Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Stinger

The stinger is a great cocktail. It's versatile. It really makes a great nightcap or you could enjoy a cold stinger on a hot summer day. I think the key to a good stinger is that it should be cold.

I wanted to tweak the stinger a little bit though. I wanted to see what I could do to replace the creme de menthe. I like my stinger dry and minty, and you have to be very careful with the creme de menthe, or your stinger can fall into the realm of cloying and sticky sweet.

I wanted to kick up the mint with a more natural flavor so I made an intense minty simple syrup to replace the sweet liqueur.

Intense Mint Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 large bunch fresh mint
1 cup good vodka

Heat up the water and mix in the sugar to make a basic syrup. Pack a large mason jar with mint and cover with the syrup and vodka. Refrigerate over night, then strain into a clean conainer.

(When I was making this, I let my son take a whiff. He said it smelled cold. At that point I knew I had it. He's only two though, and didn't qualify for the tasting panel.)

My Fresh Mint Stinger Recipe
2 oz. Brandy or Cognac
1 oz. Intense Mint Syrup
Shake over ice and serve over crushed ice, garnish with fresh mint.

This modified stinger turned out really well. It's really dry and crisp, and the mint tastes like real mint, not mint candy. It makes a nice foil to the brandy and tastes very balanced.

I'm looking forward to trying my mint syrup in some mojitos and some mint juleps. I'm sure I'll get lots of ideas from this weeks other Mixology Monday posts.

Be sure to check out the Mixology Monday Wrap-up over at Kaiser Penguin for more minty freshness.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A fun tool for the mixologist reader

Most of you have probably already seen this, but I just found it. It comes from LookSmart and it's called FindArticles. This web site lets you enter terms and it searches through millions of articles and returns the full text or a synopsis of the article. You could waste invest a lot of time here.

You can see what Mixologist Gary Regan is writing about (he's been busy). You can see who's talking about Dr. Cocktail in print. Christopher Hirst has a series on cocktails for the Independent (UK) newspaper. Don't get Cheers magazine, but what to see what's in it? See some articles about some of your favorite cocktails.

I'd write more, but I'm offski. I'm over to to read about the Drinkboy group.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Twentieth Century Cocktail

Here's my recipe for the Twentieth Century:
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz Lillet
1/4 oz light cream de cacao

A lot of recipes for this drink call for equal parts of the Lillet/lemon juice/creme de cacao. I prefer it the way I've written it above. The chocolate should just be a whisper. A ghostly suggestion. Don't be shy, break out the jigger and measure this one.

If you don't keep Lillet on hand, and need an excuse to expand your ingredient list, this cocktail is it. Just think, you can also make 007' s Vesper Martini with it. If you need more excuses to buy Lillet, head over to CocktailDB and use the ingredient search. They list 82 cocktails that use Lillet.

To my taste, this is one of the best cocktails there is.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Breaking News

Bartenders, Called Keys to 'Make or Break Spirits Brands,' to Be Subjects of Novel New Study

Nationwide Sample Interviewed on Video in Their Bar Setting, Moving Away
from Focus Group Approach

Press Release

This is funny.

This new study plans to talk to 30 bartenders, in their bar. It will show what bars look like, what kind of patrons are there and how the products are displayed. It will also feature "hot trends and emerging drinks/cocktails." You can get all this knowledge, distilled down to a three hour DVD for only $2,870! (If you need an easier to understand version for your boss, you can get an executive summary for only $3940.)

It might just be me, but I figure if you want to learn about what bars look like, and what kind of patrons are in bars, go to bars and see what they're like. Want to know what bartenders think of brands and promotions. Go to some bars and talk to some bartenders. You want hot trends in drinks and mixology, look around the internet, then go to some bars.

Here are a few of the probing questions:
What are the most popular drinks ordered on an overall basis at your establishment?

Please discuss the brands you offer. To what extent do you feel that they reflect back on you or impact the customer's view of you?

You can learn more about the study, and read all of the questions in the snippies pdf.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Know what you want.

It's 6:30 and all the big parties have been seated, and ordered their drinks. The bar is full too, and I'm deep in the weeds just trying to keep up. That early party just ordered 4 cappucino and 2 lattes too. If I get on a roll and nothing goes wrong, I can get all these drinks out quick, but if something goes wrong...

Last Month, Darcy over at "The Art of Drink" mentioned his Bartending Pet Peeve Number One. Here's mine. Know what you want. Really. If you have eight friends you're going to order for, know what they want too. This really helps the bartender, and it makes you look like a pro. I know you want to impress those eight people you're buying for, don't you?

If I'm in the weeds, and you have to wait a few minutes to get your drinks in, make sure you're ready when it's your turn. I see you there, waving your money, and I hear you shouting "when ya get a second, puhleeese." Now is the time to take a look around and see what beer we have. Take a look at the wine list and see what kinds of wine we have by the glass. Check the back bar and see if we have your favorite gin. Talk to your pals, and see what they're drinking.

Know what you want.

Here are two examples:

The Good:
"What can I get you?"
"I'll have a Stella, a Newkie Brown, 2 Martinis - vodka up with an olive, a gin and tonic with Saphire, Guiness, and a glass of Ridge Zin."

The Bad:
"What can I get you?"
"I'll have a beer..."
"The taps are right here, we have..."
"Oh... OK. Um... I'll have a Stella... Hey, Bob, Bob what are you drinking? Newcastle? Lemme see.. Do you have Newcastle?
"The taps are right here...."
"Hey guys what do you want to drink? OK. A red wine....... and a ...... um....."

At this point I'll probably need to move on to someone else who knows what they want, which means you'll have to wait even longer. Sorry about that. If you came in to chat about cocktails, or want me to help you pick something thats fine, I like doing that. That's one of the best parts of the job. It just doesn't work in the middle of the rush.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Top Ten Cocktails

That is a picture of the piece of mahogany that I stand behind. It's the bar and lounge area for a white tablecloth restaurant. The food is awesome. I try to make the drinks nice too!

Here is an unscientific list of the most popular cocktails I make. The number one selling drinks by far are beer and wine, but I'm not counting them as cocktails.

1. Vodka Martini
2. Martini
3. Gin & Tonic
4. Vodka Tonic
5. Margarita
6. Vodka and Juice
7. Cosmo
8. House Specials
9. Lemon Drop
10. Scotch and Water

The vodka martini and the martini also count the "super dry martinis" that are actually just straight vodka or gin. I think they should be called "chilled vodka," but they're ordered as martinis. At this point you really have to ask what someone is looking for when they order a martini. I think most people think a martini is supposed to be made with vodka.

Gin & tonic and vodka tonic are always popular. Gin & tonic may move up a place with the summer weather.

In the vodka and juice I lumped together all the vodka/cran, screwdrivers, greyhounds etc. If it's a duo with vodka and fruit juice, it goes at number 6.

Cosmo, what can I say? Everyone has heard of the cosmo, and if you don't like cocktails that taste like cocktails, it's a good choice. After all, it was on TV right?

House specials include anything on our feature drink menu, or any daily special that I'm doing on a particular night. I'll save the details of the drink menu and specials for another post.

We make a fresh-squeezed lemonade that is really popular in the restaurant, so we do a lot of lemon drops that use the lemonade as an ingredient.

We do a fair business in Scotch whisky. At number ten I'm counting single malts served neat, scotch on the rocks, scotch and water.

That's what my top ten look like. Other than the martini, there's not really a classic cocktail on the list. I'd like to see some of the great classics move back onto the list. I like it when someone comes in and orders a Negroni or a Sazerac (it's probably another bartender, I'd guess).

I'd like to see some of the other blogger/bartenders list of the drinks they make the most.

BBC Documentary on Alcohol

The BBC is doing some experiments with podcasting. They've got a four-part series on drinks and drinking. I haven't heard the whole thing yet, but they appear and disappear quickly, so I thought I'd mention it. I'm going to get these on my ipod and give 'em a listen on the way home.

BBC Podcast trial: Alcohol

Sunday, May 07, 2006


This week's Mixology Monday in all about coffee. I have to admit I was really beaten by this topic. I didn't come up with anything. Who drinks coffee cocktails anyway. There are coffee drinks of course, but coffee cocktails? I don't really know any.

I do remember black russians during spring breaks in the mid-eighties. We'd go down to Palm Springs in an old vw camper, with a liter of Finlandia and a 750 of Kahlua. Mix it together and serve in a plastic cup with ice. They were really good, until the ice all melted. Then you serve it without ice. Is that a coffee cocktail? Not in the back of a volkswagen, with no ice, when it's 110 degrees out.

There's a regular who comes in and orders a double espresso and a beer, and then mixes them in some mystical fashion and drinks it. He's a great guy, and a good customer. The drink just sounds bad to me. It may be really good, but it's not a cocktail. (I found this over at gizmodo.)

There is the legendary Buena Vista Irish Coffee. You can read all about that at the Buena Vista.
They even have a handy page that shows how to make one. But that's more of a coffee drink with whiskey in it. There are other international coffee drinks too:

Irish: irish whiskey
Mexican: tequila and kahlua
Spanish: tia maria and kahlua or Licor 43
Keoke: brandy and kahlua
Italian: amaretto
Greek: ouzo
American: Southern Comfort or bourbon and peach schnapps

There are probably some coffee "martini's" that are nice to drink, but for me a martini is really gin (maybe vodka) with vermouth and bitters. No sour apple, chocolate, watermelon, peach schnapps, or even coffee in my martini please.

Since I've come up empty-handed, I really look forward to everyone else's post for this Mixology Monday. Links to all the posts will be over at The Art of Drink.