Repealing and Repeating History
Being a bartender, you’ve got have that “pizzaz”, a certain personality…… sense of humor, sarcasm, creativity and a Freudian listening quality to your bar patrons. Those are all something I never had when I first started to work behind a bar. I remember being 19, barbacking for these bartenders who I all looked up to, but never really spoke to. I even remember pretending not to speak English a few times so I wouldn’t have to talk to people as a barback. Then one day I was pulled aside and basically told if I wanted my job or to further my career behind a bar slinging dump buckets and polishing glassware, I had better engage some people. So the old crew consisting of Eric, Adam, Julie, Vinnie, Tiffany, Dave, Matt and Serena taught me what I really know today. Those are definitely some of my more memorable days working with everyone. I learned how to work fast and hard, busting out cocktail after cocktail in the well. I was taught sarcasm and how to respect others and not to mess with Texas. I learned about sports betting and fantasy football. And above all, I learned how to play the “Would you rather…” game and was taught some great lines…..my favorite being: “No I didn’t ask you to dance, I said you looked fat in those pants!” To all of those who have helped me along the way, I want to thank you so much for everything that you have taught me. I apply everything I learned back then today and always remember to pick up some new lessons along the way.
And now onto business….
Fortunately I have been connected to some quite amazing people on LinkedIn. My favorite group by far has been the Tales of the Cocktail forum. This is where I have read about current trends and what may be headed our way. Most recently it’s been the development of new spirits, cask aging and beer cocktails. I’ve been dabbling in the realm of new spirits and tinctures. I’m fortunate enough to live in the Bay Area and have so many great stores to go get the items I need. John Walker and CASK in San Francisco and Ledger’s in Berkeley are all phenomenal. If you go to Ledger’s ask for Ed, he knows everything there is about booze! Most recently I bought Sotol, Patxaran, Cocchi Americano and Ransom Old Tom Gin.
From left to right: Patxaran Liquor (made from Sloe), Sotol Reposado from Hacienda de Chihuahua, Ransom Old Tom Gin and Cocchi Americano. Sotol is a type of liquor distilled from the Desert Spoon cactus which is related to Yucca and Agave. It is wild harvested and the natives that make it use every part of the plant. After production the indians use the stalks and fibers to make hats and baskets, which I think is pretty cool. Old Tom Gin is a sweeter style of gin that London Dry gin, but not as sweet as Dutch or Genever gin. My favorite gin to use in a Martinez now. Lastly the Cocchi Americano is an Italian apertif, somewhat similar to Lillet. It starts off sweet and ends a little bitter, but I love bitter!
I’ve been using Patxaran with gin since the aromas mold together so well. Tangerine juice also pairs really nicely. The Sotol works well with almost any citrus since it’s more mellow flavored than tequila and mezcal. I made a cocktail with Sotol, Cocchi Americano, honey syrup and some lemon, with a secret ingredient. One of my new favorites to drink after work.
Next up are a few tinctures I made at home over the course of 3 weeks. With a tincture you’ll take spices, herbs or fruits and let them steep in grain alchol or a high proof spirit of your choice. I like to use 150-180 proof Everclear. So far I have made Cinnamon, Basil, Cardamom and Habanero tinctures. I have two more infusing right now in the cupboard. One is a Meyer Lemon tincture, the other is Barefoot Espresso. They add some really easy flavor additive, kind of like adding tabasco to heat things up. You only need a few drops of these spirits since they’re so high in proof, but if you want to, you can always add water to dilute and bring the alcohol down.
So recently I ran into some Meyer Lemons courtesy of an awesome jewish american princess….I decided to fool around with them and see what I could do. I love the flavor and the aroma that comes from this citrus. I used the lemons up in two ways; one as a cordial, the other as a marmalade. Now the cordial was super easy to make. I made a small batch with 1/2 cup of Meyer lemon juice and 1 cup of sugar. To make the cordial you will need to use a channel knife or citrus peeler to take most of the lemon peels off your lemons. Then juice the lemons and add the sugar to a pot on the stove. Let the liquid simmer until the sugar is dissolved and make sure to not burn the sugar! Remove the pot from the heat and add your lemon peels. Cover and let that infuse for 20-30 minutes. Once that’s all done, just strain the cordial into a tightly sealed jar and Ta-Da! You’ve got yourself a Meyer Lemon cordial to use in cocktails, cooking or homemade sodas.
Next I made the marmalade. I used 3 Meyer Lemons and chopped them up in my mini food processor. I then took 1/4 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar and simmered that in a pot on the stove. Then all you really have to do is add the Meyer Lemon puree you have made and let it reduce in your sugar mix. Make sure you stir the marmalade you’re making so it doesn’t burn at the bottom of the pan. Once it is thick enough to your liking, just pull it off of the stove and let it cool. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate.