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Showing posts from September, 2012

Throw away your cookie cutters...

This time I would like to dedicate my post to individualism.

There was a time, when I thought, that there is only one way [yes - the stoney way] for a bit for "the bar". And well, I am not completely off this opinion, I am just more open to look left and right.

Still, I am more than anxious about the reputation of a bar like Barasti. Bar of the year or best bar? Not with my approval! Most popular bar? Likely, maybe -- depending on, what you would call a bar.

So first of all, you would need to acknowledge, that there are several categories of "drinkeries".

There is definitely the pub.There is the lounge bar / rooftop barA nightclub definitely have its own categoryA supper club - is a mixture - yet I would say, it deserves [especially now] an own categoryThe classic bar / American bar / Hotel bar...The restaurant bar....And then there are also some dive bars...And jazz bars as well.
All these categories, have different demands and other dynamics; other volumes, other…

The Nightmare Drinks of the Century

When I have seen this drink [and the plea to vote for it] on the Dubai Bartender Club facebook group, I directly answered quite opinionated.

The recipe [at least in my universe] make little sense. Lots of sweet stuff, commercial stuff, with some artificial color and - who would have guessed - vodka. Not so good, I thought.

But this made me look for the other drinks on the Monin promotion website drinksofthecentury.com. And what I have discovered is quite a shock for me. All drinks there are over sweet, over_fru-fru... and absurd! [Truth has to be told - all drinks except of an Amaretto-syrup flavored cappuccino - well done!]

It seemed, that we are still deep in the 90's - and the cocktail-revolution never happened ["incidents" like that, let me believe in time-traveling - somebody knows Dale deGroff or did he had a deadly accident, before he became famous?].
Nobody seems to understand the product. Monin is scoring by even mentioning the brix degree on their bottles. Hen…

Marie Brizard Cocktail Competition

It was a hectic day... on Monday 24th. And Ulric Nijs - sworn that he will never do a competition again. 
This is a pity, because except of a few hick ups it was a really good experience [at least from my side - I guess the participants are hating me know].

We held the competition in Rush bar - in my hotel - the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi. Truth has to be told - the recipes were everything but promising. But there were a few, which could convince [at least in one category]. Of roughly 20 drinks, there was one, which was really attractive [again, most competitors neglected the garnish- which is classically in a competition quite important]. There was another one, which really stood out and kinda impressed with a clear spirit driven character [funny thing was, that the drink had a hideous garnish - blue sugar rim and a sad maraschino cherry] - despite of its quite confused recipe of Scotch, Midori, amaretto, lemon juice [plus one more liqueur] it tasted like a Godfather [not even got wrong]…

The "perfect" Whiskey Sour

After the high popularity of my Mojito post - as well as the also well liked post about the Diablo, I would like to highlight here, another bar staple: The humble Whiskey Sour.

Also: if you can make a proper Whiskey Sour, you can do a lot of other Sours - basically you can take any distillate and make a Sour out of it...

I call it the "perfect" Whiskey Sour to be obviously a bit provocative - but also, as you get often a less than perfect drink, when you are ordering one.

So what are the ingredients of a Whiskey Sour?

American Whiskey [yes - I say it: definitely no Scotch, also for sure no Canadian, no Irish and obviously no Japanese]Truth has to be told - there is definitely something like an adequate Scotch Sour. But it should simply not be called Whiskey Sour, as the character is totally different. Period!Lemon JuiceSugarOptional egg white Additional to the ingredients, these features are also important to consider: Balance between sweet and sourIngredient proportionsA prope…

Think like a chef, but don't be a chef...

I am pretty well known, to have the opinion, that chefs are upfront, when it comes to culinary skills and knowledge and commitment. Bartender are somewhat lazier and unfocussed; also there are much more great chefs as great bartenders.

However what seemed to be a valid slogan [work more like a chef] - seems now to backfire.
In the last competition I have seen recipes [more or less all recipes], which were definitely inspired by the cuisine style of mixology. Fresh [and somewhat "different"] ingredients went all over the drinks.
While the balance of all drinks were far off, it was [except of very few exception] just a promising picture - or was it?

Now I am in a catch-22 situation... on one hand, fresh ingredients are key to the success of good bartending - on the other side there is so much more to consider.

Fresh ingredients is only one part of it.

And there is the laziness of bartenders coming again into play.
At this point I have to mention, that this correlates strictly …

Thyme water? Thyme soda!

When I came here to Abu Dhabi, I have seen it before... Thyme water [and the same company also offers camomile water - though I have a lifelong aversion against later].

Today I bought it - and I wanted to do some soda with it.

It is pretty straight forward; make a syrup: you need liquid [for the moment the thyme water itself, but you need some additional water as well], sweetener [I used fructose], acid [citric acid].

And then dilute it with club soda [or dilute it with normal water and then carbonize it].

Amazing stuff...

I will use the next time some honey as well - thyme and honey happen to be a happy couple...
Also I would next time use some lemon zest, to lift up the heavy herbal flavor.

Overall it is a winner. I added some ice to my soda and a good shot of Tanqueray Rangpur [actually I run out of other gins - except of genever - actually I ration my Rangpur as it is not available in the ME].

Who said, that you need tonic water for a proper gin highball?

Types of Molasses Rums

I always had some problems to explain the diverse categories of rum - as there are a lot of overlappings.
Until today...  I had a training and I was just drawing intuitively the illustration above on the white board [ok it didn't looked so good - my handwriting is definitely not that nice].

And it seemed pretty solid!

It is pretty easy to understand:

Light Rums [I did here something quite controversial - I put both white and golden rum together in one category. Why? Because these rums are very similar - even the age is similar - the only difference is, that white rum is filtered through active carbon after the aging - sure if you compare one white and one golden rum from one company, you might experience, that golden rum is slightly longer aged - however if you are comparing two rums from different companies, a white rum from one company {and country} can even be older then a gold rum from another...]the two subcategories are:White rum [or blanco, platino etc]Golden rum [e.g. oro]…

Great youtube.com channel: Fine Dining Lovers

If you are following my blog for quite some time, you might realized my affection for chefs de cuisine and everything culinary.

I believe that chefs are miles ahead about discipline, work load, and non-nonsense. There are only very few bar personalities, which could show as much diligence as any typical Michelin starred chef [and even though, it is pretty hard to get one Michelin star, there are almost a couple of thousand chefs who have one and even a couple of dozens 3 star chefs - this would be the highest rank]. I guess, that Toni Conigliaro is one of those, who can be compared with great chefs. I don't know him personally, but read quite a lot about him - yes he is doing crazy sh*t...

I also believe, that a bartender can only emerge, if he has an advanced culinary understanding.
There are a lot of analogies in "mixology" and culinary - you need to know the process/method, you need to know the produce - you need to know the aromas - the references [which is the conn…

Life is a bitch and relationships are a disaster

I talk here about relationships. Yeah - not your usual topic here on www.opinionated-alchemist.com; but I guess most of us, have some issues to find the right opposite [to ride into the sunset - or maybe better to shake into the dawn].
We have night working hours - this is not compatible with most other jobs.We have an especially bad reputation - bartenders are said to be superficial lady killers who are not committed to any serious relationship. Off course there are some who are like this, but most of us are just normal as anyone else.There is the reputation, that all ladies are in love with the bartender - and you could plug everyday another "daisy". Off course this is also not true [it depends on the bar your working at - but for those serious bartenders in serious bars, it is first of all a no-go to go out with a guest, and then there are not hordes of screaming "conceivable" girls in front of a profound bar. The problem is, that these perceptions are following…

Monin Cocktail Competition

Ladies and gentlemen - please forgive my even more perplexed writing style to the usual mess. I will cover the reason in a later post [for those who care - for those who don't care: don't you worry].

I was proudly appointed as one of the blind tasting judges in the Monin competition yesterday. It happened in the popular Bahri Bar in Madinat Jumeirah - and it was a full day of tasting [but not drinking].

One of the very unique things [for the UAE], what happened was, that representatives of both main liquor supplier, African & Eastern and MMi - were sitting on one table [they usually even don't like to share the side of the street]. Truth has to be told - Becky and Richard are both Trainers and Specialists of the respective company - and those are the most open minded and easy going personalities around. Despite of the "heft" of the competition and the fact, that both alcohol brands were represented, I haven't seen more known faces of those company. Change i…

Ridiculously sexy beverage ads

Well...

With Shadow there is Light...

My day today didn't started very well. I had to let one of my colleagues go - and as this doesn't happen often [I try to be a patient, understanding and supporting boss] it drags you pretty much down.

And I am also quite busy with my other dozen "construction sites", implementation of Rush menu, finalisation of Skylite menu, conception of Nautilus menu, staff training... you get the point.

Late this evening, I just went just to our gorgeous re-designed lobby which just opened today.
Riyas my previous team leader in Rush bar was promoted as assistant manager to the Yas Lounge - the lobby lounge of the hotel. We developed the lounge beverage menu together - focussing on typical [healthy to not so healthy] lounge drinks, hot drinks, as well as tea and coffee inspired cocktails.

Riyas welcomed me in the lobby and offered me to try the diverse premixes, he did [according our recipes].

Truth has to be told - when I am designing a menu, which is not in my own bar, most peo…

Amazing chaser / mixer / drivers' drink: Genmaicha Soda

For the moment I am working [still] on the new beverage program of Skylite [besides of all the other bits and pieces of a good relaunch of a rooftop bar].
Alcoholic mixed drinks, are rather finalized, but I am now working on the alcohol free drinks.
While I was browsing, I found some more or less expiring mocktails on foodandwine.com - one, the Emerald Palmer, looked quite intriguing. So I went on to our Japanese restaurant to get some macha tea. Unfortunately [or should I say fortunately] I haven't found macha tea there, they had only a fancy Sencha and Genmaicha.
I have seen Genmaicha before - and but, to be honest, I am more intrigued by the sophistication of tea culture [tea ceremony and all] than by the taste of teas. So usually I am quite reserved to try a lot of teas [except of Earl Grey tea, which happen to pair fantastically with cigars - especially if you drink it with some sugar and a little bit milk].
Anyway, today I took a sample of the genmaicha with me to the bar [du…

The Next Milestone: 10,000 hits

Once more - thank you so much for reading my blog.

We have got now 10,000 hits! I know, I know - against some other established blogs, this is nothing.

However for a blog, which previous iteration had around 4,000 hits in little more than 3 years, this is pretty much a milestone. And the 10,000 hits just happened in around 2 months!

Please keep on reading! Last couple of weeks it went a bit slower and quieter, as I have for the moment quite a lot of work - however a lot of great things are gonna come up again...

And again - please just let me know any questions you have - or any wish topics. I am more than happy to change this place to a more dialogue'ish place.

Ridiculous sexy beverage ads

Since Campari changed its color from the [rather] natural [though slightly disgusting] carmine dye [derived from cochineal »bugs«] to the totally artificial E-XXX [I have no clue which number it is], it lost a little bit its appeal - at least for me.

But really - the extraction of the natural color before 2006 was anyway everything but natural [the description is reminding me on "Breaking Bad" only the product would be red rather than light blue ;)

Anyhow - as long as Salma Hayek is showing us her generous personality, Campari Bitter would be still close to my heart...

The Egg White Mystery

Every craft-bartender knows one thing: even if a lot of things went back into fashion [like Old Tom gin, artisan absinthes, artisan vermouths, bitters] one ingredient is in everybody's mouth: egg white.

To be honest, this is one ingredient, which I really have a problem with? Why? Just read on...

Egg white makes a cocktail smooth, the mouthfeel is improving really a lot - however it doesn't really water the drink down. Further the appearance of egg white containing drinks is just amazing - shaking it properly yields with a wonderful fluffy, up to 1 inch high crown of froth.

So far so great. The fear of raw eggs and salmonella can be countered easily:

Fresh, good quality and organic eggs, usually limit the risk of a salmonella food poisoningProper dealing with eggs make a big difference.Raw eggs are not only used in cocktails, but also e.g. in Chocolate Mousse - nobody can possibly have anything against chocolate mousse...You could also use pasteurized eggs - this will limit th…

The Butter-Popcorn Sour

Yes - I know, posts were scarce last couple of weeks.  The opening of Skylite crawls closer and closer and there is so much to consider and to plan for.

The content of the new beverage menu of Skylite is in the late development stage, but then there are also so many further details like promotions, the opening night, manning, the food concept and so on.

The Rush menu, I have posted here, is close to implementation and we have tried most drinks. The Butter-Popcorn Sour was though one of the drinks, which I have delayed, due to a busy schedule.

However I did some popcorn myself at home a couple of days ago [only for this recipe - I usually despise popcorn] - it is a bit easier in my home kitchen to cook things up...
Then we infused a bottle of Maker's Mark with it. Why Maker's Mark you might ask? Well, Maker's is a rather light [wheated] bourbon - though still has a formidable 45% abv.
After one day, the popcorn did its work and could be strained out and discarded. Then I have…