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slkinsey

Swizzles!

94 posts in this topic

I think we have two different discussions going on here, which is slightly muddling (hah) the topic...one is on the history/authenticity/perfection of the QPS, and one is on what defines a swizzle in general. The conflation of the the two may be causing some confusion. I'll try to address swizzles in general first, then move on to the QPS.

Tradition and showmanship certainly play a part.  The other effect of swizzling is that the agitation rapidly chills the drink.  Think of it as a kind of "shaking in the glass."  There is no reason a bartender couldn't, for example, swizzle a Julep in the cup rather than stirring or shaking and dumping.  But, as far as the drinker is concerned, I wouldn't say that swizzling is absolutely necessary.  I think the same drink, and any desired visual effect could be achieved via other means if that's what the bartender wanted to do. But why not swizzle?

Certainly swizzling can be useful if there is muddled mint or something in the bottom of the glass that the bartender would like to leave disturb, but as far as I can tell very few swizzles feature mint or any muddled material at all.

This is exactly what I read Sasha's statement to say. The full quote is, "Mr. Petraske regards swizzling as simply a more controlled way of stirring. 'It’s a way of not disturbing the muddled stuff that’s at the bottom,' he said. 'Aside from that, I can’t think of any difference it makes.'" Swizzling is just a way of stirring. As you say, it doesn't effect much of anything from the drinkers perspective, once the drink is composed. If you're not sitting at the bar, you'd have little/no way of knowing whether you had a generic swizzle or some fancy rum punch. For example, earlier in the article, there is this: "'There really isn’t any difference between a simple rum punch and a swizzle except the technique used for making them,' Mr. Remsberg said." In this, Remsberg is just echoing Baker, who said, "Practically any Planter's Punch, if multiplied slightly in quantity & swizzled in a bowl or pitcher, becomes a 'Swizzle'. Don't be misled by the contradictory terms. A swizzle foundation could be any of the Planter's Punches given here." So, it seems we agree that swizzling doesn't change the taste of the drink in any way that couldn't be accomplished in other means. All this just furthers my belief that what constitutes a swizzle is all in the action/method. The only thing I might add to your list of requirements is the frosting effect of the serving vessel. Though, maybe you intended this to be implied by the combination of items 1-3.

If most what you know about the drink primarily comes from your exposure to Toby's carefully layered presentation, then it's no surprise that you might think this was a fundamental feature of the drink.  That's just not my experience.  If the heart of what you know about the drink tells you that Sasha is correct in saying that the primary usefulness of swizzling is to leave the muddled stuff in the bottom of the glass, and yet we are faced with the evidence that the majority of swizzles don't have any mint or other muddled stuff down there to stir up, then the conclusion is that this is a mistaken paradigm of the category of drinks.

I think that the points I outlined above (in addition to being served in a tall-narrow glass) pretty well explain what can be called a swizzle.  One could certainly make a layered drink, were that a substantial priority, without swizzling.  In fact, most people who like to dash the bitters on the top to create a dark layer do so after they have finished swizzling the drink.

Here's where I think we get into some confusion regarding swizzles in general vs. the QPS. I'm not under the impression that all or most swizzles contain muddled ingredients, or that they all must be layered. However, specificially with regard to the QPS, I believe that if properly composed it will present a layered effect. I've been waiting for you to present some primary or secondary source to the contrary. I gave you the benefit of the doubt given your obvious tenure here, but I've seen no evidence to back it up. So, for now I'll stand by the recipe/pictures in the NYT article linked above, my general experience drinking the QPS in several bars (not just Toby's btw), and another article I found featuring Marcos Tello (The Edison in L.A. - and winner of the St. Germain competition at Flatiron Lounge yesterday, congrats Marcos). Of the QPS, he says, "it 'must be made properly with Caribbean rum to get it right...t also looks like a green, white and red flag-it’s simply a beautiful drink.'" Given the volume of evidence I've seen on the layered QPS, I guess I'll stand in disagreement with you until such time as you present a source. I'm not as opposed to your supposition that demerara rum is essential to a QPS (for, you could get a layered effect with demerara, perhaps not as striking, but still). However, none of the recipes I've seen insist on demerara.

Who doesn't like good presentation?  I just hesitate to suggest that a certain presentation style of relatively recent popularity should be considered a defining characteristic of the drink.  I, for example, like the visual effect created when I make an Aviation by sliding the creme de violette down into the bottom of the glass rather than shaking it together with the gin, lemon and maraschino.  But if this presentation caught on in a certain family of cocktail bars, I wouldn't want the "blue sunrise effect" to be thought of as a necessary or defining component of the drink.  More to the point, I wouldn't want bartenders to replace the lemon juice with lime juice because it made the "blue sunrise effect" stand out better visually. And I would suggest that this scenario is somewhat analogous to using white rum in a Queen's Park Swizzle because it makes a layering effect look better.

Here, we segue into the discussion of tradition generally, which is fine, but is not an unquestionable good. Certainly, I'm open to the possibility that the QPS was a blended mess when it was initially conceived, and that it used the darkest rum available. That doesn't mean this is the optimal method of preparing the drink, or even a very good one. The "certain family" of bars preparing the QPS in the method I'm familar with now contains cocktailian bars from NYC, to Chicago and L.A. It's getting to be quite extended. Does that mean they are right? Certainly, no. But, I will wait for some reason to question the breadth and proliferation of this style other than your very good word.

Still, if there exists some earlier recipe that insists on demerara rum or forbids layering must these places cease calling their drink a Queen's Park Swizzle? Baker called for Jamaican rum in his swizzles, but he said in his recipe for Planter's Punch (unswizzled swizzle) that "Barbados, Demerara, Martinique, Haitian or Cuban run, can always replace Jamaica." And, presentations options that enhance the experience of a drink without diminishing the flavor are certainly a plus.


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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Given the volume of evidence I've seen on the layered QPS, I guess I'll stand in disagreement with you until such time as you present a source.  I'm not as opposed to your supposition that demerara rum is essential to a QPS (for, you could get a layered effect with demerara, perhaps not as striking, but still).  However, none of the recipes I've seen insist on demerara.

From David Wondrich's Equire Drinks column (link):

The original recipe calls for not one of the light, suave rums made in Trinidad, but rather a heavy, fragrant Demerara rum, from nearby Guyana. Trinidad's rum industry didn't really kick into high gear until World War II, y'see, and before that they seem to have made do with what was lying around the 'hood. If you're butch enough, go Demerara -- Lemon Hart is an excellent brand (Do not use the 151-proof).

I would only add that I see no reason not to use the overproof as long as the recipe is adjusted to bring the final alcohol content within reason.


 

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Just so.

And also note from Dave's Esquire column that the bitters are not dashed on at the top for a layered effect, nor is the mint muddled.

Neither of these techniques is employed in this more historical recipe either, which I note calls for "dark rum."

KD1191, I was around when swizzlemania was running through the NYC bars and everyone was making them (which, of course, wasn't all that long ago). I daresay I was drinking swizzles when the whole layered effect thing caught on. Certainly it's not the case that everyone was making them layered even as recently as 5 years ago, whereas now it seems to be common practice. Of course, we should be mindful of the fact that the high-end cocktailian community was very small at that time, and still continues branch from only a few broadly interconnected trees. Toby Maloney, for example, was one of the first bartenders I knew who made layered swizzles. Lo and behold, Toby worked at Milk & Honey and Pegu Club and any number of other important cocktail bars. Lo and behold again, Toby has been sprouting up bars all across America, including places like Chicago and Minneapolis and Nashville. Lo and behold, there has been a lot of cross-talk and inspiration and influence between NYC cocktailian bartenders and Seattle cocktailian bartenders. Lo and behold, lots of the 'tenders in Los Angeles have come from or been heavily influenced by people from NYC and Seattle. Understanding this, it shouldn't be a surprise that the layered presentation caught on. Look how fast the Last Word made its way from Zig Zag to eGullet to Pegu Club and then throughout the cocktailian community.

Again, I don't think there's anything wrong with making a QPS, or indeed any kind of swizzle, with a layered effect. It looks cool. But I hesitate to say that it's necessary, and I don't advocate making compromises as to ingredients in service of a layered effect. This goes back to my original comment, which is that I don't think it's a good idea to use a white, Cuban-style rum in a QPS simply because it makes the layered effect look better. Is it a good drink? Probably. But replacing demerara rum with white Cuban-style rum in a QPS is like replacing bonded rye whiskey with white dog in a Manhattan. And I think we would agree that vermouth and white dog would not be a Manhattan.

I also think it's meaningfully incorrect and not particularly understanding of the tradition to suggest that the main utility of swizzling is the facilitation of layering effects -- especially in consideration of the fact that people have been swizzling drinks for far longer than the layered effects have been in vogue. Indeed, one of the most common swizzling techniques I have seen involves spinning the swizzle stick back and forth while simultaneously plunging it up and down in the glass.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Indeed, one of the most common swizzling techniques I have seen involves spinning the swizzle stick back and forth while simultaneously plunging it up and down in the glass.

Indeed. Nicely demonstrated under 'Ethos' on Pegu's website. Not a swizzle being swizzled, but the technique's the same.


 

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KD1191, I was around when swizzlemania was running through the NYC bars and everyone was making them (which, of course, wasn't all that long ago).  I daresay I was drinking swizzles when the whole layered effect thing caught on.  Certainly it's not the case that everyone was making them layered even as recently as 5 years ago, whereas now it seems to be common practice.  Of course, we should be mindful of the fact that the high-end cocktailian community was very small at that time, and still continues branch from only a few broadly interconnected trees.  Toby Maloney, for example, was one of the first bartenders I knew who made layered swizzles.  Lo and behold, Toby worked at Milk & Honey and Pegu Club and any number of other important cocktail bars.  Lo and behold again, Toby has been sprouting up bars all across America, including places like Chicago and Minneapolis and Nashville.  Lo and behold, there has been a lot of cross-talk and inspiration and influence between NYC cocktailian bartenders and Seattle cocktailian bartenders.  Lo and behold, lots of the 'tenders in Los Angeles have come from or been heavily influenced by people from NYC and Seattle.  Understanding this, it shouldn't be a surprise that the layered presentation caught on.  Look how fast the Last Word made its way from Zig Zag to eGullet to Pegu Club and then throughout the cocktailian community.

Point taken.

Again, I don't think there's anything wrong with making a QPS, or indeed any kind of swizzle, with a layered effect.  It looks cool.  But I hesitate to say that it's necessary, and I don't advocate making compromises as to ingredients in service of a layered effect.  This goes back to my original comment, which is that I don't think it's a good idea to use a white, Cuban-style rum in a QPS simply because it makes the layered effect look better.  Is it a good drink?  Probably.  But replacing demerara rum with white Cuban-style rum in a QPS is like replacing bonded rye whiskey with white dog in a Manhattan.  And I think we would agree that vermouth and white dog would not be a Manhattan.

I actually agree with all of this. There are a whole lot of options between demerara and white, though. And, what I said about the layers was that I would not consider the drink artfully/purposefully composed without them. A non-layered QPS could certainly be just as tasty, but I'd feel it would have a strike against it, when it could have been far more beautifully presented with a bit more attention from the bartender.

I also think it's meaningfully incorrect and not particularly understanding of the tradition to suggest that the main utility of swizzling is the facilitation of layering effects -- especially in consideration of the fact that people have been swizzling drinks for far longer than the layered effects have been in vogue.  Indeed, one of the most common swizzling techniques I have seen involves spinning the swizzle stick back and forth while simultaneously plunging it up and down in the glass.

Not sure I ever said that, either. As I was trying to get across, I believe the main utility of swizzling is as an alternate method of stirring (which can where applicable be used to create layers), which from a end product stand point generally varies very little for any of other methods of stirring. It is a treat for the senses other than the tongue...the act of swizzling is appealing visually and aurally.


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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From David Wondrich's Equire Drinks column (link):

Thanks for the link.


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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Been struggling with the Mojito recently.

I'd been making them and thought them OK, but not outstanding.

After reading this topic, I started thinking of the Mojito, more or less, as a swizzle, and am much more pleased with the result. In fact, I think they rock.

Cheers!


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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pray tell, how are you making them?


 

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Been struggling with the Mojito recently.

I'd been making them and thought them OK, but not outstanding.

After reading this topic, I started thinking of the Mojito, more or less, as a swizzle, and am much more pleased with the result.  In fact, I think they rock.

Cheers!

I thought that would make it a 'Draque'


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Mojito Criollo, I'd say.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Mojito Criollo, I'd say.

Remind me what the difference is between a mojito and mojito criollo.

The recipes are nearly exactly the same in cocktaildb. One calls for lemon, which I would guess is a translation error.

And nearly every mojito recipe I see on the internet is slightly different.

Anyway, in general, I am talking about making them more or less exactly as Eben Freeman does in this video from epicurious.

How to Make a Mojito


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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A mojito criollo has cracked or crushed ice. That's the only real difference afaik.

Eben is making a mojito criollo in his video. IMO his iteration could probably use some swizzling to blend the ingredients.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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One calls for lemon, which I would guess is a translation error.

Almost certainly. A lot of older Latin American recipes use lemon as a generic term covering lemons and limes. The excerpt from Jennings Cox's papers that Bacardi are currently showing to anyone that may be vaguely interested defines lemon as the citrus ingredient in a daiquiri. This may well be a language thing, if there's anyone around who knows Spanish from that era they should be able to let us know...

I've never thought about the Mojito in swizzle terms before but it makes a lot of sense.

In my experience it's a drink that takes a lot of practice to master. There are an awful lot of things to consider. Should the mint be muddled at all? If so, under the lime, on top of the lime, just a light muddle after the lime? Heck, should you even muddle the lime at all or use juice instead? Give it a good churn or a light stir? If you are muddling, how much pressure to apply?

There are no answers to these questions, it depends on the quality of ingredient to hand and, to a lesser extent, your read of the customer in front of you.

The most important thing is the garnish - it must be a fresh sprig, gently slapped and positioned right by the straw so the mint aroma is strong whilst the drink is being drunk.

I have no idea how many Mojitos I've made in my time, it must be well into 5 figures. It's been the most popular drink over here for the best part of a decade. If the weather's right, we can easily sell 200 on a busy Saturday night with 3 and a bit staff serving (the 'bit' is the manager who keeps having to leave the bar to attend to other things).

Sorry to drag this off topic...

Cheers,

Matt

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One calls for lemon, which I would guess is a translation error.

In Mexican Spanish, limón translates as LIME, which is quite counterintuitive. I beleive this may be the source of the confusion.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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One calls for lemon, which I would guess is a translation error.

In Mexican Spanish, limón translates as LIME, which is quite counterintuitive. I beleive this may be the source of the confusion.

There's an interesting thread on lime vs. lemon in Spanish here. It seems to differ in Spain vs. Mexico, and maybe even amongst Central/South American countries, perhaps based on what varieties are available in a given region.


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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Indeed, one of the most common swizzling techniques I have seen involves spinning the swizzle stick back and forth while simultaneously plunging it up and down in the glass.

Indeed. Nicely demonstrated under 'Ethos' on Pegu's website. Not a swizzle being swizzled, but the technique's the same.

That is a Ti Punch. And the Swizzle stick is from the same place as the rum being used, Nisson Blanc. So while not being a Swizzle Ti Punches must be swizzled.

Toby

ETA the correct rum, had the wrong one.


Edited by Alchemist (log)

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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Just came up with this recipe for a Bombay Sapphire drink competition.

Pink Sapphire Swizzle

.5 oz. Simple syrup

6 large leaves Thai Basil

1/8 tsp. grated fresh ginger

2 oz. Bombay Sapphire gin

.75 oz. Taylor's Velvet Falernum

.75 oz. fresh lime juice

1 dash Fee Brothers Orange bitters

1 dash Angostura bitters

.5 oz. Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice

Garnish: 4 dashes Angostura bitters, Sprig Thai Basil, disk Orange peel

Muddle ginger and Thai Basil thoroughly in simple syrup at bottom of tall glass. Coat sides of glass. Fill glass with crushed ice. Add Sapphire, Falernum, lime juice, dash orange bitters, dash Angostura and pomegranate juice. Swizzle with bar spoon or swizzle stick until outside of glass is frozen and frosty and drink is thoroughly combined. Garnish with a float of the Angostura bitters, a spanked sprig of Thai Basil and spray surface of the drink with orange oils from the orange zest. Drink with a straw.

It looks pretty in the glass. A lovely shade of pink. And it smells good from the Thai Basil and float of Angostura. I hope it's a winner. Whichever bartender from Philly has the winning entry gets to go to Vegas to compete against the winners from other states. I've been dying to go to Vegas, so hopefully this'll make it at someone else's expense. :cool:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Any suggestions on obtaining the swizzle stick itself? I have not really found a good substitute but would love to find something.

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Katie

That's a fantastic entry - it looks great, smells great and tastes great. It also ticks the boxes the judges should be looking for. The Thai basil plays with the citrus notes of Bombay Sapphire, the angostura bitters really helps to bring through the earthy notes and the ginger and falernum accentuate the spicy part of the gin's flavour profile.

As long as you talk about the logic behind the drink in your spiel you should be onto a winner!

Best of luck,

Matt

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:blush: Thank, Matt. I appreciate the vote of confidence. And I like your logic better than mine. This was more of a "stream of consciousness" drink recipe. I was thinking about Pink Sapphires, the rare and beautiful gems. That made me think of the beloved Empress Mumtaz Mahal, for whom the Taj Mahal was built and the sorts of jewels she would wear. So now I was thinking about Indian/Asian flavors. Pomegranate for pink-ness, lime, ginger and I needed something herbal to muddle. Since the gin, ginger and mint thing had already been done far better in Audrey's Gin-Gin Mule, I wanted something less derivative. I thought of Thai Basil, just to be different, and because it's one of my favorite cocktail ingredients. It all came full circle deciding to make a swizzle as my entry, just because I thought that would also be unique. I figured the judges would likely see a million different martini variations, and since the judging is in the heat and humidity of a Philadelphia August, a swizzle seemed like it would be favorably received and refreshing in more than one way.

I'll report back on how I did after the local judging...


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Blimey, great minds think alike...

My first comp winner at a serious level was for Bombay Sapphire way back in early '03, I was also thinking about pink sapphires. I ended up with this very simple concoction, I called it "Ruby Sapphire"

50ml Bombay Sapphire

10ml Fraise

8 mint leaves

2 hulled strawberries

Muddle strawberries, add mint and lightly muddle again, add liqour, shake and fine strain into martini glass. Add extravagent garnish; take a young mint sprig with a long and thin stem, tie it around a cocktail stick, cut a strawberry in half lengthwise and add each half to the cocktail stick pointing in opposite directions. Balance cocktail stick accross rim of glass

Looking back I wouldn't have entered that drink as it must have been done before - shows that experience isn't always right!

You're quite right about using a different style of drink; I've judged a few comps in my time and it can get a bit wearing when 4 out of 5 drinks are martini style. It tends to be a bit detrimental to the originality column.

I like your back story, it should score well for presentation - assuming you work to similar rules we do, presentation is at least as much about how the bartender presents the drink as how the drink looks.

Another thing that's always important in judging over here is product knowledge - it never ceases to amaze me how many entrants will go through their whole presentation without mentioning a single fact about the base spirit!

Good luck again,

Matt

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I made a Queen's Park Swizzle for my husband last night (he is not a fan of my homemade fermented ginger beer), the version from the Bartender's Choice app. I believe that it called for white rum though, but I wanted to use the Appleton.

7162246290_87b4719fda_z.jpg

I like the layered look, although it's partially obscured by the frost and the pattern on the glass I used. That version uses a couple of dashes each of Angostura and Peychaud's bitters.

It never occured to me to buy a swizzle stick when I went to Martinique a couple of years ago, and I spent a lot of time looking for one since then. I found mine at Cocktail Kingdom.

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So, what's everyone using as their substitute tree-branch swizzle stick?

If you are patient, you could get a synthetic swizzle stick from Boston Shaker when the become available.

Seems like they have quite a way to go to make their funding goal and not much time to get there.


If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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