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Everything posted by feste

  1. feste


    Raspberry Syrup The fermentation breaks down the pectin and this old method makes for a truly amazing syrup. I still make it this way regularly... That sounds amazing. It's interesting, though, that Schultz calls for fermenting all mucilaginous fruit like this before turning them into syrups. What, then, defines a shrub? Because of the four shrub recipes he lists, only the raspberry has vinegar added. Assuming we ferment strawberries then turn them into syrup, would that not then make a shrub? And why is currant shrub (Schultz' recipe is similar to Miss Leslie's) a shrub and not a syrup? I briefly thought it was because there was no water added, but his pineapple syrup calls for juice and sugar, no water, and not fermented, just like the currant shrub. And the currant syrup calls for fermentation. I'm so confused.
  2. feste


    I have a pretty large collection of old cookbooks from the 1800s and early 1900s and I'm having a hard time figuring out what exactly makes a shrub. Currently it seems that we all use the term to refer to sweetened fruit syrups with vinegar added. But according to old beverage manuals, it seems that only raspberry shrub had vinegar added. The rest seem to be just fruit and sugar syrups with no added water. Here is a recipe from Miss Leslie's Complete Cookery, 1853: Currant Shrub Your currants must be quite ripe. Pick them from the stalks, and squeeze them through a linen bag. To each quart of juice allow a pound of loaf-sugar. Put the sugar and juice into a preserving kettle, and let it melt before it goes on the fire. Boil it ten minutes, skimming it well. When cold, add a jill of the best white brandy to each quart of the juice. Bottle it, and set it away for use; sealing the corks. It improves by keeping. Raspberry shrub may be made in this manner; also strawberry. Although every other old recipe I've seen for raspberry shrub calls for vinegar. My question is, if there is no vinegar added, what makes it a shrub rather than just a fruit syrup? Boiled and in sealed bottles I can't see how it would turn to vinegar. Does anyone have any other historical recipes for vinegar shrub? Or any other insight? Thanks! Jen
  3. feste


    I've found a lot of useful recipes in old cocktail books that have a section devoted to temperance drinks, i.e. (not pre-) Prohibition-era beverages. How To Mix Drinks has a few, in the portion of the book written by Christian Schultz, although most are just preserved syrup without vinegar. None of the Savoy shrubs have vinegar. American Frugal Housewife (1833) has a raspberry shrub recipe with raspberries, vinegar and sugar. The vinegar, to me, is what makes a shrub special, and it makes sense that before widespread produce distribution vinegar was often the primary acidifier in a drink, alcoholic or not. I have had success with an a la minute version using raspberry gum syrup (or simple with several fresh raspberries), raspberry vinegar and a tablespoon of sour cherry preserves. Great with soda water alone or with gin added.
  4. feste


    When I was in Portland a couple months ago I sat at the bar at Teardrop and bothered Daniel for a while asking to taste all of their housemade cocktail ingredients. I had never had tepache before and f'n loved it. I've never made it, but please post if your attempts are successful! The drink on the menu is: Illusion of Victory deep, dark & funky Smith&Cross rum  Averna amaro  lime  tepache  Amargo bitters Really, really nice cocktail. But I could drink that tepache straight.
  5. At Dutch Kills week before last, Giuseppe made me a Cat's Meow, a drink by Aisha Sharpe from BAR. I think he said they reworked it slightly. Whatever he did, it was really delicious. It's essentially a Remember The Maine with Islay scotch instead of rye, but the phenols in the scotch really alter the sense of the drink. It's also a little drier than we make the Maine at Heaven's Dog. Here's the recipe he gave me: Cat's Meow 1 1/2 oz Islay scotch 1/2 oz Carpano Antica 1/4 oz Cherry Heering 3 dashes absinthe Stirred then strained over a large cube, lemon twist. (And if you're going full Kills style, the ice is cut from a lake in Virginia. Bastards.)
  6. Are you saying that the drinks should have water added after shaking and straining? That defeats the point of shaking, of course, so I'm confused. The acknowledgment here is that water is one of the ingredients of a properly made cocktail. It's the difference between, say, stirring 1/2 oz vermouth and 2 oz gin over large ice, resulting in a 3-1/2 to 4 oz martini (depending on taste and technique), of which the balance is water, and pouring 1/2 oz refrigerated vermouth and 2 oz gin from the freezer into an up glass, resulting in a 2-1/2 oz cocktail. It's not a bad drink, it's just not a martini. Adding ice-cold water after the fact makes it a martini, although the technique leaves something to be desired, style-wise.
  7. Does anyone happen to know what the ABC's beef is with infused spirits? San Francisco has had a rash of citations recently given out to bars that serve infused spirits. Um, where were they in the 90s, when every bar that opened had a line of infusion jars on the back bar? One of the two bars I work in serves an infused spirit (and has done so for 10+ years), and I'd really like to know the law here so we can be protected. Thanks!
  8. feste


    Thanks for spreading the orgeat love Sam! Although if you're going to add bitter almond oil or extract, I wouldn't bother trying to hunt down one apricot kernel. Seems kind of a hassle. I add about 10% apricot kernels to my recipe. (The recipe of mine further up the thread that Sam has scaled down calls for less; I now use a higher proportion.) I can't imagine one kernel would add much flavor. Apricots are drupes bred for sweet flesh, with little regard for the flavor of the kernel, whereas sweet almonds have had the benzaldehyde bred out of the kernels themselves. We don't eat the fruit of the almond tree, which, like most drupes, looks like a small green apricot. It's hard to know which cultivar you'll be getting in a store. I can't see anything wrong with using the kernels of apricots you buy or grow, but you may want to taste a kernel to see how much bitter flavor there is in it, and use more if the flavor is mild. You may also want to let the fruit dry and fall off the tree, as is done in almond production. The husks become drier and easier to crack, although you still have to go through the hassle of blanching them yourself. Keep in mind that if you use apricot kernels you must boil the orgeat to neutralize the poisonous aspects of the amygdalin. If you just use bitter almond oil or exract you can just warm the almond milk to dissolve the sugar, a la Darcy O'Neil. The manufacturing process removes the poisonous part from the extract. Historically in Italy bitter almond trees were planted among sweet ones, so when you used your almonds to make, say, amaretti cookies, they had the benzaldehyde flavor we have come to associate with almond extract. Here in the US we forbid the import of bitter almonds, so extract has come to stand in for the flavor we miss in our sweet almonds. The Capay valley, an important organic agricultural region here in northern California, was settled by Italian immigrants. While plenty of sweet almonds are still cultivated there, many of the roads are lined with bitter almond volunteers left over from this settlement. A friend of mine owns a farm there, and I've been going up for years to harvest them. (And if anyone has access to one of those fancy tree-shakers and wants to help a gal out, I'd be much obliged. Banging a tree with a stick is ridiculous.)
  9. The first time I made gum syrup I used the resinous chunks. It took forever (3+ hours)to dissolve over a low simmer and in the end I had no way of knowing how much water had evaporated. Made some beautiful syrup, though. Powdered is far, far more convenient.
  10. That is perfect! For me, I hate when people talk about the quality of the ingredients in their food then order an appletini (or something along those lines). God forbid some bovine growth hormone should pass your lips, but you want high-fructose corn syrup and FD&C blue #1? And I'm the jerk who's insulting your tastes by not carrying these products? Guests who order another drink by pointing at their glass. Use your words. Have some respect.
  11. For me, the conversion point was trying really good tomato juice. And I don't mean fresh, although I'd be willing to try it. We get this great Knudsen organic tomato juice from a peripheral organic distributor in CA. It's different from the Knudsen organic at the store, which is kind of watery. I can't tell the difference on the label, which is annoying. This stuff is thick, almost pulpy, like the sauce left over in tomatoes canned in sauce. It really is like great, thin tomato sauce. Fresh lemon, freshly grated horseradish, S&P, maybe some Sriracha... mmm. Oh, and tequila. Vodka gets lost.
  12. Be willing to do everything behind the bar. If your barback is clearing someone's glassware or plates, and there is another dirty place that needs to be cleared and wiped down for a new customer, clear it and wipe it down. Don't wait for your barback because "it's not my job." Don't treat your barbacks like servants. Get your own ice, wash glassware, restock, etc., if your barback is busy. They get paid a fraction of what we do, and when you break a glass in your well, and they rush in, burn your ice and change it out in four minutes flat, you'll be grateful. Don't be a princess.
  13. I also think the Cortas Lebanese brand is not bad, although it is much stronger than Monteux. I'd use 1/2 to 1/3 the amount that you would use of the French. And can you get mail order there? I go through so much OFW I order it off Amazon.
  14. For me it's a Japanese. I always have odds and ends of orgeat batches in my fridge, and after a few f-ups the richness of the fat in the orgeat always makes me feel a bit indulgent. And if I don't have any brandy it's great with aged rum, which I almost always have (preferably Barbancourt 15, but I'll take whatever I've got in the closet).
  15. I had the same issue with a non-alcohol drinker and bitters. I really don't want to challenge someone's drinking preferences, but does a couple dashes of bitters really fire an alcoholic's trigger? Do they not eat vanilla custard, ice cream, or various other desserts with extract in them? Do they not eat tomato sauce at an Italian restaurant? Wine in sauce, even when cooked down, does not lose all of its alcohol. Doesn't anything naturally fermented have some alcohol as well? Kombucha, soy sauce, etc. I add brandy to my orgeat, but the resulting alcohol percentage is .5%, and I know of several restaurants that use it in n/a drinks for children. I just can't see it being any more alcoholic than vanilla ice cream, or something like that. Can anyone weigh in with more details?
  16. Years ago I tried to make brandied cherries with less sugar than recipes called for, as well as maraschino cherries with no added sugar. I found, as anyone who has tasted fruit-infused alcohol has probably noticed, that while the liquid became dark red and very tasty, the fruit itself became limp, pale and lacking in flavor (although not in alcohol). Anyone who has made Tequila Por Mi Amante has probably noticed the anemic-looking fruit that is discarded. I suspected that the water/juice in the fruit trades places with the alcohol in the spirit, which seemed to be true since infused spirits usually freeze solid, whereas regular 80-proof spirit does not. I finally looked it up in McGee: "Another ancient technique for making plant foods, especially fruits, resistant to spoilage is to boost their sugar content to the point where microorganisms will be dehydrated by the osmotic pressure across their membranes. If the concentration of dissolved material is higher outside the microbe than it is inside, then water will be drawn across the cell membrane... "... cooked in a sugar syrup [fruit] tends to remain relatively firm and to maintain its shape. It will shrink as water is drawn out of the cells, but sugar molecules interact with the cell wall hemicelluloses and pectins, and become partly incorporated into the structure, making it firmer." (On Food And Cooking, pp. 170-71) While this refers to cooking fruit in a sugar syrup, it seems that not cooking but infusing with both sugar and alcohol have the same effect. I certainly notice the firm texture and "snap" of the skin of an amarene cherry, a far cry from what came out of my jars. So without resorting to additives, I suspect that sugar is required to create a tasty fruit.
  17. I have a vested interest in classic syrups. I scour old cocktail books looking for drink recipes that call for obscure or defunct ingredients and attempt to remake them. I've been making pineapple gum syrup for a while, and raspberry gum, and orgeat of course. I'm going to try apricot syrup next; I found it in a cocktail book from 1922, and I'm also desperately trying to find out any information about orchard syrup that is out there. Apple syrup? Spiced apple? Apple-lemon? Anyone have any information? Thanks!
  18. Actually, I do. I keep pint glasses in the freezer, and find that 60 seconds over whole KD cubes makes a deliciously cold, yet not overdiluted cocktail. Incidentally, here is another informal experiment I did with the same co-worker, as I tried to prove that frozen pint glasses were the best for mixing. I was worried that the temperature would be so cold that proper dilution would not be taking place. (While mixing an Astoria:) One room temp glass, 60 second stir: 35 degrees. One frozen pint glass, 60 second stir: 32 degrees, less dilution. One frozen pint glass, 90 second stir: 30 degrees, same dilution as number 2. Lower temperature gave less flavor. Number 2 was the agreed upon winner. Certainly, when using the skittles that pass as ice in the majority of bars, I wouldn't stir for longer than 10-15 seconds to prevent overdilution. But with frozen pint glasses and big ol' ice cubes, 60 seconds seems to work.
  19. I think the idea is that freshly cracked ice produces more and colder surface area to chill the drink with less dilution. Kold-Draft ice may be "colder than freezing" coming out of the machine, but after hours sitting in an open ice bin the temperature of the outside of the ice cube is closer to 35 degrees. Cracking cubes fresh for each drink renders the inside of the cube exposed for maximum coldness. That being said, I witnessed a bit of a throwdown a few weeks ago when a Seattle bartender was guest bartending with us one night. My co-worker used whole KD cubes and our guest used freshly cracked to make a martini. They each stirred for a minute, then measured the volume and temperature. The drink made with whole cubes was colder and less diluted than the one with cracked. We will have to repeat this experiment many times to fully convince me of its results, but I was surprised as I know so many bars that crack, and bartenders that are convinced of its superiority. After all this, I think I prefer the White Star method of keeping whole KD ice in covered ice bins. It would be a little weird for those of use who have spent our entire careers using exposed ice wells, but I think I'd get used to it pretty quick.
  20. Yes, I'm familiar with fxcuisine, and also Darcy O'Neil's recipe from The Art of Drink. I also posted my recipe on the orgeat thread in the spirits & cocktail forum here on egullet. But I'm wondering what the cultural and historical precedents are for the syrup, and what regional variances there might be. Any ideas?
  21. Hi, I'm wondering if anyone has information on the history of orgeat: Is it specific to one region in France? Are there regional differences in recipes? Does anyone in France still make orgeat from scratch? Any information would be much appreciated. Thank you!
  22. feste


    Possibly, although I think xanthan gum is preferred for stuff like this. If you can stabilize with gum arabic, I'd love to hear how much it takes. I'm also curious about how to convey to people that just because something separates, it doesn't make it an inferior product. Is it so wrong to have to shake your bottle of orgeat before you use it each time? Are we so conditioned by industrial food that if we see separation or color variations or "refrigeration required" that we assume it's not a good product? Is there a way to battle this perception?
  23. feste


    Hi all, Am hoping for a little help here. I'm writing a post on commercial orgeat and am trying to get lists of ingredients for all the major brands. I haven't been able to find ingredients for either the Fee Bros. or the 1883 products. My local liquor store is out of the Fee's, and the bottle of 1883 I bought and brought into work to compare recipes with mysteriously disappeared... Do any of you have either of these products lying around and would you be willing to post the ingredients? Thanks so much!
  24. I believe there is a company in the San Francisco area run by a local bartender... Oh what's it called? Oh yeah, Small Hand Foods. ← While I greatly appreciate the plug, Erik, I would love to have a physical frame of reference for my product. I have fantasies of getting some money together and exploring wherever it is in France that orgeat is/was made. Any ideas of a history on it?
  25. I used to buy it at a local coffee shop, which is where I found out about them; Sweet Eugene's on Harvey Rd here in College Station. Last time I went in there to get raspberry syrup (about 6 months ago), they had all Monin products instead. Nothing against Monin, which is generally of acceptable quality, but they can't really compare to the 1883. I asked them what the deal was and the guy said the company went under or something to that effect and that they were disappointed by the forced switch. A little poking around on the internet yielded this page which seems to have a pretty complete selection of their line. I haven't tried ordering from them but the 1883 site is still up so it may have been a matter of distributor changes or something that forced the local guy to switch. If anybody successfully orders from that link I'd love to know if it works. -Andy ← After many recommendations I bought the 1883 Orgeat from this website. I have to say, I can't figure out what the big deal is. It seems to me to be thickened sugar syrup flavored with almond extract, just like Monin, Torani and several other brands. When I was in NY recently I tasted some from a deli that bartenders swore by and it was the same. I know that orgeat used to be almond syrup, as in syrup made from almonds, not just extract. Does anyone in France (or anywhere else) still make it from actual almonds?
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