Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Riviera

The Riviera

This is a total gateway cocktail for people who don't think they like the bitter cordials.
First, a couple days before you are having a party, infuse 4 cups of gin (a good strong one like Tanqueray or Beefeater) 2 cups of Maraschino (Luxardo preferably) and a cup of Campari with a pineapple that had been skinned and sliced into thick wedges. Let sit for at least 24 hours, 48 is better.

This cocktail is all pineapply goodness then with Campari creeps up on you.

2 oz Pineapple/luxardo/Campari Infused Gin
3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 Egg White
5 drops of orange bitters.

riviera Cocktail Ingredients
* icon 1/2 shot gin
* icon 1/2 shot rum
* icon pineapple juice
* icon grenadine
* icon almond extract

Pour Gin & Rum over ice, add pineapple juice (orange or combination of works great too)and optional almond extract. Shake until cool, strain into cocktail glass, slowly add grenadine (should sink). Decorate if desired with citrus fruit and/or flowers
My wife and I had this in Tunisia, nothing happens for the first few (no alcohol taste) but be careful... Gin has a way of sneaking up! Before you know it, you’re naked...again

Branca Zarzamora

Wild Turkey: es un bourbon hecho en Kentucky destilado y añejado en barriles de roble blanco utilizando centeno, maiz y cebada. Mientras que los bourbons son usualmente 80, este Wild turkey es proof 101.
Fernet es un tipo de amaro (amargo), un bitter, o licor aromaticoes hecho de hierbas y especias que varian de acuerdo a la marca.la mayoría incluyen mirra, ruibardo, myrrh, rhubarb, manzanilla, cardamomo, el aloe, y el azafrán, en un alcohol destiladode uvas, con colorizantes y acaramelantes.
Fernet-Branca, es un digestivoque se puede servir solo o con café o expresosa temperatura ambiente o en las rocas. Brancamenta, es una version mentolada. Fernet-Branca, se ha usadopara el tratamiento de colicos mestruales, malestar intestinal, resacas, colico de bebes y anteriormente para la colera.
amargos de naranja se usan para saborizar cocteles y son hechos de la corteza de naranjas sevillanas, cardamomo, semillas de alcaravea, Cilantro y azúcar quemada. Algunas recetas de cócteles que tradicionalmente usan Amargos de naranja ahora puede excluir dicho ingrediente.
Zarzamora o mora hibrida es una fruta del bosque dulce muy popular en pastelería para la preparación de postres, mermeladas y jaleas y, a veces, vinos y licores. Las hojas disecadas, utilizadas como infusiones, tienen propiedades antisepticas urinarias, diureticas y levemente laxativas. La mora negra o zarzamora contiene sales minerales vitaminas A, B y C, por su alto contenido de hierro es utilizada para prevenir y combatir la anemia. Entre otras facultades, estudios recientes comprobaron que el elevado contenido de flavonoides (taninos que tambien poseen los vinos tintos) contribuye a prevenir cancer y disminuir el colesterol malo.

Receta 1

2 oz whiskey
½ oz Fernet branca (amaro)
½ licor de mora o zarzamora - rasberry or blueberry liquor
½ cucharada moras frescas

Receta 2

2 oz whiskey
2 oz de blueberry brandy
2 cucharadas de jarabe de azucar
1 oz de jugo de limon
1 mora desmenuzada

Receta 3

1/2 Brandy de arandanos (blueberry brandy)
2 oz Whiskey
1 cucharada de jugo de limon fresco
½ onza de jugo de naranja fresco
½ cucharada de azucar super-refinada
1 mora desmenuzada

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Algonquin Hotel

Famed literary gatherings. Echoes of some of the world’s most celebrated cabaret singers. A singular environment of inspiration that spawned the creation of The New Yorker magazine. All of these things are impressive in their own right. More impressive still is that they all occurred at The Algonquin Hotel.
Today these traditions continue, just as they have for over 100 years. Step into the sanctuary of our lobby on any given evening, and you will find a diverse mix of New York’s cultural and artistic elite. Here, and within our famed Round Table Restaurant and Blue Bar, martinis are savored, ideas are shared, insights arrived at, and the designs that result shape the cultural fabric of the city.

It was named after the famous Algonquin hotel in New York City although when exactly it was created is unclear. The hotel, built in 1902, was known as a "dry" hotel even before Prohibition. But the how's and why's of the Algonquin Cocktail's origin are not important when you're enjoying its fantastic fruit and whiskey taste.

The Algonquin Cocktail is a great "Martini" of your favorite rye whiskey, dry vermouth and pineapple juice.

35ml American Rye Whisky
15ml Dry Vermouth
25ml Pineapple Juice
dash of Angostura Bitters

Stir the whiskey, vermouth, and pineapple juice (be sure to use unsweetened) well with cracked ice (if you shake it, the pineapple juice will foam), then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Truth be told, we find that 2 or 3 dashes of Fee Bros. West Indian Orange Bitters (call 716-544-9530) does wonders for the drink. Failing that, a generous squeeze of orange peel will work almost as well.


* Peel from 4 lemons (removed in strips with vegetable peeler)
* 1/3 cup superfine sugar
* 2 cups fresh raspberries, divided
* 3 cups Plymouth Sloe Gin
* 2 cups fresh lemon juice
* 1 1/2 cups Coruba dark Jamaican rum
* 6 cups ice cubes
* 1 ice block
* 2 cups chilled brut Champagne
* Lemon slices


Place lemon peel strips in large bowl.
Add sugar and mash with muddler or wooden spoon to infuse sugar with lemon.
Add 1 1/4 cups raspberries and mash to blend. Pour in sloe gin, lemon juice,
and rum. Add ice cubes; stir to blend. Refrigerate punch 20 minutes.
Place ice block in punch bowl. Strain punch over ice block into bowl.
Add Champagne; stir to blend. Garnish punch with lemon slices
and remaining 3/4 cup raspberries. Ladle into punch cups.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Autumn Ablazed - my own delicious pumpkin cocktail

My submission for the About.com pumpkin cocktail contest. All pumpkin cocktails recipes carry some version of nutmeg on them. Either sprinkled or grated. I wanted to change that. For my pumpkin is Autumn. Pumpkin reminds me of the feeling of comfort, of enjoyment, of happiness, of life firing in my belly!!. I wanted to have that on a drink. Since I create my own Hell-fire bitters, I put them to the test with the creamy and smooth aftertaste of pumpkins. To round up the flavors, i sensed that i needed a fruity nose to it, but with some refinement, that is why Brandy came to mind. Additionally, Demerara rums have a rich, raw brown sugar flavor that could be the perfect finish to coordinate a rich, amazing drink with just a hint of hot spices.  After playing with amounts and proportions to get the right balance, I decided that this creamy libation needed to be serve over crushed ice to dissolve evenly while sipping it in front of the chimney.

  • 1 1/2 oz Brandy
  • 1/2 oz Dark Rum (1)
  • 1/3 oz Pumpkin Spice Syrup (2)
  • 1/3 oz Pumpkin Schnapps
  • 1 1/3 oz Half and Half (cream/ milk)
  • 1 dash Hell-fire bitters (3)

Shake with Ice in a cocktail shaker and then strain into an Crushed Ice-filled Lowball Glass. Garnish with a Cinnamon stick and then, insert a straw that has been cut to 1-inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the cinnamon when sipping this Autumn Ablazed.

(1) Any Brown sugar cane rum or Demerara rums works best.
(2) Torani and Monin brands carry Pumpkin Spice Syrup
(3) I recommend doing your own Hell Fire Bitters

A little advice

  • El Dorado rum, Captain Morgan, Mount Gay Rum, Ron Viejo de Caldas, Flor de Caña, Zacapa... any of these Caribbean rums would work just fine.
  • My homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup is really easy to do. See below for the recipe.
  • My homemade Hellfire bitters recipe is at the end of the blog. 

Pumpkin Spice Syrup 
Simmer in sauce pan: 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pre-cooked pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp mace

stir until sugar dissolves, Cool slightly, then stir in about a shot of Cognac.Strain using coffee filter.

Hellfire Bitters 
My own recipe - easy to do 
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 2 oz Rum
  • 1 oz water
  • 1 oz coffee

In a small pot, muddle the jalapeño. Add rum and muddle some more. Mix in the coffee and the water; cover on low heat for 10 min. Cool. strain, let sit for 6 hours. Use dropper to pour over drinks.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mezcal 101 for drinkers

You will see that everything related to mezcal, will be related to the heart. Keep reading and you will know what I mean. I lived in Chicago for many, many years. With such a big Mexican population, I had to learn a thing or two about  tequila and guess what else?... mezcal. The following part I had to learn by heart, otherwise my Mexican employees, friends, and vendors will eat my heart out (You see, I told you).

How to drink Mezcal
  • Traditionally is served in a shot glass. Straight. Neat.
  • At bars, might be served with salt, lime wedges or orange halves.
  • Hardcore traditionalist might throw a pinch of ground larvae salt with chili over a lime wedge, chew the wedge, slam the mezcal shot, and drink it straight. Viva Mexico!.

So learn this "Mezcal is a distilled liquor from the agave plants". Since tequila is made of Blue Agave, Tequila is too a kind of mezcal. Translation: "All Tequilas are mezcals, only blue agave mezcals are tequilas. "

To produce mezcal a variety of agave is used. This variety is known as "maguey", and this plant´s heart is used to distill this alcoholic beverage. Since the "piñas" (the hearts) are oven-baked or roasted, mezcal has a smoky flavor to it.

If you are like me, of curious nature and willing to develop taste for unusual things (what kind of things?,well you don´t really need to know), this drink might catch your attention.

Fun Facts
  • It takes at least seven years for the plant to mature.
  • Maguey is the variety of agave used for mezcal.
  • “Manso” is best maguey to produce it.
  • Other varieties are “espadín, arroquense and tobalá. 
  • The "piñas" are cooked for about three days
  • Most are aged from one month to four years
  • Mezcal can reach an alcohol content of 55%
  • Most mezcals are a little stronger than tequilas.
  • Mezcal is distilled mostly once, and great ones twice.
  • Not all bottles of mezcal contain a worm.
  • White mezcal is clear and hardly aged.
  • Dorado (golden) is not aged. A coloring agent is added. 
  • Reposado (aged) is placed in wood barrels from two to nine months. 
  • Añejo is aged in barrels for a minimum of twelve months
  • If the añejo is of 100% agave, it is usually aged for about four years.
  • Tequila has NO WORMS.
  • Good Mezcal has NO WORMS.
  • Gimmicky brands DO HAVE WORMS

I had made previously a blind tasting of different mezcal brands somewhere in the South Side of Chicago, where the "Colonia Oaxaqueña" resides. I took a notepad, pencils, camera and carried with me, two good Mexican buddies of mine. Very friendly people. The last thing I remember is a short demonstration of how to salt, chew, slam and dunk. Thanks god to note taking. Here I am throwing a short list of the ones I like.

Well-know brands
  • Del Maguey
  • Gusano Rojo
  • San Luis del Rio
  • Santo Domingo Albarradas
  • Hacienda de Chihuahua 
  • Monte Alban
  • Zacatecano 
  • Embajador 
  • Scorpion 
  • Talapa
  • Tobala
  • Pechuga

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cocktails with Demerara Syrup

Demerara syrup can be used in pretty much any cocktail with a brown liquor, specially cocktails with sugar and molasses based rums. Vintage Tiki drinks have plenty of recipes that might just used a hint of the particular molasses and raw sugary notes that demerara syrup might bring to the drink. Zombies, Demerara´s Dry Floats and Coffee Grogs might be just a few samples. Chekc this drinks out and let me know how much better you like them with Demerara Syrup.
French Martini
  • 50ml Vodka
  • 25ml Pineapple Juice
  • 10ml Chambord*
  • 5ml Demerara Syrup
Shake with Ice, and then strain into a Martini Glass. Garnish with a Raspberry, or a lemon twist, either one will float in the centre of the drink

* Chambord is a Raspberry heavy liquor, that can be homemade. For directions on how to make it, keep posted to my next week blog post.

Demerara Cocktail

  • 2 oz Demerara Rum or Raw Sugar Cane based Rum**
  • 1 oz Puerto Rican Rum (white/gold/dark your choice=***
  • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • ½ oz Passion Fruit Juice/Nectar
  • 1 Splash Demerara Syrup
Shake, serve straight up on a rocks glass.

The Demerara Cocktail is a nice simple drink that incorporates your standard sweet and sour rum combination, but adds a little Passion fruit Juice to give it an exotic twist. For the most part the Demerara rum comes through with the lime and just a hint of the passion fruit juice.

**   Demerara rums procedence is South American island of Guyana. El Dorado Rum might be the best-know demerara brand (a rising start spirit in the 1990´s, with a solid product with great notes and taste) but other relatively know brand in the international market is Lemonhart 151-proof Demerara Rum.

*** Puerto Rican rums are triple distilled and aged in Charred American white oak barrels. Their brand leader is Bacardi Rum, follow by other relatively well-know brands such as Don Q, Ron del Barrilito, Palo viejo, and Ron Llave.

Queen's Park Swizzle
  • 3oz Demerara Rum
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz demerara syrup
  • 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Fresh mint for garnish
Add ingredients into a collins glass along with crushed ice and swizzle with a bar spoon until the glass is frosted over. Garnish with fresh mint.

Demerara Dry Float
  • 1 1/2 oz Demerara rum
  • 1/4 oz 151 Demerara rum
  • 2 1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/3 ounces passion fruit syrup
  • 1/3 ounce demerara syrup
  • 1/4 ounce Maraschino liqueur 

Shake everything except the 151 rum with ice, strain into double old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice, and carefully float the 151. Do not stir.

Demerara Syrup Recipe

English fellows have a particular affinity to foreign tastes. Demerara Syrup is just another classic example. Made from rich raw brown caribbean sugar, this syrup is great to be used as a replacement for simple syrup in many recipes. The reason for this is, that this unrefined sugar adds on a richer flavor to the syrup, although its caramel color might alter the final appearance, its great flavor makes up for it.

Demerara Syrup Recipe
  • 2 parts Demerara Sugar or Raw Brown Sugar
  • 1 part distilled water
Medium heat until sugar dissolves. Chill and bottle. To avoid mold, add on a tablespoon or two of high-proof vodka.

This syrup will make a fantastic addition or replacement for some great drinks, with sugar cane based spirits.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Homemade Gum Syrup 19th Century Style

Let´s place ourselves in a french bar, late nineteenth century, ice blocks in tin containers, no ice cubes in sight for another 20 years or so. How to stabilized a flavor from the very first sip to the last one, using little or no ice? It seems like the answer to this riddle, was to use Syrup de Gomme (Gum Syrup).

This sweetener is made with sugar syrup and gum arabic. Use the highest possible percentage of sugar to water. The gum will create a colloidal mixture when interacting with the syrup, making it of it a smooth liquid, softening the flavor and preventing crystallization in this 3:1 ratio mix of sugar vs. water. Most recipes call for a 2:1 ratio, but I prefer a heavier mix which helps to the silk-like effect of the final drink. Edible glycerin is used more  nowadays by food/drinks manufacturers instead of gum arabic.

Gum Arabic Description
A water soluble gum used in binding different medias. in its natural shape is an exudate from Acacia trees. It  contains arabinose, galactose, rhamnose, (these three components are sugars) and glucuronic acid. It is commercialized in lumps, granules, flakes or as a powder.

Homemade Gum Syrup in 4 Steps
Step 1- Dissolve Gum
  • 4 ounces powdered gum arabic
  • 4 ounces distilled water
Gum arabic comes in different presentations as noted before. Better get the powdered one to make it. if you use powdered gum arabic, you can use 1:1 ratio, if you are using the rocks, add 1 or 2 ounces of water since they will require more liquid presence to dilute. If you get the rocks, use a mortar and then go to town on them making them as much or a powder as possible before mixing it with the water. Let them rest for a few hours (12 to 24 hours) to get a colloidal texture.

Step 2- Thick Simple Syrup
  • 18 oz confectionery sugar
  • 6 ounces water
Cold water and sugar, 3 parts sugar to 1 part water to a pan and heat until the sugar dissolves into the water.
Stir. Once the sugar is dissolved, keep the syrup in the stove and get ready for the next step.

Step 3 - Boil and Skim
Add the gum arabic mixture to the warm syrup. Stir repeatedly. Once the contents start to boil, turn the stove off and remove the foam forming on top of the pan.

Step 4- Strain and Bottle
Cooling your mix right is very important. Set it aside covered for a few hours. If you need to speed up the process, then put some ice water in your sink and place the pan on it, to speed up the cooling process.
 If you did not remove all the scum from the syrup while it was boiling, you might need to filter it through a cheesecloth. otherwise, you are good to go. Use sterilized bottles, pleeeeease, to keep your gum syrup from molding. It should keep even if it is out of the fridge.

Pre-prohibition cocktails that require gum syrup
If you did not remove all the scum from the syrup while it was boiling, you might need to filter it through 
  • Sazerac
  • Pisco Punch
  • Tom Collins
  • Old Fashioned
  • Star Cocktail

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Elderflower Syrup for a great martini

Oh guys, you are going to love making this syrup. Elderflowers are usually blooming around amy in the northen hemisphere, but not here in the sunny tropics, no señor. We can see them blooming pretty much any time of the year. You can use Elderflower Syrups with seltzer water over ice with a lemon twist and a wheel of lime, as a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage, or add it to a bubbly champagne flute to spice up and add a fantastic aromatic scent to your drink. Elderflower Cordial can be sipped alone , plain cold, just out of the freezer in frozen cordial or sherry glasses, or mixed into a wide variety of cocktails.

I will start this blog by giving you an Elderflower Martini recipe. Since people say that we see God in the details, this simple recipe can be quite difficult to make perfect. Just again, pay attention to the details because flavor wise it is delicious.

Elderflower Martini

  • 2 oz grape based vodka
  • 1 oz elderflower liqueur
  • squeeze one lime wedge
Pour ingredients over ice in shaker. Chill a martini glass, shake the contents, strain and serve up. Garnish with lime wedge or lychee fruit. Now the difficulty comes here. Vodka are most likely made of grains like wheat or rye, or from starch like potatoes. But a couple well-known brands are actually made out of grapes. These vodkas have a fruity hints that are just a great addition to the end result. and difficulty number 2, is the elderflower liquor. If you happen to know a french version of this liquor, with a fantastic bottle, you know what I am talking about, Made in the French Alps, This particular liquor is just the right hint needed for this recipe. If you decide to use your Homemade Eldeflower Cordial and in this way control the flavors and the sweetness, guess what? I am posting here the recipe too!.

Elderflower Syrup
Great home made recipe
  • 20-25 elderflower bunches  
  • 30 grams ascorbic acid or  tartaric acid or 2 tablets of citric acid  
  • 2 lbs sugar  
  • Juice of 1-2 organic lemons  
  • Zest of 2 organic lemons
  • 3/4 liters water (boiling)
    Pick the elderflower bunches in the early morning when they are more aromatic, check for bugs. Elderflower plants are pretty resistant and are not usually sprayed with insecticides, but if they are, wash the bunches pretty well. Boil water and add the sugar until the later dissolves, then add the lemon juice,and the lemon zest with the ascorbic acid or the citric acid tablets to the boiling sugar water. Be careful while zesting the lemons not to add any damaged skin or any part of the white pit. Pour the mix over the flowers and cover for 2 to 3 days.

    Stir daily. Don´t keep it more than 3 days. Even although the citric or ascorbic acid will help to avoid fermentation to happen any time sooner than that, there are no guarantees after the third day. Strain out the liquid portion into sterilized sealed containers or bottles and keep cold. With the citric or tartaric acid it will keep for 3-4 months in the fridge. You could replace the Acid for Camden Tablets and your syrup will last for as long as you want if you keep in a dark cool place.

    Elderflower Cordial
    Homemade Recipe
    • 35 fresh elder flower heads – always pick the sweet smelling ones (which tend to be a bit buttery in colour and which do not drop petals when shaken)
    • 2 oranges, rough sliced
    • 2 lemons, also rough sliced
    • 2oz tartaric or citric acid – we prefer citric which makes for a more lemony taste, but some of our friends like tartaric. You can buy either from a shop that sells winemaking stuff and you can get citric acid from your local chemist.
    • 3 pints boiling water
    • 3lb granulated sugar, (if you are worried about your sugar intake, you can use the equivalent of granulated Splenda (it is very light so follow the instructions which substitute volume for weight….)
    • 1 Camden tablet per gallon of cordial (these come from “winemaking stuff” shops and are brilliant – they kill the natural yeasts that arrive with the elder flowers and allow you to store the cordial for years without it going fizzy). If you do not use them, then you can deep freeze the cordial you want to keep for Christmas….
    • One or two large containers (the size depends on how much you make at once)
    • Glass or food grade plastic bottles with airtight caps
    • a Siphon tube
    • J-cloths or wine filtering fabric
    • A large sieve

    • Boil the water and dissolve the sugar in it. Allow it to cool properly. 
    • Add the orange and lemon slices to the cool sugar water 
    • Stir in and make sure the tartaric or citric acid is dissolved 
    • Add the elder flower heads. 
    • Cover it up with a lid or cloth (we like to use a 5 gallon (25 litre) home winemaking plastic barrels) and leave it for 48-72 hours.
    • Strain the mixture and leave for another 48 hours.
    • We then siphon it all to another container, leaving the sediment/dregs behind and then we add 1 crushed Camden tablet per gallon of cordial
    • Shake well, and then leave for 3-4 hours to settle
    • Bottle, leaving behind any more dregs.
    • If you don’t want to use two large containers, then you will need to add a crushed Camden tablet at the rate of 1 per gallon (1/2 a tablet to a 4 pint milk container for example) and carefully siphon directly into that. Shake the bottle well after you have filled it and do the top up tightly. Shake it again an hour or two later to make sure the tablet has dissolved. It will then keep for ages – as in years.
    • Always, always use sterilised bottles:
    • Microwave – 2-3 minutes should kill anything.
    • Oven -  put glass bottles into your cold oven. Run it up to about 140C, keep it there for 10-15 minutes and then leave it to cool.
    • You can also use Milton or even just very hot water.
    How long you can store your cordial:
    • With no acids or tablets – 3-4 weeks in the fridge. Freeze in plastic bottles for longer storage.
    • With the citric or tartaric acid it will keep for 3-4 months in the fridge.
    • With the Camden tablets, elderflower cordial keeps almost indefinitely in a cool, dark place.

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    Gin Fizz for Fizzle my nizzle

    While I was putting together the recipes for Once Onzas, a couple buddies of mine wanted something refreshing but didn´t have much time to waste. Since I only had a good bottle of gin, a few lemons and my home made simple syrup, a quick old recipe I had read somewhere came to mind. The bad thing was I wasn´t able to remember it´s name. The friends were gone but my mind was going crazy.

    I had totally forgot about it, until I was doing some research for my blog, I coincidentially run into some recipes from the Jerry Thomas´ Bartender´s Guide and so the mystery was solve. The lost name was a Gin Fizz but the difference was on the use of Sugar de Gomme or Gum Syrup.

    A quick run to the Baking Goods Specialty Store in my hometown, saucepan, heat, patience and surprise!!, we have gum syrup to reproduce this refreshing recipe. My recommendation is to make a pitcher of it, because it will go fast.

    Originally these drinks were called "Fiz", but now they inherited an additional Z, to be called Fizz (Maybe because sounds like a sizzle, much like the soda water hitting the acidic flavors). Fiz are regularly include in the Sour Type of drinks. But a Fizz don´t carry carbonated soda, I believe a Fizz is just are a different type of drink on its own. We could say that a Fizz is a Sour with a snap!.

    Here I am posting three recipes. Jerry Thomas´ recipe, the traditional, and the modern one. Use the one you fill comfortable with and enjoy it.

    Note: I will post a blog dedicated to the Ramos Gin Fizz, since this drink has many variations and its history is one that can be traced to its origins, it makes it a perfect candidate for a complete blog, just for you my Ramos.

    Gin Fiz
    The original Jerry Thomas recipe
    • 1 tea-spoonful powdered sugar.
    • 3 dashes of lemon juice.
    • 1 wine-glass of Holland gin
    • 1 small piece of ice.
    • (Use medium bar-glass.)
    Fill up the glass with Apollinaris or Seltzer water, stir thoroughly and serve.

    I know you guys are wondering what the heck is the equivalent to a wine glass, so to make it easier, 1 wine-glass is the equivalent to 4 ounces. Additionally, just remember that in 1887, when Mr. Thomas was shaking "Gin Fizzes", ice was commercialized in Ice blocks, the now popular ice cubes became popular after the DOMELRE (Domestic Electric Refrigerator) made its appearance. So his reference to 1 small piece of ice, meant that is was a small chunk of ice equivalent to 2-3 ice cubes. Keep reading if you want the mistery of the Holland Gin to be dispersed.

    Gin Fizz
    Traditional Recipe

    • 2 oz. Hollands Gin
    • 1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice.
    • 1/2 oz. Gum Syrup*
    • 2 1/2 oz. Soda Water
    Shaken, pour strained into a highball glass filled with ice, top with soda water, garnish with lemon.

    * check out my blog on how to make your own Gum Syrup

    If by any chance you want to replace the Hollands Gin (a Dutch Gin know as jenever/genever) with your traditional London-type, nobody is ever going to say a word. For those of you, recipe chasers, Korenvijn is the closer you ever going to get to the original Hollands Gin.  A popular brand is Rembrandt. Other valid replacements might include Oude (old) Jenevers. Bokma Oude Jenever wight be a viable option whenever you are in Europe since it is not easy to find in America. And if you just want to go crazy, try a Lemon Jenever with a very intense citrus flavor, A.V.Wess Citroenjenever might just do the trick.

    Gin Fizz
    Modern Recipe

    • 2 oz. Gin
    • 1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice.
    • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
    • Top with soda water
    Served on the rocks, shaken, pour over ice into a tall glass.

    Dick Bradsell´s Recipe
    • 2/3 oz Gin
    • 1/3 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
    • 1/3 oz Sugar Syrup 
    •  1/3 Blackberry Liqueur (Chambord and Creme de Cassis are suitable replacements)
    Build over crushed ice, in a whisky glass. Stir, pour 15ml Blackberry Liqueur over the drink, in a circular fashion. Garnish with a lemon slice, and two Raspberries.

    All these Fizzes will give you a pretty good reason to call up some friends and try some of these recipes. Enjoy them!.

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    Home Made Limoncello

    People of the world!!!. Prepare for the amazing and refreshingly surprising Limoncello. Its flavor is tangy, with the right citric aroma and a perfect sweetness that makes it one of the most delectable pousse-cafés.

    This Italian digestiv (this means and after-meal liqueur, that can be called a pousse-café or coffee-chaser), is an alcoholic cordial served neat and ice cold (in its majority, but not a rule). Digestivs are usually dense with a heavier texture, with dark yellow, red, or brown colors. Think in heavy liquors such as sherry, port, armagnacs, cognacs, brandies, and a wide variety of whiskies.

    Southern Italian Brands near the Sorrento region are the better known and most-recommended brands, however some Southern Californian Brands are finally appearing in the American market with good results. If you are, like me, an crazy aficionado, then put on your lab coat and your yellow rubber gloves, and let´s make some Home Made Limoncello.


    • Purchase only very fragrant lemons, if they don´t smell great, they are not the right ones for this recipe.
    • Try organic lemons or in worst case scenario buy plump grocery lemons but wash them throughly, since they may have been sprayed with heavy chemicals to avoid pests. All chemical contents in your lemon peels may affect the final taste of this liquor.
    • Use 80 or100 proof vodka, Some people likes Everclear because it has no additional sugar content, but I find it unnecesary since you will be adding simple syrup (Sugar based syrup) at the end of the process.
    • You will get a nice drink out of this recipe, so don´t be cheap and please used distilled water. Don´t make me go all "Hell´s Kitchen" on you.
    • Peelers and zesters are ideal tools to obtain the lemon zest needed for this recipe. (Check my blog on Garnishing tools), unless you have the time to regularly removed citric oils and wax once you prepared the original concoction, I would recommend to try to avoid the white pits.
    • Many recipes call to mix all ingredients at the very beginning. I wouldn´t recommend that. Add the simple syrup and the distilled water right before you are bottling it.

    Home Made Limoncello Recipe
    • 15-20 lemons
    • 2 (750-ml) bottles high-proof vodka.
    • 7 or 8 cups of Simple Syrup
    • To cook the syrup use refined sugar and distilled water in a 3/4 proportion, more sugar than water.
    • Additionally get a 2-3 litter mason jar with a sealable lid.
    • Sterilized the jar, bacteria may affect the final taste.
    • You can used any other container, just be sure that it will be hermetically shut.

    Simming Lemon Peels

    • Carefully wash your lemons. 
    • Only use the unblemished surfaces.
      Zest the lemons with a grater or a peeler.
    • Avoid the angry pits (White membranes under the skin)
      Bitterness on home made limoncellos is usually due to the pits or to avoid removing excess ils and waxes during the maceration process.
    • Leave the lemon peels and the vodka in the sealed jar to simmer for at least 2 weeks (Some people will leave it for 1 to 2 months, that is your call.
    • Keep it in a cool place, preferably your fridge. (Between 32 and 52 Fahrenheit Degrees or between 0 and 10 Celsius)

    On a daily basis, give a quick swirl to the peels.
    Remove excess oils and waxes surfacing the top.
    Taste it regularly.

    Straining and Bottling

    Make a simple syrup.
    Use 3 to 4 parts, refined sugar and distilled water or half and half parts sugar/water if you like it a little less sweet. Warm up the mix in a saucepan, stir until sugar dissolves and let it cool before putting in the fridge.

    Strain peels
    Using a coffee filter or a cheesecloth, strain the peels making sure no peel particles pass through the filter. Get ready to mix the alcohol with the syrup.

    Bottle your Lemoncello
    Pour the alcohol/syrup mix in the final bottles, and keep the refirgerated for at least one additional week

    Another option
    If you decided to make a "Crema di Limoncello" (Limoncello Cream). Instead of adding simple syrup, add 3 cups of superfine or confectionery sugar and 4 cups of whole milk cream. Stir and keep refrigerated for another 2 weeks. Continue the daily stirring process for this time period.

    Drinking Limoncello

    Ice Cold
    Neat or straight up frozen in ceramic or glass shot glasses. Italians traditionally have preciously cold the glasses too.

    Margarita Royal
    Replace triple sec or Orange liquor in your margarita for half lemon juice/half limoncello, the new flavor is fantastic.

    Champagne Topping
    Add a splash of limoncello to 2 champagne servings and add one small dash of angostura bitters. Serves two. Great on a summer day!!.

    Now keep me posted in your Limoncellos.If you run into a better recipe, send it my way!!! Enjoy.

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    Garnishing Tools

    Most cocktails are garnished with wedges, wheels, curls, peels, leaves, flowers, chunks of food, drizzles, sprinkles and even gold and silver leaves, if I don´t write this blog fast enough they might even use edible play doh. Now for most of them the only tools needed might be a pairing knife a channel knife and a micro plane. Now, let´s start with a comprehensive list of things needed to create the most beautiful garnishes in the world, grrrr...

    Garnishing Tools

    Paring/Kitchen Knife
    Small knife ideal for peeling fruits and vegetables or other works that might require a little more precision, but sometimes a kitchen knife too would help with larger fruits like pineapples. Considered a paring knife a basic tool in the kitchen, it is ideal to have at a bar. The blade is usually shorter than the handle, to allow better grip. Its blade´s length oscillates from 2.5 to 4 inches, and it is basically a chef´s knife but miniature.since its tip is pointy, that allows to create patterns, shapes and holes with detail. You usually don´t need a cutting board since the practical handle allows maximum control. I recommend you to read about kitchen knifes in general and get familiar with them.

    Citrus Knife
    I don´t really think this is a must for any bar, Seriously. But some people I know, might feel release and at ease knowing that they can find a knife especially design to cut citrus (Lemon, Limes, Grapefruits and Oranges). It´s completely serrated edge can easily manage to cut through thick peels. Particularly handy when cutting lime/lemon wedges  or when halving them.

    Cutting/Chopping Board
    A must nowadays in any bar to use as a cutting surface, easy washable to avoid any bacterial contamination while processing food. The most common materials are bamboo, rubber, and plastic. Durable materials are used in boards. In the bar environment it is uncommon to use boards to cut raw meat and other foods in the same boards, but in such cases it is advisable to have a separate board for meat only.

    Channel Knife
    These tools are used for garnishing only. It is a short metallic tip with a non-sharped edge, with a handle quite similar to the one found in paring knifes. In its metallic tip you will find a sharp v-shaped edge that is slightly projected onwards. The purpose of this projected v shaped is to dent a hole in the peel of citric fruits and create long and thin perfect twist of citric peels. sometimes a Zester and a Channel Knife will be found on the same tool.

    There are 3 main types of peelers, The Y shaped with the blade perpendicular to the handle, the Lancashire that is basically an extension of the handle with a sharp, and the Australian, this one supports both the the tip and the base of a swiveling metallic piece that sports two facing blades in the middle of it. Either dtype is design to remove the outer layer of skin or peel from the fruit/vegetable. Again, Nothing that a pairing knife can do, but certainly might facilitate the process.

    With a similar shape than a Channel Knife, a Zester as its name suggests, does help to create long thing zest ribbons, separating them from the pith underneath the skin. Since zesters have 3 to 5 holes in its tips, you will get as many ribbons as holes this knife has.
    Personally I prefer zesters over microplanes, since they perfectly separate the citrus zest and not the white bitter pit.

    Micro plane
    They have a wide variety of uses, grating, zesting, shaving and cutting fingers!!, they are basically photo etched steel tools for grating. Extremely sharp, but safer than the old style graters, because the long handle makes it easier to control.and since it is a sharper toot, it requires less strength to do a similar job. Use microplanes for zesting citrus, grating sea salt or volcanic salt rocks, and shaving chocolate to rim glasses.

    A metallic kitchen utensil used to grate or shaved fruits, vegetables or hardened food. Several types of graters boast different sizes of grating slots, and can therefore aid in the preparation of a variety of foods. They are commonly used to grate chocolate, cheese, lemon or orange peel.If you own a micro plane you probably won´t use a grater.

    Everybody knows what a lighter is, especially those of you who are/were smokers or boys/girl scouts. A portable device, metallic or plastic, with a flammable fluid or gas that will ignite when a spark is generated, that has some mechanism to extinguish the flame.In a bar environment is used to caramelized the oils of an orange peel by flaming it over a drink, and then rubbing the flamed peel over the edge of the glass.

    Kitchen Scissors/Shears
     Like regular scissors, they have two sharp blades attached to a pair of handles with openings to fit your fingers through, the handles are usually slip-proof. The advantage?, cutting something from two different angles. Kitchen scissors have the pivoting point farther from the handles than other scissors. Modern cocktails are using cutouts made of edible paper or edible films that can be cut using stencils or kitchen scissors. In a hurry, if you run out of short straws, kitchen scissors will be handy to cut the long ones short.

    Squeeze/Mold Painter bottles
     Believe me, when you make your own bitters, or even if you are drizzling your chilled glasses with any jam, ice cream topping syrup, thick home made syrup or chocolate, this item will be a must in your bar. Squeeze bottles are very cheap and easy to find. I recommend that you open the tip with a hot needle or even a hot nail, to make the holes very small, instead of cutting the tip with your kitchen scissors, It will make the drizzle lines more thin but precise. Be sure to purchase caps for your bottles.

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Glass Preparation - Chill, Rub, and Drizzle like a pro

    I already blogged previously about all the different types of glassware. If you need help deciding which and what kind of glasses you need to serve your cocktail, check it out.

    After choosing the glass, prepping it to poor the best libation would be your next step. So the right question at this point would be  

    "Do all cocktails need glasses prepared?" 

    For me, the answer is pretty simple. If your mouth is touching the glass or if you are using short straws, then prepping is a must. Cocktails served on highball glasses don´t need any preparation.

    These are done before pouring the cocktail, for Garnishes, check out my next blog.

    Chilled Glass

    If you have enough freezer space, you can either chill your glasses before hand by putting them in the freezer for at least 10 minutes or just filled them up with ice cubes for a few minutes. Purist will literally kill me for saying this but if you chilled them for about 5 minutes only, you could use that same ice to shake or stir your drink.If you are a bartender and have no time to prep or you ran out of glasses, you might need to add some water to your glasses to speed up the process. Needless to say, Don´t use the ice water to shake your drink, seems obvious but I have seen some people doing it. Yes, Angelica, I am talking to you... Don´t do it unless you want a painful death by fanatical members of the IBA.

    Granted, martini glasses look very cute and enticing with a nice rim, but seriously only a few drinks really call for a sugar, salt, chocolate or caramel rim. 

    Salt Rim
    After you have chilled your margarita or martini glass, rub a lime or lemon wedge outside the glass rim, Have a saucer or a bowl filled with a couple spoon fulls of salt, preferably use Kosher Salt or Sea Salt (this one might need some muddling). Hold the glass by the stem upside down, parallel to the saucer, While doing a rotating motion with your fingers by the stem, dip the glass into the saucer, Shake off the excess over the bowl or the sink. I usually hit the glass on the side a couple times to be sure any excess salt have been shaken off. 

    Robert Hess recommends to rim only half side of the glass, since a few people don´t really like salt rims, but I think asking before pouring is a safer bet. Train your bartenders to ask the customer´s preferences in this regard.

    Sugar Rim

    It basically the same procedure use in the salt rim, but instead of Salt you use Powdered Sugar. First a little explanation. Powdered Sugar is known as Icing Sugar, as well as it is Confectioner´s Sugar and it is 10X Sugar too. But in most cases bartenders will have only regular sugar to rim their glasses (In such case, just pout your mouth for about 10 seconds and proceed to drink)

    Caramel Rim

    You need to find a quick way to make caramel. Keep reading this blog and you will find how to make caramel (See it under Drizzling) to make a caramel rim for a martini glass in about 50 seconds. Once you have a the caramel nice and warm, rim the border quickly on it. It will solidify in a matter of seconds. to avoid spills, after rimming it, turn the glass parallel to the table and rotate it in your fingers, in that way it will solidify and any drop that falls will stay in the rim.

    Not a common practice and this is only my personal preference. But I have created some straight up versions of common cocktails (Mojito martini, Moscow Mule Martinis) in which cases I prefer to rub the rim or even the inside of the glass with the ingredient that portraits the most evident fragrance. 

    Peppermint rub
    I use this when preparing Mojito Martinis or Passion Fruit Mojito Martinis, Rub 2 to 3 peppermint leaves inside a chilled martini glass, until they leave a soft trace in the glass.Don´t over do it, because you want to leave a fragrance but not the leaves´sap.

    Lime/Lemon Zest
    Again, not you average practice, but I prefer to rub a coin size chunk of lime/lime zest inside the glass and around the riom when I am pouring Kamikazees, Lemon Drops, or any citric predominant flavored martini. 

    Orange Peel
    Manhattan, Vesper, Bond Martinis might gain some fragrance and a little bit of a bite when a small size orange peel is rubbed around the rim.

    There are 2 different ways to drizzle chocolate, The easy one and the other one

    The easy one is go to your local grocery store and purchase one of the local Chocolate Ice Topping Syrups, be sure to use one that is not too liquid, instead of opening the tip with scissors, use a needle or a tiny, pointy object that won´t open a big hole. Move your hands quick over the glass to make fine lines. Keep it refrigerated until the next party. 

    You have two options. Use The ice topping Caramel Syrup or you can Make Caramel-Drizzle Topping: Heat together equal parts of sugar and water (About 3 spoons of each) in a microwaveable container for 25 seconds in your microwave oven, until the sugar is completely dissolved, stir and put back for another 25 seconds or stop it when the mixture is turned light golden in color. Keep an eye on it, your don´t want it to turn black or to be scortched. Using a wooden spoon, drizzle the caramel over the glass in a zigzag pattern, drizzling back and forth. Let stand to harden.

    Strawberry Drizzle (Option 1)
    4 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
    1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup orange juice
    3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice.
    Heat in a sauce pan until mixture boils.
    Puree and let it cool down. Refrigerate until needed.
     Strawberry Drizzle (Option 2)
    Use Ice Cream Strawberry Topping for drizzling. 

    White Chocolate Drizzle
    3 oz white chocolate pieces
    1 tsp. vegetable oil
    Melt them in a small saucepan over very low heat. Spoon into small plastic bag,
    squeezing to one corner. Snip off corner; drizzle over frosted glass. Keep refrigerated. Microwave for 20-30 seconds if the drizzle solidifies or you could warm it on a Baign-Marie!.

    You could try frosting, rubbing or drizzling but keep in mind that more not always means better. Balance and flavor is always the final goals when you are mixing cocktails. Enjoy and keep me posted if you want me to add some other ideas when prepping your glasses.

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    Cosmopolitan - a Kamikazee in disguise

    The cosmopolitan is usually served in a martini glass. Very often is mistaken as a type of martini. A Cosmopolitan is basically a Kamikazee cocktail with a splash of Cranberry Juice for colouring purposes.

    - Cosmopolitans should be of a very light pinkish tint. It´s a light colored drink.
    - Flamed Orange Peel is not a must, a Lime peel twisted over the drink definitively is.
    - Lime Wedge or a Lime Wheel is traditionally the garnish

    Cosmopolitan Royal*
    * I use the term Royal to describe cocktails prepared with top shelf alcohol

    1 1/2 oz Citrus Vodka
    1/4 oz Grand Manier
    Tea Spoon of Rose´s Lime Juice
    Splash of Cranberry Juice


    2 oz vodka/Citrus Vodka
    1/2 oz Cointreau/Good Triple Sec
    1/2 oz Lime Juice
    1 oz Cranberry Juice

    Cosmopolitan CBGB*
    * CBGB Stands for Cheap But Good Booze

    2 oz vodka
    1/2 oz Triple Sec
    1/2 oz Lime Juice
    1/2 oz Simple Syrup*
    3/4 oz Cranberry Juice

    A lime wedge is always used to garnish.  Traditionally a coin sized piece of orange should be "flamed" across the top of the drink. This coats the drink with a slick of citrus oil.
    *Everybody should learn how to make simple syrup if they want to prepare their own drinks.