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The Bartender Re-education Plan took a break but now that the holidays are pretty much over, so are the excuses. You must make 1,000 Negronis before you ever change the 1:1:1 ratio. Changing the ratios changes the recipe. Using dry vermouth instead of sweet is not a Negroni. Using some amaro other than Campari is not a Negroni. And subbing out gin, really makes it not a Negroni. The path to being a better bartender is understanding the brands and techniques of the Negroni, not in changing the ratios. I want my Negronis always in equal parts, yet I always want them balanced, this can be achieved but understanding flavor. There are 2 ways for a Negroni to be made: stirred and up or stirred and strained over fresh ice.
How do you make these 2.5 styles?
- AmericanO- In the beginning (before the Negroni) there was an Americano Highball. This is sweet vermouth, Campari and soda. It is the perfect pre meal cocktail that never was. The Americano Highball can only be ordered from good bartenders, however you normally want to order something better from good bartenders. It is said the Negroni was invented when Count Camillo Negroni wanted his Americano Highball with gin instead of soda. That substitution is for winners.
- European- Rocks. The Euro-Negroni is on the rocks, if chianti or lasagna is on the menu expect a Negroni or the rocks. But TWIST! This Negroni is often shit! Why? because you can’t pour 3 oz of room temp booze over ice to get a good cocktail. The ice with immediately begin to melt, thus producing a watery, and warm cocktail. You must stir and strain an ICE COLD cocktail over fresh ice, pouring cold over cold maintains the proper balance in the cocktail.
- American- It has been the general consensus in American bartending that every drink is better chilled and served up. That is the way of the American Negroni. But I feel that an exception to this rule arises in drinks that are sweeter, with a high sugar content. Those drinks (Negroni included) are awful when they warm up and they live longer on ice. Other examples of sticky drinks that seem to do better on ice would be the Rusty Nail, The Godfather or other all spirit fern bar, “classics.”
What is the technique needed?
- Stirred- a Negroni is stirred and strained into a chilled glass or over fresh ice. To shake a Negroni is to have thick sliced truffles, under cooked foie gras or burlap lingerie; don’t ruin luxuary
- Zest- The orange zest is the 4th ingredient. Campari and vermouth don’t have a strong scent; gin does, but not when paired with these 2 sweet bottles. The orange zested over the cocktail treats your nose to the cocktail.
What are the other variables?
- Gin- There are 3 legal definitions of gin, arguably 6 or 7 styles (not including genever) and over 100 brands on the market in America with a new one made by a micro-distiller every week. What I’m saying: pair your gin with your vermouth. More subtle gins need more subtle vermouths. Larger, earthier or more herbal gins can stand up to the big very sweet vermouths.
- Vermouth- Without brand bashing, some gins would be completely un-recognizable as gins when paired with too flavorful of a vermouth. In addition to which, the Negroni is a drink that must be treated like a cocktail that has a fresh product in it: vermouth. Vermouth left out at room temperature goes bad like milk and I don’t see a sour cream White Russian catching on anytime soon. No amount of technique and no price point of boutique gin can save a Negroni from bad vermouth.
What does it mean to get, “Negronked?”
Getting Negronked is term for a lexical gap I have found in the English Language for, “getting drunk on fancy drinks.” I coined this one about 5 years ago and it has been an uphill battle. But I implore you, next time you go out to hit the fancy bars, remember, “get Negronked!”
- 1 oz Gin
- 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
- 1 oz Campari
- Stir and strain over fresh ice or into a chilled cocktail class
- Garnish with an orange zest
After all of that, of course you can change the ratios. But it is the last thing to practice in Negroni crafting, you need to understand the rules before you break them.
The only sure fire way to prevent disappointment on New Year’s Eve is to get a bottle of grower’s Champagne and stay in with the ones you love while watching The Hudsucker Proxy by the Coen brothers. If I wasn’t a dedicated barman, committed to tradition, that is what I would do. But alas, I don’t have enough money to be non-traditional. Let’s be honest, New Year’s Eve is a truly wretched holiday, if not simply the worst day of the year. Here are some tips I’d offer about how to properly survive this holiday from a logistical and spiritual standpoint, and who knows, you might accidentally end up having fun.
Do not drink cheap sparkling wine; you will surely die. Conversely, do not drink great champagne all night for you will surely forget. Proceed as follows:
- Don’t begin drinking until 4:00pm.
- Have a good toast, with the good stuff, at the beginning of the evening.
- Sip a punch or something mellow and low sugar most of the night.
- Stick to about 1.25 drinks per hour maintains a good buzz.
- At midnight toast with something passable (the good stuff was enjoyed at the beginning of the evening).
- Take 4 ibuprofen and drink a pint of water.
On New Year’s Eve, don’t try to save on shoe leather, walking is the safest. But if you are to go by car here is the way to be.
- By 10:00pm, be where you want to be a midnight. Travel between those times is awful. If you can’t spend the night, the best time to leave is 12:50am. Everyone reasonable leaves after the stroke of midnight, the rest will be found staggering home at 2:00am.
- Cabs cannot be counted on, New Year’s Eve is cabbie-apocalypse for drivers and Mad Max for passengers. To count on the fellas on this night is a fool’s game.
- Your best bet is to get an Uber. And, since I get the hookup (Full disclosure: my editor/fiancé works there) you can get your first ride free by clicking this link or popping my name “AndrewBohrer” into the app.
New Year’s Eve is sad. How do you not hold a magnifying glass to your life? To keep from crashing the proverbial plane into the literal mountain: Do not think about the problems of your year, nor how to become a super human in the coming year. And, do not make a resolution; instead make a toast. You’ll be toasting all night, make each one a promise to help a friend; the things you do for other people are more real than the ones you do for yourself.
New Year’s Eve beats you up. In my limited experience, hangovers come from impure booze, sugar in any form (because low amounts of good booze and too much dessert has gotten me too) and dehydration. There is only one sure-fire way to avoid a hangover: Purchase a live chicken, name it Armand, put it under your arm and carry it from bar to bar, make an oath that you will only finish as many shots as Armand. This is a traditional drinking practice of early American coal miners. Barring purchasing a chicken, an Emegen-C and a Ramos Gin Fizz is what you need. This magic combo will treat both the symptoms and the cause of your woes.
Ramos Gin Fizz
- 2oz Old Tom Gin
- 1oz Heavy Cream
- .75oz Lemon Juice
- 1 egg white
- .5oz Simple Syrup
- 3 dashes Orange Flower Water
- shake for at least 2 min
- strain into a highball glass with 1 oz soda
- then top with 2 oz soda
To close out the Cocktail Advent Calendar we have the very impressive but a bit slacker Blue Blazer. To read too much about the Blue Blazer, check this old post. But let’s be honest, a Blue Blazer is really just the fanciest and most dangerous way possible to make a Hot Toddy. One of my recent tricks to improve this drink is that after I really get the fire going, I add in the sugar to get it a bit caramelized. But remember, this drink doesn’t have to be so hard to make if you can do a little simple math. The secret words are, “flash point.”
A lot of bartenders will tell you that spirits are flammable when they are 100 proof or 50% alcohol, while this it true, it is also the Newtonian physics explanation of things- this is true at room temperature and at sea level. But heated alcohol doesn’t require such a high proof to reach a flashpoint, any cook will tell you that 80proof cooking brandy explodes like napalm when heated. For Blue Blazer nubes, heating the booze first is a big help.
- fill two mugs with hot water let mugs warm up
- pour 2oz Bookers Bourbon (easily flammable, cheap and great) into a jigger
- pour 2 oz hot water and .5 oz agave nectar into another jigger
- discard water in mugs pour each jigger’s contents into a separate mug
- ignite bourbon mug, pour the flame back and forth 4 or 5 times
- if skill allows, now pour .5 oz simple syrup and 1 oz water into the mugs
- pour the flame back and forth 4 or 5 times
- pour into an toddy glass
- extinguish the mugs by placing them atop each other
- garnish with the twist of lemon
The last sad song is coming from the O’Jays who want to remind you that we still have another crumby holiday to get through, “What are you doing New Year’s Eve?” I’ll make some suggestions in my next post.
This is by far the most difficult drink in the Cocktail Advent Calendar. We did not make it authentically, but we did make it for service, and that is much harder. It is the winning recipe from 2006 at the Cocktail World Cup and is a twist on the classic cocktail: the posset. The recipe seems simple enough except that it is very hard to hold the posset in warm form form service. It is even harder to wield a red hot poker behind the bar, but we’ll get to that too. Anyone can give you the recipe, but here is how we did it:
in a crock pot keep mix
- 3 oz 42 Below Manuka Honey Vodka
- 3 oz dark ale -use a sweet one or add sugar
- 1 oz rum
- .5 oz honey
- .25 ox Benedictine
- 2 dash Angostura
separately and hold at a safe chilled temp mix
- 2 whole eggs
- 3 oz cream
- 1 tbsp sugar
Combine 3 oz warm mix to 2 oz cold mix in a toddy glass
Dip a hot poker is each mug
For our poker, we used an iron meat flipper kept hot by leaving it in a panini press. Finally got some use out of that thing. The sizzle from the poker does add an earthy smokey flavor to the drink, the hot poker was the microwave of it’s day.
For an old style cocktail I have an old style song, “Silent Night,” by Stanley Jordan. I couldn’t find it online, I got mine off a old Blue Note Jazz compilation.
How is the Porto Flip different from the Coffee cocktail? Trust. The Porto Flip for toady’s Cocktail Advent Calendar has a simple lesson; trust your friends. A quick look through the internet would show you that the Porto Flip is the same as the Coffee Cocktail, this is what I always learned. But something I’ve noticed that happens quite often in translating drinks is that unknown and expensive ingredients are lost. Cocktaildb.com provides this recipe for a Porto Flip and I think we’d all agree that is much better than the half assed way we were all likely taught.
- 1oz Port
- 1 egg
- .25 oz benedictine
- .25 oz simple syrup
- .25 oz yellow chartreuse
I first learned about the Betsy Ross cocktail for today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar from a Crosby Gaige book. I know of another variation for this cocktail that turns it into a flip. It is easy to see why a drink that has an egg in it or a drink that is syrupy sweet is not going to be a very popular cocktail. However, this time of year, in the holiday season, it’s a fairly ideal drink – egg or not. I would try it both ways. If there’s no egg in your Betsy Ross cocktail I think it works very well at room temperature or over ice. The ice will continue to send the drink out a little bit which works fine for this. And at room temperature your basically just creating your own liqueur. At room temperature this drink is one of the few times a snifter would be acceptable.
- 1 oz port
- 1 oz cognac
- .25 oz orange curacao
- 1 dash angostura
- if you add an egg yolk, add a dash of simple syrup
Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” can’t really be legitimately tied to the Betsy Ross cocktail in anyway. The only distant way in which I can tie them together would be that people leaving town to see family for Christmas are gone by now. If you are still in town you should look to your left and look to your right because that’s who you’re spending Christmas with. But I’m running out of days and I’m running out of sad songs so couple of them are just going to have to be thrown together.
The Irish coffee will be treated differently than the other drinks on the Cocktail Advent Calendar. Almost every other cocktail that we’ve worked with this month we’ve dressed up. We’ve taken a classic not very good cocktail, substituted good ingredients, added a bit of care, and voilà – a much better cocktail. This is not the case for the Irish coffee, this classic will be made exactly the way it’s supposed to be made, because it’s a perfect cocktail.
The original Irish coffee had no Bailey’s, it had no brown sugar, and it had no whipped cream topped with green crème de menthe. The best way to enjoy this cocktail is perfectly as it is written on paper. The only thing to keep in mind that is not written on the original recipe is that when you’re making coffee cocktails it very much helps to make the coffee extra strong and pre-heating the vessel that the cocktail will be poured into is essential. Last month I was in San Francisco at the Gold Dust in Union Square. The legendary $3.50 Irish coffees are served there. People have told me throughout the years that they just want to go there and drink them all day. I never understood why until I had one at 10 in the morning. Being in a dark bar when it’s bright outside, where people are selling rude stories and nude cherubic women are painted on the ceiling is the perfect place to enjoy an Irish coffee.
- 1.5 ounces Irish whiskey
- 4 ounces very strong black coffee
- 2 ounces lightly sweetened whipped cream
There’s a certain type of “drunk in a bar when you’re not supposed to be” aspect to the Irish coffee that I think lends itself to listening to the rat pack. Auld lang syne, by Frank Sinatra I think is the perfect listening choice for drinking an old-style cocktail made just right.
Hope you wait til the end for the good joke
If you look up the “Harvest Moon” cocktail you’ll see about 40 to 70 different recipes for it. You’ll find that this is often the case for any cocktail that might be named after a song from the 70′s. Try looking up various Fleetwood Mac titled cocktails and find that every single song on “Rumors” has a cocktail, or eight, named for each track. Despite this overwhelming love for making harvest moon themed cocktails. ours is a quite simple showcase of harvest flavors unlike the rest of the pack. It will showcase applejack, bonded applejack and, of course, orgeat lime juice and Angostura bitters. This is the same formula as a classic Tiki recipe called the Barbancourt rum cup. And it works so well I basically would call for the “spirit, orgeat, lime juice and a dash of Angostura” to be a cocktail template. I have already used this in a template for one of my “originals” called a “Signal to Noise.” I hope today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar recipe has given you a new drink family, might as well call it the “Harvest Moon” drink family.
- 1.5 oz applejack
- .5 oz orgeat
- .25 oz lime juice
- 1 dash Angostura
It could, quite possibly, be one of the worst day’s of the year today. Simply because it is the Monday before Christmas, and everyone will be building up to the *big day* by yelling at each other and generally being snot faces, and there’s no legitimate way to take Friday off of work. It’s going to be a long shitty week. Today’s sad song to go with that is, “I’d like you for Christmas” by Julie London. It’s not a particularly sad song but it is a song that’s incredibly slow and longing and goes on a while – like this day probably will – but fear not! Hopefully you get a three day weekend coming up soon.
Hot Espresso Buttered Rum. That is what today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar holds in store for you. You can buy hot buttered rum batter in the grocery store that’s not very special. We could make you a better version of that better and will be kind of special. But today Anu is whipping up espresso & vanilla bean buttered syrup with date puree to drizzle across your hot buttered rum. This actual recipe may be a proprietary secrets so we’ll have to wait to put out the actual ingredients but I’ve had said, “drizzle,” and it is amazing. It’s the kind of life-changing experience that makes you wonder why Starbucks doesn’t just have vanilla butter as a flavor. It’s so good it makes you wonder if, “drinking butter,” is going to be a new trends like drinking chocolate. It’s the kind of game changer that should make you want to own your own dairy cow.
Hot buttered rum mix TBA.
It’s actually even so good I can’t even really pair it with a sad Christmas song. which is why today is more of a sultry slow Christmas song. Baby it’s cold outside by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan, perhaps the one sad thing about this song is a woman’s concern that she might be labeled a strumpet where she should just stay inside with someone Sheidaig’s and have a warm Christmas beverage. What kind of terrible world could’ve written this song where snuggling with something to be feared. Oh how far we’ve come.
Today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar is the dumbest name for a cocktail ever: The Coffee Cocktail. The Coffee cocktail has no coffee., nor is it a cocktail (a cocktail being spirit, water, sugar, bitters, and stirred). This is a Jerry Thomas era moustashe-tasctic recipe that is a great goodnight cocktail. What is the difference between a Coffee Cocktail and a Porto Flip? If you ask the internet you’ll get a list that says they are pretty much the same cocktail, but upon consulting one of the few places on the internet where I actually like getting recipes: cocktaildb.com I see that Ted say, “no brandy in a porto flip.” I’d generally side with him on matters such because he can do that um, citing precedent thing. Anyone else? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
The Coffee Cocktail
- 1 oz Cognac
- 1 oz Port
- .25 oz Simple Syrup
- 1 whole egg
grate a little nutmeg on top
This is a bit of a lazy Xmas (so much so that I can’t spell out Christmas) cocktail that I envision as the height of exotica in old wood paneled dive bars. I think there is a certain type of awareness I have about that as I remember this drink as one of the first egg cocktails I made when everything was new to me. I disagree with what most would say about using mediocre port in this cocktail, it is by no means a time to crack a fine one, but a $10 fifth from the grocer & cooking brandy make this drink that good. A nice ruby port with a heavy VS cognac make the Coffee Cocktail much better. OF course if you are in that dive bar, you’d get in trouble for having an egg in cognac. Another sad song with a hopeful feeling of, “things might get better,” is the Tom Waits song, “Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis.”