Warren Bobrow is in town for tomorrow’s filming. As part of the event I have teamed up with The Craft Spirits Exchange to offer the Warren Bobrow Treasure island Refresher. And our US resident fans can sign up to win!
From the author who brought us Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today as well as Bitters and Shrub Syrup: Restorative Vintage Cocktails, Warren Bobrow is no stranger to cocktail writing. He is known as the cocktail whisperer so when we this soon-to-be released title we knew we were in good hands.
With the U.S. slowly progressing to ending another prohibition, Bobrow intellectually and scientifically digs into cocktails infused with cannabis. Whether this is the wave of the future or not, this has probably crossed your mind. Bobrow leads us into a world that had no guide and puts it all on paper. Expect this one to get a lot of attention! Pre-order here.
Certainly by the end of the year I’ve become a bit jaded on what I consider to be trends for the following year. Everyone wants to know what the “next best thing” is… Or what it’s going to be tomorrow, next week or in the coming months.
It is here that I want to start my list of what I think, as a taste-maker- will be hot in the coming months. I’ll give a list with some explanation- just in case.
Last September I was fortunate to attend the Moscow (Russia) Bar Show. It was enlightening, amazing and educational. I gave a master class on rum and traveled to the other side of the globe to find a country that for all intents and purposes is just like ours- except they speak Russian. They love us- we’d never know that from our press though. The Russians are passionate about American Whiskey.
Want to know where all the Bourbon Whiskey is? Russia. So, I’ll start my list in Moscow.
• Authenticity, Nostalgia, Simplicity. I was sent to the Moscow Bar Show by Mezan Rum. You would think that Russians would be preoccupied with vodka. Not so, they demand authenticity and that “Jerry Thomas” approach to history. Fine aged rum plays directly into this chess game. Rum that hasn’t been colorized, chill-filtered nor any added sugar, or saccharine allowed. Mezan fulfills this purpose and takes you further into the plethora of flavors that speak clearly to the métier of the rum distiller. Get some! I prefer the Jamaican version. There is a certain funk in each sip. Powerful stuff in a Planter’s Punch or even in a Rum-Manhattan. Make sure you use a Vermouth like Atsby, or Uncouth- even Carpano… But use the white one. The red is too sweet for these perfumed rums.
• Whiskey from actual distilleries! What a concept- is it me, or are there more made-up names than usual on the store shelves? I actually had a friend ask me about a Bourbon the other day from a distillery that has never existed outside of a Madison Avenue advertising agency desk. The label appeared to be hand attached and the closure had the look of a cork stuck in the top of a bottle of Moonshine. There may have been leather involved. All it said to me was, stay far away.
Authenticity in Bourbon takes guts these days. But should you find a true craft distillery- then by all means buy their stuff. They deserve your support. The big guys are ok, but cut out the fake-craft labeling. It’s confusing to the consumer! My favorites going forward, Barrell Bourbon, Few Spirits, Catoctin Creek, Hudson… They are my favorites for a reason. They speak the language of history.
• Scotch from Scotland and other places – Ok, so they call them smoked whiskies when they are from other places. I don’t want to raise the ire of Scotch drinkers. Pardon me. Amongst my favorites going forward- Virginia Highland Malt Whisky- yes Virginia, they distill absolutely gorgeous whisky in Virginia. I’ve been making Bee’s Knees with Old St. Andrews Scotch Whisky- lightly aromatic of cut grass and toasted peat. Not overpowering with smoke, but to my palate, just enough. And that bottle! Looks like a golf ball. Brenne from France continues to please and going forward I would say that any releases from this marvelous producer will challenge even the most snobbish of the Whisky drinkers. I had some beautiful Scotch Whisky in Russia that dated back to the mid 1960’s… If you can find any of these, save your pennies… They are worth every cent.
• Rhum Agricole. Certainly you should be drinking Rhum Agricole… Don’t just put a bottle on your bar and forget about it. I continue to wax poetic about the mysterious flavors that appear and disappear in each sip of Rhum Agricole. One of my favorite ways to drink this perfumed slice of Rhum history (yes they use an extra h in Rhum in the French West Indies) is with a chunk of lime (with the skin on) and a couple splashes of Cane Sugar Syrup… This is so simple! Anyone can choose their own demise by making this drink as strong or as weak as they desire. Thank you to Ed Hamilton for teaching me what I needed to know in the first place.
• Flavored Syrups and Shrubs. What is a shrub? My third book, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails defines a Shrub as an acidulated beverage, historically used as a method of aiding digestion and for refreshment- as an energy drink. In the days prior to soda, a touch of vinegar, sugar and fruit along with cool water would satisfy most thirsts. Flavored syrups make our jobs as bartenders and mixologists much easier. Amongst the very best that you can buy are: Royal Rose… Fruitations (I’m just blown away by their Cranberry), Pickett’s from Brooklyn (yes, that’s a place and their hot ginger syrup is world class) Shrub and Company, Shrub Drinks, Liber and Company. All delicious and lip-smacking. Powell & Mahoney is my go/to for Pomegranate Mixer- yes- even I use a pre-mix for some events.
• Craft Soda… With too many names to mention, but I’ll mention a couple. Q-Drinks- they’re magnificent. The Club Soda has a pinch of sea salt- keeps you thirsty! I’m thrilled by some of the Root Beers that come down from Bar Harbor in Maine… I love to drink Boylan’s and Bruce Cost sodas when I want something even more authentic. Dry Soda is just amazing stuff- the cucumber variety is crisp and refreshing.
• Hard Cider. Possmann’s from Germany is my go/to. This lightly sparkling cider is all apple and just the right amount of fizz and alcohol rolling in at 5% abv. I’ve had it on tap in the New York/Metro area and if you see it, get some… immediately! Farnum Hill from up in New England continues to charm my palate as well. There are some Spanish Ciders that are just so assertive- Burgundy wine comes to mind. Barnyard notes and crushed stones come into view, sip by sip, if you dare! They are just different styles from Spain. I much prefer the German ciders, at least for my palate.
• Tequila. I don’t know what happened to Tequila, but I’m tired of Tequila that tastes like Bourbon. Maybe it’s because they age the distillate in used Bourbon casks? Absolutely, this is why your Tequila tastes sweet. It’s in the cask! I much prefer the rare and usually a bit more expensive versions like Casa Noble- aged in French White Oak. This is a much more expensive method, but worthwhile in my opinion.
• Mezcal… It’s mysterious like a high fever in the middle of Summer. There’s smoke in there- lots of stuff going on in your imagination. If you want to really challenge your palate, in a good way… Taste Mezcal. Of course if it has a worm in the bottle, throw it out immediately. This is not the real thing. It was invented, yes again… by one of those ad agencies. No one eats the darned thing!
• Gin. Stick to what you like and I love Barr Hill from Vermont. The Tom Cat, aged in American Oak is my preference in a snifter- for a perfectly marvelous gin and juice – use nothing more than the raw honey and grain distilled Barr Hill Gin with freshly squeezed- broiled grapefruit in a muddle. A splash of Q-Tonic water and a couple dashes of Angostura to finish… All good. Happy New Year!
My fourth book, Cannabis Cocktails (the first book on the topic!) is in pre-sell now: www.quartoknows.com/books/9781592337347/Cannabis-Cocktails-Mocktails-and-Tonics.html
- See more at: http://totalfood.com/articles/these-are-the-drinks-youve-been-looking-for#sthash.PKUMRV7J.dpuf
61,574 Likes!! Thank you all so very much, and Cheers to a wonderful 2016!!
It’s true, the Squire’s Shrub does require a couple of extra steps, but I promise it’s worth your while: Your patience will be rewarded with a lush, crimson colored syrup that’s straight out of the eighteenth century, when America was in its infancy and early pharmacists would have relied on their gardens to supply the basis for their healing tonics. (Rhubarb has been used as a digestive aid for thousands of years.) There’s nothing difficult to it, though, beyond a little extra mixing, and roasting your fruit before making the shrub. The vinegar’s high acidity cuts through the sumptuous, charred, caramelized flavor of the roasted strawberries and rhubarb, making it a seductive addition to gin, vodka, and rum-based libations.
2 cups (340 g)
Roasted Strawberries and Rhubarb
1 cup (200 g) Demerara sugar
1 cup (235 ml) light balsamic vinegar
Time: 3–4 weeks. Add the roasted strawberries and rhubarb to a nonreactive bowl. Cover with the sugar, stir to combine, and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave at cool room temperature for 24 hours. Stir frequently during this time to combine as the berries and rhubarb give off their liquid. Place a nonreactive strainer above a second nonreactive bowl, pour the fruit-sugar mixture into the strainer, and use a wooden spoon to mash the mixture in order to release as much liquid as possible.
(Reserve the mashed fruit to use in cooking or baking, if you like.) Add the balsamic vinegar to the liquid, stir, and let the mixture sit for a few hours. Funnel into sterilized bottles or jars, and age for 3–4 weeks in the refrigerator. This shrub will last nearly indefinitely, but if it begins to quiver, dance, or speak in foreign languages, throw it out.
Excerpted from Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails Restorative Vintage Cocktails, Mocktails, and Elixirs by Warren Bobrow (Fair Winds Press, 2015).
Add the sugar cube to a champagne flute, and moisten with the lemon bitters. Then add the gin and the Squire’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Shrub, and top with champagne. Garnish with a long lemon zest twist. Note: To prepare this flute, combine very finely chopped lemon zest and sugar, wet the rim of the glass with lemon, and dip the glass into yellow-colored sugar. Voila!
Please join me for a tasting today, Wednesday December 23, 2015 at Burke’s Wine & Liquor in Sparta [6 Sparta Avenue, Sparta Township, NJ 07871]
I will be there from 4:00–7:00 PM – but even better, I will have Possmann Pure Cider and Possmann Pure Cider Rose for your tasting pleasure! Start the Season right, I’ll see you at Burke’s tonight!
I AM! Join Klaus and me at 6:00 pm today, 12/1/15 at 32 Branford Place, Newark, NJ 07102
I’ll be making Frozen Hot Chocolate with Stroh 160 Rum and Schladerer cherry floats!
“Shaken, not stirred.” So goes James Bond’s drink order. But according to experts, the famous, fictional secret agent is ordering his martini all wrong.
“A martini is never shaken, it is always stirred,” said Warren Bobrow, a mixologist and author known as the “cocktail whisperer.”
“If I’m drinking a really great gin,” he said, “why do I want to water it down with ice chips?” It could be, Bobrow hypothesized, filmmakers were trying to set a trend, or to make Bond a responsible drinker by having his drink diluted by ice. “Maybe they thought he would be better able to point a gun and shoot it if he isn’t blitzed,” Bobrow said. Today, the palate is conditioned to more watery drinks, explained Caffe Aldo Lamberti bartender Sara Madden. But purists want to be able to taste the alcohol. “True aficionados of martinis will want their martini stirred,” Madden said, “because shaking it waters it down significantly.”
As classic cocktails experience a resurgence, martinis are a common order, though not everyone’s definition of a martini is the same.
“In today’s generation, when they think of martinis, they have no idea what dry vermouth is,” said Mark Hershberger, another bartender at Caffe Aldo Lamberti. The classic martini recipe is a mixture of gin and dry vermouth. But many just don’t have a taste for it, said Treno bartender Jessica Acetty. “It’s very rare anyone wants vermouth in any of their martinis.” The history of the martini goes back to California in the early 1800s, said Bobrow. It became a popular drink during the gold rush, because the ingredients were accessible. Vermouth traveled well, and gin could be made locally. Ice was only for the wealthy, and didn’t factor into the cocktail at first. At a 1:1 ratio of gin to vermouth, the early martini also was a powerful drink. “It was a really great way of taking the edge off,” Bobrow said. Vermouth takes a backseat these days. Increasingly, Madden said, when people order a martini, they are looking for cold vodka served in a cocktail glass. “These days, vodka is way more popular than gin.” While gin has a distinctive flavor, derived from juniper berries, vodka serves as a blank canvas, so it can be used in a variety of drinks, a variety of ways. To the younger generation, said Madden, anything served in a cocktail, or martini, glass could be called a martini. For Bobrow, the definition is much more stringent. “There’s only one martini, and a martini is only made from gin,” Bobrow said. “Anything else is an imitation.” One of Madden’s regulars likes his glass washed with the vermouth, then emptied of the excess. Bobrow does the same before adding gin to the chilled glass, though he prefers to pour the extra vermouth into his mouth rather than down the drain. If shaken with ice, the “dirty rocks” can be served alongside the drink, to keep it cold and add flavor. “All of our martinis are always shaken,” said Treno bartender Nathan Colgate. He then serves the rocks on the side, “so they can get that last bit of alcohol.” Treno also makes vodka martinis, unless asked otherwise. “When someone comes in and asks for a martini, almost always they want a vodka martini instead of gin,” Colgate said. They shake the cocktails until they are ice cold — something customers expect — but only if it’s a vodka drink. Shaking a gin martini “bruises the gin, it ruins it,” Acetty said. Just as the method for making a martini varies, so does the presentation. As the author of “Apothecary Cocktails,” Bobrow has studied the use of cocktail ingredients as medicine, as alcohol is an effective preservative for herbs and spices. He said the lemon peel may have been a popular garnish for its health benefits, while olives, with a salty flavor, would stimulate thirst. Colgate said at Treno, they garnish the martinis with three blue-cheese-stuffed olives, while Madden drops a twist of lemon peel into the classic martini at Caffe Aldo Lamberti. Bobrow doesn’t garnish his martini. “It would just change the flavor,” he said. Hershberger’s preferred martini would be made with Hendrick’s gin and muddled cucumber, for a fresh flavor. “Everybody has their own way they prefer it, especially martini drinkers,” Madden said. So while Bond’s version may not be technically correct, when it comes to a martini, it is all a matter of preference. But one thing is certain: “There is nothing more sophisticated than the martini,” Bobrow said.