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KD1191

Rogue (now beta) Cocktails

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Has anyone else had a chance to take a look at this new book/manifesto published by Kirk Estopinal and Maks Pazuniak of Cure in New Orleans (Rogue Cocktails)?

I've paged through it a couple times this week, and have been intrigued. It contains two score of recipes that are aimed at being rule breaking. That conceit could come across as somewhat too precious or trite, to some, but there are interesting things going on here (to my estimation...but, maybe it's all been done).

The drinks are really only part of the book, though. They are used to bolster the philosophy they are espousing. On their blog, it's compared to the Chris Rock bit in which he tears into those who want to be congratulated for the very least of accomplishments (i.e. "I raise my kids." == "I stir my Manhattans."). The goal is to be somewhat of a kick in the pants to the community, to break free of the "How many times do you stir a Manhattan?" debate and continue to evolve as creators.

Their approach may raise some hackles, but they also take a very relaxed and open view, saying that there's no perfect way to make a drink, that the many various styles and methods of bar tending should be respected, and that, "ome people will love the recipes in this book, some will hate them. We are cool with this."

What do the rest of you think? Is this a fad, a glimpse into the future, or history repeating?


True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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I've only briefly glimpsed through it, but I know that the cocktails I've had from it are delicious, and that's enough for me. I'm not a professional, so I don't have much to say re the philosophy espoused, but I like the guys who wrote it, and they make good drinks.

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It contains two score of recipes that are aimed at being rule breaking. 

A Cuba Libre is rule breaking? I'm sure these guys are great bartenders, but this book is hardly earthshaking. It's a compilation of some drinks. Spare me the "philosophy."


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
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Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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Janet, I haven't looked through the book thoroughly enough to notice the Cuba Libre, but my look was thorough enough to notice that most of the drinks included are a fair piece more creative than that.

Also, the "philosophy" behing the book seems more to be "there is no philosophy, and it isn't all about rules."

ETA: It would really surprise me if a standard Cuba Libre was included in this book, given that they explicitly decline to include recipes for drinks like daiquiris and negronis.


Edited by MikeHartnett (log)

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On their blog, it's compared to the Chris Rock bit in which he tears into those who want to be congratulated for the very least of accomplishments (i.e. "I raise my kids." == "I stir my Manhattans.").  The goal is to be somewhat of a kick in the pants to the community, to break free of the "How many times do you stir a Manhattan?" debate and continue to evolve as creators.

Their approach may raise some hackles, but they also take a very relaxed and open view, saying that there's no perfect way to make a drink, that the many various styles and methods of bar tending should be respected, and that, "ome people will love the recipes in this book, some will hate them.  We are cool with this."

What do the rest of you think?  Is this a fad, a glimpse into the future, or history repeating?

I haven't read anything more than their few blog posts linked above, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

As they themselves acknowledge in their post about stirring, the basics are still very important. If they're blown away by a shaken Manhatten with no bitters, they should come to my town (Madison, WI) where if you're not careful, your "Manhattan" may very well be unbittered, shaken, served over rocks, and (here's the kicker) use brandy as the base spirit. That's right, a glass of watered down, shaken brandy with a dash of musty old vermouth called a Manhattan. And I'm not talking about a dive bar drink here either. Technique is very important and the idea of breaking the rules seems to have been around forever.

I don't think their project suggests leaving technique behind though or that "breaking the rules" is new. The project seems to want to be a kick in the pants to the tradition of writing bar books by beginning with the basics and assuming little to no technical proficiency with the craft. This is cool and valuable, but their rhetoric seems to me a bit overblown. Bar books have been evolving quite a bit, emphasizing history, understanding of drink structure, technique, etc., over a dizzying multitude of recipes.

Anyway, even if this book isn't Paine's Common Sense for the cocktail "revolution," I'm still interested in checking out some adventurous recipes. Philosophy or no, that's enough for me.


nunc est bibendum...

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Janet, I haven't looked through the book thoroughly enough to notice the Cuba Libre, but my look was thorough enough to notice that most of the drinks included are a fair piece more creative than that. 

Also, the "philosophy" behing the book seems more to be "there is no philosophy, and it isn't all about rules."

ETA: It would really surprise me if a standard Cuba Libre was included in this book, given that they explicitly decline to include recipes for drinks like daiquiris and negronis.

I'm wondering if the inclusion of the Cuba Libre was meant to remind people that a Cuba Libre is more than just a Rum & Coke.

It looks like an interesting book, if for no other reason than to add it to the collection, but I saw at least three drinks in the preview pages that look rather enticing.


Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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The book is worth buying for the Art of Choke alone. What a fantastic drink...

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A Cuba Libre is rule breaking? I'm sure these guys are great bartenders, but this book is hardly earthshaking. It's a compilation of some drinks. Spare me the "philosophy."

That's the one recipe that caused me to do a double-take. It's not exactly your standard rum & coke, though. I quite enjoy the particular formulation, using dark rum and Mexican coke (just returned from lunch at a taqueria with a medio litro which will likely be put to this purpose tonight). It's probably the least 'earthshaking' drink of the 40 in the book, so I wouldn't damn the endeavor based on its inclusion.


True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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A Cuba Libre is rule breaking? I'm sure these guys are great bartenders, but this book is hardly earthshaking. It's a compilation of some drinks. Spare me the "philosophy."

That's the one recipe that caused me to do a double-take. It's not exactly your standard rum & coke, though. I quite enjoy the particular formulation, using dark rum and Mexican coke (just returned from lunch at a taqueria with a medio litro which will likely be put to this purpose tonight). It's probably the least 'earthshaking' drink of the 40 in the book, so I wouldn't damn the endeavor based on its inclusion.

Even if all the drinks aren't completely revolutionary, they're pretty cool for their interesting combinations of ingredients. I might pick it up when I can--it looks like it's up my alley.


nunc est bibendum...

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I think that many of the cocktails look pretty good. What I don't get is the whole "rogue" and "breaking the rules" shtick. None of the drinks in there will seem in any way revolutionary, subversive of breaking of the rules to anyone who has spent time in top NYC cocktail bars.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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The way I understand it, it's not that they are aiming to break rules; it's kind of a "chill out about all these rules, and make things that taste good."

Where the "rogue" fits into that, I'm not sure. Maybe it just sounded cool.

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Part of the problem is their premise that "the international cocktail renaissance is in danger of falling into a state of discontent and stagnation. It seems that many in the community are resting on their laurels, copngratulating themselves for bringing back fresh juices and for stirring Manhattans."

There is simply no evidence I can see that this is the case. Not to be cruel, but I suppose I can see how two New Orleans bartenders might get that impression, considering that this is a city which was decried in the cocktailian community as a place where you couldn't get a decent drink as recently as a few years ago. Which is to say that I don't think the state of cocktail books is reflective of cocktail culture, and they may not have had much opportunity to sample the fullness of revival cocktail culture. But anyone who thinks that "many in the community are resting on their laurels" and cranking out formulaic drinks hasn't met most of the bartenders I know. Richie Boccato, Alex Day, Damon Dyer, Giuseppe Gonzalez, Kenta Goto, Don Lee, Toby Maloney, Brian Miller, Del Pedro, Audrey Saunders, Phil Ward. . . none of these guys (and at least a dozen more who didn't happen to spring immediately to mind) are "resting on their laurels." More to the point, all of these people have come up with as many interesting and growing-the-tradition cocktails on an individual basis than are contained in the Rogue Cocktails book.

The other problem with their premise is the idea that cocktail books are meant for bartenders. They aren't, and haven't been primarily for bartenders since at least the start of Prohibition. Cocktail books nowadays are written with the home bartender in mind. As such, of course they all have to include a section on how to make garnishes and how to make a proper Manhattan (or the equivalent). To the best of my knowledge, there is no book currently in publication which approaches the cocktailian craft with the professional cocktailian bartender in mind, offering any ideas as to a way to approach mixology in a way that grows the tradition. The Rogue guys are perhaps correct that there is a need for such a book -- but this isn't it and, as good and well intentioned as they might be, it's not clear that they're the guys to write it either. Other than someone like Audrey Saunders (e.g., someone who has spent plenty of time growing the cockailian tradition, and also proactively mentored several generations of cocktailan bartenders who have gone on to grow the tradition, and who has clearly put a lot of critical thought into this particular subject), it's not clear that there is a clear choice for a book like this. More to the point, it's not clear that there is a clear choice other than someone like Audrey to write a book like this that will sell enough copies to interest a real publisher.

As for "throwing out the rules" -- the last point of the "manifesto" section says "The roots of this book lie within the 19th century culture of cocktails. The cocktails featured in this book utilize treatments and formulas that have been with us since the beginning: sours, fizzes, bitteres slings, juleps, etc. The ingredients may be different, but the techniques certainly are not." It's unclear to me that any of the drinks in the book are any more forward-looking than, say, the Jimmy Roosevelt. Which is fine... The Jimmy is a pretty forward-lookind drink! But let's not start saying that everyone in the business is resting on his laurels and needs a kick in the pants.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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But anyone who thinks that "many in the community are resting on their laurels" and cranking out formulaic drinks hasn't met most of the bartenders I know.  Richie Boccato, Alex Day, Damon Dyer, Giuseppe Gonzalez, Kenta Goto, Don Lee, Toby Maloney, Brian Miller, Del Pedro, Audrey Saunders, Phil Ward. . . none of these guys (and at least a dozen more who didn't happen to spring immediately to mind) are "resting on their laurels."

I don't think that comment is at all directed at the folks you mention. Evinced by the fact that at least one of them has recipes in the book.

Cocktail books nowadays are written with the home bartender in mind. As such, of course they all have to include a section on how to make garnishes and how to make a proper Manhattan (or the equivalent). To the best of my knowledge, there is no book currently in publication which approaches the cocktailian craft with the professional cocktailian bartender in mind, offering any ideas as to a way to approach mixology in a way that grows the tradition. The Rogue guys are perhaps correct that there is a need for such a book -- but this isn't it and, as good and well intentioned as they might be, it's not clear that they're the guys to write it either.

Have we reached the point in the revolution/revival/reformation where books that assume a certain level of knowledge would be useful? The middle ground between the professional bartender and novice does appear to be somewhat under served by the existing literature. Does this book solve all those problems? No, but it's a start. I would absolutely love to see a compilation of selected recipes, compiled by any of those you name above. Maybe this book motivates one of them to do so. Maybe from this humble beginning starts a tradition of cocktail compilations by all-stars of the industry...published with the experienced home bartender or the lonely professional in an exurban outpost in mind. Or, maybe they are already in the progress of doing so, and this first foray is but an intro to what awaits us. We can dream, I guess.


Edited by KD1191 (log)

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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But anyone who thinks that "many in the community are resting on their laurels" and cranking out formulaic drinks hasn't met most of the bartenders I know.  Richie Boccato, Alex Day, Damon Dyer, Giuseppe Gonzalez, Kenta Goto, Don Lee, Toby Maloney, Brian Miller, Del Pedro, Audrey Saunders, Phil Ward. . . none of these guys (and at least a dozen more who didn't happen to spring immediately to mind) are "resting on their laurels."

I don't think that comment is at all directed at the folks you mention. Evinced by the fact that at least one of them has recipes in the book.

Well, then I guess I'm wondering: what laurels?


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Well, then I guess I'm wondering: what laurels?

I'd guess perhaps the ones they were awarded for passing the "Manhattans must be stirred" exam.


True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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Have we reached the point in the revolution/revival/reformation where books that assume a certain level of knowledge would be useful? 

I think Imbibe! would fit this category: the book is indespensable for anyone who frequents a board like this, but no one is going to recommend it as a first cocktail book.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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There is simply no evidence I can see that this is the case.  Not to be cruel, but I suppose I can see how two New Orleans bartenders might get that impression, considering that this is a city which was decried in the cocktailian community as a place where you couldn't get a decent drink as recently as a few years ago.  Which is to say that I don't think the state of cocktail books is reflective of cocktail culture, and they may not have had much opportunity to sample the fullness of revival cocktail culture.

Kirk Estopinal was on the opening crew at the Violet Hour and worked there two years before coming home to New Orleans. He also participated in the bartender exchange with Death and Co.

Maksym Pazuniak is a career changer. He was in commercial real estate in New York before deciding to take the B.A.R. course and become a bartender. Not sure if he worked anywhere in New York before moving to New Orleans, where he had gone to school.

Over the last year, the level of talent has increased dramatically in New Orleans.


Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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I have not read this book yet so If I am incorrect about what I am about to say, I ask to be forgiven. And in full disclosure not only did Kirk work with me at The Violet Hour, & I think he is a fantastic guy all around.

The Cuba Libre, (Analyzed and Improved) specs are most probably from Charles H. Baker. For which his insurance carrier heartily disliked him. It was Bakers idea, to take a drink that was sloppy, and boring and try to make it interesting. I think that is what these gentlemen are getting at. Let's get beyond the rules that we at this point should take for granted. A Manhattan should be stirred, you need fresh lime/lemon. The newest generation of bartenders take these truths to be self evident.

Each “generation” of bartenders hopefully builds on the work of the last. We are so very, very lucky to have the work of some unbelievably talented people to have as our teachers. This group, I am not going to mention any so as to not forget any, taught us the fundamentals and then showed us where we could go from there.

Without Audrey’s’ Tantris Sidecar, Dales Whiskey Smash, & Gary’s Valintino (just to name a few) I think we (the new generation) would be making square wheels. They showed us the value of integrity and creativity in the art of the cocktail.

Back to the Rouge Cocktails. I believe that what Kirk and Maksym are saying is there must be some way to break the rules that we all have ingrained in our bones, while still creating something we love to drink. I know that Kirk mentioned the Cynar Flip as something that was a major AH-HA moment for him.

I think that this is iconoclastic in the best possible way. With out people trying to stretch themselves artistically we would still be drawing stick figures on cave walls.

Toby


A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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Let's get beyond the rules that we at this point should take for granted.  A Manhattan should be stirred, you need fresh lime/lemon.  The newest generation of bartenders take these truths to be self evident.

I think as their blog post illustrates, the sad state of affairs outside of a few select enclaves is that these are in no way self-evident. Nobody expects the guy in a dive to stir a Manhattan, and frankly those ordering Manhattans in dives deserve what they get. However if every place with pretense to serve alcohol in a stemmed glass would just teach rules as simple as these, the state of drinking in this country would be far better than it is. The truth is that Mojitos are still state-of-the-art in most places (not that there is anything wrong with a properly made one), never mind an Aviation.

And I think it's fair to say most folks on this board don't even consider an Aviation to be a particularly exotic drink. Classic, sure. Indespensable maybe even. But 3 years ago it was the toast of the cocktail revival and now it's almost passe. And not one in a thousand people in the community I live and work in have heard of it.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Having recently come back from Tales of the Cocktail I can give a little insight to this, as I went to cure and tried some of these drinks and Maks was an apprentice under me and donbert (and jeff) in which we batched all the cocktails for every seminar (over 220 of them).

I have seen the book and as I mentioned, tried some of the cocktails, including the gunshop fizz and that drink in particular is awesome. I think it is a bit of a loss leader as the pour cost is too high, but flavor and balance wise it is awesome.

I am not sure these guys are looking to be revolutionary in the sense they are doing something completely new, but having people look at ingredients and techniques in different ways.

The gunshop fizz as a drink that illustrates this, as well as their drink that has Cynar as its base (2 oz). I think it is great they came out with the book, and commend them for it.


Edited by johnder (log)

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Can we get the lineage of the Art of Choke that's mentioned above? That was a game-changer for me, and I'm interested to know who got propers for it.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Kyle Davidson of the Violet Hour created the drink and got credit for it in the book.

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Kyle Davidson does indeed get credit, but the book doesn't include anything about his working at the Violet Hour. (On the other hand, maybe there's a bio section in the back; I'm just going by the online preview.) In general, though, what the authors have chosen to write about the drinks they present is rather capricious and not helpful at all if one is interested in the provenance of the drinks.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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Kyle has worked at the Violet Hour since just after it opened, and he still does.


Edited by MikeHartnett (log)

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Kyle has worked at the Violet Hour since just after it opened, and he still does.

Indeed, last I knew he was also at The Publican.


True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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