When I first started bartending, barrel aged cocktails were all the rage. First came the Old Fashioned, then came the Manhattans, Negronis, and any other classic cocktail you could think of. At my own workplace at the time, Fatty Crab, we aged a Boulevardier and a Rosita, with a good deal of success; we had six 5L barrels from Buffalo Trace going at any one time, and we would bottle the cocktails in old Sipsmith gin bottles when the cocktails saw enough time in the barrel.
Now that I’ve been placed in charge of the drinks program at a brand new bar (more details on that here), I thought it was finally time for me to create my own aged cocktail. But where to begin? Continue Reading
It feels like everytime I write a new post, I make an apology for not writing sooner. None so far have yet to measure to the delay of this post, however, as the event I’m covering now happened all the way back in February. Seriously though, between finals, papers, consulting projects (for both bar and otherwise), travel to various cocktail-friendly locales, and moving house, I’ve been swamped.
Almost everyday, we hear of a new spirit making its way to the market. Of particular prolificacy are gins, vodkas, and rums. Even tequilas, to a lesser extent, have been given the silicon valley start-up treatment, and are appearing on the market in an ever increasing number of brands. However, one category that has been noticeably lacking in new entrants is scotch whisky. In the past decade or so, Isle of Arran distillers has been one of the few truly new distillers of scotch whisky
Ahhh, December. What a merry season; Christmas carols full of cheer, the smell of spices in the air, pumpkin lattes here and there, product launches everywhere…
Just a week or so ago, I was invited to Hong Kong’s first Gin Toniqueria for the introduction, by Brand Ambassador Jose Riudavets, of a fabulous new old product, Xoriguer, a Spanish specialty gin with 200 or so years of history. For those of us who don’t speak Spanish, that particular mess of letters is pronounced scho-ri-geh, with an especially gargle-y intonation on the first syllable.
Now, just as interesting as Xoriguer’s name is its origin, which dates as far back as 1708, right in the middle of the Spanish War of Succession. The war of succession was started in 1701, and lasted until 1714, during which time France and Spain were in an alliance against the combined forces of England, Austria, and the Dutch Republic, called the Grand Alliance. The smarter ones among you can probably see where this is going. Continue Reading
The Moscow mule has seen some resurgence of late. It’s become the go to cocktail for those who don’t really like venturing out of their comfort zone, but thats not to say it’s a bad drink. In fact, quite the opposite. Continue Reading
A panda walks into a bar and orders a bamboo. Whether he fires off a few shots and skips out on the check is another matter.
The Bamboo cocktail is old little drink, and no one else seems to tell the history of the cocktail better than the Japan Times. Created in Yokohama, Japan, by a German in the 1890’s for the foreign clientèle of the Grand Hotel, the cocktail seems to have undergone divergent evolution over the ages. Continue Reading
Back in the 1920’s, people were, almost literally, going bananas. More commonly known as the Roaring Twenties, it was a golden era of scientific development, literature and art for some, but definitely not all. Art Deco, the 20th Century Express railway line, unprecedented economic gains, the victor’s thrill after the end of WWI… and testicular grafts?
So in between my day job and my real job, I was preparing for my entry into the 2014 Diageo World Class cocktail competition, which is, most people would say, one of the biggest event in the competition calendar.
One of the aspects of the DWC is that on top of a cocktail presentation and a blind tasting challenge, they include a written examination, which covers an impossibly wide range of topics, from facts about base alcohol, the origin and trivia of spirits and liqueurs, to the history and ingredients of cocktails.
Naturally, being a studious, academically minded fellow, I took to my preparations as only an Asian engineer can, slogging through texts and articles in every free moment, taking down even the most obscure of details. Information about various spirits and alcohol itself was easy to come by, being, after all, a matter of historical and scientific record. Unfortunately, when it came to the history of classic cocktails, it was anything but straight up (see what I did there?)