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Showing posts from October, 2013

Barrel aged Mai Tai - a full success with an unexpected set back

Now we did the whole barrel aged Mai Tai thing: I thought it will be great to use Wray & Nephews white overproof and Cointreau and solid orgeat... And age everything in a barrel.So now we aged this mixture (with additional like zest) I'm a one liter oak barrel for ca. 8 weeks. The liquid which came out is dark amber and smells intoxicating- sporting a lot of funk of the Jamaica rum, however also have toffee aromas and... oak.
The taste is even better, while it is quite sweet, the rather strong alcohol level balances perfectly the sweetness and there is a ton of complexity...
The set back, you ask? It is, that it became almost too good, to mix with fresh lime juice and pour onto a lot of crushed ice. In fact, I would prefer this barrel-aged cocktail before other aged rums... E.g. the prohibitly expensive Havana Club Añejo 15 Años. Or even an Appleton Estate 21 years old... It actually needs only a few drops of waters...
While this might be just the best cocktail base since the origin…

Recap: what is a bar for and is there a place for flairing in "great bars?

So I had this discussion on LinkedIn; which boldly proclaims the end of exhibition flair.And there is one group member, who especially praises flair bartending as the one solution for everything...
What I though realized is, that we are talking about a completely different bar. I am talking about "my" future bar - the craft bar. Which catches up with other clinary venues. Which is grown up and responsible. Artisan I would say. And he is talking about a bar, which accidentally evolved from the past - located in the US, styled after a neighborhood watery hole. His bar can be located in a posh hotel or in a corner of a road of a worker's neighborhood - but it is more characterized by the attitude: rash, loud, people drink to have fun, sexist and obvious.
Which bar is the bar of the future? Well,  both bars will be possible to find for quite a long time from now on. But people become more refined, more responsible, more aware of consequences. My discussion partner mentions bikini…

Form follows function- work flair in a bar

My recent post, which proclaims the early death of exhibition flair just stirred up some dust (as expected). However the discussion on LinkedIn was much  ore thoughtful than I thought it would be, and I gained quite a lot of ideas, which will benefit the concept of "my style of bar".
Unfortunately most commenters didn't really made the distinction between work flair and exhibition flair. While both styles are rather ideals - and can be seen as extremes, one great cocncept sparked my mind:
Form follows function & function follows the form.
It is a bit yin & yang. But it makes a lot of sense: exhibition flair is all about form. It abstracts the idea of barkeeping to a rather gaudy performance. See exhibition like a Vertu phone - an extravagant device, which does every single task worse than pretty much any other smart phone. This happens when the sole vision is superficial. You could take now an Android phone, which is open source and has a ton of functions and option…

The madness for perfection is also needed in bartending

Here is a quite controversial documentary about the obsession of chefs, when it comes to winning of one, two or even three stars of the veritable Guide Michelin.


Just to comment shortly on this video, I have to say, that you can't really make Michelin responsible, for the obsession, what people on all sides: journalists, chefs and guests show. It is just the point of reference, which everybody sees as "lightning house".

But really - I believe, that the Michelin is one of the best gauges, what a chef can have.
You can see the variance for example in the UAE, which isn't (yet?) covered by the Michelin:
You have TimeOut, which is highly subjective. You do have Zomato [very similar to Yelp], which is haunted by casual reviewers, which might be or might not be genuine [same applies for the reader reviews of TimeOut]. You have TripAdvisor, which sports definitely more genuine reviews, however it is still very subjective [and compares apples with oranges]. Non one of these…

Traditional vs cavitation profusion infusion - review of a bar above episode

Well - it is not exactly a review of the episode, but rather a discussion. Just first of all watch the episode below:




So - which techniques is really better?
Unfortunately Chris left a couple of points out of the equation (at least in the video):  You can cut leaves, which result into a much better infusion - but might also have a major impact in the color - the smaller the botanicals, the more concentrated the solution - and for the lemon, you really need to zest or use very thin strips of lemon, to have a big impact.Time - the infusion time is ample. But the liquid even infuses, after it is strained. When was the testing done?Temperature - room temperature works just best. Fridge temperature works obviously not good at all.The quantity of the botanicals - while the time honored method takes much longer, the quantity of the botanicals are not as important as in the profusion method. But most important: cavitation infusion works with some ingredients better, than with others. Especial…

Here s one opinion: flair bartending is no more bartending!

I rather dislike flair bartending - or lets concretize: exhibition flair.
Not that I don't value the work, dedication and skill, which is needed to be a good flair-bartender. But what does flair bartending has to do with real bartending?

Yes - the flairer is using bottles and shaker tins, but really, this could be also pins and… I don't know what. The focus of bartending is culinary. The idea of flair-bartending is: entertainment.

Here are 10 points, why I dislike flair-bartending:





Most drinks produced in exhibition-flairs are either way as simple as a screwdriver or just horrible and undrinkable.Waiting for a drink >10 minutes - which is substandard kinda sucks.Flair-bartenders are often dicks to male guests - always focussing on the ladies around.Flairers are living in a farraginous 80's world - the drinks are usually accordingly.Flair bartenders usually have this behaviour, to get recognition from the audience - and I just can't stand the stupid winks and false g…

The Reinvention of the "Wein-Bowle"

Most of my regular readers might already guessed it and I might have mentioned it already: I am not the usual German. But even I cannot dismiss everything from my roots. This is not always apparent, but sometimes it flashed up.
And I don't mean the contemporary German bar culture. This is in full swing - just at this time, there is the BCB - the Bar Convent Berlin, a mixologists' fair, which doesn't only attract Germans anymore - it is an international event and bar personalities are travelling there from around Europe [and some even further]! My career started in Germany and when I left, the raise of the bar was in remarkable.
But everything which is happening in the bar, has strong international [means American] influences and are just supported by some regional variations and regional products. The bar in San Francisco will be more different from the "modern American bar" than the bar, which you can find in Germany.
Long story short, but there is very few thin…

What comes next: the Bloody Mary

No - this post is not the another "the perfect XYZ". Lets say, it is a preamble post about it.
I have to say, that tomato juice [the canned one] is kinda guilty pleasure of mine. However I somewhat dislike Bloody Mary's.

It is strange - but there is so much wrong with it:

The texture - yeah - I am a declared hater of purees and thick cocktails. And a Bloody Mary with canned juice is exactly that.The texture - no - this is not a typo. It is not only the thick texture - it is also the watery [and grainy] texture, when the drink dilutes.The drink culture. The Bloody Mary is a hangover remedy. It. Is. Consumed. Over. The. Day. Not in the evening [when it is usually ordered].The spirit. Funny is, when you start to experiment, it is surprising, how well the mixture goes with any spirit - but vodka! Even rum has an almost addictive character to it. Gin is awesome [call it Red Snapper], Tequila is also great [Bloody Maria].
Vodka just taste... almost bitter. I think only spirits,…

100,000 hits - thanks to my dearest readers

Yeah - the opinionated-alchemist.blogspot.com reached the magical 100,000 hits!

Thanks so much for everyone, who took time, to read my sometimes helpful and knowledgeable, but also often angry and unforgiving posts.

In the last 16 month, I have "published" 189 posts [which makes in average 529 hits on each post].
Most popular post was surprisingly my post about ginger ale vs ginger beer. Loved to make also a post about home-crafted tonic water - however it seems still to be nearly impossible to get cinchona bark in the UAE. Stay tuned.
I am quite happy, to see one post about my favorite classic drinks on No.2: the perfect whiskey sour.
On No.3 there is another surprised, which is still one the drinks I enjoy most - the El Diablo.
Mentionable is also my post about agar-agar clarification [unfortunately my widget will disappear soon, as the embed'able spreadsheet tool is closing "its doors"].
Not really surprising is the numero cinquo - my "Perfect" Mo…

This might be the best bar sugar available...

It was - well, it is a journey. I was torn between using crystalized fructose and using organic unbleached caster sugar.

And I still don't feel 100% confident, that I found the "final" solution for all my mixology-sugar demands.
However  the Tate + Lyle Fairtrade Cane Sugar is the finest granulated sugar, which is currently on the market in the Middle East.
Yes, it is bleached, which might not be the perfect solution [unbleached would be better - but all organic unbleached caster sugar brands are just much coarser].
And it ain't cheap [while it is not as expensive as organic sugar].
But it is just the finest caster sugar available. And for those, who are concerned: it is made from cane sugar.

It dissolves easily in cold liquid.

Use your normal caster sugar, to make your syrups [well - you decide. Is "fairtrade" as important for you, to raise your cost?].

But for anything like a Mojito, Caipirinha, a Mint Julep or even sours and fizzes, it is a really good …

Don't muddle anymore (only in exceptions)

When I started in the bar in Germany, bartender just muddled one drink. The caipirinha. And it made perfect sense.

Then came the "Muddled_Mojito_Craze" from the US. In fact, the Mojito was known already before in Europe [well, you can't really say, that it was known in Europe before it was known in the US - as the drink was definitely promoted at times of the Volstwad Act, when the only legal way of drinking alcohol, was to drink offsite of American soil and the most convenient place to do so was Cuba], but it didn't had todays popularity.
In the early 2000's - after caipirnhas were muddled [which is the only way to make them] and mojitos [which could be perceived as pretty bad], there were ton of new invented drinks, which supposed to get muddled. And if you are regarding the circumstances, it was reasonable. At this time, fresh squeezed (filler) juices were the exception. If you wanted to incorporate fresh fruit flavors into your drink, you muddled.

Today? It …

Improving the existing bar

Ok - so I wanted to write another post about the "cocktail-robots" however, when I've read again my last post, I guessed, that it was pretty elaborate and comprehensive.

However the topic is strangely fascinating me. I love gizmos - am a bit techy [despite of my age] - and I am also very interested in the future of my job expertise. Instead of writing another post about the same subject, I am now try to gain distance and look at the technological elements, which should be improved in a modern bar.

Hence the topic: which elements in the existing bar faulty and what can we develop, to make it better.

POS and payment:
If somebody asks me, what element is the most distracting, the least effective... there is definitely one thing, which directly comes to my mind: the whole financial interaction process.

Posting a drink in a POS system [or in an antiquated register cash register like in Canon].Prepare the drink [most of the time a bartender would create the drink according to a …