Monday, December 28, 2009

Tom and Jerry

Not the loveable cartoon characters. Rather, the even more lovable winter sipper (or gulper, at times).

But first, two non-related items:

1) Today, Caroline on Crack identified my cocktail, the Superstizione as one of her top 10 favorite cocktails of 2009. Thanks for the compliment, Caroline. The Superstizione can be experienced in all its Caroline-approved glory at Drago Centro.

2) On Christmas day, I was able to taste the ("double?") Russian Imperial Stout that my brother in law brewed last year in honor of his son's birth. It'll be aged for 21 years and enjoyed by family and friends each year until then. This year, in honor of the newly toddling Iain, we tasted the concoction after it's first year of resting. W. T. F. That stuff was CRAZY good. I don't even like stout, but the flavors were so intriguing, so well-balanced, that I gave it a 97/100. It's possible that I'm a little biased, and it's not that I'm some world-renowned expert on beer, but I have a decent background in the stuff and I feel pretty confident in saying that it's one of the better-made beers I've had in my life. I only wish he had made more bottles. Maybe he'll go along with my idea of re-brewing every year with the same recipe so we can have side-by-side vertical tastings of a sort.

On to the drink...

There are a great many of drinks with very strict ingredient lists. I often get called a cocktail snob for berating the use of the word "Martini" to refer to anything other than a concoction of gin, vermouth (sweet or dry depending on the type of Martini), and bitters, garnished with a lemon twist, or if you absolutely must, an olive. Though even that's a somewhat loose definition in my eyes. Anyway, the Tom and Jerry doesn't have to follow such strict rules. There are many great recipes out there... and many not so great. In order to introduce you to this tasty warm beverage, or to add another recipe to your binderful of Tom and Jerry variations, I'd like to share my own version, frankensteined together from the recipes of some folks I respect from the blogosphere, and then adapted to my own tastes and style. And even though Christmas is over with, the winter is young, and a nice Tom and Jerry hits the spot just right after dinner on a cold night, or even to slowly wake up with in the late morning of a lazy day.

Tom and Jerry batter:

6 eggs (separated)
1 cup sugar
1 oz rum
1/4 tsp ground clove (preferrably freshly ground)
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg (VERY preferrably freshly grated)
1/4 tsp ground allspice (preferrably freshly ground)

Beat the egg yolk in a mixing bowl. Beat in the rum, spices, and slowly, the sugar. In a different mixing bowl, beat the crap out of the egg whites until they form those magical stiff peaks. Mix everything together until it has about the consistency of a pancake batter. The batter should remain tasty for 1-2 days. After that though, definitely think about throwing it out. Remember, there's raw egg in there.

Tom and Jerry:

3 oz Tom and Jerry batter
1.25 oz rum
1.25 oz brandy
hot milk
hot water

To a mug, add the batter and liquors. Top with the hot milk and hot water at a 2:1 ratio respectively (or higher, if you're not using whole milk). Stir. Grate a little nutmeg on top, and serve.

As I said before, this is a great drink to experiment with, so feel free to try adding or substituting some cinnamon or orange peel. Or maybe substitute in some rye. Have fun.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sam Adams Utopias No Longer World's Strongest Beer?

Tactical Nuclear Penguin from BrewDog on Vimeo.

While a lover of the classics of the booze world, I also love people trying new things. So I was intrigued when I heard that there was a beer stronger than Sam Adams Utopias (which is about 25% ABV, depending on which release you're drinking). But this video notes that unlike Utopias, Tactical Nuclear Penguin utilizes the process known as fractional freezing, or freeze distillation. While regular distillation utilizes the difference in boiling points of water and ethyl alcohol, freeze distillation takes advantage of the difference on the other side of the scale, the freezing points. Basically, when you chill an alcoholic beverage cold enough, it starts to freeze. The part that freezes first is the part lower in alcohol concentration. Remove that and you've got a higher ABV. Do it many times, and you have a MUCH higher ABV. This isn't a new process, even for beer. We've all been subjected to drinking or preferably watching somebody else drink a Bud Ice, Natural Ice, etc. And notice all the times I used the world distillation above. This is a distillate. Not a beer. I still want to try it as soon as possible, but I say the title still belongs to the Utopias.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Partida and Tequila Ocho at Rivera

Last night, was the best tequila tasting I've ever been to. Okay, so my tequila tastings to date are a bit limited. I must admit, that it's never been my favorite spirit, though it certainly has been growing on me more and more as of late, and last night at Rivera may have transformed me into a true tequila lover. For those who don't know, Rivera has become THE go-to place for quality tequilas and tequila based cocktails. And one can hardly say enough good things about Partida tequilas. I've been somewhat familiar with them for a while thanks to the likes of former brand ambassador Damian Windsor, who now focuses on his newest venue the Roger Room (go if you haven't). Tequila Ocho, I hadn't tasted until last night. I had only heard of it and their goal to familiarize the consumer with tequila terroir.

Terroir, a term more often used when referring to wine, simply refers to the set of conditions which play a part in the growing of the agricultural product to be fermented and/or distilled. So for wine, it refers to how one malbec grape vine grown in Europe produces a wine much different from the same grape grown in Argentina due to differences in elevation, days of sunlight, average temperature, rainfall, soil composition, etc. In fact, this particular difference in terroir is a great example (in my opinion) because Malbec grown in the old world is useful pretty much only in blends, whereas in Argentina, it's great on its own. However, terroir can often differ vastly even when plain geography does not. Many claim that the terroir of one vine can differ from the terroir of another mere meters away.

Anyway, the concept of terroir is now becoming more and more accepted as applying to various spirits, and Tequila Ocho definitely believes (and demonstrates) that this should very much be the case for fine tequilas. Tequila Ocho offers quality platas, reposados, and anejos (and allegedly, extra-anejos in the not too distant future) with specific vintage years from single estates, or "ranchos". Very tasty product. Get your hands on every vintage you can find. A couple certainly stood out as superior, but none disappointed in the slightest.

While all of the tequilas were well worth having, the highlight of the night would probably have to be finally getting to try Partida's extra-anejo, the 3-year-old, $300, "Elegante". Simply put, aptly named. All in all, a good night.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Any Dry Sherries?": A Lesson Learned

Been really busy with work lately, but I've got a few minutes, so I thought I would share a learning experience from behind the bar recently. A nice couple sits down at the bar waiting for the restaurnt to open so they can be seated. Before I can get them a beverage list, they ask "any dry sherries?" Then I have that moment which I'm not too fond of, and until I was actually bartending, rarely happened. That moment is the moment I realize that I've been asked a booze-related question and that I don't know the answer. Thankfully, I'd happened to notice at some point that there was a bottle of oloroso behind some ports on the backbar. So, I quickly retrieved it, showed them the bottle, and they agreed that this was acceptable. They liked it, but when I got a minute to look at our spirits list a little later, I noticed that we had an amontillado listed along with the oloroso. Like most Americans, I don't know much about sherry, but I was pretty sure that amontillados were drier than oloroso. Upon conferring with my beverage director that evening, I was informed that the amontillado was stored in the fridge. Well, at least I know now, and will be ready should the couple return or other like-minded, like-palated customers take up a seat at my bar. In the end, they still enjoyed their sherry, and I learned something new. All in all, a new bartender success.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My First Job Behind the Stick

That's right, I'm no longer "just" an enthusiast. After a sufficiently successful working interview at Drago Centro, I've been graciously given a position behind the bar of the upscale restaurant at 5th and Flower in downtown Los Angeles. While the beverage program is predominantly wine focused (which will be a fun challenge for me), they have a surprisingly good bottled beer selection and a pretty respectable cocktail program as well. Oh yeah, they have some pretty quality food there, too. In the interest of preventing this post from turning into basically an advertisement for the restaurant, I'll end it simply by saying that I'm excited to finally get behind the stick, and hope to see you all come down to Drago Centro soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cedd's New Venture

That's right, Cedd Moses is opening another bar downtown, bringing his total to just over 9000. Not that I'm complaining. Far from it. Most of my favorite bars in LA are Cedd's doing. Anyway, the new place will be heavily based in mezcals (Cedd says at least around 50) and will be conveniently located less than two blocks from me. You may know this place better though as 103 E. 6th Street. That's right, it's just across the street from Cole's -- well, really it's closer to across the street from the Association, but come on, Cole's is way better. Anyway, the new venture is still in the construction stages so don't be lining up outside the door quite yet. Cedd says that they're looking to open in November, but if they get a little behind schedule, as can happen with such projects, it'll still be a great Christmas present or start to the new year.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Downtown Move

Yes, this past weekend, I finally moved downtown. I'm very excited as some of the best bars in LA are now within walking distance. Cole's/Varnish is literally less than two blocks away. Already been there twice in two days. Oh crap, maybe I'm too close. Wait, too close to quality booze? Never.