28 March 2008

Jason Crawley Interview

1. What is the first cocktail you ever made?

Harvey Wallbanger – messed it right up too!

2. What are your 3 favourite drinks plus recipes; old, new and your own?
White Lady, equal parts Plymouth Gin, Lemon, Cointreau & tear sized egg white, dribbled in and shaken.

Wayne’s ‘Lady Marmalade’, same recipe but with a teaspoon of Grapefruit marmalade.

‘Platypus Martini’ – 60ml Level Vodka, 1 x childs tear size droplet of Pernod and 1 x childs tear sized Ardbeg 10yr, stirred, served with an Onion.

3.Tell us about a new flavour you have discovered recently?

New flavour? I have made a great Roast Chestnut and Burnt Orange Bitters, lovely.

4. If you could pass just one thing, on to an apprentice bartender what would it be?

Be nice, and very tidy.

5. What does the future hold for yourself and what do you see happening in the future in the industry?
I am currently writing a (humorous) book, which I hope will entertain anyone who has experienced being faced with the general public. I just hope it sells! In the meantime I am very happy continuing to help to raise standards in the industry and to some extent, inspire a new generation of bartenders who attend my MIXXIT training sessions and read my articles. The future of the industry will be decided by the application and attitude of the next generations of bartenders. Hopefully they will aspire to help serve the general public in meaningful ways (and probably with waxed moustaches) with coherent quality products.

6. What has been your biggest satisfaction from working behind the bar?

Gaining perspective of the World around me, but as an experience, getting a couple engaged with an old bar trick and a ring.

7. If you were to have a conversation with a cocktail, (and presuming it could talk back to you and tell you its past). Which cocktail would it be and why?

Great question, as I have never considered this! I guess it would have to be the ‘original’ Martini in its infancy. Only so, we can put its history to bed, but then again maybe that is why we love it so much, in the same way ‘JAWS’ was a great film, as it did not show us the full Shark till near the end!

8. What influences your drinks from outside the industry?
Art, definitely. More recently, may I say ‘mainstream’ (?) artist D Hurst’ with his jewelled skull, took me down a new road, which I have not yet finished travelling. However, from a flavour perspective it has always been ‘semantics’.

9. If you where to break a bartending golden rule what would it be?

Wearing carpet slippers instead of ‘black polish-able shoes’

10. Outside of flavour and the craft of the cocktail what in your opinion effects the appreciation of cocktails the most?
Presentation and theatre.

11. If you where to champion a cocktail which would it be?
I do like the Harvard Cocktail.

26 March 2008

Buchi RotaVapor

Close up of the condenser chamber.....

Class Magazine May 2008 Rota Vapor Article

I remember the first time I saw the Rota vapour a couple of years ago at the lab at Fat Duck, at first I thought that it looks like it has all the components of a still on a small scale. I remember going through a mental checklist; thinking it has a condenser, it has an evaporation bulb and a receiver, but what is all the other stuff? After numerous questions and a few trails on it I realized that this was a machine for me! The possibilities it would, and has opened, are incredible for a bartender. It has allowed me to incorporate flavours I had previously found impossible to use.

The Rota Vapour (the name of the particular make I use)is in essence a vacuum still, this implies that you can distil things at lower pressures, therefore allowing you to boil your liquids to condensation at lower temperatures. This is enabled as the whole unit is a closed chamber with a pump which sucks the air out, the chamber is regulated by a digital control panel. An example of how this works; if you look at mountaineers on Everest, when they boil water it will boil at 69 degrees as the pressure is a lot lower due to the height. The advantage for this is, if you can boil samples in liquid at a lower temperature; for example, herbs for which high temperature will damage the volatiles, you can add less heat and the volatiles will not get damaged. Another good example of this is in Shochu distilling. In some instances you have very delicate rice notes which are preserved more when distilled at low pressure, you also find this happening a lot in the perfume industry where they have very delicate volatiles.

In practical terms this has allowed me to distil the essence of numerous herbs, flowers, zests and fruits that had previously been difficult to obtain. One particularly successful method I have found is to marinate my subject in alcohol, then distil the alcohol off,
leaving the essence of the plant which the alcohol has extracted in the evaporating bulb. I have found that more often than not what is left behind in the bulb is just as
good as what is in the evaporated end. This is how I started making tinctures, which I can add to bottles of alcohol as a hint of flavour, or in drinks doing roughly the same job.

You can also redistill spirits to add flavour, so for example you can put your flavour in with the spirit and evaporate it all off. So what you get in the receiving end of the rotavapor is the redistilled spirit with the volatiles and flavour perfectly incorporated to the spirit.
It is completely clear as all the vegetal mass is left in the evaporating bulb.

The heat source is a Bain Marie with an electronic temperature gauge. As a point of interest the Bain Marie was invented by an alchemist called Maria the Jewess from Alexandria in 100 b.c.
As with a lot of this equipment, this is just the high tech version of what alchemists/distillers have been using for hundreds of years, this by comparison is just very very accurate. This machinery deserves accuracy in return to obtain the best results, I find it best to write everything down, as even small variances can produce very different results, so keeping a log I found to be the best method of getting consistent results. It really does place a lot of emphasis back in the hands of the bartender as you don’t have to wait for a drinks company to invent such and such flavoured spirit; its more a question of this week I will be making!!!

There are other stills you can use from different companies and costs but I have found this to be the most complete BUCHI R210.

Further information contact BUCHI on 01616331000.

20 March 2008

Vintage Manhattans

The idea of a vintage cocktail came to me when I was, as ever, revisiting the classics. Knowing that I would be making them numerous times over the years to come, as in the years before, I was struck by the thought that the evolution of drinks is almost Darwinian: the best ones outlast their competition and many have survived from the 20s or even earlier.

Following the theory of evolution, I then wondered if it was possible to make the best ones even better without just changing the obvious components: products and proportions.

After reading a number of papers, I was particularly inspired by a piece by Harold Mcgee which talked about the effect of oxidisation on wine. A Spanish friend had recently given me a 70-year-old bottle of an aperitif and I had been amazed how good it tasted. The flavours had matured and mellowed due to the residual air in the bottle. Barrels and staves where used tried but did not work in my opinion.

Hence the question. Could I use oxidisation in a positive way, controlling the process and thus refortifying not only sweet vermouth but even bourbon, and so improve the Manhattan? So I mixed together ten different bottles of sweet vermouth, bourbon and bitters, allowed a little air to enter them, then sealed them and lay them down...

After three months I found the result was dire and gave up on the project as another failed experiment. However, six months later, when clearing out the cellar of the bar, I came across my forgotten bottles. I was about to throw them away when I thought to taste them.

To my surprise, the flavours had blended together perfectly to give a mellower and smoother cocktail. So I laid down a whole batch in preparation for the next few years and now I have some that are over four years old!

The Vintage Manhattan

Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl – DO NOT ADD ICE!
Once combined completely pour the mixture into clean bottles using a funnel.
Allow a little air in the top then seal them tightly.
Leave in a dark place at room temperature for a year.

When aged serve as would a normal Manhattan

19 March 2008

Featured Drink

Jim Meehan of PDT in New York introduced me to this Trader Vic drink whilst last in there.

Royal Bermuda Yachtclub Cocktail
2 oz Mt Gay Eclipse
1 oz lime juice
.5 oz Cointreau
.5 oz Falernum
Add all of the ingredients then add ice
Shake and strain into a chilled coupe
Garnish with a lime wheel

18 March 2008

The Wink

The Wink is a drink that i first made back in 2003 is a sazerac style of drink with gin as the base, a subtle hint of anise from the absinthe rinse, an orange hint from both the dash of triple sec and the orange twist (which is discarded). The last ingredient is a drop of peychaud bitters. The garnish is a Wink...;)