There was a huge gap in my blog posts, and thats primarily because I felt suffocated at my post in The Ocean. Good news is that I’ve resigned from my position there, and will be starting a new job soon. Yay!
While I polish up some articles that have been stuck in limbo since forever, have a gander at some new entries in my Original Recipe section
Mis Dos Pequenas
Future Present Passed
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
You could be the diva of the dive bar, the resident at a primo hotel bar, or fancy yourself the master of the craft at a fancy cocktail bar, but nothing will prepare you for work as a non-bar nomad.
Now this was a rocking party. Absolut Elyx X Davidoff Cigars event, 700 guests vs 2 bartenders.
By non-bar, I mean the entirely unsuitable area some client has designated in his kitchen as the place for his guests to collect drinks, or even worse, that god-awful 4ft long folding contraption somebody had the audacity to call a ‘bar’ that’s been set up at a convention hall for some corporate function. Now I can’t say I’m a veteran of these private events, but I think I’ve done enough work at the non-bar to divulge some of the helpful tips below for the entrepreneurial bartender so that he or she doesn’t ruin their first ever private event and earns the chance for repeat customers and a little extra cash in their hand.
Now that I’m back in HK, I’ve been trying to get my original cocktail page up to date by filling in the pages with photos of the cocktails. I’ve updated the Madam Marguerite and Bohemian Sour with a cocktail photo.
Since these cocktails were contributions to the menu of a consultation client, I had the shoot at that very same bar, but I’ll be honest, the bar isn’t the best for photographs. Poor lighting, odd backdrops, an tiled bar that doesn’t look great in a closeup… It doesn’t help that the cocktail garnishes hasn’t been very well implemented after I signed off on the project; management made an odd choice in glassware, the accessories are the wrong size, or the wrong type all together. If I have time, I’ll try and do a shoot again with the garnish and glassware faithful to the image I had in my head.
On the plus side, I’ve learned a valuable lesson. Even if you provide a detailed description and set of instructions for someone, its not enough to ensure that they follow through on your concept. Everything, and I mean everything, even the things you think should be taken for common sense, should be provided on a sliver platter.
With all the love that soju has been getting these days, it seems unfair that I haven’t yet devoted any time to China’s national spirit baijiu (白酒), especially since I’ve been bumming around Shanghai for two months.
Now baijiu is a difficult subject to broach, especially if you’re, for all intents and purposes, a foreigner like myself. There is a huge deal of baijiu on the market, but the marketing is heavily skewed towards the local Chinese market, and more to the point, Chinese aficionados. The result is that there’s scarce amounts of English literature a pedestrian such as myself would have access to, and what little there is is typically written by the rare westerner that fell in love with baijiu years ago when they visited the Middle Kingdom on business.
Let’s face it. Baijiu is not a popular spirit as far as Americans are concerned. The pungent and quite simply indescribable nose of fermented sorghum (though somewhat familiar to Korea’s old fashioned Andong soju) is often too much for the uninitiated. The ABV is frequently as brain numbingly high at 60% or more. The packaging is kitschy and antiquated, especially when compared side-by-side with modern liquor bottles (Tanqueray 10 and Bacardi’s new bottles? Phwoar). Worst of all, for me at least, the taste of baijiu is so intense, you can’t make a drink with baijiu without blowing all the other flavours in the drink to oblivion.
How fortunate we are to be alive in this era then, when up steps a company like byejoe, the spirit of China to challenge everything there is to dislike about baijiu. I dropped a line to byejoe’s Shanghai office, but it turned out that byejoe’s President and CEO, Matt Trusch was at their Texas headquarters at the time. Luckily, Matt was kind enough to grant me an interview by phone and fill me in on byejoe’s back story. Continue Reading
You know how I said the bartending community sticks together? Case in point, no sooner did I reach out to the Shanghainese bartender crowd was I invited to attend the Chivas Masters finals! (Lots of pretty photos this edition. more on tumblr! Or Instagram!) For those of you unfamiliar with the format of the Chivas Masters, contenders need to create four cocktails representing four distinct styles, from the four different cocktail eras; the Classic Era, Continue Reading
I was browsing around the internet quite recently, doing a bit of research, when I came across this article about the so called Whisky Wedge. Fortunately, the author of the site seems to know something about scotch (a gross understatement, believe me), enough to sniff out a whiff of bulls***.
Worry not, sir, your suspicions are well founded. I need not even use the thing myself to know exactly why and how this product will fail to deliver on their promise.
The tragedy here is that the creators of the whiskey wedge, I’m sure, had nothing but the most benevolent of intentions when they imagined up this device (surely they would not dare to cheat Joe Whisky Drinker out of his money? Its not like the same company sells a piece of stainless steel for USD50 to chill your wine) They even correctly identified one of the characteristics that controls melting, surface area, so there is a hint of truth in their claims. Unfortunately, they make a few mistakes that any bartender with a bit of experience could have easily pointed out.