Monday, December 3, 2012

'Tis The Season (for Tequila!)

Today marks the beginning of the Holiday Season in my head. I define it as the first Monday of December. I don't even go for that "just after Thanksgiving" crap. I need a week to digest and get rid of the orange and brown decor in favor of green and red. And what else is green and red? The Mexican flag! So bring out the tequila! Here's the egg nog we've made at Elixir for years. I call it...

A la minute recipe:
1.5 oz Añejo tequila (El Tesoro, 7 Leguas, Fortaleza, Milagro or another añejo that retains strong agave flavor)
4oz chilled Fresh Egg Nog*
Wide Orange Twist

In an Old Fashioned glass or other bucket style glass (snifters or wine glasses are nice too because they capture the aroma of the burnt orange oil), combine the tequila and egg nog and stir well. Cut a half dollar-sized twist of orange peel just deep enough to not include any pith. Light a match, and hold the twist over the glass with two fingers, pointing the rind side at the surface of the drink. Place the burning match between the twist and the drink and squeeze the drink, sending the oils through the flame and onto the surface of the glass. (Be careful not to burn yourself, but make sure you see the oils ignite as they spray.) Drop the twist in the glass and serve. (This can also be served on the rocks, but don’t let it dilute too much or you’ll ruin the rich, creamy texture.)

*Fresh Organic Egg Nog (use all organic ingredients)
4 organic egg yolks
1/3 cup organic sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint organic whole milk*                
1 cup organic heavy cream* 
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 organic egg whites*
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream and nutmeg and stir to combine. Set aside in a refrigerator and store until service time, reserving the whites separately. At service time, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a cold metal mixing bowl) and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the mixture. Chill and serve.
*to make a slightly lighter version, use half in half

Mixologist’s Notes:
This twist on the classic egg nog takes advantage of the traditional flavors of a barrel-aged spirit, but twists it with the spice of an añejo tequila instead of the normal brandy, bourbon or rum. By using a high quality añejo tequila in particular, you’ll usually get nice citrus notes which are highlighted by the toasted orange oils sprayed on the surface.

Service Notes:
The whipping of the egg whites is key to the fluffy texture of a great egg nog. The “a la minute” recipe above is for keeping the nog in a pourable container and serving one by one as ordered. This allows you to have a nog with no spirit in case anyone wants a non-alcoholic version or prefers a different spirit.

For service over time, as in a commercial bar or to preserve in your home over the holidays, add ~16oz of Añejo to your egg nog batch, stir well and store in well-cleaned, well-sealed glass bottles (2x liter bottles should do the trick). The addition of spirit will fortify the batch and give it a shelf life of 2-3 weeks (check with your local scientist for precise shelf stability, I’m just a bartender!) THEN, when you serve a glass, use a hand blender, milk frother or wire whisk to fluff the drink and bring back the texture (at Elixir we use a milk shake machine).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Mixology 101 Class

I'm back! I figure it will take a while to get this thing going again. But here I go. If you've seen this, chime in to let me know you're reading!

My Mixology 101 Class

I'm teaching my regular monthly class tonight at 7pm, so i figured I'd start by talking about this class in particular. Education is one of the things I am most passionate about because I know how much information there is to understand and how fun and interesting it all is. Teaching this class for the public each month keeps me excited about how much people love to learn.

Besides this once a month Open Enrollment class, I (and some of my Instructors) teach this class many times throughout the month as Company Team-builder Events and Client Entertainment Outings. Check out some pictures of these events on The Boothby Center Facebook page. If you are interested in that, please email me.

This class is all about understanding three key formulas, upon which a great deal of the drinks we drink today are based: the Cocktail, the Sour and the Collins. The following describes what is covered in class.

Cocktail: Spirit (strong), Sugar (sweet), Bitters (bitter), Water (weak)
For this we make Manhattans and Martinis and we do them both shaken and stirred. In this lesson we use the Boston Shaker, the Julep and Hawthorne Strainers, the Bar Spoon, and Cocktail Glasses (aka, "martini glasses"). I teach a 2/1/2 formula of 2 parts strong (whiskey, vodka, gin) , 1 part sweet (vermouth), 2 dashes bitters (Ango and/or Orange) and 3 parts weak (ice providing chill and dilution). We start with the stirred drink and discuss all of the Ingredients (production, flavor profiles and role in a mixed drink), Timing and Role of Ice, Mouthfeel, Physics of Mixing Liquids and Effects of Stirring vs. Shaking. We discuss and demonstrate Citrus Peel Garnishes and oils (vs. conventional olives and cherries) using the Channel Knife, Peeler or Paring Knife. Then we do a shaken version and learn how to Crack/Break The Tin. Lastly we discuss Rocks vs. Up and other Cocktail recipes like the Old Fashioned and Sazerac.

Sour: Acid, Alcohol, Sugar, Water
After covering citrus peel in the last lesson we discuss How to Buy, Store, Prepare and Use Fresh Citrus Juice,  the concept of Sweet and Sour Balance, the Sour Across Spirits, deciding on the Quantity of Principal Spirits, Liqueurs and Sweeteners and, finally, Agave Spirits, before making a Classic Margarita (with Cointreau) or a Tommy's Margarita (with Agave Nectar).  The Citrus Press is introduced and Lime and Salt Garnishes are discussed, but not employed.

Collins: Acid, Alcohol, Sugar, Soda Water
Lastly, we look at the transformation of a Sour Into Collins, Rum, Use of Herbs in Cocktails, Modifying Flavor Ingredients, Tall/Long Drinks, and finally, Why You Just Made The Best Mojito You've Ever Had. Then we take a group photo!

April 4th, 2012 class, photo by Jonathan Fong
The class takes 2-3 hours depending on how chatty and interactive the group is. I recommend eating beforehand and not driving. You are free to drink your four cocktails, but you don't have to, of course. Please be smart.

Once you've done this class you'll be prepared to open any cocktail book and get cracking at home. You'll also be more prepared to order drinks the way YOU like them, in order to get the drink you want (and deserve!), making your cocktailing experience all the more pleasurable.

I hope you'll join us one of these days!