Tips for Substituting Ingredients Behind the Bar

https://talesofthecocktail.com/techniques/tips-substituting-ingredients-behind-bar

Bottles on a shelf.

Photo via iStock/Lisa-Blue.

When you reach for a bottle to find that it’s empty, it’s important to be ready to improvise.

Whether it’s fruit that’s out of season, that bottle of super rare aperitif that you’re dying to mix up, or you’ve simply run out of one of your bar staples in the middle of a rush, it’s important to have effective substitutions ready to take center stage.

Below you’ll find some handy suggestions on substitutions that could easily bail you out the next time you’re in a pinch.

1. Substitute fresh juices

Warren Bobrow, author of “Apothecary Cocktails, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails,” and “Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics” relies on Fruitations Craft Soda and Cocktail Mixers when you need a quick — but still flavorful — stand in for fresh fruit juices.

Fruitations is currently available in three varieties — cranberry, grapefruit, and tangerine.

“It’s brilliant stuff,” Bobrow said.

2. Make your own liqueurs

Sometimes it’s harder than it should be to get your hands on a specific liqueur. Sometimes, it’s just cheaper to make them yourself.

Mike McSorley, Head Distiller and Brand Ambassador at Island Distillers, has a handful of quick fixes when behind the bar.

Cointreau substitute

  • 750 ml 100 proof vodka
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • Steep for 24 hours
  • 187 ml rich simple syrup

St. Germain substitute

  • D’arbo elderflower syrup
  • 100 proof vodka
  • Small pinch citric acid

3. When you need to MacGyver it

Sometimes it’s simply a matter of being put in a tough spot in the middle of a rushed service.

Izzy Ramos Foster, owner of Mixotica Cocktail Design, has had to make a handful of fast decisions in her time.

“For a Sidecar, using Tuaca and/or Licor 43 as a substitute when your orange liqueur unexpectedly runs out has worked every time,” Foster said. “Sometimes it works in a Margarita, depending the tequila. I’ve never had a complaint!”

Other off-the-cuff substitutions have been a bit more unique.

“I’ve also had to resort to using crushed Altoid breath mint powder (diluted in a bit water and strained) a couple of times when a sudden Mojito craze hit, fresh mint ran very low, but the cocktails needed to go out stat,” she said. “It’s not my proudest ‘professional bartending’ moments but it worked and the party went on!

4. All in the family

When it comes to replacing ingredients, remember that like replaces like.

For example, if you’re short on Cynar, you could easily swap out with a similar potable bitters like Campari (although it’s much fruitier than Cynar), Fernet Branca or Punt è Mes — a dark, bitter Italian vermouth produced by Carpano.

Consider the balance of your drink and its key features, and you can even create some unique cocktails by switching out key ingredients. For example, if you’re short on vodka when dying for a Moscow Mule but happen to have a silver rum in the house, replacing the vodka with rum leads to the heavier, richer Jamaican Mule.

5. Knowledge is your best substitute

Finally, have a working knowledge of how flavors relate to each other — and an even better understanding of what you actually have access to behind your own individual bar.

“Knowledge is key here,” said Matthew Biancaniello, owner of Eat Your Drink, LLC.

Specifically, while behind the bar one night Biancaniello noticed he had suddenly run out of fresh lime juice. What he did have, however, was fresh passion fruit juice.

“Instead of 2 ounces of lime juice, I did 3/4 ounce of passion fruit juice,” he said. “The passion fruit became the citrus in place of the lime juice. By reducing the amount I was able to keep the citrus there without making it painfully obvious that I wasn’t using the usual ingredient.”

The key to quick substitutions behind the bar is a deep knowledge and appreciation of similar flavors, a willingness to play around with different ingredients, and the ability to think on your feet.

Substitution quick tips:

Substitute liquors and liqueurs from the same family. In a pinch, rye can stand in for bourbon.

Take the time to play around with different flavors before you really need to punt. Having a knowledge of parallel flavors will keep your flavors relatively consistent.

Don’t be afraid to play around with different flavor combinations to create something new (so long as your patron knows that you’re being creative).

Product Review: Source Vapes

Product Review:  Source Vapes…

source7-20--7_large

As Twitter is the arbiter of “leveling the playing field” I bring attention to the plethora of smoking mechanicals that litter the marketplace.  With all due reverence to the companies that make high end products, there are many others that are not up to snuff.  I will not be reviewing those.  Just like when I offer liquor reviews, if your product sucks, I’m not going to write about it. Benign Neglect is what this is called.

So you make what I consider the top in your class?  Well then- not to worry.  I want to say nice things about your craft.  If your product is easy to use- all the better- and if it makes my life easier- well, this is a small victory in life.  Because not everything is easy.  Far from!

I received a lovely little metal box in the mail from Source Vapes.  Not knowing what to expect, and with full disclosure- I use cannabis daily by smoking it (the old fashioned way…) – so my experience level is quite advanced from nearly 40 years of smoking pleasure… Yet I had never used a Source Vape product before.  I had no idea what all the parts did, and with that said, I headed over to their website and I was still quite confused.  What goes into the Source Vape?  Dry herbs?  (NO!!!) Something else? (YES!!!!!!)  but what is that something else.  Evidently you cannot say what goes into it.  Is there a law prohibiting this disclosure?  I doubt it.  But here in my state where I know no one who uses such a contraption, well I had no clue what to do, nor how to do it!

Not that this is bad.  I just didn’t have a good teacher to walk me through the process.

Suggestion to Source Vapes- I’m visually oriented and a good YouTube instructional goes a long way for me.  Show me what goes in it.  How much to use.  What those temperatures mean for each product.  What goes in it?  How do you get that icky water out of that bong looking thing?  And what is that glass globe?  What does that do?

Argh… I guess at 55 I’m just old-school and I have no use for electronics or dare I say, concentrates.  My skill is rolling a joint with one hand like my stepbrother Drew taught me about forty years plus ago.  Electronics?  Nice for the millennials who have no patience.

Ok… With that said, the Source Vape, when I finally figured out myself, what went where and when is a well-built contraption.  I imagine that those in the healing cannabis world will find it very ingenious… no burning flame is even necessary! But I am a bit concerned about the high heat settings.  There really is no explanation for this.  Practice is not good enough when you have limited supplies and less patience.

The globe?  Fragile.  Strange design (for me) I’m not comfortable with it- the globe gives an amazing hit- but it may be too strong for me.  Maybe the temp is too high?  No idea and no one to ask.  Sure they have customer service, but I could not determine anything from the conversation and I got frustrated immediately.

The bubbler?  Very fragile.  Glass is not metal, it’s pretty enough, but without good instructions- well- you know that story already.  Fill the tube with some water.  Add your concentrate (which one? I have no clue…) and hit the button five times… (why five times?  Never explained fully…. Why not just once or twice?  But FIVE TIMES?)

Ok.. so I did that.  The hit was pretty flavorless.  Lots of vapor, but no real taste.

Am I doing something wrong?

Am I using the wrong type of concentrate?

Why can’t I figure this out?

(no one to ask is a good start)

Not a bad product.  Seems to be in the mid-range on price (about $150)

Would I recommend it?  Probably yes- I’d say the operation is quite advanced.

For me, it’s way beyond my comprehension…

I’ll pass until I figure out how to use it better.

Because I cannot easily find what goes in it… What goes in it?   (again. no idea because this is not explained at all and I know there are so many different types of concentrates on the market)

From a visual standpoint, the machine is lovely.  Looks like the key to a very expensive automobile.  But I’d never leave the house with it.  Way too difficult to fill in any wind.

The Source Vape is not easy to clean.  Bits of my (limited supplies) …of…concentrate fell out of the ‘bowl’ and were impossible to get out because the space between the ‘bowl’ and the glass is very tight- and that ‘bowl’ gets extremely hot… (read: burnt fingers)

Better instructions for those of us who are old and infirmed. (far from, but you get the gist)

My advice?

Buy one.  You already know what to do with it.  Carry on.  It’s probably the best one of its type on the market, I couldn’t figure it out easily- but that’s just me.

10 Bar Cart Essentials By Tyler Wisler

The hottest home accessory I can think of right now is a bar cart! It’s all the rage! Why? Because everyone loves a cocktail, and everyone loves an easily accessible cocktail. This functional piece of furniture allows you to proudly display your collection of liquor and glasses, and everything is presented in a way that makes you feel like you’re living in a suite at The Plaza.

The Rosalind Tea Cart is one of my favorite options right now…the perfect marriage of form, finish and function.

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So once you have that perfect bar cart for your space, what exactly should you have on it? What are the essentials? Well, I asked my good friend, Warren Bobrow – a critically acclaimed mixologist and author of several amazing cocktail books – to chime in on the subject.

For a well-rounded bar, he suggests having the following supplies on hand :

  1. A London dry gin, like Boodles.
  2. A botanical gin, like Hendrick’s.
  3. A rye whiskey.
  4. A bourbon for mixing, like Four Roses.
  5. A vodka, like the new Mamont from Siberia.
  6. A bottle of dry vermouth, like Dolin, and sweet vermouth, like Carpano – be sure to refrigerate.
  7. For rum, get a blend, like Mezan XO, and a single batch, like the Mezan Panama 2006.
  8. An orange-flavored cordial, so you can use it in margaritas or gin, vodka and even bourbon-based cocktails.
  9. A fine tequila (and if you’re super esoteric, a bottle of Mescal. No worms though! That just isn’t done.)
  10. A bottle of single malt scotch from India or Japan as a refreshing counterpart to your basic scotch whiskey.

Blog_Apr 2 Whiskey

A selection of cane sugar sodas, tonic – sweet and dry – and some shrub syrups are fun, too. There are also plenty of funky bitters that come in all sizes and shapes and have droppers.

One wild card ingredient is balsamic vinegar! Bobrow confesses that he loves making cocktails with it. He says it adds a certain twang to the drink. A white balsamic can also sit on the bar, as it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

So now that your bar cart is stocked, what to make? Well, let’s impress your guests with a yummy Manhattan recipe!

  • Fill three quarters of a cocktail glass with ice
  • Add 3-5 oz of bourbon whiskey
  • Add 1 tbsp of white balsamic vinegar
  • Add 1/2 oz of Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
  • Stir 40 times…
  • Strain into a pre-chilled martini glass that has a couple drops of orange bitters, and garnish your drink with a cherry

Now that you have the best cocktails and decor, your home will be the new hot spot in no time. Cheers!

http://blog.livingspaces.com/blog/10-bar-cart-essentials/

$25 off Magical Butter Products!

Follow this link to get $25 off Magical Butter Products! You can make herbal butter oil, and tinctures in as little as 2 hours for use in recipes in my new book, Cannabis Cocktails!  http://magicalbutter.refr.cc/WGWQSXN

Cannabis Cocktails

Cannabis Cocktails

 

 

Musings on Whiskey by Warren Bobrow for the White Mule Press (thank you!)

Musings on Whiskey from Warren Bobrow

Bobrow_portraitWarren Bobrow announces his new book Whiskey Cocktails and tells how he came to write it. Known as The Cocktail Whisperer, Warren’s vast knowledge of cocktails has spawned a previous book, Apothecary Cocktails, and over 300 articles on food, wine, and cocktail mixology. As our guest blogger, we get a peek inside Warren’s musings about whiskey, spirits and food. Enjoy!

My influence for writing Whiskey Cocktails is one of a most circuitous nature.

Whiskey has rough and tumble roots for me. Initially I looked at whiskey as something that was rough and harsh across my palate.

I wasn’t a whiskey fan until a couple of years ago.

Rum was more my forte, I was a rum judge for the Ministry of Rum in 2010. I also wrote about food, and, of course wine. It’s very tough to make a living being just one more voice in the room of food writing or even wine writing.

Coincidently, many of those rums that I was starting to enjoy became even more intriguing for me. Through research, I found that many types of rum were aged in used bourbon barrels.
Perhaps that flavor of char and smoke was more a part of my taste buds than I initially allowed?

It’s funny for me, when I think of the wines that I grew up with at home — the ones that were on the our dinner table — Left Bank, Rhone, Loire, all use casks that speak clearly of the place. There was a flavor to each sip. Something unique and profound was taking place at the same time in my education. I traveled across Europe, Africa, and South America, always tasting, memorizing and trying to figure out flavors of intoxicants and food.

The same holds true for whiskey. The casks that go on to give other liquors unique qualities, characteristics and above all terroir may be from whiskey!

There is a certain cadence to whiskey and in the broader metric, craft sprits. They are not always great, but they certainly are passion in a bottle.

My thoughts on craft mean something that is handmade in small numbers. Craft means flavor and texture and risk, small business is not easy. Owning something that relies upon consumers is often fraught with failures. I know because I lost my own small business in Hurricane Hugo back in 1989. I owned a craft business, specializing in fresh pasta. (Maybe it was the grain??)

It might be a small produced wine, organic and Biodynamic that reminds me of whiskey, the flavors of stone fruits and caramelized nuts. Or vice versa. There are creative interrogatories in all forms of intoxicating beverages.

I’m very fond of food when I taste whiskey or any spirits for that matter. If I taste rye, I want a sandwich like a Rueben, piled high with briny and smoky corned beef or pastrami on seeded rye. Whiskey just calls out for food that speaks to me clearly.

Whiskey Cocktails, is my second book. My first book, Apothecary Cocktails takes the tack of what you took for healing in the years before electricity and refrigeration. How folk healing remedies may have been little more than snake oil, but what a wonderful way to heal what ailed ye!

Whiskey Cocktails explores the liquor from a stylistic approach — Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, Alternative Grains, Indian (India), Japanese, French, Tennessee Sipping Whiskey, White Whiskey, etc. even cooking recipes!

In a former part of my life, before I was in the corporate world, I was a trained chef. This formal training comes in handy for the mixology business. It’s all about flavor and combinations of flavor.

I invite you to peer into my mind, one sip and word at a time.

There are some marvelous things in Whiskey Cocktails. Others have said that this book is a new Classic. I’m not sure, I’d rather be humble than a know it all. As I said, I’m new to whiskey and I’m lucky to be here, surrounded by and growing to be respected among my peers as a member of the table.

If they only knew the path I took to get here! Whew!
Bobrow-Cover
I invite you to purchase Whiskey Cocktails and if you haven’t already, please consider Apothecary Cocktails as well.

You can read my musings at http://www.cocktailwhisperer.com or purchase my book at: http://www.qbookshop.com/authors/17884/Warren-Bobrow.html

Thank you.
Warren Bobrow