Seattle Hosts Speed Rack

An epic event is coming to Seattle.  You should be there when it lands.

This is Speed Rack; a regional charity bartending competition that features women bartenders of the Pacific Northwest.  When the round robin competition ends, the best bartender in the PNW will be crowned,  earning a spot in the national finals for a chance to become Miss Speed Rack USA.

February 10th is going to be a wild and crazy day with a blur of shakers and cocktails.  As if that wasn’t compelling enough, proceeds from the event are directed towards breast cancer research.  Want a sneak peak at what’s in store?  Check out this video from Season 1 in Portland.  And then buy a ticket and come to the Century Ballroom on February 10th.

speed_rack_sea

Lab Supplies. Check.

I have attended various events where someone hands me their cocktail blog business card.  I gladly accept these cards with great interest.  And whenever I visit a new bar, I try to pick up a card on the way out.  I knew that at some point I wanted to get business cards for this blog site.  Moreover, I knew that I wanted to use Pike Street Press.  I had read an article a year or so ago about Pike Street Press and their use of vintage letterpress work for printing.  I filed that information away, knowing that I would eventually visit this shop on the Pike Street Hill Climb.  Well folks, the time finally arrived.  I visited with owner Sean Brown, who helped me realize my design for the cards.  A couple weeks later, I was in visual and tactical nirvana, as I held one of my new Libation Laboratory cards in my little hand.  Now, we’re in business.

An Ode to Summer, Spain, and Friends

Summer.

Summer in Seattle has finally kicked in.  True to form, this happened right after the 4th of July.  If you believe the meteorologists, at least half of the next 30 days will reach 80 degrees.  This is blowing my mind just a little and my PNW acclimated body is already dreading the ‘heat.’ But I digress…..To me, Summer also means minty cocktails in the sun on the deck.  CR and I were fortunate to recently move to a house with a very healthy mint crop.  This cocktail hobbyist has no complaints about that.  I’ve been enjoying making a myriad of cocktails with mint, Tiki being one of the predominant genres.

Spain. 

Spain just won some big football tournament (notice my Euro-use of the word ‘football’ instead of soccer).  Nicely done Spain.  But also in Spanish news this week, a couple of my friends are currently touring through Spain.  The lucky dynamic duo is probably dancing to Flamenco music, Running with the Bulls, eating paella and Manchego cheese, drinking Sangria, and maybe, just maybe, drinking Licor 43.  This is a liqueur that I have looked at on the store shelf for a long time and contemplated adding to the inventory, but didn’t pull the trigger until recently.  Great timing with my ode to Spain.  Licor 43 has a vanilla, citrus flavor profile made from 43 ingredients.

Summer.

I love Tiki drinks and I’ve been having a lot of fun with my new Beachbum Berry Remixed book by Jeff Berry.  I’m tying Spain and Summer together by mixing the Beachbum’s Own tiki drink.  This is finally a reason for me to crack open my Licor 43 bottle.

The Beachbum Players

Beachbum’s Own

As described in Beachbum Berry Remixed:
0.75 oz lemon juice
0.75 oz pineapple juice
0.75 oz passion fruit syrup
0.75 oz Licor 43
1.25 oz Lemon Hart 151 Demerara Rum
1.50 oz Mount Gay Special Reserve
 
Shake with crushed ice. Pour everything into Tiki barrel mug.
Add more crushed ice and garnish with cherries and spanked mint.
This tiki is fruity and rummy and quite delicious.  I might up the lemon a little or even add some lime.  But it’s really quite refreshing and perfect to sip on a sunny afternoon.
 

Beachbum’s Own in my own Four Seas Tiki Mug thanks to Bit of Butter!

Friends.

I have a few friends.  I like my friends.  They make me laugh and I hope I make them laugh too.  I would gladly share a minty cocktail in the sun on the deck with my friends.

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

A few of my friends on a boozy night at Rob Roy.

Montessori SPAM Sour

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It:  Create a Cocktail Using SPAM.  Why, you ask?  Honestly, I’m not exactly sure, but perhaps to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the famously maligned mystery meat.  Regardless of the motivation, this is the story of the “Montessori SPAM Sour.”

SPAM is a mash-up of ‘Spiced’ and ‘Ham’.  It is a can of processed pork products first produced by the Hormel Corporation in 1937.  The ingredients listed on the can:  Pork with Ham, Salt, Water, Modified Potato Starch, Sugar, Sodium Nitrite.

Mulling over the SPAM challenge, my first thought goes to using SPAM as a garnish.  But that idea just seems too easy and predictable.  Sitting next to fellow cocktail enthusiast Cocktail Quest at Rob Roy the other night, I describe my dilemma.  CQ’s immediate response:  “Fat Washing”.  Of course, fat washing, what a great idea!  This method of imparting meaty flavor in liquor has been used most successfully with bacon fat and bourbon.  Jamie Boudreau, proprietor of Canon, demonstrates fat washing in his Raising the Bar video:  http://www.smallscreennetwork.com/video/467/raising_the_bar_fat_washing/

I will use this fat washing technique to impart the SPAM flavor profile to a base spirit.  Thus, time to choose a base spirit.  To me SPAM seems like ham and that reminds me of pineapple, which reminds me of Tiki drinks, which leads me to Rum.   Again, conferring with CQ, we came up with a variation of a Rum Sour.

Step 1:  Fry Spam

I chopped the SPAM into small chunks and fried until oil was released into the pan.  I was also surprised to learn if you fry SPAM long enough, it tastes like bacon.  Who knew?

Step 2:  Fat Wash Rum

I cooled the SPAM slightly and transferred to a jar.  Then I added 750 ml Cruzan 151 proof Aged Rum.  I mixed and refrigerated for a few days.

Step 3:  Filter

After a few days in the refrigerator, I filtered the SPAM Rum through at least 4 layers of cheesecloth.

Step 4:  Build Cocktail

Mix the Montessori SPAM Sour cocktail.

1.5 oz SPAM Rum (Cruzan 151 Proof Aged Rum)
1.0 oz Pineapple Juice
0.5 oz Lemon Juice
0.25 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
0.5 oz Simple Syrup
2 dashes Urban Moonshine Maple Bitters

Shake and strain into a coupe.  Garnish with fried SPAM cube and Maraschino Cherry.

I admit I was a little apprehensive to taste this cocktail.  Upon taking the first sip my thought was “Damn, this tastes like Easter Ham in a glass.”  I’m talking memory rush back to a 1970’s Mid-West dining room table on Easter Sunday fighting with my brother over the roasted pineapple rings that covered the ham.  I’m not about to order this drink in a bar, but this experiment turned out to be surprisingly drinkable.

Cheers and Happy Easter.  This case is closed.

Hesperidium Terpenes = The Perfect Party Punch

A party?  What a perfect opportunity to make a punch.  Never mind the small detail that I am probably not on the invitation list.  Pressure party host into inviting you by bribing them with a punch-offering…problem solved.  Besides, 30th birthday and completion of MBA?  Oh, I’ve got a punch for that guy.

The above scenario also offers me the perfect opportunity to acquire David Wondrich’s new book:  Punch.  If this book isn’t in your libation library yet, it should be.  Got get it. Mr. Wondrich is a wonderful historian, this time entertaining us with all things punch.  There are many exquisite punches described in the book, so deciding on the party punch is a challenge.  However, I had the very fortunate opportunity to attend THE holiday party of the year this past December and the hosts served Regent’s Punch.  I recall visiting the punch dispenser regularly throughout the holiday night and wanted to share this tasty concoction with others.  Problem solved.  Regent’s Punch it is.

What follows is my recipe and step-wise approach to making the MBA1 Regent’s Punch (this generally follows the recipe that is found in Mr. Wondrich’s book Punch with additional help provided by Dayne Miller):

Step 1:  The Oleo-Saccharum

As described in ‘Punch,’ most bowls of tasty goodness start with one of the 4 ‘Pillars’ of punch making.  Pillar number one is the ‘Oleo-Saccharum,’ which is basically a sugary citrus oil mixture.

I used 3 oranges and 2 lemons for my Oleo-Saccharum (which, BTW, I think would make a great drinking game. Right now. Literally.  Get a drink and every time you read Oleo-Saccharum, tip it back, baby!)

Getting Started with the Oleo-Saccharum

Peel the oranges and lemons using a fancy horizontal swivel peeler.  (Ok, it doesn’t have to be fancy, or even horizontal).  But the peeler I use is the mac-daddy and one of my early cocktail memories is watching Andrew Bohrer use this kind of peeler to peel an orange in one single peel and then wrap said peel around an ice sphere over which the tastiest cocktail was poured.  So I think you should really get one of these peelers.  However, whatever kind of peeler you use, try not to include the white, pithy part of the orange and lemon peels.

Oranges and Lemons Peeled

Peels Ready for Sugar

Add approximately 4 oz. white sugar to the citrus peels.

Sugar Added to Peels

To make the Oleo-Saccharum you will need to muddle the sugar and citrus peels together and let sit at room temperature for at least one hour.

Muddling the Sugar and Citrus Peels

Fun DrinkScience Fact

(I’ll do the research so you can impress your friends at your next cocktail party).

Let’s talk a bit about this Oleo-Saccharum.  Citrus peels are filled with citrus oil.  Obvious, I know.  But maybe what you didn’t know is that the citrus oil is an essential oil that consists of almost exclusively D-limonene, which is found in the class of oils known as Terpenes.

D-limonene looks like this:

Oranges and lemons are hesperidia: fruit that has a rind with oil-filled glands.  For the Oleo-Saccharum, we only want the outermost peel of the orange; the part of the peel that contains only the oil glands.  This pigmented, outer peel is called the flavedo.  When you read about citrus cocktail garnishes, you often see warnings to avoid the white pith between the flavedo and the segments.  The white pith is called the albedo and has a bitter flavor profile.  We do not want the albedo to impart bitterness to our Oleo-Saccharum.  This is a hesperidium showing the flavedo:

Courtesy of Ekko (picture author); Juan de Vojníkov (compilation author). Original uploader was Juan de Vojníkov at en.wikipedia.

Matas, et. al. in Journal of Experimental Botany (2010; 61:3321) used Laser Microdissection to perform molecular profiling of specific citrus epidermal cell types.  During the course of their study, the Rose laboratory in the Department of Plant Biology at Cornell University also generated beautiful microscopic images showing the citrus oil glands.  You can read their paper here: “Tissue-specific transcriptome profiling of the citrus fruit epidermis and subepidermis using laser capture microdissection.”

Matas et. al. Figure showing the citrus oil glands labeled with numeric ‘1‘:

Used with permission from Dr. Jocelyn Rose, Associate Professor, Department of Plant Biology and Director, Institute for Biotechnology and Life Science Technologies, Cornell University.

Muddling the granulated sugar with the citrus peels causes mechanical disruption of the oil glands.  In other words, the oil glands/vacuoles are damaged and broken open by the action of pressing the sugar granules into the citrus peel with the muddler, allowing the d-limone to seep out and saturate the sugar.  The Libation Laboratory is a small operation and relies on your standard wood muddler to facilitate the mechanical disruption.  However, depending on the amount of Oleo-Saccharum we might want in the future, we could always pursue an industrial sized citrus oil extraction and scale up to the Model 6100 BOE (Brown Oil Extractor); the Holy Grail of mechanical disrupters made by the Brown International Corporation in Florida (where else?).  The 6100 BOE uses over 3 million (that’s right, ‘million’ [it’s better if you say ‘million’ with a slightly crazed, maniacal voice]) sharp stainless steel needles to puncture the entire surface of the citrus fruit peel, rupturing the oil vacuoles.  This process is performed under water and then centrifugation is used to separate the citrus oil from the water.

I was thinking there might be some osmotic mechanism also occurring to form the Oleo-Saccharum, however, after conferring with Dr. Rouseff, Professor of Food Chemistry at the University of Florida’s (where else?) Citrus Research and Education Center, this hypothesis was quickly dispelled.  So the Oleo-Saccharum, a Pillar of Punches is made by mechanically breaking open the oil vacuoles, which releases the citrus oil to saturate the sugar.

And now we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

This is the Oleo-Saccharum:

The Oleo-Saccharum

Step 2:  Tea

Make a pint of Green Tea. I used loose leaf tea. Steep the tea for approximately 5 minutes.

Step 3: Oleo-Saccharum + Tea

Strain the tea into the Oleo-Saccharum and mix to completely dissolve the sugar.

Step 4: Juice

Juice the peeled oranges and lemons into the Oleo-Saccharum / tea mixture. Add an additional 1 c pineapple juice. Mix.

Step 5: Preparing for Travel

Strain the Oleo-Saccharum / tea / juice mix into a vessel (something suitable for travel as this punch is going to a party later).

Step 6:  Booze

Add the Booze!

8 oz Cognac (Courvoisier)

2 oz Jamaican Rum (Smith and Cross)

2 oz Dark Rum (Meyers)

2 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)

2 oz Batavia Arrack

Step 7:  Add Ice and Rest (the Punch)

Ice Added for Dilution

This a traveling punch. I will add a couple of large ice block to the punch bowl when I finish constructing the punch at the party.  However, I don’t anticipate having the luxury of letting the punch sit with the ice and dilute down before partygoers are dipping in, thus I am adding some ice at this stage for dilution.  Add ice (approximately 2 cups of ice cubes), stir and then refrigerate until it’s party time.

Step 8:  Bubbles

Pour the punch mix into a gorgeous cut-glass punch bowl.  Add 2 bottles of sparkling wine.  Mix gently.  Add two large ice blocks.  Stir and enjoy the MBA1 Regent’s Punch.

Regent’s Punch

You may be adequately inebriated by this time if you have been playing the Ole0-Saccharum drinking game.  If so, I suggest you bookmark this page so you can come back when you want to make this punch.  And you should definitely make this punch someday.

1Mike Bushey is Awesome.  Congratulations and Happy Birthday to Awesome Mike Bushey.

Pisco Party

I am fortunate to be a member of the Seattle LUPEC chapter.  Being a member of this organization affords me certain opportunities, such as attending LUPEC 301: Introduction to Pisco taught by Professor Kuehner.  Up until this event, I had not tried Pisco; I just hadn’t yet added it to the bar.  So it was with great anticipation that I attended the pisco tutorial.  My fellow LUPEC comrade, C. Randall of Cocktail Quest fame takes better notes than I and is a serious student of booze and cocktail history.  I will not go into detail here on the history of pisco or the details of producing this beverage; instead, I want you to go here for the deets.

For the purposes of what I want to discuss, I will provide that pisco is a grape brandy and can be of Chilean or Peruvian origin and dates back to a really long time ago; 1500ish. The LUPEC event was sponsored by Piscologia, a Peruvian Pisco and all of the Piscologia pisco cocktails crafted by Prof. Kuehner were brilliant.  Again, take a detour here to read about more about pisco and pisco cocktails.

As you can imagine, I promptly visited my local liquor store for my very own bottle of Piscologia and have enjoyed several Piso cocktails since that LUPEC event.  To commemorate National Pisco Sour Day, I will offer up my version of the classic Pisco Sour, which is really B.T. Parson’s version from his wonderful book, Bitters (in which I continue to be completely infatuated).

Happy Pisco Sour Day!

Pisco Sour

  • 60 ml pisco (Piscologia)
  • 30 ml lime juice
  • 15 ml simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • Angostura and Amargo Chuncho Bitters for garnish

Dry shake all ingredients except bitters.
Add ice and shake again.
Double strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with both Angostura and Amargo bitters by dropping onto egg white foam and using a toothpick to swirl.

Pisco Sour photo courtesy of Sugar Sand Photography!