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In addition to Domino Dots sugar cubes, I usually have some demerara sugar on hand. I thought I had plenty.

And then I tried this Rancho Gordo piloncillo tonight in a Oaxaca Old Fashioned. And it rocked my world: deep, rich, complex in a way that you just don't expect sugar to be.

Every single person who cares about cocktails and has access to the internet -- that means you -- should order a bag of this stuff.

What other earth-shaking sugars are out there for the cocktail fanatics? Not syrups, mind you, sugars themselves.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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We've been playing here and there with different sugars at work. Jaggery, coconut palm sugar, and some others I can't recall right now. The chef brought a bunch of them back from an excursion to the big Asian market and demanded a drink made thereof. They are interesting but I confess I have had no revelations such as you describe with them as yet. That said I have some ideas about the coconut palm sugar I'd like to try out soon.

I've also decided I don't much care for the irregular "cubes" of demerara sugar that are available in fancy places. They look cool but are of pretty radically different sizes and to say they don't dissolve easily would be extremely generous.

Is the piloncillo from RG significantly different from what I can get at the store? I'm not doubting that Rancho Gordo has quality products but I don't see any need to pay shipping and wait when I can get it for under $3/lb and a 5 min drive.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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I just polished off a bottle of gum syrup, which led to an after-work stop for more run-of-the-mill demerara crystals. Now this has me thinking I should sacrifice the lump of jaggery in the pantry. Will report back.

 

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Side note: I recently for reasons I don't completely recall pulverized some Turbinado sugar in the food processor for a relatively extended period of time. The resulting product was almost indistinguishable from the style of sugar (not sure if it has a generic name) that is commonly marketed as 'Florida Crystals', even though the virgin turbinado had a much darker color. Does anyone know if there is a significant distinction between the two apart from the size of the grains?

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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You'll have to judge for yourself, but I -- and my 13 year old daughter -- spent a minute or two inhaling the aroma from the opened bag of piloncillo, an aroma that wafted off the top of the Old Fashioned. When was the last time you inhaled sugar for sixty seconds?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I've also decided I don't much care for the irregular "cubes" of demerara sugar that are available in fancy places. They look cool but are of pretty radically different sizes and to say they don't dissolve easily would be extremely generous.

I appreciate the fact that they're different sizes, because it irks me when I have to waste half a package of granulated sugar - or, worse, take out the undissolved half of a normal sugar cube and dispose of it somewhere - because I don't want my espresso oversweetened. At least I can choose a smaller lump of the kind you're talking about, though I agree with you that they don't dissolve easily.

This thread just reminded me that I brought home a bag of black sugar from Japan last May, and it must have gotten filed away in a baking cupboard somewhere, because I haven't gotten around to using it in anything yet. Must rectify that.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I always have maple sugar around but it never occured to me to try to find a cocktail use for it. Maybe I should.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I love Gula Jawa, (jaggery, palm sugar), with rums. It has a way of bringing the funk out. My Swedish punsch replica was not complete until I put it into the mix. Saying the inch-and-half-thick, rock-hard, frisbee-shaped disks are not fun to work would be extremely generous.

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There is a Specialty sugars topic in the Kitchen Consumer forum.

The Billington's sugars are amazing. The dark brown molasses smells intoxicating. But I make them into syrups, because it's easier to stir into a drink. Except for their demerara, which I also use for muddling.

Andy, what did you think of the pound of Billington's I gave you a few years ago?

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I always have maple sugar around but it never occured to me to try to find a cocktail use for it. Maybe I should.

Try it in an Old Fashioned with Laird's Bonded & Angostura Orange...a mighty tasty cocktail.

As for piloncillo, I like it with Rhum Agricole.

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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How do you guys go through all these sugars and syrups, anyway? I've still got a bottle of cinnamon syrup kicking around from last October!

Small quantities. I'll typically make a 5 oz batch of syrups that are called for less frequently.

Am I just not drinking enough?

Well, if you have to ask... :wink:

 

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I love Gula Jawa, (jaggery, palm sugar), with rums. It has a way of bringing the funk out. My Swedish punsch replica was not complete until I put it into the mix. Saying the inch-and-half-thick, rock-hard, frisbee-shaped disks are not fun to work would be extremely generous.

The stuff I get that's labeled "Gula Jawa" is a mix of raw, molasses-rich cane sugar and jaggery, and it comes in disturbingly fudgelike logs. It's definitely weird stuff, but it really does bring the umami like nothing else does. Like a cross between sugar and soy sauce. Mixed with Batavia arrack and lime juice, it makes for a uniquely rich sort of punch. I've never tried it with anything else, though. Probably make a killer Vodka Cocktail, though.

Also, many of the most interesting sugars, I find, must be incorporated as syrups, since they're only available in cakes or loaves. I've used many a loaf of piloncillo, but never before seen it in granulated form. I'll be sure to pick some up.

ETA that last bit.

Edited by Splificator (log)

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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I always have maple sugar around but it never occured to me to try to find a cocktail use for it. Maybe I should.

Try it in an Old Fashioned with Laird's Bonded & Angostura Orange...a mighty tasty cocktail.

Sounds tasty. Unfortunately, Laird's isn't an option here in Ontario. Best I can do is Boulard Calvados... which I realize is not the same critter.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I like palm sugar, which has become one of my go-to cocktail sugars.

The other day I made a very dark caramel syrup thinking that it would be good in cocktails. But alas, the early reports are that it brings too much bitterness to the table to us useful. So now I have a pint of dark bitter caramel syrup I have to use for something.

--

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I like palm sugar, which has become one of my go-to cocktail sugars.

The other day I made a very dark caramel syrup thinking that it would be good in cocktails. But alas, the early reports are that it brings too much bitterness to the table to us useful. So now I have a pint of dark bitter caramel syrup I have to use for something.

Caramel sauce for vietnamese chicken.

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So, I always thought that what we had here labeled as "açucar mascavo" was raw sugar, but in fact its piloncillo :cool: Another diferent sugar product that we have here is rapadura (also known as papellón or panela in the rest of Latin America), kind of a brick of sugar. So, if I come up with a recipe that calls for raw sugar, what would be best to replace with? demerara or piloncillo?

Paulo Freitas

Bartender @ Bar do Copa (Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro - Brazil)

http://www.bardocopa.com.br

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and it comes in disturbingly fudgelike logs. It's definitely weird stuff, but it really does bring the umami like nothing else does. Like a cross between sugar and soy sauce.

i buy a columbian "panela" that is also really fudgelike. any idea what is responsible for that character?

the columbian panela is also very umami, but just in the same way rhum agricole is. i think one thing that defines some of these unrefined cane sugars is that they come from places that do not have to burn the cane before they harvest it (no venomous snakes is what i've heard).

i call these "aromatic sugars". they definitely add gustatory sweetness, but they also bring olfactory tension that can either increase the perception of sweetness or decrease it (umami decreases). using them can be sometimes good, sometimes bad. i hate when very ordinary in aroma (caramel) raw sugars are added to liqueurs. i've seen some amaros and a walnut liqueur fall victim to boring, overshadowing caramel aromas. after witnessing such a waste of good walnuts non aromatic white sugar is nothing to put down.

i really like adding the columbian panela to unaged rhum agricoles. it gives the olfactory sensation of age. if you are on a strict budget but need to produce the extraordinary you can add these aromatic sugars to cheap silent spirits (vodka, industrial rum) and synthesize some of the fun of an agricole.

aromatic sugars play a big role in certain liqueurs.

chambord (honey)

yellow chartreuse (acacia honey)

amer picon (probably malt sugar)

grand marnier (i speculate that they use an aromatic sugar to synthesize the tonal effect of adding older cognac to the orange peels)

some amaros like the nardini (something annoyingly caramel)

the nocino from maurizio russo (something annoyingly caramel)

vermouth often relies on aroma from a "mistelle" which is usually concentrated muscat grape sugars (often very orangey-elderflowery in aroma)

Edited by bostonapothecary (log)

abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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I like palm sugar, which has become one of my go-to cocktail sugars.

The other day I made a very dark caramel syrup thinking that it would be good in cocktails. But alas, the early reports are that it brings too much bitterness to the table to us useful. So now I have a pint of dark bitter caramel syrup I have to use for something.

Caramel sauce for vietnamese chicken.

I'd go with flan.

So, I always thought that what we had here labeled as "açucar mascavo" was raw sugar, but in fact its piloncillo :cool: Another diferent sugar product that we have here is rapadura (also known as papellón or panela in the rest of Latin America), kind of a brick of sugar. So, if I come up with a recipe that calls for raw sugar, what would be best to replace with? demerara or piloncillo?

Panela is generally synonymous with piloncillo (wikipedia says this is know as rapadura in Brazil). Is it possible the "açucar mascavo" is actually muscovado?

On my own personal spectrum, if white sugar is well done, demerara is medium and piloncillo is rare.

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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Andy, what did you think of the pound of Billington's I gave you a few years ago?

I actually still have some. I think my favorite uses are for coffee and punch, which I'm likely to give a go this weekend. It is essentially molasses in solid form, extremely intense.

Probably make a killer Vodka Cocktail, though.

Hee-hee-hee!

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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From what I understand, regular sugar is treated with sulfur four times. Regular piloncillo, in the inconvenient cone shape, meets the sulfur just once. Our piloncillo is simply evaporated cane juice. There is no sulfur treatment at all. How they keep it granulated is a secret of the collective who makes it but it's a lot easier to work with than the cones. But they just juice the cane, heat it in vats, break up the results with special shovels and then repeat it over and over again. The cane is also grown by the collective and they've switched from slash and burn to allowing the old plants to regrow each season. The result has been that they save money but now there are more snakes in the area. It's always something.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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If "regular sugar" = "refined white sugar," sulfur is irrelevant. It's not used in industrial sugar production, at least not in the US, Canada or the EU. The typical precipitant in refining sugar is calcium hydroxide, otherwise known as "lime," the same chemical used to transform ground corn into masa seca.

At one time, calcium sulfate (CaSO4) was employed -- at one point, not four, in the process -- to refine sugar (perhaps it still in some areas), but it's a stretch to infer that 1) CaSO4 is the same thing as "sulfur," since it comprises one part calcium, one part sulfur, and four parts oxygen; 2) it's necessarily harmful -- CaSO4 is used to create tofu, among other things; 3) it's some sort of weird invention of food science. It occurs naturally, as do many other "additives" -- and as do snakes.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Paulo--

Most drink recipes that you come across that call for raw sugar will mean something like a Demerara or even a turbinado sugar--something that has been crystallized but still has some of the evaporated/concentrated cane juice coating the crystals.

Rancho Gordo--

I'll have to try your sugar. The stuff I get labeled as "panela" or "piloncillo" here in Brooklyn, where it is easy to find, comes in either cones or discs and is so raw that there are often bits of ash or shredded cane embedded in it. I can't imagine it undergoes a lot of processing.

Kent--

That Mauritius Demerara is a particularly raw version Brooklyn Brewery brings in in bulk for brewing; occasionally some of it escapes into the wild. Most Demerara sugar is from Mauritius these days, although if you have access to a good Caribbean market you can sometimes get the stuff from Demerara/Guyana, which is excellent.

Stephen--

I think that fudgelike texture/character is due to it being even LESS refined--so unrefined that it's not even dry; there's still molasses in there.

I completely agree about these things being a two-edged sword. They can bum rush a drink (or, as you point out, a liqueur). Sometimes, that's cool (I mentioned a Vodka Cocktail not to stir things up--well, ok, maybe a little--but because vodka-sugar-bitters is a great way to taste the sugar itself; a way of making a sort of negative cocktail, where the background elements are foreground). Other times, it's not. For Daiquiris, I've switched back to superfine white sugar, because they come out mich brighter, and to me that brightness is the soul of that drink.

Interesting take on the liqueurs. In the case of the Grand Marnier, I wonder if they're using blending sugar as they used to do in Cognac, where a raw sugar was made into a thin syrup and then barrel aged before being blended in (some Cognac houses still do this).

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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