Time again! This months MxMo is hosted by eGullet Society – thanks very much for hosting! Here is the announcement:
This month, fellow Society members, we are the hosts for a Mixology Monday on the theme of dizzy dairy. Any drink using a dairy product is fair game: milk, cream, eggs, butter, cheese, yogurt, curds, you name it. Given the importance of dairy products in drinks dating back centuries, there are lots of opportunities for digging through vintage receipts for a taste of the past, and as always innovation is highly encouraged.
This really gives room for a lot to play with and i`m a lover of egg whites in cocktails, but i suspect many will use that so therefore i have chosen another route – butter. In the form of honey-cream-mix which is equal parts honey, sugar and butter, no cream even though the name suggests that. As one may guess, the honey-cream-mix is a part of the tiki realm of cocktail mixing. The most well known is honey-mix which is equal parts honey and water. A similar mix is used in Pearl Diver`s Punch.
When using honey-cream-mix its necessary to keep it just above room temp before you mix it because of the butter solids. The preferred way to mix it is with a blender saving ice for last and blend at high speed no more than 20 sek. Then strain through a fine wire mesh sieve and serve immediately.
1 pineapple, hollowed
5-6 chunks of fresh pineapple
2 oz tequila reposado
0.5 oz Crema de mezcal (Del Maguey)
1 oz honey-cream-mix
¼ oz orgeat
Ting to top
Hollow out a whole pineapple to make a drink vessel, the easiest way is to use a pineapple corer. Preferably use a pineapple thats is newly matured, they are less sweet. To easily take out the core in the middle, cut a bit with a small knife and/or twist it. Then take 1-2 slices and cut out chunks. If you dont have a fresh pineapple, don`t use canned juice…rather use a cartoned juice.
Add all ingredients to a blender saving ice for last and blend at high speeed for exactly 20 sek. Then strain through a fine wire mesh sieve into the pineapple filled with crushed ice. top with Ting and serve immediately.
Garnish a pineapple leaf and mezcal soaked cherry.
HONEY CREAM MIX
Take equal parts liquid honey, sugar and butter and heat it and stir to make a sauce.
I came to think more about this topic after i came back from the Tales armed with quite a bit of swag. There was a jigger in there from Uber Bar Tools (ProJig) and i started to use it. After a while i realized i had almost stopped using my old jiggers and that i felt pretty comfortable with this jigger.
So what makes it better? does it really matter which jigger you use? Let`s take a look first into what i used before (i still use them sometimes)
I had three types of jiggers. The first and second i bought here in Sweden, and there´s not much to choose from here i can tell. The first is a 2 sided stainless steel ml measured jigger, something i got from the mall many years ago. Its rounded and quite narrow in shape and in my opinion too light-weighted. The second is a plastic ml measured tube, its quite deep and also quite wide, the third is the common two sided jigger purchased from the US Ebay measured in oz, rounded, a bit lower and more open than the stainless steel ml jigger.
These three types of jiggers are very common and i find them fine to use but when i compared to Uber Bar Tools jigger all of a sudden i saw quite a bit of a difference.Their jigger has pouring edges which prevents spilling, feels steady when pouring – and well, just nice to grip. I also like the triangular shape. Its made in transparent plastic and is two sided with 3 different smaller measurments on one of the sides. It measures up to 12 different volume combinations up to 60ml compared to 4 on a standard jigger.
I decided i needed to try out more jiggers to see if i could find a favorite among them. There´s one particular jigger that i used all the time in the US – the OXO. (OXO Good grips) Its not available here – and that`s very unfortunate. But luckily for me i have blogger-friends who likes to swap stuff,-) so two of those landed here just recently. You can get OXO at Amazon.com.
The OXO jigger is very good, easy to use, wide and angled in shape, its either in transparent plastic or stainless steel (i prefer the transparent) You can also read the measurements from above. This one is very user friendly.
A working friend of mine told me about a jigger that i`ve never seen yet, its shaped like a pencil with a cup on, laying on top of the mixing glass, and you just turn the cup into the glass without having to lift up the jigger, but that doesn`t look so very practical to me if you happen to spill.
Now comes the next jigger i wanted to try, – the Japanese jigger. The two at Cocktail Kingdom is actually made in China after an old American design, but are the ones currently used in Japan.These are a bit different in shape, thinner and deeper, double sided, (1.5 ounce) on one side and 30ml (1 ounce) on the other. Cocktail Kingdom (Mud Puddle) has 2 varietes, one that is gold plated which is really beautiful.
But how good are they? To find out out i ordered one.
To start with it has a balanced weight – that is good, its two sided, has good depth and that helps preventing spills. So i think it´s good and even if versatiliy, practicality and user friendliness is the main focus and even if its not nessecary for your measuring results – i just have to say this jigger looks awesome..the gold one is a beauty.
My final conclusion is that the common two sided jigger, the one i started with is fine to use but if you want to feel really comfortable and raise the standard a snap i would recommend either the OXO, the Uber Bar Tools triangular ProJig jigger and then we have this beautiful and deep Japanese jigger, these are my favorites.
The jigger is a very important tool as many cocktails require exact measurements and consistency, and precision & balance is really the main thing. Luckily now i have all my favorite jiggers around and a bunch of extras for those tiki sessions.
So what´s your favorite, does it matter to you which jigger you use?
When i first heard about this rum I got really excited, it took long though before i finally got the chance to try it myself and in the meantime i heard only good about it so expectations were high.
The 3 year old cask aged came to be when the DDL were asked if they could produce an aged white rum as opposed to their unaged white.
I can safely say that this ED rum places itself among the better white rums. The nose has hints of sugarcane and vanilla, its very inviting. It`s a rum of sweet complexity, raining notes of vanilla, chocolate, toasted coconut, cane sugar and buttery caramel. This rum is a bit sweet but not bad, flavourful, and aromatic.
It sips easy and it mixes well in cocktails that does not have too much other ingredients to kill the delicate flavor. Maybe it could have a bit more bite so it would stand up better against mixers in rum cocktails so the rum is dominating ingredient. This one is just a tad too delicate and therefore needs to be mixed in such cocktails as a classic daiquiri for example. In a tiki drink i`m afraid it would almost disappear.
But its a good rum and it has been aged for a minimum of 3 years in oak casks and then double-filtered through charcoal and distilled by Demerara Distillers Ltd – Guyana.
The Chicago Beverage Testing Institute (BTI) have in their latest release of the 2009 International Review of Spirits awarded this El Dorado product a Gold Medal (and Best Buy) with a rating of 93 points bringing it to the top in the White rums category with the 4 Year Old Flor de Cana and Rhum Clement Premiere Canne Rum.
In the last century, the remaining Guyanese distilleries were consolidated by Demerara Distillers Limited on the site of the Diamond Plantation, and today operates as the sole rum producer in Guyana. With a production capacity of more than 26M liters of pure alcohol annually, DDL sell bulk rum to a number of international blenders and bottlers and bottles rum under their own El Dorado and other labels.
Today, DDL operates a number of stills used to make their typical light and heavy type rums. DDL also operates the last remaining wooden stills in the Caribbean.
This is their EHP wooden coffey still in all its awesome glory.
The old wooden coffey still is the last operating still of its kind in the world today and is made of rectangular frames stacked on top of each other with metal perforated trays in between. The rectifier has cooling coils passing through some of the sections.These wooden stills are made of local hard wood. I really want to go and visit the DDL to see these old stills and also their heritage center.
As for how they maintain these old stills they do it by changing the wood in a very clever way. They do of course not change all the wood at the same time – that would ruin the unique flavour as the wood soaks up some of what is being distilled in it as well as giving flavours & complexity to what is being distilled.
So instead they change it in small sections so there´s always some old and some new wood mixed in the still. On average each section is changed every 15-20 years and once they finish all the sections they just start again at the other end. There are in operation 4 column Savalle stills, 2 wooden pots, 1 wooden coffey and 2 metal columns. ( as far as i know)
Here (below) you can see the double wooden pot still. El Dorado 12 contains predominantly copper coffey still rum from Diamond blended with this double wooden pot still at Port Mourant and also marques from the Enmore wooden Coffey which you see above in the big picture.
The 15 year old (my fav rum) contains equally double wooden pot from Port Mourant and metal coffey from Diamond, blended with single wooden pot still (Versailles) and marques from the Enmore wooden coffey still.
Its a lot of stills..!
The double wooden pot still.
El Dorado VSG pot still.
I´m a bit of a geek when it comes to these unique stills. I really need to go and visit the DDL distillery some day, i hope it can be possible.
And there´s another El Dorado on the horizon…an 8 year old, stay tuned.
For full disclosure picture courtesy and sample was provided by DDL – Read more on El Dorado rums here.
In this second post in my series about cocktails with mezcal it starts with tequila:
After a visit to the Cocktail Chronicles this spring reading the recipe for the tequila libation ”Flor de Jalisco” made by Death & Co bartender Joaquin Simo, this cocktail caught my attention and sparkled my appetite. I made one and it was so nice, it`s easy to mix yet it does have that little extra omph. Then on my recent trip to the US and the Tales in New Orleans in july ending up in New York i visited Death & Co and among a range of great cocktails i also tried this one and i was not dissapointed – it was lovely.
I very much like tequila – it has a wonderful flavour and it mixes so nicely with fresh fruits and spices – my fav mixers.
FLOR DE JALISCO
2 oz tequila blanco
0.75 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz agave syrup
1 tsp orange marmalade
Shake and strain into chilled coupe and garnish with an orange twist.
Back home i decided to have some fun and play with it and make it differently and so i added bitter seville orange marmalade instead, a reposado instead of blanco, lime instead of lemon, dried hibiscus flower rim and a dash rich cinnamon syrup. (2:1 demerara sugar, water and cinnamon stick)
Then i added a float of mezcal.
2 oz tequila reposado ( i used XQ reposado)
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz rich cinnamon syrup
1 small tsp bitter seville orange marmalade
Float mezcal (I used Del Maguey San Luis Del Rio)
Rim the glass with crushed dried hibiscus flowers, or rim half. Shake, strain and serve with crushed ice and garnish with a spiraled lime.
It looks like a Margarita but isn´t. A spiraled lime you get by inserting a chopstick through the lime and then you just cut around it in a spiral manner from the top end to the bottom and then take out the stick. The only thing i would like to change is the hibiscus rim, i would like to make it into powder instead.
Its fun how you can play with flavors by switching one or more of the ingredients and get a totally different drink and that`s the whole point of this post apart from sharing my passion for mixing with mezcal.
In my first post on cocktails with mezcal it was the only base spirit but here it plays a different role and is used as a float together with tequila as the base– i think it has a nice effect. Its really fun to use mezcal because of its rich flavours and smokiness, and there´s so many things you can do – mix, float, rinse, rim, spray…and mixing with both tequila and mezcal is fun, wonderfully tasty as well as economical.
I love tikidrinks and because the tiki drinks have such an exquisite balance and extraordinary depth of flavour yet having such a clean finish they deserve to be equally appreciated and respected as cocktails that are classic cocktails just as the other classics like the Old Fashioned or the Ramos.
They are not only tasty they carry a very special feeling and whosoever have had a great ice cold tiki drink in a tall mug knows what i`m saying. They transport you, that´s what they do and they are fun, have imaginative and exotic names and are also very diverse. Some are fun looking with elaborate garnish served in stately or crazy-looking tiki mugs or tall glasses, others comes with fire or smoke and yet others are elegant and small.They also break barriers, makes people relax – i mean who can be uptight when holding a say – skull mug or laughing tiki mug in hand filled with a yummy tropical libation?
And they do have one thing in common, they leave an impression, makes you feel something and they make you happy. I`m talking about real and well crafted tiki drinks containing perfectly blended quality booze and fresh ingredients.
Don Beach & Vic Bergeron were true masters in their art who knew the flavour profiles of the rums that they mixed and they also knew their mixers. They paired rums to create new flavours that wouldn`t have been there without the specific blend of rums they created. To create a good and balanced tiki drink isn´t so easy, you need to know your rums and it takes time to learn which rums pairs well together and then these are to be mixed with a range of other mixers that in the end perfectly harmonizes resulting in a complex and balanced drink.
I think Beachbum Berry has done an outstanding job in bringing up many of the forgotten recipes to us as well as creating new ones and to place the tiki drinks where they are today.There`s a renaissance of the true tiki libations made after the authentic recipes and the use of fresh ingredients and at the same time new modern quality tiki drinks are being invented, yet still there are too many tiki bars and other bars serving crap so that many people today have no clue how a real Mai Tai or Zombie should taste.
Tiki drinks have had a reputation of being cloingly sweet tropical drinks due to the bars kept serving false tiki drinks throwing in a little bit of this and a little bit of that ending up with oolorful but unbalanced and messy drinks without much thought or attention to the original recipe or how a tiki drink should be constructed.
But luckily a LOT has happened! and nowadays there are many good tiki bars out there paying attention to the details getting it right.
The tiki drinks really deserves their respected place and i really hope the false crap disappears and leaves way for the real tiki drinks to move forward and shine, sparkle, dazzle and seduce you with their perfect blend of exciting flavours and air of mystical appeal.
TIKI DRINKS MOVING FORWARD
There are many great new tiki drinks being made as well but that you must use only rum isn´t written in stone. The reason rum was used so much in the old tiki era was mainly because after the repeal day it was cheap and readily available. Also rums pairs very well with fresh fruit juices and spicy tinctures and the whole tropical feel, no doubt about that, its like they are made for each other – but its possible to make good tiki cocktails also with say gin..
And i like gin! so i was very excited when i read about the drink called The Winchester (named after Angus Winchester) that really is a gin zombie invented by Brian Miller at Death & Co in NYC (a bar i really can recommend btw) This drink is made with three different gins just in the same way Don Beach mixed with several rums, creating a flavour profile that one spirit wouldn`t be able to accomplish.
Maybe the essence of a good tiki drink is the blending of base spirits? its certainly critical. Anyway, its really exciting to hear about someone treating gin the same way Don treated rum and as life is much about change so is drinks and it looks to me that tiki drinks are moving forward to a new dimension and at the same time the old original tiki drinks are gaining more respect.
25ml Tanqueray London Dry Gin
25ml Old Tom Gin
25ml Miller’s Westbourne Strength Gin
20ml lime juice
20ml grapefruit juice
20ml St Germain elderflower liqueur
12.5ml home made grenadine
7ml home made ginger syrup
1 dash angostura bitters
Shake with 3 ice cubes and strain into a Tiki mug.
Ever since i started blogging about cocktails and spirits a year ago i have struggled with taking my pictures in an environment that isn´t the best when it comes to light as i live in a very dark apartment and there´s really nowhere to go outside either. But in a bad situation you try to do the best that you can and sometimes you need to be inventive.
I take my pictures is in the kitchen with the kitchen fluorescent light in the roof as the light source apart from a little small metal halogen light i use sometimes to brighten it up. There isn´t much daylight coming in from the windows unfortunately as there´s huge cherry trees and a garage next to the building that blocks most light. To combat the poor light i try to use different angles and play with shadows.
I think i really need to make myself a light-box of some kind, Rumdood made one and his pictures are great. Cocktailnerd uses both a lightbox and outdoor backgrounds as far as i can see when browsing his blog and his pictures too are great. Making a light box doesn`t have to be expensive if you use cartons, its mainly the lights you need that may cost a bit. I wish one of the bloggers that have made their own lightbox (Dood..hint) would make a blog post about how to do it with drawings or pictures in some tutorial style.
Another thing is the camera. I have a very simple pocket-camera which i use with the macro that is available which isn`t very good. I want my pics to be bright but under these light circumstances its a bit hard. I´ve been told that my drinks looks like they do in a bar which in a way isn´t necessarily a bad thing but i would prefer to be able to take bright yet natural looking pictures. And then i rather would like to be able to choose whenever i want a picture to be dark like it would in a bar. And besides, i`m quite “tired” of being kicked out of tastespotting everytime because they think my pictures are too dark..
During Drinkwrite 2009 in New Orleans there was a cocktail photography session with Jamie Bodreau, Darcy O`Neill and Rick Stutz – all three of them taking amazing pictures. The main points in short, made during the photo-session were these:
A_- You dont need to have the most expensive equipment to take good pictures but if you have good stuff, it helps. Look for cameras that are good with low-light and close-up-macros.
B – Daylight is always the best.
C – Get a good lens/lenses.
D – Indoors, cheap desk-lamps will do.
E – Things to consider – visual interest, surfaces one or two, neutral background example – paper. Glassware is important, try to vary, look in 2nd hand shops. Garnish of the cocktail is important for the final touch.
F – The lowest possible number you shoot, the more light you`ll have.
G – try to get a macro of 12.
I wonder how many cocktail bloggers out there struggle with the same problems as i do when it comes to cocktail photography?
When i was in the US i was lucky to have a chance to take pictures in natural light outdoors and to experiment using a paper background versus using a natural background with plants etc by the fishpond and here are two different pics of my a little bit crazily garnished tikidrink “Mixohouse cocktail” which was made for the New Orleans TDN.
I myself think the one with paper background looks better as the neutral background lifts the cocktail into focus. So a neutral background is important but it doesnt have to be white or of paper, but it needs to be “calm”. At home i`m using a dark brown straw-mat that i hang up in the kitchen. It works quite well though even if its dark in there, you can see it at the picture on the top.
I find the pic at the left better when it comes to brightness, the right one is a bit too dark, i would have liked to see the mint more bright green as it is in the left pic as well as the cherry more exposed. But both pics are taken in daylight which i think is the best light to use. That said doesn´t mean there´s no way to get good pics indoors, you just need good equipment and good light. (light-box again)
Thereare a few blogs out there with some tremendously fantastic photos, i hope to get there some day – and photographing is really fun. I also look a lot at food pictures, there´s much to learn from the foodies and food in my opinion isn´t the most easy subject to photograph.
Another important thing is the after-work. The exposure, color balance, sharpness, brightness and contrast are a few very important factors for a good end result. At the same time i don´t want my pics to be too much processed either, i want them as natural as i can get yet there´s occasions when its nice with a really “dreamy” picture.
In any case to me the main thing is – i want the cocktails too look appetizing enough to make you want to drink them.
Its just like with food pictures, if it makes you crave it or feel something then its a good picture. But good cocktail photography isn`t all about the equipment, its also how you take the pictures, how you balance the background, how you crop the picture, how you make the picture come alive and get personal etc I also think its a good idea to try to keep it simple.
But one thing that i don`t like is how many of the glossy magazines process their pictures to the point of making them”loose their soul” and in the end they really do look not only unnatural with too bright colors and too much sharpness but also totally unpersonal and almost sterile.
A good idea for us bloggers though would be an online cocktail photography school..anyone? i would certainly need and enjoy it.
Now you`ve read about my pictures and my thoughts on cocktail photography and surely there are tons of things i haven´t thought about and i`m curious to know about your photographing.
What are the problems you folks have to deal with when doing your cocktail pics? what solutions have you come up with and what equipment do you use? what works for you?