Tuesday, June 24

The Bar Mix Master has left New Orleans...

I have some good/bad news.

I just recently accepted a new job that is going to have me and my family moving to Memphis, TN. While this is great news for me and my family it is bitter sweet as I won't really be able to fully experience Tales of the Cocktail this year. At most I will just be able to attend on Saturday.

While I'm sad about leaving New Orleans, the cocktail captial of the south, I am looking forward to discovering the good, good Memphis bars while raising the level of those not so good, good Memphis bars.

For those readers that might be Memphians drop me a line I'd love to hear from you!

With all this said, I won't be able to cover Tales in the TalesBlog the way I had hopped. However, next year look for me there with bells on.



Sunday, June 8

Top 5 Gin Cocktails

As my wife and I were hanging out at Chris McMillian’s new bar stage, the Renaissance Pere Marquette (more on that later), someone asked me what was my favorite gin cocktail. I paused as I had to think for a second or two. I really could not give an answer as there are so many great gin cocktails. So the person replied, "well, how about your top 5 then?"

I rattled off a few that I had recently, but looking back I now know I needed to give this a little more thought. So after a good bit of deliberation here are my top 5 gin cocktails all made with Plymouth Gin and in no particular order.

Martini (wet)
2 parts Gin
1 part Dry Vermouth
1 twist of lemon

Stir ingredients with ice for 20 seconds and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This is an obvious choice for the top 5, but I don't think I would classify it as my number one pick. The version I like is an obvious tweak from the now popular Dry Martini. I'm at nearly a 2:1 ratio for Gin to Dry Vermouth. The term "Dry" Martini is a bit confusing in that it has little to no Dry Vermouth... so what makes it dry? Good question. I'm not certain where the term started and it is probably lost in history, but the term "Dry" in reference to a Martini means it has an absence of Dry Vermouth. So when I order my Martini I ask for Wet Martini along with the ratio I prefer.

1.5 parts Gin
1.25 parts Sweet Vermouth
1 part Campari
1 twist of lemon

Build in a rocks glass over ice, stir for 20 seconds, and add lemon twist.

I fell in love with this cocktail when I started playing around with Campari. Campari has a very distinct bitter flavor that is extremely unique. It takes some getting used to at first, so don't give up on first taste. I'd suggest easing into it. The traditional Negroni recipe calls for equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and campari, but I find a slightly dialed back Campari level yields a slightly better balance. I'd suggest starting with just a few drops of Campari at first and then increase its quantity slowly until you get to a level you like best.

Gin & Tonic
2 oz Gin
0.25 oz Fresh Lime Juice
Fill Tonic Water
1 dash of bitters of choice (optional)

Build over ice in a rocks glass and stir.

This very simple yet elegant cocktail is my go to drink to relax. I'm not much of a beer person so when I'm in a place that it has become apparent that a beer or liquor and mixer are my only choices I go for a G&T. A typical G&T calls for gin, tonic and a wedge of lime on the glass. However when I'm making them at home I forgo the wedge of lime that I would normally squeeze into the drink and add it in at the bar. In addition I add one dash of bitters from my collection.

2 oz Gin
1 oz Roses Lime Juice
1 wedge of Lime

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wedge.

There is a constant debate about roses or fresh lime juice in the gimlet. As a cocktail historian I will tell you Lauchlin Rose convinced the British Navy to use his new Lime Cordial to ward off scurvy back in 1867. The Navy officers would then mix this with their ration of gin and the Gimlet was born. An officer and surgeon named Sir Thomas Gimlette is credited with making the cocktail popular between 1879 and 1913. (4)

There are many who believe a Gimlet should be made with fresh lime juice and simple syrup. Normaly I would strongly agree that cocktails should be made with fresh juices, but in the case of the a Gimlet, Roses is in order. See this article for more info on this topic.

When I make a Gimlet I do it in a traditional manner with Roses. I believe a fresh lime/simple syrup gin cocktail is actually a Gin Daiquiri.

Pegu Club
2 oz Gin
1 oz Orange Cuacao
0.25 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This is a fantastic cocktail that unfortunately you generally can't order by name in just about any bar. You might be able to order this cocktail if you tell the bartender 2 parts gin, 1 part orange cuacao, a splash of lime juice, and bitters.

So there you have my top 5. There are many, many more gin cocktails that also extremely good and I had a tough time narrowing it down to these. I'm sure next week I'll probably change my mind.


Tuesday, June 3

History of the Margarita - Preview

This post orginally posted at http://www.talesblog.com/

As I sit on the beach while on vacation sipping a Margarita my mind wanders off to a cantina were tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice came together for the first time. Was it a Mexican camarero, a Cuban Cantinero, or an American bartender that created this classic cocktail? Who knows?

Jacques Bezuidenhout and Robert Hess are planning on exploring this topic at the Tales of the Cocktail this year in “The History of the Margarita.” The seminar takes place on Sunday, July 20, 2008 at 1pm. In this interactive discussion Robert and Jacques will be covering:
  • The Margarita’s disputable origins covering the strengths and weaknesses of each story
  • What “is” and “is not” a proper Margarita
  • How the Margarita begat a slew of the sour family variations
  • And of course Margarita and Margarita variation cocktail samples
This seminar is perfect for New Orleans as it is the birthplace of the Brandy Crusta. This cocktail which was invented in the 1850’s by Joseph Santina is the cocktail that Gary Regan bases his classification of the New Orleans Sour. (1)

New Orleans Sours call for a base spirit, lemon or lime juice, and triple sec or another orange –flavored liqueur, such as curacao. (1)
Gary puts the Margarita into the New Orleans Sour category, which is a sub-class of the overall Sour category (base spirit, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener). The balance in a sour cocktail is crucial and unfortunately the mix in the modern Margarita has been the victim of mass production and egad pre-mix!

So come check out Jacques and Robert’s Margarita journey down history and find out what a well made classic Margarita can be.

Photo by: Rebecca Ellis