Bartender Journey Podcast # 263
The Old Fashioned.
I was at a sitting at a bar the other day and there was a bartender, training a young lady who was obviously brand new to bartending. The younger one asked the one who was doing the training “how long have you been bartending”. She answers “nearly 15 years”.
A ticket comes in for an Old Fashioned. Here’s a learning opportunity for the newbie, right?
She explains how to make it:
In mixing cup:
Strain into an old fashioned glass with one large 2” ice cube. Express oils from an orange twist (use a Y-peeler to make orange twist to order). You could also use a lemon twist, which is delicious also.
Old Fashioneds can of course also be made with Rye whiskey or even rum. I’ve seen Reposado or Anão Tequila Old Fashioneds too.
In Sasha Patraski’s book Regarding Cocktails Sasha’s protégé Sam Ross shares his recipe for an Old Fashioned variation called the Tattletale. Its made with Angostura bitters, honey a blend of a Highlands scotch and a smoky Islay scotch.
So of course, there is no end to variations and methods, but I just feel like its good to know the proper traditional way of making things before going off on tangents.
The earliest known printed definition of the “cocktail” appeared in the newspaper the Balance and Columbian Repository in 1806. It was written in response to a reader who asked for a definition of the word. It said a cocktail is “A stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.”
Quoting from Wikipedia, “The first use of the name ‘Old Fashioned’ for a Bourbon whiskey cocktail was said to have been at the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen's club founded in 1881 in Louisville, Kentucky. The recipe was said to have been invented by a bartender at that club in honor of Colonel James E. Pepper, a prominent bourbon distiller, who brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City.”
Robert Simonson mentioned that it was simply referred to as a “whiskey cocktail” until the late 19th century. Mr. Simonson wrote a great book all about the Old Fashioned called The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World's First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore. I’ll have a link to that along with the other books I mentioned.
Speaking of prohibition, as I write this today Dec 5, 2018 it is Repeal Day! This is the anniversary of the end of Prohibition in 1933. Its an unofficial Bartender holiday, or at least excuse for a party! I happened to be almost at the end of binge watching Boardwalk Empire, which was a great show on HBO about the prohibition era. Its fictional, but a lot of historical characters are in the show like Lucky Luciano, Al Capone and Elliot Ness. The show is now available on Amazon Prime if you want to check it out.
So mix yourself up and Old Fashioned. I’d love to see your version. If you could post a picture on IG and give it the hash tag
Depending how many we get, I’ll try to mention them all on the next show.
I’ll be posting mine on my IG which is BartenderJourney.
Here’s to everything that is old.
Old friends, old times, old manners and old fashioneds.
Dave Pickerell was a huge force in American whiskey over that last several decades.
Unfortunately Dave passed away at age 62 on November 1 of this year, 2018 in San Francisco. He was there attending WhiskeyFest.
He was a big proponent of Rye Whiskey and played a huge roll in the resurgence of American Rye Whiskey.
Rest in Peace Mr. Dave Pickerell. You’ll be sorely missed.
We talk to Sother Teague about his new book I'm Just Here for the Drinks.
It's the Bartender Journey Podcast #261
Cocktail of the Week:
The Classic Martini is made with 1 part dry vermouth and 2 parts Gin. It is stirred, not shaken. The classic garnish is olives. Superstition says it should be an ODD number of olives - an even number is bad luck. James Bond orders a "Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred", because that is the exception to the rule. If he just ordered a "Martini" it would be made with Gin and stirred, because that is the classic recipe.
Try a great variation on a Martini - 1 part Dry Vermouth, 2 parts Gin a dash of Orange Bitters. Garnish with an Orange Twist.
We chat with GEM & BOLT Mezcal founders Adrin Adrina and Elliott Coon during Tales of the Cocktail 2018.
Plus we talk to Calvin Peña and Doug Brickle at the CORE pop-up at Mase
GEM&BOLT is the only mezcal on the market to bottle the mythical powers of damiana, a traditional herb that thrives in the same regions as agave. The innovative, herbaceous spirit utilizes fair-trade and sustainable agave that’s converted into mezcal by fourth-generation master distillers in Oaxaca, Mexico. A strong team of women make up the team behind the spirit: Partner Jody Levy (co-founder WTRMLN WTR), President/CEO Lisa Derman (former Stoli COO), and at the helm are its founder’s alchemist-artist duo Adrin Adrina and Elliott Coon.
CORE grants support to children of food and beverage service navigating life-altering circumstances. In times of extreme strain brought on by family death, injury or diagnosed medical condition, loss of home, or other sudden or extreme circumstances, food and beverage families can become overwhelmed financially and emotionally. CORE is the nationally recognized community of support for all food and beverage service families in need by ensuring they feel cared for and valued.
Listen in to the Toast to Tales - the official kick off of Tales of the Cocktail 2018.
Plus we talk with friend and Bartender Kyle McElfresh of the Ace Hotel.
We are live from the Bar Convent Brooklyn conference! Follow our adventures, plus a talk with friend of the podcast, Vance Henderson from Monkey Shoulder scotch!
“Martini, shake or stir”. Here’s my take on that.
James Bond ordered his Martini’s Shaken not Stirred because that is the EXCEPTION to the rule. If he had ordered just a “Martini”, it would have been stirred because that is the classic recipe.
If the guest requests it there is nothing wrong with shaking this drink, but you will never see a decent cocktail book that suggests you to shake a Martini.
The general rule is, if it has only spirits in it, you stir. If it has any type of juice in it, it is shaken.
When stirring a drink you are trying to chill it and also add water to it, or “dilute” it as we say. Try taking some gin and vermouth, put it in a bottle and put it in the freezer. Don’t stir (or shake) it with ice. That’s not a Martini. It will be too strong and it will not taste very good.
When stirring a drink with ice we are looking for a silky texture, which is desirable in a Martini or Manhattan style cocktail. When shaking a drink, like say a Margarita, you are looking to make a bright drink with some air bubbles introduced.
How long do you stir? I was at an event recently and in the swag bag was a bar spoon with a thermometer on the top. It was in Celsius so I was looking to get to about 0 degrees or a little colder. What I discovered was that I wasn’t stirring long enough.
You noticed I said “0 degrees or a little colder”. Interestingly enough, through some science that I may never understand, you can actually make the drink a little colder than the ice!
Dave Arnold, the upmost authority on the science of drink making, talks about that in his great book Liquid Intelligence. Tristan Stevenson also mentions it in his book The Curious Bartender. He and I talked about it when I interviewed him back in episode #122.
Dave Arnold’s Liquid Intelligence will be our book of the week. This book is highly recommended and a great resource. Dave is famous for using scientific equipment like rotovaps and centrifuges. I went a long time without reading this book, because I though “I’ll never have a centrifuge”, but he took what he learned using this equipment and uses it to teach interesting techniques and stuff you might not have though of otherwise.
In the book he also talks a lot about the effects of stirring and shaking. Interestingly enough, when stirring or shaking a drink, eventually equilibrium is reached and it wont cool anymore or dilute anymore. It will of course eventually start to warm up and the ice will start to melt, adding more dilution, but it can only get so cold.
This is helpful to know for a couple reasons, one of which is to keep in mind when building a large round of drinks. For instance if a Martini is the order, you might want to add the ingredients to your mixing cup, add the ice, but stir later. Or you can stir and let it sit there with the ice still in the cup while working on the rest of the round, then strain at the last moment. According to Dave Arnolds experiments, there won’t be much difference.
Does the size of the ice matter when shaking or stirring? It seems like the answer is, “not really” although that could be an entire podcast to itself. As a general rule it seems that once proper temperature is reached the dilution will be correct, no matter the size of the ice, although the one exception would be crushed or shaved ice.
The Martini is our cocktail of the week. What’s the best way to make it? The way your guest wants it! Ask a lot of questions when somebody orders one.
The history of the Martini is difficult to trace. David Wondrich, the ultimate cocktail historian will tell you so, and in fact does just that in his great book Imbibe!
In the late 1800’s the drink was usually made with Old Tom Gin, which is sweetened. Sometimes gum syrup was added. The “Dry Martini” appeared around the turn of the century, but it wasn’t dry in the sense that we think of it today. In fact one recipe published around that time period had a 1:1 ratio of Gin to Dry (or “French”) Vermouth. The Gin was changed to a London Dry style gin or Plymouth Gin which is also not sweet at all.
Back in the day, Orange Bitters were always added, which is a really interesting addition to a Martini. Give it a try! I wouldn’t force it on an unsuspecting guest, but try it yourself, see what you think, and maybe suggest it to an adventurous customer.
Back to the amount of vermouth. I think the average consumer expects very little vermouth in their Martini, although it is becoming popular in Cocktail Bars to have a 1:1 Martini on the menu. It’s a wonderful drink this way, with the orange bitters and a lemon twist, but of course you need to have a quality vermouth that has been taken care of properly and is not too old. Please store your vermouth in the cooler! Write the day you opened it on the back label of the bottle. Ideally you don’t want to keep it more than a month after opening. At 2 months, throw it out! I use Vacuvin wine stoppers in my open Vermouth bottles. This is a very inexpensive item – about $12 – that pumps the air out of open wine bottles to help preserve it. They are perfect for Vermouth and other fortified wines as well.
Next thing to talk about is the glass. Those giant bird bath or “Steakhouse” martini glasses are ridiculous. Believe me I know. I Bartender at a Private Club, we use them. The Members expect nothing less. Those stupid things hold 8 oz if you fill it to the very top, which people seem to expect! That’s not one drink! That’s 4 drinks!
So what kind of glass is good? You often here me talk about a chilled coupe glass, which is ideal for a Martini. For anyone who might not be familiar – it’s the old fashioned champagne glass that’s like a saucer or bowl with a stem.
Ideally we want the glass chilled in the freezer until the last minute, but if you don’t have a cooler to keep your glasses in, of course you can chill it with ice and water. Before you start making the drink, pack the glass with as much ice as you can fit and fill to the top with water.
For garnish, olives are traditional. If the guest doesn’t specify, its olives. One big or 3 small on a cocktail pic. Always an odd number, an even number is bad luck. Ha. I don’t know why, but it is. I asked David Wondrich about this one time and he said “it’s a tradition and if you choose to perpetuate it, you should.” I said “I do! I do choose to perpetuate it!”
A lemon twist is my favorite. The best twists are made with a y-peeler. Then hold the twist over the drink and using both hands put it between your thumbs and index fingers and start to sort of fold it in half lengthwise. This expresses the oils from the drink into the glass. Its awesome. Personally, I actually like my Manhattan this way too.
So the Martini – seems like a simple drink on the surface, but there are some things to consider.
Dave Arnold, Don Lee and Greg Boehm, who founded Cocktail Kingdom, are opening a new bar in Manhattan. It should be opening any day now…that should be really interesting. Don Lee is a super smart dude and Dave really knows his stuff. Greg is a very interesting guy too. One innovation that I read about at this new spot is: those in a hurry can buy bottled cocktails from vending machines with a $15 token. I can’t wait to check this place out.
Your can still apply for Bar methods for the August 2018 session. I’m recording this on June 6, 2018 and applications are still open for a few more days. I did this course back in 2016 and trust me, you wont regret it. Its 3 days of education in Manhattan, with happy hours and dinners and parties. You stay in the awesome Park South Hotel and the price is extremely reasonable. Trust me. Apply at barmethods.com
Another great educational opportunity - BarSmarts Advanced is coming to Philadelphia on September 26. This is a full day of education for the likes of Dale DeGroff, David Wondrich, Paul Pacul, the list goes on. For this you need to do the BarSmarts online course first. Check that out at BarSmarts.com
There are a few more sessions of CITC for this year with Gary gaz Regan. Not sure if he has any room left, but that is a wonderful experience. You can find out about that at gazregan.com/cocktailsinthecountry
I’ve done all three of these educational experiences. I get nothing for telling you about them, but I just want you to know about them, because they are all amazing (and affordable).
I missed a few podcasts in the last few weeks. I have a lot on my plate right now family wise, I wont go into the details, but if you are interested you can scroll back in the feed to the show called “Real Talk From Bartender Journey”. It looks like things are starting to get better, so hopefully we’ll be back on track soon.
I am definitely going to Tales of the Cocktail this year – the trip is already booked, so I’ll have lots of great stuff for you from there as well.
Please follow me on IG. @ Bartender Journey
Here’s our toast:
May the chicken never be hatched that will scratch your grave.
Listen to the Bartender Journey Podcast # 253 with the audio player on this page, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Android or Stitcher Radio.
Walter has been also running the Beyond the Bar series which helps Bartenders to advance their careers and move on to other opportunities if they wish. If you'd like to get involved with future Beyond the Bar events, contact the Bowery Collective.
Every year at Tales of the Cocktail there is a big awards ceremony called the Spirited Awards. This year they have added a new category for Best Video, Broadcast or Podcast. Please help out by nominating Bartender Journey for this category. Everything you need to know about how to do this is on this page.
*Grapefruit Oleo Sacrum Syrup: Take the rinds of the Grapefruit before you squeeze it – peel it with a y-peeler or vegetable peeler. Put in a zip lock bag and add some white sugar. Mix. Seal the bag, removing as much of the air as you can. Let that sit for at least an hour at room temperature. Add a little warm water to dissolve the sugar mixture and strain it.