about acquired tastes. But you have to start with yourself. Case in point. A number of years ago, when I was quite new to the professional booze-taster gig, I got sent a bottle of this new rum called Sea Wynde. I tasted it and almost spat it out. It was harsh, burnt tasting, sulfurous. If that was rum, everything else I knew as rum wasn't. Clearly defective. But it did intrigue me. It had Jim Murray's name attached to it, and it claimed to be a Navy rum, two things not to be ignored. So I did a little research and also started keeping an eye out for other things in that class, just to see if I was missing something. I tried Pusser's. A little of that stank in there. I got my hands on some Lemon Hart. More. El Dorado. Also more. Woods's Navy Rum, even more. I went to Jamaica and drank a lot of Wray & Nephew, which had a lot of it in a different way. Then we got Inner Circle, also different but a lot. By now, of course, I had learned to appreciate this stuff and was actively seeking it out. Then Eric Seed asked me what spirits I'd like to see available, and I told him a real, old-school Jamaica rum. I'd never had one, but I was sure it was big in that stank, which by this point I had learned to call "hogo." Next time I saw him, he had samples, and by this point I was able to tell what I was looking for in such a rum. With that input and input from some other people who had come to appreciate this style (Audrey Saunders, for one), Eric put together Smith & Cross. Things like that don't happen if you compartmentalize your input. In other words--Dan, I think you're screwed. Whether you know it or not, I think you're going to end up evaluating your submissions subjectively, and if that's the case I think it's best to keep your criteria as loose as possible. That way, you might get something truly interesting.
  12. Splificator

    Crafty or Crappy?

    I'm a bit confused here. . . . if gin in a glass can be considered a Martini, is vodka and Godiva liqueur a choco-tini, or Jager and Red Bull a Jager-tini? Where does it end? I think that intent and execution are inextricably linked in the definition of a craft cocktail. Without intent, you could execute an Irish Car Bomb perfectly and it doesn't make it Craft. Without execution, you get shaken Manhattans, which to me isn't Craft either. Neither are what I want to drink -- there are too many other interesting things to do with excess liver space! Here we run into some basic philosophical issues, ones that we probably won't solve on a cocktail board. Is every cocktail that is actually mixed to be judged on its fidelity to some ideal, perfect version of that cocktail? Or is it to be judged on its here-and-now effectiveness? Are we Platonists or Aristoteleans? I'm primarily a historian in these matters, although one who spends an inordinate amount of time mixing drinks (I like drinks). But as a historian, my job is to observe, catalog and contextualize. So I would have to say yes, vodka and Godiva is indeed a choco-tini, if people are calling it such and drinking them. Does that mean I like the drink or approve of what people are doing? Not in that case, no. But When I was in my early twenties, back in the punk years, and I couldn't afford to drink in fancy bars, the old-man bars where I tippled made their dry gin martinis as I detailed above, and I was grateful for them. Were they the best martinis I've ever had? Probably if I had one now, magically brought forward through time, and put next to the best Fitty-Fitty I (or even better the folks at Pegu Club) could make, it would seem wanting in comparison. But you didn't have that choice at the Frolic Room or O'Donnell's, and in that context, what they made was a great martini (it's as Andy says above: those guys were craft bartenders, even if not making modern "craft" cocktails). But let's switch perspective for a second. What if I were to offer you 25 ml of Bushmills 10 year old malt whiskey, dry-shaken with 10 ml Ronnybrook Farms heavy cream and 5 ml rich Demerara syrup, poured into a 50-ml test-tube and inserted into 500 ml of Victory Sorm King Stout. And I were wearing a vest. Would you consider that a craft cocktail? Again, I don't think there is such a thing as a "craft" cocktail recipe, at least not in a definable way that doesn't exclude much of what the best craftsmen and craftswomen among modern mixologists are doing. (Good luck with Tiki--any principles that can encompass both those formulae and ones from, say, George Kappeler would have to be so broad as to be useless.) But then again, I'm an Aristotelean. Final thought: try making these arguments not with drinks, but with music.
  13. Splificator

    Crafty or Crappy?

    Precisely.
  14. Splificator

    Crafty or Crappy?

    I don't get the first part of this--are you saying the dry gin martini is a Ford Escort? There's no more elegant drink, and none with higher performance. Or perhaps that's not what you meant. The second part is a point well taken. Somebody had to set up the system, even if that somebody is long gone. And to address Zachary's point, I have had many shockingly palatable dry martinis in which no vermouth was used at all, in places that never heard of orange bitters. I've had many bad ones, too, to be sure. But I've also had many a bad drink in a "craft" cocktail bar. I don't think the craft lies in the intent as much as it does in the execution. "Craft" has always been understood as a mastery of tools, materials and process, separate from, although not necessarily antithetical to, any artistic intent. I think the discussion of classicism is one of aesthetic judgment and hence an artistic one, not a craft one.
  15. Splificator

    Crafty or Crappy?

    Not convinced about this intent business. There are many, many bartenders who make cocktails without any thought whatsoever about the ingredients they're using. They use that gin and that vermouth because that's what they've been told to use; it's what's in the well. They put it in a shaker, stir it, strain it into a chilled glass (that's the way they learned the job--every Martini glass gets chilled) and stick an olive in it. Done. No intent there other than to finish their shift and get paid. And yet there's a dry Martini at the end of the process, cold, crisp and delicious. There are also quite a number of bartenders who obsess about every ingredient; who hand-pick some and make others from scratch; who combine them in precisely-measured quantities, stir them in Yarai mixing glasses with antique spoons, strain them into Schotts-Zweisel coupes, garnish the results with hand-spanked sprigs of tarragon and slide them across the bar with a slight bow, as if to say "please accept this gift I have crafted for you." And you taste it, and all you get is the Chartreuse and Pimiento Dram that they have dashed in from little crystal bottles, with a thin, bitter aftertaste from their gentian-laden, brackish homemade bitters. I'll take the Martini.
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