Since everyone seemed to enjoy my last post on the craft of bartending and the intricacies of the profession (21 visits in one day = AWESOME and thank you!), I am following up on that interest by debunking some myths about liquor that bartenders are pouring every night and the mysteries behind the labels of those bottles.
I could probably write a book just on this subject alone, but for purposes here, I am listing MY biggest pet peeves behind the bar. There’s no easy way to say this: A bad bartender can ruin an otherwise good night, especially if it's that one time you and your date, spouse, partner, or mistress decide to have a night out. Nobody wants to be faced with an inattentive, surly, or irresponsible bartender—it’s just no fun. I'm sure most of you can relate to having this experience.
Rhubarb is an obscure plant and doesn’t get the recognition it deserves as far as being unique flavor ingredient in cocktail. Rhubarb’s long, spindly stalks are a good sign that spring has arrived. The spring is the time of the year that mixologists get excited about the plethora of harvested herbs, berries, grapefruit, stone fruits, and the little known, rhubarb that are available. It allows for much creativity, innovation, experimentation, and flavor contrasts in your cocktail shakers.
The humble grapefruit is a very under-rated fruit. Now is the time to appreciate its simplicity since we are at the time of season where it starts to peak. Often looked upon as a flavorless and boring, the grapefruit has a lot to offer in terms of cocktail balance and flavor. To cocktail enthusiasts and gurus, it has many applications and has been used in cocktails since the turn of the century. The grapefruit isn’t ‘hip’ and the terms ‘exotic’ and ‘esoteric’ doesn’t apply to this fruit in today’s cocktail vernacular, like passion fruit, plum, acai berry, etc…
Over the last two months, readers have been nominating and voting for their favorite distilled spirits in 10 categories and the results are in for the winning brands. It is an interesting mix and it is obvious that these brands (some of which are relatively unknown) have a strong following and loyal fans. This may be an indication that they're something to try if you haven't already.
Here are the winners in each of the 10 categories. Search for cocktails with these fine spirits.
Bourbon and Scotch may be the most popular, but the drink of choice for many whiskey connoisseurs is increasingly a glass of classic rye whiskey.
Up until recently, this historic American spirit was fading into obscurity. Liquor stores and bars usually stocked just a few old, dusty bottles. But there has been a miraculous rebirth of the rye category, and drinkers now prize its big, spicy and brash flavors. Distillers are now struggling to keep up with demand.
The end of March/early April is unofficially "Whiskies of the World" season with many festivals around the globe celebrating all kinds of whiskey, whether you're into Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, Irish, Canadian, or Sour Mash...There's something for everyone...Stay tuned this week for a discussion on the plethora of whiskies out there and the brands that made the 'cut' for being the 'best' by readers' choice this past year (official results will be available first week of April)...Also, I will list some new and innovative cocktails that can be mixed up using these fine and undiscovered spirits...
National Absinthe Day is March 5. Absinthe is an anise-flavored spirit that was originally 136 proof and made with grande wormwood. It is typically made by distilling neutral grain spirits with herbs, predominately anise, florence fennel and grande wormwood. Other herbs such as angelica root, coriander, dittany leaves, hyssop, juniper, nutmeg, melissa, star anise, sweet flag, and veronica are also used.