Category Archives: Cocktail Bars

A Few Thoughts on Consistency

As most of you know, I have a hard time with recipes. Maybe it’s my theatre training, or maybe it’s just laziness, but I love to improvise. When I cook, I either invent something new based on what’s in the fridge/what looks good at the supermarket, or I start with a vague idea, look up a recipe, and then proceed to change it entirely. I almost never write down amounts of anything I use. I like to think of it as using the force, but I run into problems all the time when I bring something delicious to a pot luck or dinner party, and someone asks me for the recipe.  Errrr…. Usually the best I can do is a list of ingredients and a rough description of the process.

My approach to cocktails is more or less the same. I don’t run into the “can I have the recipe” problem as much with drinks because most people assume that mixing craft cocktails at home is difficult (it’s not), and are happy to drink whatever I happen to make for them at the time. The problem, however occurs when a cocktail turns out really well, or if I want to make another round of whatever I made the first time, but I have a hard time replicating it exactly.

Recently I read an interview of two amazingly talented bartenders. One of them (Lucie Wood)  happens to be the sister of a friend, so maybe I’m biased, but she said two things in the article that were particularly relevant for me as a home mixologist. One was, “Don’t waste money buying expensive mixers. It’s easy to make your own grenadine and infused simple syrups, and it’s way more fun than buying it.” This is pretty much my purpose in creating this blog, so: validation! From an expert!

The second was, “The key to a great cocktail is balance, and the key to a good bar is consistency. There’s nothing worse than ordering a drink from one bartender and enjoying it, then ordering a second one from another bartender and it’s completely different. That’s why we feel it’s vitally important to use measuring tools.” Ok, confession time: I was definitely one of those bartenders who took pride in my eye-balling, free-pouring abilities. I’m not running a bar (at least not currently), but I do want people to consistently enjoy the cocktails I make. And I want people to be able to replicate them at home, whether it’s from a recipe I give them or from reading this blog. So thank you, Lucie Wood. I will do my very best to use measuring tools, and write down my recipes from now on. Pinkie swear.

If you’re interested in the full article, you can find it here. Oh, and there’s even a part two. And if you ever find yourself in Fullerton, you should definitely visit her bar, Steamers.

Coming soon: fall infusions. Look for something spiced up and bourbon-y, and possibly pumpkin pie vodka. Happy mixing!

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Filed under Cocktail Bars, Mixology Philosophy

Tour De New York

The cocktail shaker in our apartment has bee less active this summer due to some extensive traveling (all domestic, rather than exotic I’m afraid). I did manage to finally get my hands on some lavender to make a simple syrup. The recipe and drink suggestions will follow shortly. While in New York last week, my fiance and I were treated to a tour of the Big Apple’s finest cocktail establishments, courtesy of our friend Ryan. As everyone knows, the key to a woman’s heart is a fancy cocktail (or maybe that’s just me), and these places definitely won me over.

First stop was the hotel bar at the Crosby Street Hotel, which had the most artistic decor of the evening, with a wall of lamps made out of telephones.

Hello? Is anybody there?

I had a lemongrass-pear bellini, which was nice enough, but I definitely had drink envy of Sarah’s mojito. Ryan ordered a tequila-based cocktail called “Peppers and Peach,” which looked amazing, but spicy drinks are not my thing. Nor is tequila really.  Too many shots of Jose Cuervo in college, I guess. The most interesting drink in this bar was Justin’s “Kentucky Julius,” which consisted of Buffalo Trace bourbon, Liquor 43, orange juice, egg white, cinnamon simple, Lagunitas IPA, nutmeg, with the Lagunitas IPA served as a shot inside the empty egg shell floating on top of the glass like a little boat. Unfortunately, the egg whites prevented me from trying it, but he assured me it was damn tasty.

Not our actual cocktails. We drank them too fast to get photos.

Next stop was the The Bourgeois Pig, famous for its plushy chaise lounges and champagne punch. I ordered the Bergamont Toddy, which had Earl Grey-infused Lillet Blanc, lemon, and honey. All I can say is that my next infusion will be vodka with Earl Grey tea in an attempt to recreate this cocktail at home. Our friends ordered one of the champagne punch bowls. I think it had blackberries in it? In any case, it was delicious, but dangerous. The menus says it serves 2-4, but if two people finished it off by themselves, it might not be pretty. It arrived in a giant metal bowl with a giant round ice cube floating in the middle and some dainty Victorian crystal mugs with which to scoop the punch out of the bowl.

This is not one of my friends, nor is this our actual punch bowl. The lighting was too dim for photos. Or maybe we just forgot. In any case, ours looked just like this one, if you substitute a smiling redhead for the smiling blonde girl.

Even with four of us helping, we closed down the bar and stumbled out of there. Not content to let the night end, however, because damnit, this is New York! Bars here close at 4am, and it was only a mere 2:30. So what if it was a Wednesday night, there had to be something open. Luckily Ryan was captaining the ship and lead us to a place called Employees Only, which will be reviewed in another post because, well, this one is already too long. I also realized that I skipped one from the beginning of the night. Until next time, dear readers.

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