As Derek Brown wrote last week for The Atlantic, "always use fresh fruit" is a maxim of contemporary mixology, but marmalade and other fruit preserves can bring rich complexity to a drink.
'Serious Cocktails' on Serious Eats
The practice of flavoring liquor (by soaking stuff in it) is almost as old as the art of distilling, but as Frank Bruni noted recently in the New York Times, the current prevalence of infused booze is at an all-time high. Vodka infused with lemon peel or bourbon with vanilla beans, anyone?
You can always preserve summer's flavors with mixtures of sugar, salt or vinegar, but for another way to enjoy the season's strawberries, cherries, and peaches during the colder months of the year, try that other venerable food preservative and flavor enhancer: liquor. Bachelor's Jam, which involves the use of that powerful preservative and flavor enhancer, liquor. Bachelor's jam is basically a boozy form of preserves, also called "officer's jam," that combines fresh fruit, sugar, and ample measure of strong spirits.
It may still be early in the week for some, but the cocktail community has been running on a 24-hour schedule since Monday night. This week, the annual Tales of the Cocktail event takes place in New Orleans, and while today is the official opening day, many people (myself included) came to town and got started early.
After months of preparation, Maker's Mark introduced its new bourbon, Maker's '46', starting last week. Innovation is hard to come by in the bourbon world, and it often comes at a steep price. With its emphasis on wide distribution and a wallet-friendly price, Maker's '46' aims to change that situation—but is the whiskey worth seeking out? We tried it.
Until recently, the only choices for an American-whiskey drinker were bourbon, rye or Tennessee whiskey. With the growth of a craft-distilling movement, new styles of whiskey are beginning to emerge, and the profile of American whiskey is starting to look somewhat different from before.
Big, bold flavors are becoming popular throughout the food world. This move away from the blandness that has defined the American palate for decades is similarly true in the world of drinks, where bartenders are using the robust flavors of spirits such as whiskey, mescal and Italian amari to a remarkable degree.
Pitcher drinks have a lot of appeal during the warmer months, but many recipes suffer from an excess of ingredients, or grow watery and insipid quickly. In today's Washington Post, Jason Wilson touches on a couple of points that can ensure pitcher-drink success. For example, the smaller the ice pieces, the more rapidly they'll dilute the drink generally speaking. Some dilution is desired, of course, but it's a fine line between "just right" and "too much."
Until recently, discussions of whisk(e)y largely centered on the spirits from two places: Scotland and Kentucky. Now, with Japanese whiskies expanding their U.S. distribution, and with a whisky from India now on the market, the whisky landscape is changing.
If much of cooking belongs to the arts, and baking to the sciences, the craft of mixing drinks has a strong tie to mathematics. Swapping out bourbon for rum in a drink or substituting one liqueur for another is an easy way to expand one's mixological repertoire—but be sure to swap equals for equals to guarantee a successful result.
Unlike spirits such as brandy or whiskey, tequila has commonly been sold in an unaged or minimally aged form. These blanco and joven tequilas, typically relegated to margaritas, are worth discovering on their own.
Herbsaint digs out its 1930s recipe and releases a vintage replica of the longtime New Orleans favorite. It has a more gentle, floral anise flavor mixed with an herbaceous complexity and bottled at 100 proof, it's pretty potent stuff.
While these figures underscore the old adage about how people drink more during hard times, the numbers show they also drink cheaper. Overall liquor sales rose by almost 1.5 percent in 2009 (a slowdown from previous years), but revenues remained relatively stagnant as drinkers turned to cheaper brands.
"If the new Maker's Mark bourbon is a success, it may prompt other American distillers to release more 'what-if' experiments." [Flickr: drp] Dedicated fans of American whiskey received some interesting news last week. As reported on What Does John Know?...
Eggs can perform several functions in a drink. The foam can form a cushiony surface for a drink, perfect for bearing an aromatic ingredient such as a few dashes of bitters atop a Pisco Sour, or an elegant-looking buffer for the sharper flavors of citrus and spirits in drinks such as the Clover Club.
The dustup comes down to this: many customers wouldn't even dream of walking into a white-tablecloth restaurant and ordering something safe and pedestrian off-menu—such as a hot dog or cheeseburger—but the same customers might venture into a bar with a creative cocktail menu and order a Jack and Coke.
Based on what's been happening as the aught decade (did we ever settle on what to call that?) draws to a close, here are six trends we might see in the next decade.
We could all use a little warmth this time of year, but sometimes a hot, steaming cup of something just isn't what you're looking for. As Jason Wilson detailed in last week's Washington Post, when a drink can use a little fire but you don't want to dispense with the ice, it's time to reach for the chilis that can push your liquor into Scoville unit territory.
In the world of spirits, age and the maturation process are major factors in the character of spirits such as whiskies, brandies, and rum, and longer-aged and creatively matured spirits are becoming a more common sight on liquor store shelves.
Even after almost a full year of soaking in cognac, the quince pieces were still firm and crisp, and after straining the liquid off the fruit and spice, I took a taste and was floored: this stuff is amazing.