Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cocktail Camp

Hubba Bubba and I escaped downtown for our monthly date day. Up this time? Cocktail Camp! It was fascinating, and not just because they had us sipping cocktails all day long!

We arrived for the morning social hour for some fun drinks to start the day. My favorite was a champagne cocktail with quince liqueur and vermouth. The man prefered one with white dog rye, coffee liqueur and cream.
The first presentation was The Art of Tasting. Such a great way to begin the day. Tasting spirits is similar to wine, and yet completely different. It is so much stronger, so you have to take a gentler approach to it. When tasting, wearing perfume can fatigue your olfactory senses, even music can alter your perception.

They gave us three points to keep in mind when tasting spirits ::

Appearance : A white background highlights color, showing the quality of the spirit and guides the taste. View the edge of the spirit for color, brightness. That shows what the spirit has gotten from the barrel.

Nosing : Be in the conversation with the spirit and go with first impression, not expectation. Different volatiles, high alatides can overwhelm your nose so start with small sniffs.

Tasting : Small sip under the tongue to activate salivary gland and aromatize. Move up to pool on the tongue, breathe in, wash over tongue. Notice where on the tongue the flavors hit.

When designing a cocktail, do this homework first. You can adjust what you mix with the spirit as either a point or a counterpoint to make your creating more bold or mellow.

Scotch (it's easier than you think) was the most fascinating part for us both. We tasted Scotch from all over Scotland as we learned about the history and geography that creates the differences and the similarities.
There is a correlation between craft beer and single malt scotch; basically you don't add hops and distill it. The original whiskey in the highland was single malt and distilled very slowly. The growing middle class in the cities needed something less rough. They put it in the oak casks of sherry or port to age to make it more palatable. 

A decent blend will have held grain whiskey and half single-malt. Peated malt is when the add water to sprout the barley and then dry it out over a peat fire which created the toasted, smoky flavor. The oak cask gives sixty percent of the flavor. American oak creates a spicy, butterscotch finish. Spanish oak is deeper, more almond, raisin or nutmeg.
The Perfect Host gave us the basics for deciding what to serve at a cocktail party. Have four basic drinks : Manhattan, Martini, a basic sour & Nagroni. (We had to Google's an aperitif which we learned about in the final session)
Manhattan = Whiskey, vermouth, bitters
Martini = Gin, dry vermouth
Negroni = Gin, sweet vermouth, campari (We had to Google Campari too. We felt like such noobs!)
Sour =  2 spirit 3/4 citrus 3/4 sweet

Stir the first three shake the sour. If it all booze you stir. If you put juice in it you shake it. You want to have a shaken, a stirred, a tall drink with soda.
Themes - usually comes down to naming and it is half the fun.

Don't stand behind your bar the whole time. Make a punch  
Punch = One is sour, two of sweet, thee of strong, and four of weak (example : lemon juice, simple syrup,  rum and brandy,  soda and black tea)
Introduction to Aperitifs was completely new to us, and we felt marginally better when they explained most American's haven't embraced it. It's never been part of our culture the way it is in teh rest of the world.

Herbal infused brandy/ fortified wine (aka vermouth) began the apertivo hour. Many aperitifs have medicinal origins. Many contain quinine like cocchi. These bitters herbs create a biochemical reaction in the body increasing salivation and speeding digestion. They are lower octane cocktails (except the martini).

1 comment:

Nicole Maki said...

Great post, Jenna.

I pinned this as it's filled with useful tips.