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  1. To throw a log on the fire: the conventional 25% dilution tastes way too hot/sour/sweet to my palate these days. At Marvel we usually dilute 50% minimum; some shaken drinks are diluted as much as 80-90%. In other words a 90ml cocktail would measure just shy of 170ml after shaking. Most things benefit from the addition of water. Exactly how much is personal preference.
  2. The importance of water is not to be understated. You couldn't just substitute pineapple juice for water and get a better drink. You need the water to reduce the intensity of ingredients that (simple syrup, lemon juice, certain spirits to certain people) just don't taste that great on their own. I know you're aware of this already, but it's worth observing. And, speaking as a bartender who uses more distilled water behind the bar than any other product, for some reason adding water to mimic shaken-ice dilution just doesn't quite achieve the same result. I'm not sure why this is. Even a martini that just rests on ice without stirring doesn't taste the same to me as one that is stirred to the same level of dilution. I can't really explain this but it seems to be the case.
  3. http://imbibemagazine.com/The-Old-Man-and-the-Sea-Recipe
  4. At Marvel we've been salting our invert syrup for a while now. 1 Tbsp kosher salt to 6 quarts granulated sugar and 3 quarts water. We use this syrup in sours, and we've yet to find a drink that does not "pop" more with the use of the syrup. The salinity is subperceptible but makes a huge difference. We were initially leery of such a change to our program, but blind tests overwhelmingly showed the superiority of salted syrup. It's an easy way to add another flavor frequency to a drink, an extra element of complexity. (For Old-Fashioneds and other such drinks we use unsalted demerara. On the other hand, those can also be delicious with salt, as noted above, and we also do some bitter-brown-stirred drinks with salt added as well.)
  5. I saw this movie recently and loved it. It's a fantastic exploration of the Japanese shokunin tradition. Since I will be heading back to Tokyo in June I decided to have a Japanese friend make a reservation for me so I could see it for myself. They wouldn't accept my reservation as a foreigner. My friend pressed them and they said they would accept a reservation from a hotel concierge. Since I'm tatami-surfing rather than staying at hotels, I have no access to a concierge. After a second phone call, they grudgingly agreed to accept a reservation under the condition that I call three days in advance to reconfirm the reservation. I hope the sushi is good enough to wipe out the slightly bad taste in my mouth from this experience.
  6. Been playing around with charcoal-filtered cocktails recently. We're using Japanese hibachi charcoal, additive-, propellent- and chemical-free. It's a passive filtration, resting the mix on charcoal, rather than forcing it through. The charcoal mellows it, smoothes it, imparts a sooty finish and aroma. Interesting. Lincoln County Boulevardier 1000ml Buffalo Trace 600ml Campari 400ml Antica Formula 500g lump charcoal Break large pieces of charcoal into smaller nuggets to increase surface area exposure and place in a large sealable vessel. Pour bourbon, Campari and vermouth over charoal. Cover and rest shielded from sunlight, agitating daily. After ten days, strain through a coffee filter. To serve, stir briskly over ice and strain into something concave.
  7. For the past several months I have been using egg whites to emulsify oils into cocktails. I think there is interesting potential for a new category of emulsified oil cocktails. The meringue of these drinks is velvety and unique, and many oils have a fascinating flavor when used in with egg white sours and silver fizzes. Here is one such emulsified cocktail. Oliveto 60 ml gin 30 ml lemon juice 10 ml 2:1 invert syrup 10 ml Licor 43 1 egg white 15 ml olive oil (California Olive Ranch sustainable extra virgin) Preshake, shake again with ice, strain. The olive oil brings an almost mallic acid quality to this cocktail. It tastes fruity, like an apple or kiwi. If made correctly, this cocktail will not separate for a long time - much longer than the drink usually lasts. A quick stir with a spoon will re-emulsify the drink again, if it does begin to separate. I have searched the internet for drinks like this but haven't been able to find any. Though there is nothing new under the sun, I flatter myself that it may be the first of its kind.
  8. I think he's saying that the Japanese love their highballs. And, to a certain extent, Chris is right. Single malt (Scottish or Japanese) on the rock or in a highball is a common order. The Japanese beieve that many spirits benefit from water or ice in the same way that a painting benefits from a few long steps backward to take it in. Gives you a bit of perspective. I'm not saying this is correct. But after tending in Tokyo - and in the US - and seeing English/Scottish ways... I must say, I am very forgiving of localized (non-US) drinking customs that might seem heretical to other (US-driven) drinking cultures. "To each their own" has never been more appropos.
  9. In love with this: Red Sky At Night 1.5 oz. Sauza Tres Generaciones 1.5oz. Campari 2 dashes orange bitters float cacao nib-infused mezcal served on the rock. One of my best.
  10. Just picked up a bottle of Templeton at Cask. The employee who grabbed it for me said that what was currently being sold was actually whiskey from a different distillery - she didn't know where - that Templeton was bottling because its own whiskeys weren't ready for bottling yet (not aged long enough). This sounded strange to me but the employee wasn't really able to tell me much more. Can anyone shed any light on what she was talking about? Other people have told me that this information was not correct.
  11. Can anyone tell me the deal with Bourbon and Branch's password/reservation policy? I'd love to go this week but their online reservation system is singularly unhelpful. Any tips for getting in?
  12. Awesome, thanks for those suggestions. Very helpful - can't wait!
  13. OK... so, it's 2011 now, and in early March I'm headed to San Fran for the first time. I'm looking forward to doing some "research" at some of the cocktail bars around there. What's great? Some of the places described above sound fantastic but there's undoubtedly been new places since 2008. Any recommendations - and fun restaurants, incidentally - would be greatly appreciated.
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