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Showing posts from March, 2016

Vodka vs other spirits in mixing

Check out following article on the official IBA website... IBA members receive a free copy of our magazine.  Click here HOME NEWS AND FEATURES SPIRITS MASTERS BRAND CHAMPIONS SUBSCRIPTIONS ABOUT SB ARCHIVES SWIZZLE MASTERS TEN BARTENDER OPINIONS ON VODKA COCKTAILS 22nd March, 2016 by Annie Hayes Slideshow  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10 Next → After receiving an overwhelming number of contributions for our upcoming vodka issue,  SB  has assembled a preview of April’s cocktail analysis with comment from 10 of the industry’s leading bartenders. Besides, that I am surprised, that for once I found an article which looks contemporary (in content and layout - Bravo IBA!), I also asked myself, what is my (revised?) opinion about vodka. I have to say... it didn't changed a lot. But when I read this article and reflected the "blank canvas approach" - I understood, that there are two types of approaches in cocktail making:

Gold of Mauritius Rum - the review

I am not often reviewing spirits here. I don't want to endorse products, which aren't worth it - but to "trash" them, doesn't make a lot of friends... This makes me feel guilty, when I get samples of friends and acquaintances - which like to know my view. Ulric is one of my friends I made in Dubai (in fact he is not longer living here). For quite some time he worked as consultant and brand manager (and similar) for some liquor brands. And while we don't always share the same views, we do have a lot of respect for each other. His latest "baby" is Gold of Mauritius. And when he told me about it, I was pretty skeptical. I received before some souvenirs of Mauritius rum, and to say, that it was not particularly good, doesn't really reflect my honest opinion. Let's say it straight forward: the rums didn't really deserved the designation rum - but rather should be called something like aguadiente. So - when I found the sample bottle

Top 8 Prediction for Bar Trends in 2016 by the opinionated alchemist

Truth to be told first. Other than a lot of other "bartender bloggers" (I am looking at you Jeffrey Morgenthaler) I don't really want to predict the trends in 2016. In fact it is almost impossible to do so. For all predictions, there are only very few, which are becoming reality. I don't have a crystal ball - and I am not a psychic. But what I can do is, making predictions how specific bar-trends will continue - and which trends, should catch up (my personal opinion, only). 1) Cocktail Food-Pairings No - I don't mean your normal food & beverage pairing - I mean pairings, which are more then their individual parts. And instead of creating more and more elaborate "throwaway" garnishes, a small food component in some cocktails would be a real creative step, to enter a whole new era of mixology. The food can be "simple" as LN2 nitro popcorn... 2) Use smoke more effectively Bars are now smoking cocktails for some time - with more

Does "being opinionated" get old?

I am writing this blog now since quite a while. The first installment was still on Apple's iWeb platform around 2005- unfortunately I lost pretty much all blog entries (for some it was fortunately). The on Blogger is now give or take 4 years old... and grew reasonably well (due to a far better SEO integration than iWeb). What didn't changed though was my critical and opinionated view on things. And that is just me. Sure, I am nowadays a bit more forgiving... but overall I still don't hold back (however not forgetting to be self-critical as well - I am neither perfect). Some people find it disconcerting and find my "way" abrasive. I can't blame them, because I even named the blog, because I understood my own personality - especially when it comes to my trade. I have to say, that it is not always easy, to be the one, which is the biggest critic, the most opinionated guy, and the person who doesn''t agree. Let's say,

The Opinionated MxMo CVII, March 21, 2016: Burden of Proof

So I am late again. For cocktail sake - do I really need to set a reminder, for every single month, that I am not "oversleeping it"? Fortunately we are in the Middle East, which are few hours before the US... at least. First things first:the topic comes from  Dagreb of the  Nihil Utopia  blog and this is his shortened announcement:  My theme this time is overproof. Or rather how you utilize overproofs.  Do you sub them into your standards? Save them for accents in particular recipes? Pour them into ceramic volcanoes and set them on fire? Reserve them only for making liqueurs? Whatever it be I’m looking for your recipes that use overproofs as a base or as modifier in a noticeable -WAIT-  “What’s an overproof,” you ask? “Well, uh, yeah…”  First let’s decide what is proof. It’s my party so I say 50% abv is proof. Above that is overproof. You disagree? Host your own party! (No really  host a MxMo , it’ll be fun.) So BIB [100 proof Barreled in Bond] liquors are exempt th

Setting things straight... Eristoff vs Russian Standard

Well, sometimes I might be a bit... hot-headed, when it comes to some posts. And well - I was, when I wrote the article about Eristoff . Well Sander, one of the greatest "wine guys" I know, commented, that Eristoff is far longer on produced. And he is right. 1970's now It is even worse, I found a bottle from the 70's, which has the same "bell-shape" as Russian Standard... turns out, that Russian Standard is the villain, which copied the design... Well - but truth has to be said, Eristoff definitely changed their bottle design to a more pronounced bell-shape  after Russian Standard became successful. And their logo was also "adjusted" to a more Russian-Standard-like "feel". So here we are... I do apologise, if I have hurt non-existing feelings of a multi-national company. Hat-tip to Sander, who pointed me to my fallacy... I hate to be wrong... :)

Why are new bars not growing mint

Often it is difficult to change existing bars with "new stuff". However I am asking myself, why are new bars not growing mint themselves? Hydroponic systems are quite efficient and easy to maintain. First: why should a bar grow their own mint? The answer is quite obvious, bars are using a lot of mint. And mint is quite delicate - that means, transporting it, will take its toll. But there are points, which are going even further: self-grown mint, would need less to be processed (washed, stored etc).  Second: there is even more to it. Mint has most of its aromatics in microscopic hair underneath the leaves. While it is transported, it looses a lot of these hairs, and the aroma is gone forever. Even a sophisticated system, how to revive mint and keep it for  along time, will not change, that this mint will taste only like a shadow of fresh harvested mint! Third: mint growth I admit, if you first of all plant mint, it seems a bit of a delicate thing.

New laws for alcoholic beverages are urgently needed!

Since a couple of years, we do have the trend for micro-distilleries and boutique (you could them "craft") spirits. Even longer we do have some "rogue" creativeness which is often more a plague than a blessing. You want to know, why I am thinking this way? Look - I don't have anything against creative beverages. I even welcome them with open hands. But the point I can't stand if beverage categories are muddled up! Why? Because it confuses basically everyone. Here is an example found on Munchies :  A soju made out of grapes. But you really have to ask yourself, what does make this distillate to a soju? It is traditionally Korean or Japanese (then you would spell it s hōchū ). It is usually made out of barley, sweet potatoes, buckwheat, rice - even brown sugar. It is usually distilled and has a lower alcohol percentage compared to Western spirits. Now - our example here is made in the US and is made out of grapes. Why are t

Too few bartenders with integrity?

I do bartending already quite long. Give or take 18 years. And in this time I learned some products to be better than other. I can even remember, that I was dispelled from one competition... I rated the quality of an ingredient higher than the risk of being eliminating. And I tried always to highlight great products and avoid bad products. Off course in competition it is sometimes hard, to avoid products, which are from the sponsoring brand - but on work as a beverage manager it can be even harder. Brands are trying to invade bars - with all strengths and tricks. I have to say, that it is often not very smart, because it just doesn't change my perception - I find the brands even more "unlikeable". What I don't understand is, if bartenders are presenting proud the inferior product - without being forced to. I am not a hater for sure. I think for example that Bacardi 8 años (even though as the full name with the "Gran Reserva" is a bit thick) is a b

Is complexity in cocktails such a good thing?

So finally I visited "Cocktail Kitchen" after they received their Alcohol License. I was with friends - and I can't really find a big flaw of this place. This isn't a bar review - but I just like to mention, that I don't really understand the overall design concept (a bit lack of personality - or "bar mystique"). The cocktails were all pretty good - or let's say, one of the best cocktails I have tried for a long time... if there was any technical flaw, I could say, that they were ever slightly too warm - but yeah - the drinks are not only good, but also interesting and "unexpected".  However when  I tried several drinks, I had to question myself - does every cocktail need to be extremely complex? Theirs are - it is tough to taste the base spirit of any tried ones - because they use fancy bitters, fancy liqueurs, infusions and so on. Don't get me wrong - I like complex tasting cocktails like the Last Word - but I argue, tha