Tuesday, May 11, 2010

World Cocktail week

The anniversary of the first printing of the word "cocktail" is the cause for celebration around the country. The "cocktail" is one of the most precious original items in our collective American culinary culture and it should be celebrated. At Elixir we're going to do so by featuring the Pisco Punch all day long and for only $5. The profits of which we will give to the Museum of the American Cocktail to help support their efforts to preserve and advance American cocktail culture.

Why the Pisco Punch? because is fundamentally the most recognized and famous cocktail to come out of San Francisco. It was created in 1893 by saloonkeeper Duncan Nicol utilizing some key ingredients that are also part of our San Francisco history:

Peruvian Pisco - Because of the trade routes that came around South America and landed in the San Francisco Bay, we had a regular supply of pisco coming out of the Port of Pisco, Peru. This unaged brandy is made from a variety of grapes and most notably the Italia. We don't have regular access to the Italia varietal today, but Barsol Pisco aims to change that and currently offers us the Quebranta varietal, which is very versatile and delicious. Pisco was a very abundant and popular spirit in the Barbary Coast days. You can pick some up here. In a further evolution of the category, local bartender and latin cocktail bar proprietor (Cantina) Duggan McDonnell is due to launch his own Pisco very soon. This Acholado version is a blend of various grapes and Duggan did the blending himself in Peru. Called "Encanto", it's a tasty product and will do a lot to help build this promising category.

Pineapple Gum Syrup - Pineapples were a very exotic and high end product in Victorian days. You didn't just go to the corner store and pick up a Dole branded, perfectly looking pineapple on a whim. Instead the pineapple image appears in architecture, print and even clothing design of the era as it conveyed a touch of class and adventure. The unique and luxurious flavor was preserved and utilized in cocktails by cooking it into a simple syrup that was thickened by Gum Arabic, making it viscous and smooth. Jennifer Colliau gets the credit for bringing that ingredient back to life via her Small Hand Foods company. She's a local San Francisco bartender that saw the need for many of the syrups we need to make high quality cocktails and she built a company around it. Her products are excellent and are now available to the public as well. GO look for them or check out SmallHandFoods.com

Lemon Juice is a quite simply an indispensable cocktail ingredient and provides the acid to balance the sweetness of the syrup. When combining these three ingredients we get a simple punch that is delicious and dangerously quaffable.

I also make a variation on this cocktail that I put on the menu at the JW Marriott's Level III menu when I did that program. I call it The Bank Exchange Punch and it is simply the same recipe with a dash of St. Elizabeth's Allspice Dram, another reincarnation of a Barbary Coast era cocktail ingredient that was lost for many years, then known as Pimento Dram. This adds a pleasant note of warm baking spices. I like the drink both ways. Being a very basic drink built off of the sour formula, you can make variations on this pretty easily. Just take one flavorful component and add a touch of it. I did it with the Dram, but you can add a floral note with something like St. Germain or any number of products. Just be sure to keep your sweet and sour in balance and don't drown out the pisco. Enjoy!

Pisco Punch
(taken from SmallHandFoods.com)
Duncan Nichol, San Francisco, 1893

2 oz Pisco
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
¾ oz pineapple gum syrup

Shake all ingredients vigorously in mixing tins, then strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Square One and Perfect Puree Cocktails

I was recently asked to create some cocktails using the line of Perfect Puree products combined with the Square One line. I took the opportunity of a guest bartending stint at Elixir's neighboring new jazz joint, CODA, to experiment with the samples given me in order to have some solid recipes to bring to the Nightclub and Bar Show in Las Vegas. At "The Show" I featured a few of these to expose the masses to the joys of simple cocktails with quality ingredients. Try some of these at your home or bar...

Playa de Pepino
1.5oz Square One Cucumber
2oz Perfect Puree “Beverage Artistry” Mojito
1 barspoon Perfect Puree Ginger Puree
3-4 large basil leaves
1 oz Soda water
In a mixing glass, lightly muddle the basil leaves. Add the ginger, Square One Cucumber and PP Mojito and fill with ice. Shake well for 10 seconds. Add soda water and stir. Strain over fresh ice and tall. Garnish with a cucumber slice and a mint sprig.

A Bitter Heart

2oz Square One Botanical
.5oz Campari
2oz Perfect Puree “Beverage Artistry” El Corazon
5 inches of fresh rosemary sprig
In a mixing tin, strip ¾ of the rosemary sprig leaves in and set aside a good looking short top of the sprig for garnish. Muddle the rosemary and add the remaining ingredients. Fill with ice and shake hard for 10 seconds. Strain up into a cocktail glass and garnish with the rosemary sprig.

Cucumber Yuzu Sour
2oz Square One Cucumber
2oz Perfect Puree “Beverage Artistry” Yuzu Luxe Sour
.5oz egg white
Put all ingredients in a shaker without ice and shake hard for 5 seconds. Add ice and shake hard for another 10 seconds. Strain up into a coup glass and garnish with cucumber skin zest.
Variation: Try the same with the Perfect Puree Mojito or Classic Sweet and Sour

Cucumber Yuzu Cooler
2oz Square One Cucumber
2oz Perfect Puree “Beverage Artistry” Yuzu Luxe Sour
1oz soda water
Put Yuzu Luxe Sour and Square One in a cocktail shaker and shake hard for 10 seconds. Strain over fresh ice in a tall glass and top with soda. Give it a light stir and serve with a straw and a cucumber slice.
Variation: Try the same with the Perfect Puree Mojito or Classic Sweet and Sour

Tangerine Ginger Sour
2oz Square One Botanical
1.5oz Perfect Puree Tangerine Puree
1 bar spoon Perfect Puree Ginger puree
1oz egg white
Put all ingredients in a shaker without ice and shake hard for 5 seconds. Add ice and shake hard for another 10 seconds. Strain up into a coup glass and garnish with tangerine zest or red edible flowers.

The Botanical Chi Chi
2oz Square One Botanical
.5oz Hum Liqueur
2oz Perfect Puree “Beverage Artistry” Passion Colada
1oz Perfect Puree Caramelized Pineapple
In a mixing tin, place the Square One Botanical, Passion Colada and Caramelized Pineapple. Fill with ice and shake hard for 10 seconds (or blend into a frozen drink). Pour into a coup or cocktail glass. Drizzle with Hum Liqueur and garnish with a pineapple chunk (or an orchid).

St. Patty's @ Elixir

Green beer? That was fun in college and the Eighties, but green has taken on a new meaning for me, in case you haven't noticed. Today is a day we celebrate the long Irish tradition in the Mission District. From Hugh Mooney who ran Elixir from 1873 to 1893 to other Proprietors like Patrick J. McGinnis who built the current saloon and Thomas Sheehan who bought it from him and Tony Cassidy, who sold it to me, there have been a lot of St. Patty's celebrations in Elixir.

Well, I'm not Irish by birth, but I spent a lot of time in Irish Catholic educational institutions (GO Eagles!)...and drinking establishments. I learned what it is to be a good neighborhood bar from some of my favorites and it is those principals that guide Elixir to this day.

So today, let's celebrate the good of the Irish, the drink of the Irish and the friendship of the Irish. It has nothing to do with luck.