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Q&A -- Evolving Cocktails

11 posts in this topic

I find it utterly fascinating to have two "takes" on cocktails - a serious classical look and a more playful, open look - sort of like University where we read Hemingway and then Henry James and got two world views - both valid - both engaging.

I have never had a martini or a margarita or any cocktail but these two classes have convinced me to stretch out a bit from beer, wine and single malt to new and exciting drinks.

Thanks to you both.

Anna N


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Hi Beans, thanks for your comprehensive presentation. I am curious, at your own job: how many of these funky garnishes do you actually keep on hand? If you were advising somebody on setting up a professional bar, what do you think they should stock? (I'm referring here to the nontraditional bar garnish components you discuss: violet sugar, the edible flowers, the wowie-zowie pretty things in the pix you included in your presentation.)

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Thanks for the great information on garnishing. I have a question about twists.

One thing I've noticed is that the pretty spiral twists, while very nice looking, don't actually seem to "twist" without breaking. Usually when I use a twist I want the oil from the rind to float onto the drink. How do you get that from one of the spiral twists? I know I can make the twists as I go, over the drinks, and get the oils that way, but when I'm serving a larger crowd I like to make them ahead of time. Is there a way to make attractive spirals ahead of time that actuall release some oil? Should I just make them thicker?


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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I have never had a martini or a margarita or any cocktail but these two classes have convinced me to stretch out a bit from beer, wine and single malt to new and exciting drinks.

Good Morning Ladies! :smile:

Thank you for your kind words Anna.

:wub: Single malts

For as much fun as I think making and enjoying a Blue Berry Smash, sometimes a nice Macallan is simply the only thing that will due! :raz:

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I am curious, at your own job: how many of these funky garnishes do you actually keep on hand? If you were advising somebody on setting up a professional bar, what do you think they should stock? (I'm referring here to the nontraditional bar garnish components you discuss: violet sugar, the edible flowers, the wowie-zowie pretty things in the pix you included in your presentation.)

Wow. Thank you Malawry!

Our garnishes: That really depends upon the season (busy Summer or slow Winter), the interest of the bartender, the interest of the restaurant owner/general manager/bar manager and how often is this drink with the piped milk chocolate flouish or blueberries are requested by the clientele. If we have a regular that makes their request for any particular item, we respond by stocking it and making it available as an option for all, via newly printed table tent, often credting that regular. (i.e., "Uncle Joe's Coffee" which BTW has a silly and *bad* anecdotal story behind it, but that's not one to render here!)

For the most part, where I work, we have all of "the usual suspects" (oranges, lemons, limes, olives, celery, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and maraschino cherries) on hand at all times.

During busy Summer nights we'll do six figures in overall gross sales volume, banging out as many dirnks to be made as humanly possible. The basic garnishes remain consistent in presentation 99.99999999% of the time. :smile:

During the slow Winter months, much more attention to detail with food, cocktail and individualized guest service is the norm. That's when we'll work on featuring special items and/or plan out "themed nights" to draw interest back to the "cozy" Winter version of the wild, busy Summer hotspot.

However, I have been saddened that we stopped using our (year round) traditional cooked, chilled, tail-on shrimp and draught beer chaser garnish to our Blood Marys. Of course, it was a cost issue behind this decision -- the managers got tired of seeing the barstaff eating their lunches or dinners! :rolleyes:

Other Cocktail ("Martini") bars, at least here in little ol'Cleveburg, do have a larger array of unique garnish on hand to use and support their signature cocktail menus.

As for what garnish I'd recommend: Have the basics on hand, at a minimum. Elsewise:

  • Decide what direction in cocktails you'd like to showcase that sets your establishment apart from the rest.
  • That, and how much cost are you willing to eat? (read: Garnish is expensive and the prices go up exponentially with the cool little toy like gimmicks, such as the "litecube").
  • How receptive is your barstaff to minding the recipe and producing a consistent product -- both in taste and presentation. Grrrrrr. That's much easier said than done! But what is life without challenges?
  • How much $$$ is your clientele willing to pay for creativity? My cosmo in South Beach makes me cry to order when I shell out the baht for the same lousy drink that I would be sipping at home for 1/4th of the cost. But that's what vacation is all about! Know your audience (or market)! Is this a neighbourhood pub of retired steel workers and and urban revitalization yups where most that is ordered is a shot and a beer? (I worked in one of those places and finding the olives was often difficult because the jar got squirrled away to various remote locations due to lack of use!) Or is it the newest hot destination for the afterwork crowd to see out for happy hour?

ummm, errrrrr, did I get carried away?

I hope this helps!

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One thing I've noticed is that the pretty spiral twists, while very nice looking, don't actually seem to "twist" without breaking. Usually when I use a twist I want the oil from the rind to float onto the drink. How do you get that from one of the spiral twists? I know I can make the twists as I go, over the drinks, and get the oils that way, but when I'm serving a larger crowd I like to make them ahead of time. Is there a way to make attractive spirals ahead of time that actuall release some oil? Should I just make them thicker?

I twist over the drink each time.

I want to blame the lemon from time to time too with the breakage issue, but I guess it all really boils down to my level of patience at the moment I'm executing the twisting motion and how well the twist was zested!

I watched, with amazement, a recent Martha Stewart show when she was zipping out some twists for cocktail garnish. She got hers to spiral in a tight, uniform, beautiful manner and the twists continued to retain their shape! I think she is the magical charmer of all things citrus. (I *never* have the patience to supreme a grapefruit).

Ahead of time multiple twists: Not sure how well they work. The essential oil has been released with the twisting motion and I guess would "smear" onto the container that they are temporarily stored until their use. Perhaps you could revitalize it a bit by another twist of the twist and encouraging it to a tighter, aesthetically pleasing spiral.

Thicker? I go as thick as the skin of the citrus allows before hitting pith. Once in awhile a microscopic amount of pith still scrapes on which I don't mind. I'd like to think my tastebuds would discern this faux pas, but alas, and to my chagrin, they fail me on that ability!

Does this help?

Perhaps another "cocktailian" could add to this as well?

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You describe a 3 layer drink: "Sex with an Alligator"

I've heard of 7 layer "Pousse cafe" Do you have a recipe that tastes halfway decent? And what has it to do with coffee?

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Hi jackal10.

The pousse café literally translates to "push coffee." This was a popular French originating, after dinner drink, replacing an after dinner coffee, or to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee alongside. It grew in popularity in New Orleans during the 1800's. Pousse Cafés are a beautifullly layered drink to be sipped in a slow progression to taste and savour each complementary flavor.

Experiment! I think I've read that part of the fun of the failures to layer is drinking the mistakes! :raz:

Duck Farts were wildly popular when I tended bar in Sitka, Alaska and the B-52 pops up every now and then. In fact, once in a great while a B-52 is quite a treat with coffee.

Here is a nice, compiled list of recipes courtesy of the talented Miss Cheryl Charming.

Here is a handy liquor density reference chart: Clickety Here

This should start your journey to enjoyment. :smile: I view Pousse Café drinks to be similar to golf -- I love the game (flavour) for all of its athletic grace and beauty (pretty layers) but find it the most infuriating and frustrating quest to perfect!

Cheers!

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And so Beans, speaking of Alaska.

I first fell totally in love with Colorado Bulldogs during cozy drink-and-chat fests in front of the huge fireplace at the Chena Pump House in Fairbanks.

There, they were prepared with 1 part Kahlua, 1 part cream, and two parts Coke.

Since then, I've had them every which way, including with vodka.

So in your opinion, which is "best"?


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Which is the best?

The way you like to drink it! :biggrin:

I've never been that far north.... One day I'll get to Fairbanks. The women there have a good sense of humour too. (Check out a book called "Catch and Release: The Insider's Guide to Alaskan Men" written by five women from Fairbanks -- it's a hoot, and all around *bad* !!)

We've always made them with the addition of vodka. As a matter of fact when I first started bartending it was easier for me to remember it was a White Russian with cola on top.

Same thing for the Cocaine Lady. It's a Colorado Bulldog with the addition of Amaretto, served up tall.

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