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Middle Eastern styled Sangria

It is always a bit "touchy" to incorporate anything Middle Eastern to alcoholic drinks.
But then it is absolutely legal and accepted to drink booze in Dubai...

For a promotion, Robin the Restaurant Manager of our Arabic restaurant asked me to create a drink.
We agreed, that a Sangria would be refreshing and would have sufficient mass appeal.

At the end, it did not really taste Arabic - just had few hints, which made it to one of the best Sangria I  have tried since quite a while...

The Idea
These days, I am picking a specific drink and then go to foodpairing.com to pick other aromas, to compliment the main ingredients.
Unfortunately I don't have the "pro" version (which in my humble opinion, is outrageously priced), so I could not choose red wine - but the other flavors are going well together - and I am sure, that red wine and pomegranate also share similar aroma molecules...

The Wine
Sangria should not be made with expensive wine. In fact, a full-bodied tannin…
Recent posts

Are natural aromas and essential oils the future of bar culture?

Again reflecting on Darcy O'Neil's visit to Dubai (and to Library Bar), he used natural aromas and essential oils (...), to produce house-made syrups for his drinks.

This is pretty smart, because:

...there are far more natural aromas than syrup flavors....it is probably less expensive to use 1 ml of natural aromas per liter of simple syrup, than buying one of the syrup brands....you know what goes into the syrup (let's be honest here - most syrups are anyway using the same aromas and often even artificial aromas for their own products). Especially impressive were an aroma made out of tobacco leaves, which was bright, intense - really mindblowing - and a "lactone" made out of oak, which had strong vanilla notes and a complex coconut character (without tasting like Malibu). These are not your run-of-the-mill syrups.
This is all very new and very cool to me. But the question remains, is this the right direction for the bar - for my bar?  Since quite a while, I have …

Secrets of Darcy - this is the best way to create sugar syrup

I am a "rich syrup guy"... not a "simple syrup guy".
This is, because it is better to be able to control dilution by yourself - not by he setup you have got.

I had also a pretty straight forward method: adding 1 kg sugar into 1/2 liter of cold water and blend until dissolved (be carefully, not to blend too long with a high-performance blender, because it would heat up).

The issue here: it takes some time - because sugar doesn't "like" to dissolve in cold liquid.

A lot of bartenders are adding sugar into hot liquid. This isn't a good idea either: due to hydrolysis the sucrose is converting into fructose and glucose. This makes the sugar thicker and sweeter - but also makes the result less consistent (as you don't meticulously monitor all details (time, temperature, pH, etc.). Further the thickness of the glucose worsen the ability of the syrup to mix in cold liquid (speak a cocktail).

Darcy, of artofdrink.com has a profound chemistry insight a…

Why you don't need two spirits to make good and complex cocktails

It is not necessary to mix different spirits in cocktails.

Or let's be a bit more pragmatic - you should not mix different spirits in cocktails.
Some people would argue, that there are vintage recipes, which suggest to use 2 or sometimes even 3 and more different spirits (think about punches). And this is what this post is all about.
Spirits in the past, were very different as spirits today. Most rum, whiskey, gin (...) were far rougher, less refined than today. In this case, mixing two spirits together came handy- a rum, which tasted quite "rummy", but was also quite rough, really benefit out of a brandy with more refined notes.
Fortunately nowadays the picture has changed. Rums often have a finish, which can be described as "cognac-like". And most bars also have sufficient products to chose from. Hence the question is no more: how to make the drink palatable, but: which brand/product do I use, to accomplish the intended character. Indeed most products are so…

6 Unique Gin & Tonics Tasted @ the Darcy O'Neil event: G&T Paradox

Darcy did a great job, in hosting this event and we had quite a lot of guests who could try the different G&T.

Unfortunately I didn't made pictures...

Cucumber & Coriander G&T with Strawberry
Darcy: Strawberry & coriander share similar aroma compounds; coriander is further very common in gin.
Darcy emulsified coriander essential oil in simple syrup, he was using for the drink.
That we quite a slam-dunk - most guest liked it. It was very refreshing and very cool - we used Plymouth for it, which was definitely a great company with the drink.

Cardamon & Mint G&T
Darcy used the popularity of the Mojito, to "capture" guests - the cardamom syrup (again made with essential oils and emulsification) was giving it a more unique and Middle Eastern flair - basically there was only cardamom syrup, gin, mint, lemon and tonic water involved.
Again very refreshing, with a distinctive oriental note. We used partly Plymouth and Bombay Sapphire for it and both gins wor…

Bartender vs. Mixologist (...) - is it a matter of approachability?

We have had a talk with the guys of muddle-me and they asked Darcy, what kind of title he would like to choose: bartender, mixologist, "cocktail-whisperer.

Always very down to earth, Darcy replied that he likes to see himself just as bartender. That bartenders should be accessible to everyone - and that nobody should think, that they are something special, or "above" of the rest.
I really like this approach - and absolutely believe as well, that everybody has the same value. However I just have the feeling, that causality of one, does not imply correlation to the other. I can be absolutely approachable and down to earth, if people call me mixologist.
If you look at the "grand masters" in Bushido, you will find, that most of these exceptional individuals are extremely understated and "normal". It even seems, the "higher" these masters rank, the lesser ego they have. Now you could argue, that they are awarded as masters and grand masters (..…

This is possible the best Dirty Martini

Folks, I have to admit, that I am not the biggest fan of Dirty Martinis. The usual combination between vodka and olive brine seems odd - and I am often more reminded on dirty dish water, than on a good drink.

Olive brine itself isn't really that bad - even commercial olives just contain water, salt, vinegar or lactic acid. But it depends, how the olives are cured - one industrial process is, curing the olives in lye - which isn't that great (but on the other hand still perfectly save).

The issue is, that "olive brine" doesn't taste that great.

Fast forward, I have discovered an Iranian shop, with a lot of unique products - they are particularly strong in "flower waters" which are hydrosols.

Hydrosols are basically the byproduct, you will get, if you are steam-distilling produce to get essential oils - there will be only very little essential oil - but quite a lot of water, on which the essential oil "floats". This water has strong aromas on it…