Mixing it Up!

Hey Guys and Gals,

My apologies again for the delayed blog. Things have got real busy for me of late which is a good thing but has meant this is harder to keep up with!

So for this post, i’m mixing things up with a little bit of news of some interesting and fun things i’ve been doing, seeing and drinking!

I have finally returned to the big smog of London. It is easy to forget amongst the trials and tribulations of crappy commutes, angry pedestrians and renegade cyclists, how wealthy London is when it comes to food and drink. The influence of our capital’s multicultural society blesses us with great eateries, bars and concepts which means there is always something which will surprise/interest/tittilate you. (Hence my blogging absence, there’s just sooooo much!).

I mention this because despite my opinion of a lot of London bartending (style over substance, bartenders who jump from one bar to the next etc), there is sooo much which is great and the people i’ve been working with and meeting over the past few weeks are true testament to the fact that London is an exciting place if you are a bartender.

This is NOT Myles!

One such experience was seeing/taking part in the Molecular Mixology course at Shaker Barschool where i’ve been doing some training work. Led by a fantastic trainer by the name of Myles Cunliffe (who sadly doesn’t really tend bar any more), the session really gave me some food for thought. Is London exciting? For the rest of the world it certainly is! Bartenders had come from all over the world to attend… Nigeria, Denmark, Italy, Greece, it was quite astonishing! The course was fun and challenging with a fantastic spin on the molecular world.

Now, i do have a little gripe with the idea of molecular mixology in that, again, it can be very much about style over substance where there may be techniques employed but without complimenting/enhancing or really improving on a recipe which, if made with classic techniques, would be lovely.

"Sorry, again, how do i drink this...?"

I still think that much of the molecular world is best left for competitions, special events and fine dining/small expiremental bars (where the application of a process doesn’t mean you wait for 30 minutes whilst someone has to knock up a pineapple and chilli caviar!). However, boy is it fun to mess around with! I have had a little play with things before but had never really embraced it. It can work out as quite an expensive thing to play around with because of the necessary tools and ingredients and it is also quite tricky, so you can waste a lot of cash in your failed attempts!

There are definitely some serving ideas that came out of the day that i will use in the future and there are certainly some ways to implement the ideas into bar service without it being a logistical nightmare and the variety that comes with pulling it off is too exciting to simply ignore. Just make sure it does work and you haven’t just got all excited about using the fun chemicals and fancy gadgets but made a drink that tastes boring/shit!

If you do want to know any more about the course, (and this isn’t me just shamelessly plugging Shaker, i genuinely think this course is great for anyone with an interest!) go to http://www.shaker-uk.com

So, moving on. Whisky!

I had the good fortune to attend a fantastic whisky tasting session led by Colin Dunn from Diageo. Now Diageo get a bad rep, yes they have some brands that i despise and some of their tactics and actions are less than desirable but then it is true with most large scale corporations no matter what the industry. They are an easy target. However, the work done on the ground by Colin with his tastings is fantastic. He struck a great balance education, branding and fun which made it a very fun afternoon plus he had some awesome products with him!).

Cherry Raisiny Smokey Loveliness

After a general spiel (though well presented and interesting) around the history of Scotch whisky, dotted with readings from the Bible, Hunter S Thompson and a few others (which at present i forget), he conducted a tasting of just four malts. However, they were well selected in that they had very different styles, representative of the regions and were matched with foods to enhance the flavours/providing serving ideas. Talisker 10 and Maltesers, awesome! Quite often, these things can leave you with either little you can actually use in your work as a bartender or you leave so bladdered you can’t even remember the products. He also had with him a Lagavulin 18 Year Old finished in Pedro Ximenez barrels, wonderfully smokey, peaty but with very deep dried fruit flavours and perfect sweetness, if you can afford it, get a bottle!

As I sit reviewing my tasting notes from the session, I thought i’d also mention the Dalwhinnie 15 year. I could go on about Scotch for years and by the time you taste everything on the market, there would be new products anyway so you have to humble yourself with what you do taste and enjoy the experience.

The Dalwhinnie, taste it, it’s got a wonderful balance to it and an undeniable fragrance of a breakfast tea!

The day, hosted by the guys at Callooh Callay (great bar, GO!) ended with a demonstration of the Whisky Cocktail through the ages by Stuart Hudson. Some drinks were better than others, but his Julep and the Morning Glory Fizz were fantastic!

Finished with a demo of the Blue Blazer (a drink made famous by Professor Jerry Thomas, a bartender from the late 19th century), where you throw a liquid mixture from one vessel to another. In this case, with it on fire.

A word of warning if you do this yourself, do not make the drink RIGHT underneath the smoke alarm.

Cue loud noises and loud hollering from semi -inebriated bartenders.

Good times!


2 Responses to “Mixing it Up!”

  1. April 5, 2010 at 6:04 am

    Ah, I love the photo of someone making the Blue Blazer as it certainly is Jerry Thomas’ signature and I’ve never seen a color photograph of someone making the drink in modern times. I wonder where he got the silver mixing cups.

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