Gone chupacabra hunting

After a quick stop at Rickhouse in San Francisco tonight, I’ll be catching a flight to Guadalajara with a group of bartenders to celebrate Día de los Muertos and tour tequila distilleries. Call it vacation, call it professional development, either way I won’t be blogging. I’ll be back late next week.


Seigle Sour

Encanto 012

I promised one more cocktail with the spiced plantain syrup, and here it is. This is one Kyle and I served as a special at Metrovino a few nights ago, the Seigle Sour:

2 oz rye whiskey
.75 oz lemon juice
.75 oz spiced plantain syrup
1 egg white
Cherribiscus Spiced Bitters

Combine all but the bitters in a mixing tin, dry shake, then shake again with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the bitters.

Wild Turkey 101 works great as the rye in this drink. The bitters were made by Evan Martin with Novo Fogo cachaca as a base; feel free to substitute a different aromatic bitter.


Pisco con Platanos


My drink for this year’s Great American Distiller’s Festival cocktail competition this year was a Pisco Sour with spiced plantain foam. Though the drink was tasty, it didn’t win. Lesson for next year: Serve a cocktail with multiple foams. The judges will never see that coming.

Seriously though, this was a fun cocktail to work on. The Encanto Pisco is a wonderful spirit. It’s good neat and I imagine one could make some very good spirit-driven cocktails pairing it with vermouth, liqueurs, and bitters. I went in an entirely different direction with this twist on a Pisco Sour:

1.75 oz Encanto Pisco
.75 lime juice
.5 oz Dimmi
.5 oz spiced plantain syrup
2 dashes Amargo Chuncho bitters
spiced plantain foam

Shake the liquid ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, top with the spiced plantain foam, and serve.

One of the nice thing about the Encanto Pisco is that it actually tastes like a spirit distilled from fruit, which is more than I can say for some lower-quality piscos on the market. I wanted to play up that aspect, pairing it with the partially grappa-based Dimmi liqueur and one of my favorite foods, ripe plantains. The syrup is easy to make:

8 oz simple syrup (1:1 sugar and water)
1 ripe plantain, peeled and sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise

Simmer to extract flavor, about 10 minutes. Let cool and strain.

I used this syrup in both the drink and the foam. The foam is made with juice from sweet limes, which are much less tart than the usual lime and has a mild flavor that complements the Pisco Sour. If these are unavailable two ounces of lime juice diluted with six ounces of water is an acceptable substitute, but the sweet limes are the way to go if one can find them.

8 oz sweet lime juice
6 oz spiced plantain syrup
4 egg whites
4 dashes Amargo Chuncho bitters

Combine in a whipped cream canister, charge with an NO2 charger, and shake. (Method loosely based on Morgenthaler’s proportions.) This should make enough for a solid 10 drinks and will keep for a few days if one can resist eating it with a spoon.

Foams have become a bit cliché and I was a reluctant to use one, but in this case it works. A Pisco Sour is supposed to have foam. Rather than shaking an egg white into it, this version has the egg white foam layered on separately. This gives it an incredibly smooth texture and allows one to incorporate more flavors into it. It’s a lot of work to prep but it tastes great and the plantain syrup has potential in lots of other cocktails, one of which I’ll post tomorrow.

Previously: My GADF cocktail from last year


Links for 10/27/10

Want to know your bartender’s secret shame? The Willamette Week caught up with a few us at Portland Cocktail Week to ask us about our guilty pleasures and several other things. (You already know what I like.)

All the attempts to popularize Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem seem to be demonstrating why it’s hard to popularize; I certainly don’t get it fully. Steven Landsburg makes perhaps the best attempt.

CEI takes a look at the proposal to privatize liquor sales in Virginia. Aside from high excise taxes, it looks like a plan that will be much better for consumers. Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, the Republican candidate for governor is pushing for privatization there too.

Rob Liefeld’s interpretation of biblical scripture is… unique.

Precio justo, precio capitalista. More from the NYT.

Poor Chuck:


Entertaining with cocktails in the O

I have an article in the Oregonian today and amazingly it’s not about smoking bans. It’s about how to entertain guests at home without spending the entire night behind the bar. Of the three drinks included, only one is a individually mixed cocktail. The other two are a liqueur-spiked hot chocolate and a punch excerpted from David Wondrich’s forthcoming book, Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl.

I can’t recommend Wondrich’s book highly enough. He’s done a tremendous amount of work tracking down punch recipes, obtaining obscure ingredients, and translating incomplete instructions into methods readers can reproduce at home. This is a fascinating part of drinking history that’s been largely forgotten, and Wondrich’s research into the culture surrounding punch is of even greater interest than the drinks themselves. The book is a game changer. If you want to serve punches at home, be sure to pick it up a copy. It comes out November 2.

I should also mention that I’m joining the amazing staff at Metrovino. This is one of my favorite restaurants in Portland, with fantastic food and an amazing wine list. Their cocktails and spirit selection have also been very good, but up until now they haven’t had a full-time bar manager. I’m happy to say that my friend Kyle Webster, formerly of Noble Rot, has come on board to take over that role and put even more focus on spirits and cocktails. I’m coming in to join him once or week or so. Kyle’s first menu is already live, so stop in soon to check it out.


Links for 10/20/10

It takes a full 10 seconds to scroll through all the tabs I have open in Firefox right now. Time for some overdue linkage…

Radley Balko makes the case for abolishing BAC-based drunk driving laws and replacing them with greater enforcement against reckless driving, regardless of the source of impairment.

This is a good column from Virginia Postrel about bicycle helmet laws. They do save a small number of lives, in part by increasing helmet usage. But there’s a second cause for the reduction in deaths:

Using surveys of parents, the professors find that about 650,000 fewer children ride bikes each year after helmet laws go into effect. That’s about 81,000 fewer riders for every life saved. Helmets may save lives, but the dork factor also takes its toll.

XKCD on homeopathy, etc.: “Eventually, arguing that these things work means arguing that modern capitalism isn’t that ruthlessly profit-focused.”

Via authentic Yooper Iced Borscht, a mysterious crack has formed in the earth of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A tiny earthquake seems to be at fault (pun not intended, but I’m leaving it in anyway).

A California law relaxes food safety standards to allow the sale of delicious hand-made noodles.

The Cato Institute has launched an iPhone app, which I’ll be using to get a dose of libertarianism every time I’m stuck waiting in line at Oregon’s legally mandated service gas pumps.

I will not be satisfied until I’ve had an Old-Fashioned made with 100,000-year-old ice.

Portland Cocktail Week kicks off tonight at Spints Alehouse. If you’re local, be sure to join us at some of these events.

Last night I saw Belle and Sebastian on tour. The show and their new album Write About Love are both fantastic.


The Lazy Bear Cocktail

Lazy Bear 008

Last weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to San Francisco for the wedding of my friends David and Jeanette. David’s behind the underground meals of Lazy Bear in SF, where he serves some amazing dishes. (Seriously, amazing. Go check out his blog if you haven’t before.) Rather than go with a traditional caterer, David and Jeanette wisely hired a high-quality taco truck to park outside the reception and provide us with all the tacos we pleased, a privilege I abused with gusto. I would love to see more weddings do this, especially if I can pose as a guest and score free tacos.

In this case I was earning my tacos with some drink making. David had asked if, as my wedding gift, I’d be willing to come up with a few cocktails and serve them for a while at the reception. I figured this would be a great way to meet women while doing something I’m good at (bartending) rather than something I’m terrible at (dancing), so of course I said yes. David also requested that one of the drinks be called a Lazy Bear. This suggested to me using honey syrup, and after some fun experimentation I came up with this for the wedding:

3/4 oz Jamaican rum (preferably Smith and Cross)
3/4 oz rye whiskey
3/4 oz honey syrup (1:1 honey and water)
3/4 oz lime juice
2 dashes Fee’s Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters

Shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Optionally garnish with an edible flower, but it’s aromatic enough as is and lazy bears don’t have time for flower picking.

Lastly, congratulations to David and Jeanette! The “ceremony-ish thing” was beautiful, touching, and at times hilarious, and I’m happy for you both.


Get your tix: Portland Cocktail Week and GADF


My liver is already threatening to leave me as Portland Cocktail Week draws near. Next week the Great American Distiller’s Festival gets bigger than ever, preceded by several days and nights of fun events organized by the Oregon Bartenders Guild and the Drink.Write cocktail writers conference.

I’m personally involved with several of the events. First up is Thursday Drink Night Live, in which participants will improvise cocktails and compete for a spot at the Portland Cocktail Invitational. Somehow they’ve talked me into emceeing the event live on camera with no script and lots of alcohol in the room. This could be dangerous.

If I’m still alive on Saturday morning we’ll kickstart the day with coffee cocktails. I’m moderating a panel with guests from Intelligentsia, Water Avenue, and possibly a couple other roasters, discussing all aspects of coffee and its role behind the bar, and serving up a drink or two. They’re passionate about great coffee and promise to bring some fun things to demo, so I’m very excited to hear their thoughts. (Relatedly, here are my suggestions for seven spots to caffeinate during Portland Cocktail Week.)

On that same day is the first round of the Portland Cocktail Invitational. It’s a great group of bartenders competing and I’m thrilled to be invited back. This time I’m fortunate to be mixing with Encanto Pisco, which opens up all kinds of interesting possibilities. We’re changing the format to allow more sampling of the drinks by the audience, so this is guaranteed to be a good time.

Bols will be involved in a few events as well. On Wednesday, mixologists Chris Churilla and Adam Robinson will be pairing cocktails with a four course meal prepared by Chef Alyssa Gregg at Spints Alehouse, including cocktails made with Bols Genever and Galliano. This is not to be missed. Then on Saturday, experience the history of gin and genever at the Juniperlooza! seminar.

That’s just the beginning of events going on next week. There’s also a masquerade ball, a March for Mezcal, a tiki party, a full slate of informative seminars, and much more. Go get the full schedule and tickets here.


Links for 10/12/10

Who are North Korea’s 13 Twitter friends?

Patrick Emerson weighs in on Oregon’s minimum wage debate. On a related note, a friend points out this anti-minimum wage editorial from, of all places, The New York Times. (It’s from 1987.)

Ed Glaeser explains this year’s economics Nobel.

Bring on the Google car!

Why pointless rules persist on airlines.

Alex Nowrasteh argues for liberalizing H-1B visas.

Santa Monica singles rejoice: The city is considering a proposal to legalize dating services.

Gary Regan, whose Joy of Mixology was my first guide to mixing drinks, writes about the skills today’s whippersnapper bartenders are missing.


Beer cocktails in MIX


This month’s MIX magazine includes an article by John Foyston taking a look at the growing interest in beer cocktails:

Good beer, it can be pretty easily argued, is perfect and complete by itself. It’s complex and flavorful and doesn’t need anything else … except that a band of intrepid young mixologists see good beer as a starting point for something better — beer cocktails.

Straight-ahead beer fan that I am, I have to agree that beer cocktails open up a brave new world. I recently got to taste and talk about beer cocktails with some of Portland’s most ardent proponents: mixologist Jacob Grier, New School blogger Ezra Johnson-Greenough and Yetta Vorobik, owner of the Hop & Vine, where Grier and Johnson-Greenough held an event in the summer called Brewing Up Cocktails. They plan to repeat it this month, also at the Hop & Vine.

Portland bartenders Jabriel Donohue, Neil Kopplin, Christian Rouillier, and Kevin Ludwig also make appearances. Read the whole thing here.

The drink in the photo is the Quatro Blanco, made with a Farigoule rinse, Herradura reposado tequila, and a special keg of Upright Four wheat farmhouse ale aged in a Hungarian oak barrel with yarrow flowers and rose petals. It was probably my favorite drink from our Brewing Up Cocktails event, but since it was a one-off beer it will probably never be made again and you will never be able to try one.

There’s one other drink that went understandably unmentioned in the article, the notorious Furburger:

3/4 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
1/4 oz Chartreuse
approx. 5 oz Oak Aged Yeti Chocolate Imperial Stout from Great Divide

The name comes from the beer, because Yetis are furry, and from “bur” as in bourbon. So Furburger. See, nothing dirty about it. At least that’s what I thought when a friend jokingly suggested the name assuming I knew what I meant. I didn’t know what it meant and so passed the idea on to the owner of Hop and Vine. It wasn’t until two days later that I learned what it really referred to. We talked about finding a new name for the drink, but after that incident we couldn’t think of it as anything but a Furburger. The lesson? When coming up with new cocktail names, be sure to look them up on Urban Dictionary before submitting them to your prospective boss. Or not: The Furburger was one of our bestsellers of the day. And since the word has been approved for use in schools by a federal judge, why not for a beer cocktail menu too?

Two other cocktails from the event, the Dutch Devil and Brewer’s Bramble, we’re covered previously here. Brewing Up Cocktails II is in the works and we’ll announce the date soon; stay tuned here and at The New School Blog.

[Photo by Ross William Hamilton.]


Links for 10/4/10

In yet another victory for property rights, the Galveston city council has largely reversed its smoking ban to allow smoking in venues that cater only to adults. In Michigan an alliance of business owners is citing lost sales in an attempt to reverse the ban there too. And in Cincinnati, citizens with nothing better to do have reported the Reds for lighting cigars in the clubhouse after winning their first division title in fifteen years.

Are taxpayer receipts a good idea? Dan Rothschild explains how receipts would be gamed. Peter Suderman suggests the outcome might not be what progressives expect.

At the Examiner, I write more about Chris Dudley and the minimum wage debate.

I can’t believe I missed Preparation 500 day! You can’t make stuff like this up. This is why I cringe when people tell me a wine is “biodynamic.”

What would a David E. Kelley TV show about Wonder Woman be like? I find it impossible to imagine, but it is happening.

Dating a writer is overrated. But dating a cocktail writer is awesome.