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Showing posts from August, 2012

Ridiculously sexy beverage ads

I really like Heavenhill - and Evan Williams is the workhorse of this great US whiskey distillery [I am very much enjoying their whiskies, however their weakness seems the rest of their portfolio...].

By the way, for those who think, that only Jack Daniel's is charcoal mellowed... Evan Williams black label uses the same process [and even is based on sour mash - which is really nothing special in the Bourbon and Rye industry].

Anyway - just enjoy the picture. Nuff said.

NY-times Diner's Journal: Cocktails for the History Books, Not the Bar

There is an interesting article[follow the link] I found in the New York Times.

An top-class panel of bar-personalities discussed, bad historic drinks.
So far, so good. I never believed, that all heirloom drinks are great. However what let me dig deeper, was the choices the panelist did.

Dale deGroff chose to doubt the Aviation - he thought, that it taste like soap - even if it is including violet liqueur, it even taste more like soap. Now - I made quite a lot of Aviations; it is a finicky cocktail. But prepared appropriately it is a very interesting drink. However it has to be cold enough - hence you have to shake it really well.

Mr Frizell further talked down the Brooklyn. And well - I am more or less on the same wagon- it combines straight rye whiskey with amaro [amer picon to be precise], dry vermouth and maraschino.
It seems to me, that it was a substitute for an occasion, when a bartender ran out of sweet vermouth [for a Manhattan]. While there is no need to make a Brooklyn, if y…

The El Diablo

There are few mixed drinks, which I really appreciate as top notch - and even fewer in the category of highballs and long drinks.



The El Diablo might be invented in the 1940's but the exact history remains unclear. There was actually a panel who discussed this drink for the New York Times. There the El Diablo didn't fared well with the taste of the panelists.
Personally I have came across this drink more than a decade ago. And as soon as I tasted it, it became one of my favorite tequila drinks. Maybe poor products and poor measures can put this drink off - but produced properly, there is a lot of magic, which is created, when the sum is greater than the parts.

El Diablo[the devil]

5 cl   100% agave tequila [blanco or reposado]
1.5 cl fresh lime
1.5 cl Crème de Cassis
12 cl  Ginger Ale

Squeeze the lime juice into the ice cube filled highball glass.
Add tequila and ginger ale. Float with crème de cassis and stir briefly.

This is a very simple recipe. But for me, the taste of the ginger…

How to »treat« ingredients: homemade syrups

First of all, you might be curious, why I put the word »treat« in quotations marks...

Syrups are usually pretty shelf stable; despite of this fact, it is better, to keep most fruit syrups over longer time in the fridge; if syrups are homemade, you should always keep them in the fridge [except of your simple or rich syrup.
However this is not, what I would like to discuss in this post.
It is all about cooking...
Bartenders - or shall I say mixologists, are usually very busy to find new »wild« cocktail creations - some more advanced minds, are searching for lost and forgotten »heirloom« recipes and do revive them. However the least bartenders are emphasizing on »produce«, other than fresh fruits and some good liquors. What about syrups?
Now - I am not a big fan of a lot of different fruit syrups. But you need from time to time good quality syrups - and if a fruit is in season, why not using it?  There are good products around. Gomme syrup of Monin is fantastic [and you don't have y…

Flashbacks from the past: cooking mixology show

I still remember, how great it was to work with Chef James Viles - this is already around 6 years back...

Anyway - don't judge me... but enjoy the video.

The Vesper Cocktail

Ridiculous sexy bev ads

Usually we are quite serious here. And rational. And opinionated.

Wanna have a break?

I thought, why not posting regular some cool beverage ads for your enjoyment.

The first one is: Sparky "Naughty by nature".
Nuff said...

Do you need to "always" ask the guest for preferences in a drink

There are two main opinions out, if it comes to drinks [not only mixed drinks - but also spirits and other liquors] - the first: you serve it how the guest wants it - the second: you serve it as your standard; assuming you have standards in your bar.

There is nothing right or wrong here - there are two philosophies and a lot of grey shades - you just have to understand, what you are doing.

Asking the guest for his preferred serve might sound foolish for some guests. Why? Talking of single malt whisky, cognac [and other brandies], but also highballs or just a Martini cocktail: If you are asking, for ice, the guest might assume, that you don't know what you are doing.

Brandies and single malt whisky [but also eaux de vie, akvavit, even Irish whiskey] are served by default without ice. Don't argue [or do - in the comment section below], it is just like that. If a guest would like to have it on the rocks, he could ask for it [and in most cases we would be happy to individualize t…

Ginger Ale vs Ginger Beer

It might sound strange, however ginger is one of the flavors, which is working fantastically in mixed drinks. Especially with aged spirits, it really shines. But even white spirits you can combine with ginger - hence it might be one of the most versatile flavors in the bar.

There are different beverages carrying the aroma ginger - ginger liqueur, ginger syrup, fresh ginger which you could muddle, but the most common ones are ginger ale and ginger beer.
But what are the differences between those two?

One can be sure, that ginger beer was the first concocted ginger beverage. An interesting note is the traditional preparation. The strained liquid [you may call it juice], from fresh grated ginger, was combined with water, citrus juice and simple syrup and was fermented. However originally no yeast, but ginger beer plant was used. This ginger beer plant [usually abbreviated to gbp] is a composite organism - a in symbiosis living microorganisms- bacteria and yeast [lactobacillus hilgardii …

opinionated bar music - can you play classical music in a bar

I am for the moment listening quite a lot to classical instrumental music.

Funny thing is, that I came across Claude Debussy, when I was researching about Herbie Hancock - one of the most influential still living jazz musicians.

Since then, I rather stop by at Claude Debussy's compositions [while I still like Herbie].

Now it struck me - bar background music should be subtle [depending on the type of bar].
And while DePhazz and Jazzanova are great choices [which you unfortunately hear for to seldom in bars here in the ME], why not also playing classical compositions?

Not necessary Mozart. But mentioned Claude Debussy has fantastic piano compositions and they would give a bar a very unique vibe.

What do you think? Would you be turned off by hearing classical music? Or would you even spend more [which is according a field study the case in restaurants]?

Comment below - and also comment, if you like Claude Debussy as much as me!



Peppered Pyrat

I think Highballs are awesome. They really are!

In a busy bar, it takes no time to prepare them. And with a bit discipline and imagination, they are divine and contemporary.

However you might not experience greatness, if you are using your customarily commercial canned soda. I don't want to heat up another discussion about HFCS - but lets put it this way: while "better" cuisine should avoid MSG as additive, good bars should really avoid HFCS. Nuff said.

And it is not only the sweeteners [I am usually reading horrified the ingredients lists of commercial products, only to find out, that they are using several sweeteners like HFCS and aspartame] - but also artificial colors, artificial and natural identical [means still artificial] aromas and preservatives.
While the health effects of this chemical odyssey is controversial, the culinary aspect is quite clear:
these products are crap!

And making your own soda is so simple.

Now I have trained J.P. my current bartender [oh -…

Thank you for following my blog www.opinionated-alchemist.com

Yes - thank you very much for following my blog.

While this blog is still very small and humble, I am quite proud to report, that I had over 4,000 individual page hits last month- that is pretty much the same traffic, I had accumulated with my previous blog iteration - over the course of 3 years!

Still - the SEO is not optimized and the statistics are showing, that people really looking for my website [not for funny pet videos or similar] - that makes me even more proud.

The only thing, which is a bit troubling for me: the comment section; I really see a blog as two way communication, but it seems more like a monologue here. Please don't hesitate to express your opinion - while I am opinionated, I love to discuss any perspective on the trade...

This said, once more thank you very much, to spend you time on my blog - let me know, what kind of topics you like to see and I will do my best, to incorporate this enquiries as well.

Cheers!

Mint Julep - Jeffrey Morgenthaler strikes again

Yes - there is another awesome video of Jeffrey Morgenthaler out, with his thoughts about the classic Mint Julep.

I think the video is not as timeless as his first one about the daiquiri - but anyway - it rocks.

But there is also some more to say about your humble julep...

The first you can find is, that julep comes from the Arabic jallab - as they had a drink, made out of grape molasses and dates flavored with flower water [and all]. I think this reference is rather unimportant - you won't always refer to Karl Benz and his first car, if you are talking about a modern automobile, will you?

But it is rather essential to understand, that this drink is already quite some time around. It predates the cocktail [1806] easily for at least half a century - maybe even longer.

The notion to say, that it is a predecessor of an Old Fashioned cocktail I really cannot share. You have to understand: most cocktails were very similar - smashes, juleps, slings, sours - often only one ingredient [s…

Pairing Mixed Drinks

On my routine tour through the web, a post on eater.com came to my attention, which was all about cocktail pairing. 
A couple of influential bartender got the chance to speak - including no less figure as the illustrious Jeffrey Morgenthaler.  While especially Jeffrey's contribution was interesting, I have my own and maybe more comprehensive view on pairings.
More after the break...

The Bar Monkey

Well - we know all about the trunk monkey!?





We really should get a bar monkey, who would be in different iterations [complaint handler, bouncer, host for representatives of municipal public order offices etc].

I would love to have a red "bar monkey" button!


Is flairing a relict from the 20th century?

I was never a flair bartender. I was always more dedicated to service, to quality and to entertain the guests with humor and edutainment - not with cheesy bottle tricks.

The only thing, what I did, which can be remotely seen as part of flairing, was work-flair. This is the technique to incorporate flairing into your work routine - however without slowing down and without sacrificing quality.
Because lets face it - modern exhibition flair, might look good, but the drink you will get, are forgettable at best [and yes there might be some exceptions, which I never encountered].

But does flairing bring the bar forward?

A big no! Great flairing has something to do with 100% dedication - for hand-eye coordination, timing... but the issue is, that it doesn't have anything to do with great service- and it has nothing to do with a great product. A good circus artist could become an incredible flair bartender... but does that makes sense?

If it comes to mixology, maybe a good chef can becom…

The "Perfect" Mojito

To understand a drink, you first of all have to understand the drink... so first of all lets discuss what makes a Mojito a mojito:
Lime juiceAddition of sugarLight rumFizzFresh mint Additionally to these features, what is important to experience the Mojito FreshnessMedium alcohol contendFizzLight rum aromasIts not offensive - rather pleasant and "complimentary"Cracked ice Ok - there were some repetitions in the last points - those even have more emphasis on the drink.
Finally the points, which are not associated with a mojito [or should not be associated] Syrupy, thick or sickly sweetOther herbs as mintOther spirits as rumMuddling anything in a mojito [!]Any bold flavors [like fruit, spice, liquor, etc.] What we have to understand here: Like a Martini cocktail, a Mojito is not a drink category. Even if you vary the recipe, you should still close down pretty much on the original mojito experience. All these strawberry, basil or ginger mojitos [you name it] are not really mojito…

objective product testing - by Darcy O'Neil

There is a lot of marketing and anti-marketing out there, about products.
Sometimes you just have to use your common sense [as well as your technical expertise] to confirm or bust these "myths".
One outstanding personality in mixology is Darcy O'Neil who happens to be working in a lab. Not only, that he has the gear, to do one or the other great experiment - but he also has the knowledge. Today, I just found a super interesting article, I haven't read yet on his blog - and it is surprisingly opinionated...
Please join me, to read the article about glycerol in vodka - which is already older, but I guess, if I just found the article, you might not even heard of it...  Does Grey Goose Contain Glycerine? And here is the link of the result post:  Glycerol in Vodka Results
The Art of Drink, is one of my favorite blogs, and most reliable and objective resources of bar, spirit and mixology related content.

Customer Expectations and Market Research

For the moment, I am not only working on new menus, but overall on the strategy of Skylite.

I made quite some progress - but finally got stuck on one important question: Customer [or better said guest] expectations.

Now, you could tell me know 20 different guest expectations - however, are you really sure about this? And even more importantly - do these obvious guests expectations have priority, for the guest?

Don't get me wrong - I think cleanliness, attentiveness of the server, food & beverage quality and so on are essential - but maybe, just maybe we can make the difference, if we are really sure about the priorities of guests.

You can find a lot of discussions and studies about customer expectations - but surprisingly, they are based on assumptions and not evidence - and I could not find one study related to F&B, gastronomy or hospitality, which goes beyond the surface.

Wanna have a practical example? There is a whole list of standards [which are based on how to satis…