Tales 2012 – Curacao – The ultimate guide to the world´s favorite liqueur flavor

Who doesn´t like curacao? and who doesn`t use it? – but WHO has seen it being distilled live on stage? and been able to try it out after? – well…all the attendees of this seminar did..

“From the Bare Bellybutton Liqueur of 1500s Amsterdam to the very first orange liqueurs on Curacao, and from the Martinez to the Mai Tai to the Cosmopolitan, award-winning writer and raconteur David Wondrich spars with Amsterdam resident, researcher and presenter Philip Duff and the Cognac-based artisanal distiller Alexandre Gabriel to reveal the real history of every bar’s most important cocktail liqueur flavour – curacao.

SWOON! As Philip Duff lets you sample pre-liqueur liqueurs from 1500s Dutch recipes like the Bare Bellybutton, Kandeel and Quarter After Five! GASP! as you taste 80 and 90 year old versions of well-known orange liqueurs that have changed their flavour profiles over time!

WEEP! with joy as you get to deconstruct an authentic 1800s curacao made by Professor Wondrich himself, the closest you’ll ever come to making a cocktail like Jerry Thomas did.

Well there you have it…it was a very interesting seminar indeed and the live-distilled curacao tasted very good!

During the seminar we got to taste six different and interesting things:

1 – Dutch occasional liqueur – it was drunk at different occasions and it tasted somewhat perfumy…

2 – A la minute Curacao – was very strong, almost made my throat crumble.

3 – Vegetal infusion – tasted aromatic

4 – Toasted aged cane sugar – sweet, dark with a THICK mouthfeel, was very sweeet, deep and soothing…

5 – Standard Triple Sec – well…tasted Triple Sec..

6 – Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao – Very balanced, not too sweet and full bodied in taste.

SOME CITRUS AND CURACAO FACTS

Broken dried Laraha orange.

# Citrus medica, reticulata and pomelo are the citrus that once started it…In tropical climates citrus fruits doesn´t change color but stay green, only citrus fruits growing in temperate climates with cold winters change color.

# Citrus fruits does have so called umami and they also have medical properties.

# The first curacao was made in the Caribbean in 1802 – on the island of Curacoa – now Curacao – and was called Curacoa.

# The citrus fruit used was the Laraha orange, which when broken smells quite awesome. it wasn´t eaten by anyone else but the goats.

# Curacao started to be used in cocktails around 1862.

After we tasted these we were also served three cocktails containing Ferrand´s Dry Curacao:

BRANDY CRUSTA – Source: Julie Reiner, proprietor and beverage director at Lana Kai and Clover Club, NYC

2 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac, 0.5 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, 0.5 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, 0.5 oz fresh lemon juice, Dash Angostura bitters

Rim a snifter with sugar. Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into the snifter filled with ice cubes. Garnish with a horse´s neck of orange peel – aka the entire peel of an orange.

THE WHITE LADY – Source: Phillp Duff

2 oz Citadelle gin, 1 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, 1 oz fresh lemon juice

Shake all ingredients with ice ansd strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.

BRANDY SHRUB – Source: David Wondrich

Peels from 2 seville (bitter) oranges and 2 valencia (sweet) oranges, 1 cup (240ml) demerara sugar, 1 cup boiling water, 1 – 750 ml bottle Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac.

In a 2 quart bowl, muddle orange peels with the sugar. Let sit for 4-5 hours. Pour boiling water into a bowl and dissolve the sugar. Add the entire bottle of Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac and let sit for 2 hours.

Strain out peels and put the liquid in a bottle. Store upright in a cool place for 2 weeks until the liquid have clarified considerably and can be siphoned off from the (harmless) sediment that will have settled to the bottom of the bottle.

Last thing that happened was that curacao was distilled live on stage and after that we got to taste it too…and it was good…

 

 

 

Sugarcane bar

 

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MIRACLE MILE BITTERS

During Tales there´s always some bitters going around and i now have  five new bitters to play with and first out are 2 bitters from Miracle Miles – Chili-Chocolate and Yuzu.

Miracle Miles bitters are locally made artisanal bitters that started just over a year and a half ago. Louis Anderman – the maker of these bitters became friends with Joe Keeper from Barkeeper (an awesome barware shop n LA) and would always bring him some of his homemade experiments, bitters, Nocino, etc.

In December ’09 he did the Chocolate/Chili bitters, and Joe flipped over them and begged  for some. Louis tweaked the recipe a bit for the next batch and gave some to Joe, then after refilling his bottle for the second time in about 3 weeks he said, “Hey, why don’t you start selling these here?”

Then more and more bars started picking them up, and all of a sudden Louis was getting so much other momentum (e.g., interest from distributors) that he realized he was reaching a point where he had to go pro, or go home.

The varieties Louis currently makes are: Chocolate/Chili Bitters,
Gingerbread Bitters, Castilian Bitters, Sour Cherry Bitters, Yuzu Bitters, Forbidden Bitters and finally Orange Bitters.

That`s a bunch! and i don`t think they are out for purchase yet so i`m very happy i have got 2 of them.

CHILI-CHOCOLATE BITTERS

The chili-chocolate is made with fine Vahlrona chocolates and a mix of chilis.

In the nose you feel an exquisite and fine chocolate smell and when you taste it it´s there together with ginger, allspice and nutmeg, sweetened with molasses and maple syrup – with a slight chili bite.

The chocolate-chili bitters are perfect for dark rum drinks as well as bourbon, rye, tequila and well – any dark spirits really – anything that goes with well chocolate.

People also use them on ice-cream and coffee..mmm – i´m gonna try them with my blend of Community Coffee Nola blend with chickory and Pecan-Praline…oh my..

I stumbled upon a drink when i was sitting and reading an article about whiskey cocktails in Hawaii. Since ii like both cocktails, whiskey and Hawaii they had my attention.

The drink i was reading about – The Whiskey Thatcher – really looked interesting to me and looked like something where the chili-chocolate bitters would add a nice spicy touch. (btw the Whiskey Thatcher is a variation of a gin drink named after former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher- but don´t mix things up now…i`m not promoting Thatcher…and this blog is totally politics-free – i`m promoting booze!)

The Whiskey Thatcher was created by Dave Newman, bar manager of Nobu, Honolulu, Hawaii who was wondering if the Thatcher would work with whiskey which apparently it did.

Today people want spirits with more character – and i see whiskey coming back and also other flavorful, handcrafted spirits like rum, tequila and mezcal. Even vodka producers are going in that direction creating small batch vodkas with flavor – one example is Karlsson´s which contains 12 different potatoes.

The Whiskey Thatcher blends citrus and sweet, herbal and bitter with the depth and roundness of the whiskey. And besides, anything that contains campari is worth trying i think.

So here we go – the Whiskey Thatcher with dashes of chili-chocolate bitters!

WHISKEY THATCHER


0.5 oz Campari

2-3 mint leaves

A strip of lemon peel

1 tsp fine sugar. (i used Oxfam`s raw sugar)

1. 75 oz Bourbon

Hibiscus syrup ( a splash)

Bourbon ( a splash)

Top with dashes of Miracle Mile Chili-Chocolate bitters

Muddle a slice of lemon peel, two or three mint leaves, 1/2 ounce Campari and 1 teaspoon of fine sugar in a mixing glass.

Add 1. 75 oz bourbon, and a splash of hibiscus syrup and fresh juice from half a lime.

Shake with ice.

Put a splash of pernod and a splash of bourbon (the recipe calls for Wild Turkey but i had Maker`s Mark on hand) in the bottom of another (slightly preheated) lowball glass, light it on fire and burn off the whiskey and pernod. And fresh ice; and strain the drink from the first glass into the prepared glass and stir.

Top off with dashes of the chili-chocolate bitters. (I added a generous amount of dashes..)

Garnish with a fresh mint sprig and if you feel like it a lemon peel as well. (The garnish is not in the original recipe)

Yeah…I like it…it´s spicy…

From that i moved on to mix me this next drink because Louis told me to try it –  2oz demerara rum, 1/2 oz pineapple gomme, 2-3 dashes chocolate/chili bitters, built like an old fashioned – and indeed it was good – very aromatic and deep.

YUZU BITTERS

Now after these two very satisfying cocktails with dark rums it was time to try out the Yuzu bitters.

Released only a few months ago, it’s quickly catching up to the Chocolate/Chili in popularity in LA, and KL Wines in SF sold out of a full case within five days. In addition to the yuzu, cinchona is used for the bitter plus cardamom, cinnamon, and burdock root among the other spices, and two kinds of green tea to round out the finish.

The flavor of the yuzu bitters is something in between a lemon and a tangerine, with a deep citrus flavor. Yuzu is a citrus fruit rom SE Asia and which is a cross between sour mandarine and Ichang papeda – Citrus ichangensis × C. reticulata

Here`s a link to pictures of Yuzu.

These bitters would go well with anything that goes with citrus and i`m sure also with herbal liqueurs and so therefore i decided to try a variant of the Chartreuse swizzle adding Yuzu bitters thus turning it into a Yuzu Swizzle.

YUZU SWIZZLE


1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
0.75 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Falernum (i used B.G Reynold`s Dark Falernum)
3 dahses of Miracle Mile Yuzu bitters

Add ingredients to a large glass full of crushed ice. Swizzle to mix, lavishly garnish with mint, squeeze a bit and add a few extra dashes of the bitters on top of the ice as well.

After trying this i can say that it is tasty – no doubt – but i wonder if the yuzu and the green chartreuse might play out each other a bit…i cannot detect the flavors of the yuzu so clearly. Nevertheless – tasty it is. But i needed something “cleaner” to give the yuzu bitters space to play and the flavors to shine a bit more..

So how`bout a Yuzu daiquiri?

Hell yeah! and this is what i used:

2 Havana Club 3 yo

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz sugarcane syrup

3 dashes yuzu bitters

Float Coruba overproof

Now this was better in the sense of putting the yuzu flavors more forward and a Daiquiri is always a very nice cocktail – one of my favorite cocktails.

This has been fun and i`m very pleased with the Miracle Miles bitters, go try them when you get a chance.

And finally – try Yuzu bitters on oysters…

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL – CITRUS AND MEXICAN SPIRITS

LAST DAY AT THE TALES

Saturday was the last day i could attend as we were leaving for PA and NYC on Sunday.There were 2 very good sessions that I attended, the first i went to was Citrus in history and application. This session was led by Eric Seed who told the history of citrus and Charlotte Voisey who showcased a very interesting and tasty blood orange liqueur called Solerno as well as others and mixed up a lovely brandy crusta with Solerno instead of Orange Curacao. Unfortunately Solerno is only sold in NYC for the time being.

The next session was Agavepalooza which was one of the most interesting i`ve been to – fan of tequila and mezcal as i am. Here we were taken on a long journey where the tequila and mezcals are made.

CITRUS in history and application

citrus-session

I`m a citrus lover so it was to me a very interesting session  sponsored by Angostura orange bitters. Many types of usual and more unusual citrus plants were described and we learnt their history and where the hybrids come from. An interesting refreshener from India was also described – Nimbu Panu which is lime, cane juice, soda, salt & pepper. That would make a base for a nice tikidrink..in my mind i add something like dark and light rums, pimento dram and get a Tiki Panu. Haven´t tried that yet though..

Further we learnt some things about Angostura which was formulated in 1824 by Dr Joham Siegert operating in the town of Angostura on the banks of the Orinoco River inVenezuela. Dr Siegert were originally from Germany and a scients most of all. He experimented with formulas for a cure against fevers and internal stomach disorders. And finally in the year 0f 1824 his work resulted in a unique blend of herbs which he called “Amargo Aromatico” or aromatic bitters..

The rest is history and here we were at the tales of the cocktails with Angostura orange bitters bottles in front of us and lovely cocktails to imbibe while we learnt a thing and two about both Angostura, the lovely citrus fruits and their use in cocktails.

AGAVEPALOOZA – The fine mexican Spirits

agavepalozza-clay-cups

Drinking mezcal in these clay cups gives a different experience.

Due to the long queue – this was a popular session. While standing for a long time in the queue i got to really study the pool area and came to the conclusion that this is the first time i see an entire pool filled with drunk bartenders. A LARGE glass with some kinda punch was passed around.

This session was moderated by Steven Olson and panelists were David Suro Pinera, proprietor, Siembra Azul, Ron Cooper, owner and founder of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals and  Dr Rodolfo Fernandéz,Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico.

They took us on a long journey to learn the history of and experience and sample the magnificient spirits of Mexico.Not only did we sample some very unusual spirits like hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol reposado which is made from a different agave than tequila and mexcal and is distilled in double copper stills having a very different flavour, we also did taste raw agave which was a very interesting experience.

Other interesting mezcals i tasted were the tobala (made from wild mountain maguey) and the pechuga. (macerated with fruits and nuts and infused with a chicken breast)

One of my favorites among their products is the crema de mezcal – “made for women only and a few strong men”. Its really tasty and smooth and the smokiness is not upfront it grows upon you.

agave-raw

Earth roast agave

The entire cathegory of distillates made from the steamed and roasted agave plant hearts is within the term mezcal and tequila is a specific type of mezcal which originally was produced in Jalisco and around and in the town of Tequila but now is legally produced in 5  states in Mexico.

Distillation was brought to Mexico by the Spaniards in the early 1500s and before tequila was produced the Aztecs consumed pulque which was a wine-like liquid made from fermented syrup extracted from the heart of the agave plant. The result of distilled roasted fermented maguey (agave) is mezcal. Tequila was more or less only consumed in Mexico until the American prohibition.

The tastings of tequila, sotol and mezcal were done in clay sipper cups which really made a difference in how you experienced the flavours of these spirits. After the session we were treated to more mezcal tasting and cocktail drinking n the pool area.

agavepalooza-tasting1

I had one of the best cocktails i have ever tasted made by Junior Merinho at this session – Alma Blanca Margarita who told me its inspired by an old maya drink containing mashed corn. Do yourself a favor and try this one! if you can´t find Hoja Santa (and who can?) just do it anyway, this cocktail is AMAZING.

ALMA BLANCA MARGARITA

2 oz SiembraAzul Tequila Blanco infused with orange habanero pepper

0.5 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur

0.5 oz Liquid Chef aloe-vera –  lemon grass syrup

1 oz fresh lemon juice

0.5 oz Boiron pineapple puree

2 tablespoons fresh corn

Pinch of Hoja Santa

Rim the glass withThe Liquid Chef hibiscus-rose salt

Muddle corn and syrup and add the rest of ingredients, ice, shake and double strain over ice into a Margarita glass.

alma-blanca-margarita

agavepalooza21

J WRAY & TING ! and a Pineapple Delight…

TING AND JWRAY ARE MADE FOR EACH OTHER..

There are a few things that just seems to be made for each other, like JW&N Jamaican overproof rum and the likewise Jamaican grapefruit beverage called TING! Just pour some ice, fresh lime juice and Ting in a glass and top with JWray…i mean can it get much better?

Ting was first created by Guinness of Jamaica, later acquired by D & G (Desnoes & Geddes) brewers of Red Stripe Beer. It contains a small amount of sediment consisting of grapefruit juice pulp. A relative newcomer to the citrus clan, the Jamaican grapefruit was originally believed to be a spontaneous sport of the pomelo.

James MacFayden, in his Flora of Jamaica in 1837  separated the Jamaican grapefruit from the pomelo, giving the Jamaican grapefruit the botanical name, Citrus paradisi Macf. About 1948, citrus specialists began to suggest that the Jamaican grapefruit was not a sport of the pomelo but an accidental hybrid between the pomelo and the orange.

The botanical name has been altered to reflect this view, and the Jamaican grapefruit is now generally accepted as Citrus X paradisi. The Jamaican grapefruit was first described in 1750 by Griffith Hughes who called the Jamaican grapefruit the “forbidden Jamaican grapefruit” of Barbados.

In Hortus Jamaicensis, it mentions the “Jamaican grapefruit” as a variety of the shaddock, (old name of the “pomelo” (Citrus maxima – which the now defunct “Forbidden fruits liqueur” was made of ) but not as large; and as forbidden Jamaican grapefruit – a variety of the shaddock – but the Jamaican grapefruit is much smaller, having a thin, tough, smooth, pale yellow rind.

Another wonderful drink that contains both Ting and JWray is a drink that i call Pineapple Delight. Its my take of the Mango-Pineapple Float. Its fresh muddled pineapple, honey cream mix , fresh lime juice, orgeat, JW&N overproof rum, dash of grapefruit bitters and rhum agricole topped with Ting.

PINEAPPLE DELIGHT

1 cored pineapple. In mixing glass add:

A few large chunks of pineapple – muddled

2 juiced limes

1 barspoon orgeat

1.5 oz Rhum Agricole Blanc 100 proof

2 tblsp fresh honey cream-mix* with a splash JWray overproof rum

Dash of grapefruit bitters

Shake hard and fast, strain and serve in the pineapple with crushed ice Top with Ting. Garnish with 2 pineapple leaves and a piece of pineapple. Believe me..this drink is worth the effort..

HONEY CREAM MIX

Equal parts Sugar, butter and liquid honey

Add to pot, heat and stir until it gets creamy. You want a smooth creamy sauce. Keep a bit above room temp. The problem with honey cream mix is the milk solids from the butter that forms when the mix gets chilled. It may help to use clarified butter or to dry shake first (without ice) before shake over ice.

After discussing with friends who cannot find the JWray rum i also made another version using Lemon Hart 151 Demerara instead of the JWray. Tasty too.

Nothing made with Ting can go wrong – Ting is the universal cocktail redeemer!