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Showing posts from August, 2013

Barrel Aged Mai Tai

I got a sample barrel of www.muddle-me.com for a corporate bar workout.

As we don't have any unaged whiskies in the region [which are so trendy in the US], I had to think differently. Negroni and other similar aperitifs? Already done and boring [well - not really, but boring in a sense of no more that cutting edge].

…but what is about a barrel aged mai tai?
Especially in the Middle-East, you have to think beverage cost. A adequate rum [if available] cost a lot here - and due to your budgeted beverage cost, a proper Mai Tai will be very expensive - though still lay heavy on your cost.
What is an adequate rum? As something like Cadenhead Jamaica Longpond Estate Cask Strength [until now my undisputed favorite for a Mai Tai] is definitely not available [well, it will be on very short supply - I think they don't have anymore of this beauty left] you still have to use something Jamaican. Precious. Same company as the original Wray Nephews 17 years old could not harm. Talking of age…

Handy Widget for Agar-Agar Clarification

I thought actually quite a few hours about the tricky parts of agar-agar clarification: the calculation of the variables: quantity of liquids, quantity of agar-agar, temperature of liquids...

And then I 'tried' to clarify pineapple juice and just made myself wrong: I wanted to clarify 0.75 liters - though then used [without valid reason] 1.5 liter juice without the adjustment of the agar - and the most stupid thing was, that I've only acknowledged my mistake, when the "to be clarified" juice was already in the ice water bath! Lame!

That is why I looked for a handy calculation widget, which I post here on my blog.
Unfortunately it was quite tough to find a proper tool.

I finally found editgrid.com, which is an amazing and simple tool, for just posting spreadsheets on blogs or on websites. It is not very elegant - however it works...

And with my embedded calculation, you will be able to just add the weight of the liquids and the temperatures and you will know, how…

The Problem with tea...

Only due to the fact, that I am for the moment exploring the possibilities of tea infused beers, I stumbled over this issue...
If you are buying a fancy green [or black] tea, you have most of the time small blossoms and flower petals, pieces of fruit rind, dried fruits and other interesting things laying among the tea leaves.

This is all decoy!

This "botanicals" won't give a lot of additional aroma to the tea.

But stop - why is aromatized tea tasting so fruity, zesty, spicy...?
Because the producers are bathing the tea leaves in essences and oils from the fruit. Or even not from the fruit.

See - one pretty well known example is, that you can produce a strong strawberry aroma, if you are manipulate wood splints. The essence out of it, you will find quite in everything, which says, that it contains "strawberry flavor". But hold on - now comes the bummer: as wood chips are a natural source, producer can say: natural strawberry flavors!

I am not totally aware, what…

Darbo syrup - 4 more syrups to try

After I have reviewed the ultimative Darbo elderflower, I was really looking forward to taste the other syrups as well.

And after my days off, I found in our F&B office a bag with four more syrups.

Let's get directly to the point:

Darbo Blueberry & Cassis Syrup
It is a very dark syrup - undiluted it is almost black. In the glass with some water it changes in a beautiful dark crimson.
Already when you open the bottle, the room fills with wild blueberry aromas. It intensifies if you pour it into the glass. The black currents are almost not showing up in the nose.
On the tongue there is a hit of blueberry aromas, but directly followed by black current notes = cassis. It plays back and forth - but the afterthought is definitely cassis.
I cannot remember, to have tasted a better berry syrup. Ever. Well - a home-macerated wood strawberry syrup might be a worthy contender... but apparently it is always much easier to open a bottle [and if you think about wild wood strawberries, a…

Agave infused tequila

Sometimes, I guess, people think, that I am a mad man. No, really.

I guess this impression went through the head of Lito of the Dubai Garden Center, when I asked for agave leaves [blue agave, or Americana to be specific]. Lito, operation manager at the Garden Center, though was very nice and friendly and offered me that I pass by and get some.

Today I went to the plant store and met him, he is incredible nice - and I am looking forward to make so many other things, which have to do with plants and green.

When I left, I was the proud owner of a spiky blue agave.

First step taken, but what next.
I took off some leaves. I took first of all the not so nice parts - for my experiments, I don't need the whole plant [at least not at this time]. I cut very deep, that I got the thick and juicy end of the leaves.
Then I cut of the edges, which are full of "dangerous" spikes. They are really sharp, and you don't want to handle agave leaves, with the spikes intact.

I wanted to u…

Smoked Amarena Cream Soda

I am using Amarena cherry several years now. I thought they are the best compromise (even if they are a compromise at all) between taste, looks, quality. If only they were Amarena cherries with stem (they've got lower points in the style, due to this reason).

Amarena cherries are beautiful almost black cherries in very sweet syrup, they still have a snap and they are quite natural [this is a bit confusing - because obviously they are heavily processed, they are cooked in a lot of sugar and half inverted - with quite natural I mean, that the producer don't help themselves with the box of food-additive wizary - all ingredients are "really" natural]. This is pretty much the opposite of the typical bright red Maraschino cherry, which is bleached, stabilized, dyed and flavored with artificial colors and flavors.
It was not long after I've started to use this amazing product, that I wondered, how to use the dark sweet syrup, which is full of the Amarena flavor - deep c…

Power review: Soda plus, Waitrose grape and peach squash and a lovely Knob Creek highball

I had a couple of days ago a meeting with Craig - we will have a corporate bar workshop and Craig helps us to showcase the culinary wizary as he works for the supplier muddle-me.com.
Besides of a bag full of goodies he brought the Soda plus appliance - a piece I didn't encountered yet. Well he took the mouth quite full, that it is cheaper and better as the cream whippers (e.g. iSi) or Perlini... 
As I have to test it, before I show it to a bunch of high profile F&B guys, which are coming from across the GCC countries, I took it today to a test.
And as I shopped at Spinneys today, I thought it is a good thing to take their excellent apple elderflower squash back home; but wait, I just reviewed Darbo elderflower and I pretty we'll know the Waitrose product. So I took the gamble to buy the grape and peach variant.
And who doesn't know my very dear friend Knob Creek? If it comes to extra aged and extra toasted American whiskies, this is one of the best (especially if you put p…

Dry Vermouth Tasting

Fortunately Cinzano is no more available via its supplier in Dubai [which was A+E].
Fortunately this gave me the opportunity to change to a good product.
Fortunately the suppliers were so nice, to drop me their suggestions.
Fortunately - they were all great.


Unfortunately it is so hard to choose...
I had three products to compare:
Noilly Prat - Original Dry is the benchmark. This is which most people, who like Martini cocktails would prefer [yes the original Martini with gin - which only maybe substituted with vodka, vermouth and optional orange bitters - no strawberry, caramel, toffee, cotton candy or any other hogus].
Dolin is French as Noilly Prat - and maybe not that good known. It still has a great reputation under Martini cocktail connoisseurs and bartenders.
 And finally Vya - the new kid on the block! A boutique vermouth made by a boutique winery in California.
I was especially excited to try Vya - as I have heard so much about it and could never try. I won't bore you with a lot …

Amazing D'arbo elderflower syrup

Sometimes it is quite tough to get proper products here in the Middle East.
After the whole controversy with Monin, I was looking for a good syrup company.
Some syrups like grenadine [made with real pomegranate juice and cane sugar, a bit off hibiscus, orange flower water and maybe even aronia juice] is pretty easy to make yourself. However others like elderflower, which is quite a trend flavor [and really a great flavor] is much more difficult to do - at least here in the Middle East, where you don't have elder trees growing.
To be honest I was quite disappointed by Fabbri. While I am still a big fan of their amarena cherries, their syrups... suck! They are a bit more natural as the ones of Monin - but still pack quite some conservatives, artificial color and other stuff, which is simply not convincing.

Still have to test Toschi - but these syrups might be very similar to the other big commercial companies. I will test them in future; stay tuned.

Back to Darbo - I got one sample…

Will the kitchen revolution change the spirit industry?

I hope you know sous vide. The process of cooking things in a vacuumed plastic bag in an exact temperature controlled water bath. Delicious, delicious and perfect food (with very little chance of mistakes) is the result.We can also use sous vide in mixology, infusing spirits in mere hours instead of days, weeks and months, yet the fresh aromas of fruits and herbs are still retained instead of tasting cooked (for the moment my favorite way of infusing).
But I haven't seen this technology invading not the distilling business. This is rather surprising. Distillers using quite often new ways of distilling - for example vacuum distillation (which is surprising, as this method is amazing, but has a lot of limitations: the equipment is extremely expensive and delicate, and cannot easily scaled up... That means that investment is high and the output is very limited).

Now I don't mean that distillers will use vacuum pouches and cook there spirits n a water bath. But I mean using exactly …

Blue Liqueurs today - do we need them really?

I have had an interesting conversation with the brand manager of a small liqueur brand, which I have pre-viewed.

After the call, when I thought about it, I realized, that maybe I have crucified this brand - as it stands against my beliefs, where the liquor and bar business should head.
I took the article down, as I thought it was unfair to mention one specific brand, which just starts its business, if other brands are in full swing and much more popular - brands like Hpnotiq and Alizée bleu.

But lets come down to the original question - do we need nowadays blue "more or less exotic" liqueurs?
Lets face it, blue curaçao was pretty much always only used for its color in any drink. It's taste is forgettable. While average "triple sec" is like alcoholic_and_slightly_flavored_simple_syrup - blue curaçao is the same with blue color.

What surprises me is, that the bar and the pastry still rely so much on artificial colors. In the rest of the culinary arts, artificial…

The Bar as Brand

I have read this very interesting post on linkedin about brands:  
What’s Your Brand Worth?
And it suddenly stroke me: the most important thing of a bar [or a restaurant] is: the BRAND! How can you otherwise explain, how successful some companies are - and how many struggles other companies have, with often better products?
Why is a "normal" (but good quality) fast food joint only average successful, but McDonalds, Burger King and KFC expanding like nothing real [and offering amazing profit margins to their franchisers]? It cannot be the overall quality! I don't always want to come back on one specific venue - but here it makes sense: why Barasti Bar has won several years the best bar award - but other bars surpassing them in all disciplines?
I also worked for an American bar & restaurant in Germany, which quite successfully build up their brand - later on I worked for the competition, which offered definitely better quality for a lower price [though the owners had m…

"Monin Rocks!" - Really?

Russell SanchezMONIN UAE MONIN Rocks @ HARD ROCK CAFE Dubai — withRhiandro Gardiner andLouie Aquias at Hard Rock Cafe.