Archive for December, 2008

Pur-spective

December 16, 2008

Hi Again All!

Writing to you from the beautifully wintery shores of the Golden Horn in Istanbul. Just a quick note to talk about something so so important in the world of the bartender: perspective. As my wise Dad always says ‘de gustebus non desputante est’ or ‘in matters of taste there can be no dispute’ (pardon the horrible latin spelling!). This is a philosophy the Romans stood by and I think more of us bartenders could remember as well. It means, that flat out, people taste differently. Much as how one feels different, looks different and thinks different–he also TASTES differently. And who are we as ‘guides to imbibing’ to tell a person how a Manhattan should be made, or the ‘correct recipe’ for a Singapore Sling. What it comes down to is taste and palate and if someone has the palate for a syrupy-sweet menthol laden Mojito then by golly I’m going to be the first mixologist to make it for them. Our job is to allow those who have no appreciation for the labour put in behind the bar to sit down, be treated like an honoured guest no matter what is ordered and leave with his/her life a little brighter because of our service. That’s my take on it anyways.
Why all this talk on perspective? Well let’s just say I spent some time tonight with an old friend still living in Turkey who opened my mind. To me, being able to come back to Istanbul has been the most amazing treat and I’ve realised how much I missed this gorgeously intoxicating cross-roads of art/culture and ever dichotomous city. To him, it is a bit set in it’s ways due to an envious attitude Turks have towards one another or even to those living abroad. I’m sure we both have some truth and some embellishment in our thoughts–but there lies the punch line: it’s about perspective.
Either way, when you’re lucky enough to find a moment of happiness in any place–when it’s a place that you feel lucky to visit again–then make the most of it and enjoy it wholeheartedly, I guess that’s my ‘Jerry Springer’s Final Thought’ from this sleep-deprived rant. More to come.

Cheers!
Joe

New….well, uh, news!

December 14, 2008

Hi everyone!

Thanks for all the comments and emails about the UKTV appearance on ‘Market Kitchen’ this Friday! To be honest, they meant a ton because I was where I belong whilst the show aired–behind the stick mixing drinks–so I never saw it! Here’s hoping one of my more techno-savvy colleagues TIVO-ed it and either way I believe the good folks at ‘Market Kitchen‘ will continue airing it, so maybe 25 years from now when I’m all settled down I can watch a re-run right after an ‘Obama: The Greatest President Who Ever Lived’ special starring one of Will Smith’s kids.

In the meantime I’m traveling a bit right now and just wanted to keep you up to date.

I’m heading to Istanbul this week for an amazing event:

Gap and Apple have teamed up to present fashion that matches each Ipod Nano Chromatic–and I’ve been fortunate enough to get the exciting chance to create a cocktail to match each Ipod as well! I’ve never worked solely on a colour-basis for cocktails so this is quite a fun challenge. I’ll be posting the cocktails I’ve created in the next few weeks, but in the meantime check out the website here to see the campaign.

One more quick news item was a wonderful feature from Danny Ronen and Jenn Faringdon of the Tasting Panel magazine that just was forwarded on to me. The Tasting Panel is by far the top industry magazine for all-things-bar and I’m humbled for a feature in their Trends:London issue. Best of all, half way through the interview Danny and I realised we attended the same high school! Nice one! Check it out here.

Following this, I’ll be in the US and San Francisco–one of my favorite bar towns–and up to the lovely (and confirmed spiritual vortex of) Mt. Shasta, California. No, not to find myself…but to mix up some drinks for a very special group of folks in the wild-er-ness of Northern Cal. Should be quite a time!

More to come but just wanted to check in on a chilly London day. Cheers and happy pre-holiday madness to all!!

Keeping your spirits clean…

December 4, 2008

Considering the insanely quick rate that the organic trend has spread its way into nearly every market (I mean, come on who really needs organic kitty litter!?!) it comes as no surprise that the liquor industry has jumped on board. But before you disregard the marketing of your favorite vodka as ‘now healthier for you because it’s organic!’ you should really look at exactly what an organic drink means and where the organic philosophy comes from.
The trend really started in the wine industry with many of the world’s finest vineyard owners realizing the negative effect that chemicals were having on their highly valuable land. Starting first with the ancient vineyards of France and Italy, word began spreading that maybe the ‘steroid-like’ pollutants that Agro-Chemical companies were pushing on farmers all over the world in the ‘80s and ‘90s were actually poisoning the land and making grapes that were weaker in flavor and lacking a certain subtlety or depth they once had.  At the same time as more and more vineyard owners who embraced natural methods began winning awards and vocalizing their success with bio-growing, the word ‘organic’ became associated with ‘fresher’, ‘more taste’, and just plain higher quality.
Distilleries all over the world started experimenting with using organic products as the base of their spirits not long after and had similar effects. For instance, many whiskey distilleries in Scotland started buying or growing their own grains organically and noticed not only a better flavor but that many of the plants and animals that had abandoned the environment surrounding their distilleries returned–same with vodka producers throughout Scandinavia, Gin producers in California and Tequila producers in Mexico. It soon became clear that not using chemicals was a win-win situation.
Though it is hard to find many of these organic spirits, there are a plethora of fresh organic fruits and vegetables to create at least an ‘as-organic-as-possible’ cocktail like I do. A good example is the Hafif Ruzgar for which I use organic basil to naturally infuse flavor into Utkins UK5 Vodka, fresh lemons, organic sugar, and Efe’s (newly released) Organic Raki. There is no doubt that the highest quality of ingredients and well-made spirits creates altogether a better-tasting drink. Although not necessarily ‘healthier’ for body, it certainly is much healthier for your soul!

Hafif Ruzgar
3 cl Basil Infused Vodka**
2 cl Organic Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
3 cl Organic Sugar Syrup***
6 Fresh Organic Basil Leaves
1.5 cl Efes Organic Raki
Sparkling Water

In a shaker muddle the basil, lemon juice, sugar, and raki. Add the Basil Vodka, ice and then shake hard for about 20 seconds. Strain into a glass filled with new ice and top with soda water and a fresh basil leaf.

** add about 15 grams (20 leaves) of organic basil into a bottle of vodka and let sit for 6-8 hours unrefrigerated. Strain and transfer into a glass container
***Combine 500grams of sugar with 1 Liter water in a med. sauce pan. Heat over medium heat for about 15 minutes until all the sugar is dissolved. Transfer into an airtight container and refrigerate. Will last for weeks.