Articles reflecting my insights and observations of mixology
Contrary to what might be an initial assumption, cocktails are actually quite a complex subjet. For some reason, this has become a topic that has captured my fancy and compelled me to look carefully into the practice, history, and culinary realities of what goes into the proper construction of the cocktail. Below you will find just a few of my musings on this topic. Hopefully you'll find my records useful in some small way.
Sour Mix: How to Wield That Hammer
- Sour mix is an ingredient that many beginners find to be rather confusing. Hopefully I can assist in removing some of the mystery of this very simple ingredient, as well as provide some pointers on it's proper usage.
Noilly Prat vs Noilly Prat
- Or "Will the Real Noilly Prat Please Stand Up."... or perhaps I am the only one who remembers the old "To Tell The Truth" show?
Drinking Las Vegas
- Cocktails and mixed drinks fly fast and furious throughout this larger than life town, most however are culinary disasters. Thankfully, there are a few rays of hope which stand out, with the tantalizing promise of more to come.
Definitions and Precisions
- Far too many people are mixing cocktails simply by following a recipe, without really understanding the role that the different ingredients or methods play in the final product. I'd like to use one of the focus points of Molecular Gastronomy, and by association Molecular Mixology, to perhaps provide some additional insights on the art of the culinary cocktail.
On Molecular Mixology
- Molecular Mixology seems to be the "hot and trendy" thing these days. Bartenders messing around with foams, alginate, liquid nitrogen, and a variety of other devices that would make a mad scientist envious. But lets not religate MM to being just another "fad", instead lets take a closer look at it and really discover what it's all about.
Cocktails: The Liquid Cuisine
- Why is it that combining ingredients and flavors in the kitchen are easily thought of as "culinary", while doing the same thing with liquid ingredients behind the bar isn't? Personally, I think it's about time for a change.
A Proper Chill
- Getting a properly chilled cocktail simply means making the best use of ice in chilling it down. There are however many methods of doing this which might at first "sound" like a good idea, but in fact aren't.
Your First Drink
- Everyone has to start somewhere... where did you start with your first drink? And how might that have set the stage for the style of drinking you would move toward next? If your first tentative steps are well placed, it puts in in that much better of a position to really enjoy what the future might hold.
Adjusting The Volume
- One of my frustrations in the modern trend of cocktails, is that many people seem to think bigger is better. Why can't they learn that this isn't good for the customer, or the business.
- To appreciate, or even understand, the cocktail as a culinary artform, it is important to take a close look at cuisine in general and how it has evolved over the centuries.
Mixology Research: The Mai Tai
- The Mai Tai was one of the first drinks that I really dug my teeth into. What exactly was it? Where did it come from? But most importantly why were there so many different recipes for it, and why was it often made so poorly?
A Tribute to Jerry Thomas
- In 2003, a stalwart group of mixologist gathered at the Plaza Hotel in New York, to pay tribute to Jerry Thomas as part of a "Slow Foods" sponsored presentation. I was proud to be included in this great group of legendary mixologists who were honoring "the" legendary mixologist.
By Any Other Name
- Labels can become very important to many people. It draws lines, it creates definition, it abandons, or embraces tradition, and it can sometimes create separations. Is it important to have a label which clearly provides separation between the "artist" and the "craftsman"?
The Prose of the Menu
- Menus form a type of communication between the establishment, and it's patrons. How well does your menu let your customer understand the quality and craftsmanship that goes into your cocktails?
Renewing an Old Fashion
- Sometimes the Old Fasioned ways can be the best ways. This can be as true with cocktails, as it is with many other things. Unfortunately, the drink that has taken on the name of "Old Fashioned" is often done in a "New Fashioned" way, and suffers terribly because of it.
Distilled Water, with a Kick
- Vodka has a clean little secret. One which is obvious if you understand the proces of making vodka, but is often far too misunderstood by the general public, and the marketing geniuses behind vodka aren't that interested in letting folks in on it.
The Perfect Martini
- Do you think you know your Martini? Really know it? When was the last time you really experimented with the ingredients that go into this classic drink to discover how they really affect its flavor and finish?
- Stocking your home bar can be extremely confusing, and with all of the brands available, it can often be difficult to understand which brands really are worthy of your attention. Hopefully I can help you out somewhat by providing some of my own product preferences.
Selecting Your Brands
- Ok, so you've selected a short list of products that you need to pick up in order to get ready to make your first cocktails, but how do you know which products to get, and how do you fine tune your selection on future shopping trips?
Stocking the Bar
- It's a problem the everybody faces eventually, how do you go about stocking your bar? The answer I have, may suprise you a little bit, but frankly I think it is the only one that makes sense.
The Return of Tiki
- You may think of Tiki drinks and consider them more of a joke than anything else, but if you really look closely, you'll see that there is in fact a very real and serious quality about them... when made correctly that is.
Why do we drink?
- Perhaps you can say that everybody drinks for slightly different reasons. What i think is important however is to truely consider why you drink, and how that might color what you choose to drink.
The Final Test
- I love to try to understand who my bartender is, what they know, and what exactly their attitude is about the cocktails they might make. Playing "Stump The Bartender" is never in good form, but that doesn't mean you can't test them a little bit.
- Ok, so maybe the bartender has done their training, and they can flawlessly execute an Old Fashioned. But do they have the drive, the motivation, and the passion to really have what it takes to be a great bartender?
Passing the test
- In France, one of the basic tests of a chef is simply to see how well they can make an omelette. Sure, it might be a very simple and common dish, but it still takes skill, knowledge, and passion to make it properly. Likewise, I have a cocktail which I have found helps me understand if a bartender really has a firm foundation of the art of the cocktail.
Shaken or Stirred
- It is that age old issue, do you shake or stir your Martini? In fact it is a question that should be asked about any cocktail. Do YOU know the answer?
Rise and Fall of the Martini
- Aside from those drinks that have disappeared entirely, I doubt that there is any cocktail today which has suffered more from the ravages of time then that Martini.
- Cocktail Popularity
Paying attention to the trends around you can be both educational, as well as entertaining.
The Bitter Truth
- Far to often overlooked, bitters have been an essential ingredient to the cocktail since... well, since the very begining. If you only have a single dusty bottle of Angostura that is spending far too much time being ignored and forgotten, then perhaps you need to learn a little more about how bitters can truely express the craftsmanship of a well turned cocktail.
- One of the most common questions I get is "what is the origin of the cocktail?". An innocent question indeed, but one which does not have an easy answer.
- It is my personal belief that one of the inherit problems with the cocktail, is that many people feel that its landscape is so complex and confusing that it is outside of their comfort range. Hopefully, this is sometihng that I can help people overcome.
The Cocktail Nation
- It is something that continues to confound me, but Americans appear to be virtually defined by their focus on "quantity" over "Quality". Why is it that "more" of something of inferior quality is often preferred over "less" of something of higher Quality?
The Journey Begins
- It is commonly said that every journey begins with but a single step. Looking back over what has since become a rather exciting journey, it is amazing to reflect upon the rather simple beginnings that was the single step.