Hey! Guess what day it is?
It’s National Daiquiri Day! (I really would like to know who assigns the dates for these things.)
Can you guess what a Daiquiri is?
It’s a basic sour! …which is exactly where I left off in my last post.
This sour is one of the most basic and prevalent formulas in the cocktail world. There are so many variations it can be a little overwhelming. Recognize the patterns, though, and you’ll be golden behind any bar.
So… let’s jump right in, and start with the basics. Just like in Part 1, we’ll take a look at the recipes for 3 different classic cocktails:
The Daiquiri Whiskey Sour Tom Collins
1.5 oz white rum 1.5 oz whiskey 1.5 oz gin
1 oz fresh lime juice 1 oz fresh lemon juice 1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup 1 oz simple syrup 1 oz simple syrup - Top with club soda
It’s pretty easy to notice the similarities. All these recipes use the basic sour formula: strong, sour, sweet. These particular recipes use citrus as the sour element and sugar as the balancing sweetener. Love a Lemon Drop Cocktail? Guess what. It uses the same formula.
Amaretto Sour? Same formula, though you may want to hold back on the simple syrup since amaretto is so sweet in the first place.
Pro tip: Always keep in mind that a good cocktail is always about a balance of flavors. Just like in cooking, you don’t want a certain element standing out too much and overpowering the rest of the ingredients. Do remember, everyone’s palate is different so the formulas may need to be tweaked to individual taste. Drink too sour? Add more sweet (or hold back on the sour). Drink too sweet? Add more sour (or hold back on the sweet).
Now what would happen if we replaced our sweet element with something else? For instance, grenadine. (I’ve got a few things to say about grenadine. We’ll talk soon.) Check this out.
1.5 oz applejack
1 oz fresh lemon juice
.75 oz grenadine
Just like I mentioned in Part 1, you can replace ingredients with others of the same profile. Simply syrup is sweet, and so is grenadine. Ta-da! New cocktail. There are a ridiculous amount of possibilities for flavored syrups, but remember that not all syrups are created equal. Some may be sweeter than others, so you have to be cautious on how much you use.
Now, this is where things start to get interesting. What happens when you replace your non-alcoholic sweetener with a sweetened liquor? Medicinal magic. You’ve just discovered the Margarita formula. Let’s take a look at another round of recipes:
Margarita Sidecar Cosmopolitan
1.5 oz tequila 1.5 oz brandy 1.5 oz vodka
1 oz triple sec (or curacao) 1 oz triple sec (or curacao) 1 oz triple sec (or curacao)
.75 oz fresh lime juice .75 oz fresh lemon juice .5 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz cranberry juice
Here are three of the most popular cocktail of the 20th century, and they all use the SAME FORMULA. So many cocktails use this formula, not just because it’s delicious, but because using a sweetened liquor will keep the alcohol content of your cocktail higher than just using a non-alcoholic sweetener. A Kamikaze is just a Cosmo without the cranberry. A Pegu Club is a Margarita with gin instead of tequila and a dash of bitters. A Corpse Reviver is a Pegu Club with the curacao split with Lillet Blanc, and absinthe instead of bitters. A Papa Doble is… well… since it is National Daiquiri Day… let’s talk about that.
The Papa Doble, also known as the Hemingway Daiquiri (though there is contention), is one of my absolute favorite sours. The fantastic Matt Robold (rumdood.com) has written a well-researched little article about the history of the cocktail if you’re interested. Here is my personal recipe for this summer classic.
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice.
Shake. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with lime peel.
It makes me smile every time I drink one of these; just thinking about Papa sitting at the La Floridita bar enjoying (almost) the same cocktail.
So, there it is. A basic introduction to the quintessential summer classic, the Sour. Experiment with some of the formulas mentioned and see what you can come up with. Who knows, you may create the next Cosmopolitan!
Next up in Part 3 of Drinking By Design, I’ll talk about pure spirits cocktails. Martinis, Manhattans, and everything stirred. As always, thanks for reading, and feel free to contact me with questions, concerns, and criticism!
Love and Libation!
“How do you remember all those drink recipes?!”
“How many drinks do you know?!”
“How do you just come up with stuff like that?!”
“I know a few. It’s easy. Honestly, I’ve got a really easy job.”
They usually react in the manner you would expect. I’m either being overly humble about my capability or I’m just being cocky and trying to make it look easy. The reality of the situation is exactly what I answered in the first place. It’s easy.
Everything can be easy if you approach it the right way. Just recognize patterns and learn what works.
That’s what I’ll be writing about over the next few weeks.
This is an introduction to mixology. Once you read a few of the things I’ll be posting in the near future, you’ll understand why I sometimes feel the term mixologist is a bit of a cop-out. Honestly, a monkey could do it.
This article came about after I got a message from a friend and former co-worker, Anthony White. (Anthony now runs a fantastic craft program at Village Café in Lafayette, LA) He listened to the radio spot I featured in my last post, and heard something that ties in with my comments at the beginning.
“You spoke about “the margarita formula”, I was wondering if there is a website that shows cocktails by families and if there is some information out there that list different classic formulas that could also be manipulated.”
He’s talking about how I mentioned “formulas” as being the key to mixology. It’s true. Formulas (and cocktail families) are the best way to develop a wide knowledge of cocktail recipes, and make up new ones as you go.
Quick disclaimer: The thing about cocktail formulas and recipes is that everyone has a different palate and enjoys different things. These recipes and formulas are simply GUIDELINES. If you like it sweeter, add more of a sweet ingredient. If you like things more tart, add more of a tart ingredient. Bottom line though…. MEASURE AND WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING. It always sucks to find a formula that works for you and then totally forget what the ratios were.
Back in the old days, when cocktails were still a fledgling invention in the still fledgling nation of the United States, families of cocktails were the first documented “organization” of these mixed libations. This handful of families eventually expanded into a generous number of families (many of which aren’t even asked for anymore by the general public). If you’re interested, Gary Regan made a more modern list of cocktail families that is completely overwhelming. You should totally get his book, by the way.
We’ll start at the beginning. The agreed definition of a cocktail which was first documented in 1806 in The Balance and Columbian Repository, is “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.” Let’s look at a few recipes.
Sazerac Old Fashioned Mint Julep
2 oz Rye Whiskey 2 oz whiskey 2.5 oz Bourbon
.75 oz simple syrup .5 oz simple syrup .75 oz simple syrup
3-5 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters 2-3 dashes of bitters Mint leaves
Splash of Absinthe Orange peel
Alright, I know that the Mint Julep doesn’t have bitters, but it’s there to help you recognize the patterns in the formula. It’s a perfect example of how old-school bartenders used the smallest details to separate the families of cocktails. Juleps and cocktails were two different families! Old school is for a different article, though.
Okay. Look at those recipes! It’s not hard to notice the similarities. This is a formula: A fixed proportion of ingredients that can used consistently. It’s pretty apparent that you can add a little sugar and water to a spirit, add a few dashes of bitters, and you’ll have a pretty delicious cocktail.
What happens when we make a Sazerac, but replace the whiskey with an aged rum? You should try it, because it’s freaking delicious. What happens when you make a Mint Julep with tequila? A thing of beauty. What happens when you make an Old Fashioned, infuse the whiskey with bacon, and replace the simple syrup with maple syrup? This.
Imagine the possibilities when you introduce homemade flavored syrups, different types of bitters, and different fruits and herbs!
There are so many cocktails out there, AND most of them are just plays on OTHER COCKTAILS. Some of my best selling cocktails have been elaborations on classics. Again, I’ve got a really easy job.
So this is just the beginning… This is the most basic formula for producing consistent deliciousness. If you’re still interested after all this, I’ll be moving onto one of the world’s favorite basic formulas in a few days. THE SOUR. (It’s going to blow your mind how many drinks play off this formula. Really.)
Anyway, thanks for reading and of course feel free to leave any questions, comments, or outrage if I missed something.
Love and Libation
So things got a little busy, and I got a little distracted over the past few months. Much has changed recently. I bid adieu to the wonderful people of Lafayette, and have planted new roots in South Florida. I’m really excited about the new (bigger) market and finding new opportunities! I did, however, promise something to a bunch of people before I left Acadiana: I would actually keep up with this damn blog!
So… here it is…
After a few false starts, I’m setting deadlines and making it happen. Who knows what will show up here… even I’m excited to find out.Anyway, let’s add a little content to this post. Before I left, I did a quick interview with one of my favorite bloggers, Baton Rouge-based Jay Ducote.
Jay runs www.biteandbooze.com, which is an absolutely fantastic site with a great mix of recipes, reviews, and really informative articles. I’ve known Jay for a while and we happened to end up at the same table for Cochon’s first Pig Dinner. Considering we both share a love for whiskey, conversation quickly took a turn toward libation (well… honestly the whole NIGHT took a turn for libation).
Between mouthfuls of juicy pork and cocktail, he invited me down to do a guest appearance on his radio show to talk about cocktails and whiskey. Click the link below to hear what went down!
Jay’s a hell of a host, chef and writer. You should totally visit his site BiteandBooze.com (the Whisk(e)y Wednesday feature is killer), follow him on twitter at @biteandbooze, and add him on Facebook!
Alright, so this isn’t REALLY a classic, but over the last 10 years the cocktail world has seen fantastic resurgence. (A REVIVAL maybe?!?! Eh?!?! Eh?!?…. Sorry.) Bartenders and patrons are rediscovering a quality of libation that has been gone for almost a century. Not just that, but new techniques and processes have bolstered the craft even more. As a restaurant bartender, I find myself using more culinary techniques and an traditionally “plate” ingredients every day.
I’m actually a little late to the game. You want to know one of the places this started? New York. (♥) One establishment in this “new school” of craft bartending was a place called PDT. In 2007, Beverage Director, Don Lee, discovered a process called “fat washing”. Fat washing is basically taking the rendered fat from cooked meat, and infusing it in spirits. Fat in insoluble in alcohol, but the flavor compounds in fat will dissolve and impart flavors on the spirit. Stick it in the freezer to solidify the fat, strain it, and now you have protein flavored spirit.
This gave way to the Benton’s Old Fashioned, which is now a PDT staple. I’m sure you’re wondering why it’s called the Benton’s Old Fashioned. (If you already know, you’ve seen the light.) Well, Benton’s is a brand of hickory-smoked, aged bacon out of Tennessee. It has one of the most distinctive (and delicious) smokey flavors you’ll find in pork products. Benton’s, unfortunately, is a little pricey, so I got our “pork experts” at Jolie’s to find a good replacement.
PDT’s Bacon-Infused Old Fashioned
FOR THE BOURBON- BACON INFUSION:
3 or 4 slices bacon, or enough to render 1 ounce of fat (PDT uses Benton’s, but any extra-smoky variety will do)
1 750-ml. bottle of bourbon such as Four Roses Yellow Label
FOR THE OLD FASHIONED:
2 ounces bacon-infused bourbon
1/4 ounce Grade B maple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Twist of orange
In mixing glass, stir 2 ounces bacon-infused bourbon, maple syrup, and bitters with ice. Strain into chilled rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with orange twist.
So, yes, like I mentioned in the beginning, this cocktail isn’t REALLY a classic. We will, however, be featuring the Bacon Old Fashioned as a “modern classic” on our Fall menu at Jolie’s Bistro.
While we’re at it, I’ll just introduce you to the man himself.
New Fall Cocktail Menu!
I thought I would try a little project. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be highlighting cocktails from the Fall menu with recipes, histories, and just generally fun info. I’ll probably start with the classics that will be featured, then move into the signature cocktails that we’ve come up with. I should have the first one up tonight once I get a photo of it. Here’s a hint: Rudolph Valentino said that his favorite role was in a movie of the same name.
I don’t know why, but for some reason legal “moonshine” has been quite the popular subject of conversation as of late. I’ve been discussing it with patrons, friends and coworkers quite a bit.
A conversation with one of my favorite customers:
“So have you tried the new moonshine that comes in the jar?!”
“I have. It’s good… but it’s not moonshine.”
“What do you mean it’s not moonshine? It says it on the label!”
Honestly, there are a bunch of things you can put on a label, and not all of them have to be completely true. Marketers know that people like the things they aren’t supposed to have. Remember about 4 years ago when absinthe was legalized and everybody was talking about it? Yeah. Come to find out, absinthe really isn’t as dangerous as they thought. The marketing companies would never put that on a label though.
Matthew Rowley is a fantastic writer, moonshine authority, and all around awesome guy. I’ll let him finish this conversation because he is much more eloquent and definitely more of an expert. Here is his perspective on legal “moonshine”:
They are also, if one has a philosophical bent, simulacra. That is, they are copies much as Colonial Williamsburg, parts of Las Vegas, or Disneyland are, things that simulate the real world, but which are, in fact, fakes. Think of Jim Carey in The Truman Show and you’ve got a snapshot of the legal moonshine customer, conned — perhaps willingly — into thinking he’s got the real deal.