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MxMo LXXXVI: Pineapple, IPA, Chardonnay, Coffee, Curry

Hello everyone. It’s been a while since I participated in Mixology Monday, but somehow, no matter how you try to escape the shrouded underworld of artisanal mixology blogs, it finds a way to draw you back in. This month our host is Ceccotti over at Bartending Notes, and the theme is pineapple.

Let’s bring the king of fruits back! After being canned, mixed with all sorts of sugary liquids and blended into guilty pleasures not to be named some 80s dreadful cocktails, the pineapple needs more respect!

Once a symbol of hospitality, the King of fruits might be know misunderstood. One of the greatest non-citrus souring agents, used for crazy garnish ideas, infusions, old gum syrup flavoring, the pineapple is a fruit to be reckoned.

Be in a tiki cocktails, an old school classic like the Algonquin, a crazy flavor pairing or just mixed in a delicious Verdita, get creative and make a cocktail using any part of this delicious, juicy fruit or share you favorite pineapple cocktail with us!

I couldn’t make up my mind so I decided to do a series of drinks investigating some of pineapple’s lesser-known affinities. The aromatic of the hour is a molecule called methyl hexanoate, which can be found in coffee, pineapple, white wine, hops, kiwi, and oysters, among other things. And although I am definitely crazy enough to put oyster brine in a pineapple cocktail, that particular experiment will have to wait. Long-time readers may remember when we capitalized on this commonality in the past with a blue cheese and pineapple pairing.

I am still drawing a lot of inspiration from my mixology tour of  Tokyo, and for this MxMo I decided to apply the same technique I used for the Carrera to try to bring the flavor of pineapple to the fore. For all of these drinks, my process and template were the same: I mixed an ounce of fresh pineapple juice with an ounce of the other main ingredient in the drink, tasted it, adjusted the ratio, padded it with vodka, and sweetened it with simple syrup.

In order to maximize the flavor of the pineapple, I cut a pineapple into rings and roasted them in the broiler until the surface became caramelized and brown. The smell of roasted pineapple filled my whole house, and this is something that I would wish for you, as well. If you have a grill, you could grill the pineapple instead of roasting. I then muddled the roasted pineapple into the drink to provide cooked and caramelized pineapple flavors along with raw and fresh ones.

The ratios of ingredients are kind of all over the place. I’m sorry for that. I like my drinks to be properly jiggered but in these lower-alcohol drinks, jiggers start to matter less. I think we’ve learned the rules sufficiently at this point that we can break them when we want.

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Wineapple

1.5 oz Chardonnay (Project Happiness Chardonnay)
1 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
1 Roasted Pineapple Ring, 3/4″ Thick
1 oz Vodka
1 Barspoon simple syrup*
Muddle roasted pineapple with vodka until its juice is thoroughly extracted. Add other ingredients and then shake over ice. Double strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a pineapple leaf.

*My barspoon is 1/8 of an ounce.

This drink was the lightest in the series, probably too light. I considered using a white wine reduction, but although this pairing is unobjectionable, it is not more than the sum of its parts. The most intriguing thing about this drink was the way that the vodka brought out the other flavors. Before I added the vodka, the taste of this drink was flat and bland, but adding the vodka somehow turned up the volume on both the pineapple and the wine. Even so, I wouldn’t remake this.

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IPAnapple

1.5 oz IPA (Knee Deep Hoptologist)
1 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
1 Roasted Pineapple Ring, 3/4″ Thick
1 oz Vodka
1 Barspoon simple syrup
Muddle roasted pineapple with vodka until its juice is thoroughly extracted. Add other ingredients and then shake over ice. Double strain into an old fashioned glass and garnish with a pineapple leaf.

If you enjoy IPA, you will probably love this. Pineapple and IPA were meant to go together. Don’t overcomplicate things by putting other flavors into the mix. As with the above, the vodka helped to increase the perception of contrast between the flavors. Especially after drinking this, I can discern prominent notes of pineapple in an IPA all on its own.

coffee

Ocelot

1.5 oz Single Origin Coffee from your favorite local roaster
1 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
1 Roasted Pineapple Ring, 3/4″ Thick
1 oz Vodka
1 Barspoon Coffee Liqueur
Muddle roasted pineapple with vodka until its juice is thoroughly extracted. Add other ingredients and then shake over ice. Double strain into a small mug and garnish with a pineapple leaf.

I don’t know why, but I felt like calling this “Ocelot”. Probably I have been watching too much Archer. In any case this was the best of the bunch. Coffee and pineapple both froth up pretty fiercely when you shake them, so after I double-strained this drink, I used my barspoon to get some of the froth sitting at the top of the strainer onto the top of the drink. In my first version of this, I used simple syrup instead of coffee liqueur, but I wanted to reinforce the flavor of the coffee a little more. If you make a drink from this post, this is the one.

curry

Shrunken Head

1 oz Vodka
1 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
.5 oz lime juice
1 Roasted Pineapple Ring, 3/4″ Thick
2 cloves
1 Barspoon simple syrup
1 Barspoon Demerara Rum
Curry Powder to taste

Crush the cloves in the vodka with a mortar and pestle, then add the vodka to your measuring tin with the roasted pineapple. Muddle and add all other ingredients. Shake and then double strain into a snifter and garnish with a pineapple leaf.

I broke the mold with this one. When one has a pitcher of fresh pineapple juice, it is advisable to make something in the genre of tiki. I was originally going to call this a “minimalist” tiki drink, but upon looking at the ingredient list I’m not sure if I can get away with that. This was my second pick from this cocktail lab, though I think I need to explore the concept of a curried pineapple drink a little further. It’s not perfect yet.

I’d like to close up by saying a bit thanks to Ceccotti for hosting MxMo, and a big thanks to you for reading.

 

As they say in Hawaii, Huli pau!


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Carrera: Apricot, Vanilla, Bourbon, Vodka, Cinnamon

I made this a few weeks ago, and I just couldn’t let it sit any longer. I think it is one of my best drinks to date. I was influenced by my time in Japan, particularly at the bar of Gen Yamamoto, who I think is one of the most creative and inspiring bartenders in the business. The strength of his drinks is in their subtlety, and in the way that the natural flavors of his ingredients become objects of contemplation.

To duplicate this effect, I have been casting fresh fruit juices from my macerating juicer in the role of the base spirit, and using lower volumes of alcohol as accent marks. The juice from soft fruits is often saturated with soft pulp, and as such the yield from an apricot or a kumquat is halfway between a juice and a purée. The balance of the viscosity of the juice against that of the spirits provides ample space for a bartender to meditate on texture.

carerra

Carrera
1.25 oz Fresh Apricot Juice
.5 Vanilla-Infused Bourbon
.5 Vodka
.5 Fresh Orange Juice [optional]
1 Barspoon agave syrup

Shake and strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a coupe glass. Agitate the mixture through the strainer with a barspoon if necessary. Grate fresh cinnamon across the top.

In the past I was quite offended by vodka, but I have found that it is highly desirable in this style of drink. Soju, Shochu, Sake, and Vodka all have their place when the emphasis is on the delicate and ephemeral. The mere presence of alcohol can make other flavors seem louder and more distinct. Wine, whiskey, coffee — we are accustomed to looking for the entire world of culinary flavors in these things — but perhaps we can perform the same trick with an apricot?

My method is to use a minimum of a spirit to achieve its presence in the end product, and then pad the volume of 80 proof liquor in the drink up to a single ounce. In this case, I wanted to combine the vanilla and bourbon with the taste of fresh apricot, but I wanted the bourbon to play the auxiliary role.

Apricot can be quite acidic when consumed as a juice; it is tangy and floral, and a bit of sweetness from syrup draws out hints of spice; cinnamon in the garnish and vanilla in the bourbon should be like echoes of the notes struck by the fruit. Raw fruits and vegetables can possess a surprisingly complexity all on their own, if one is patient and attentive. Anything as strong as bitters or herbal liqueur would be distracting, like a crashing cymbal in the middle of a cello suite.

Finally, an optional half measure of orange juice blends very seamlessly into the apricot, elongating it, and recalls the flavor of a tangerine. Unfortunately, it sacrifices some of the apricot’s sharpness. I suggest trying both variations.

乾杯!


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Soukichi Glassware Company – Tokyo Craft Cocktail Series #11

This is our final stop on Measure and Stir’s Magical Mixological Journey in the Land of the Rising Sun(tm). Thanks for reading. Tomorrow I will be posting a summary and some closing thoughts.

As I mentioned earlier, the glassware in Japan is top-notch. In every bar we visited, from the elegant Gen Yamamoto to the internationally renowned Tender to the unassuming Aliviar, a single name kept popping up: The Soukichi Glassware Company. A pilgrimage was in order. Located next to Asakusa station, we had a little bit of difficulty finding this one. It is a very small store, easy to miss, but inside they sell the most beautiful barware I have ever seen.

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Most of it is so delicate and thin that I feared to purchase it, lest I simply return home with a suitcase full of broken glass. Even so, we could not help ourselves, and brought back several souveneirs. Of course they carry the standard trident-style japanese barspoons, as well as a collection of shakers, ice picks, muddlers, jiggers, and japanese-style mixing glasses, similar to the Yarai. Words cannot convey the beauty of the barware that is available in Soukichi, so I will simply say it with pictures:

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Isn’t that the most adorable bottle of Porfidio you’ve ever seen?

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As an added bonus, Soukichi is not far from the Kappabashi-dori restaurant supply district, where you can find more affordable Japanese barware and kitchen ware, as well. It’s worth a look. Soukichi’s high end of glasses can go over over a hundred dollars a glass, so if that pricetag intimidates you, Kappabashi-dori might be more your style, but even if you don’t buy anything, Soukichi is worth the trip for a barware enthusiast.

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Bonus pic of my friend Tom, looking fly outside of their unassuming storefront.


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Bar Aliviar – Tokyo Craft Cocktail Series #10

Aliviar is not a big-name bar like some of the others in “Measure and Stir’s Magical Mixological Journey in the Land of the Rising Sun(tm)”.

In fact, it is in every way a neighborhood bar, the little convenient watering hole that you visit for a nightcap after a long night of hard drinking… Man, I know that sounds. They made it onto this list because they were on the ground floor of the building where my AirBnB was located in Ebisu. Unfortunately for Aliviar, there are two other bars in Ebisu that you should probably visit first, but that is in no way a slight against them.

Aliviar is small, classy, welcoming, and everything that you would expect from a Japanese cocktail bar. The bartender’s movements are precise and elegant. Like most cocktail bars in Japan, the glassware is of a quality that puts any bar in the USA to shame, even the top bars in New York and San Francisco. I mean that, the Japanese have taken barware and glassware into the stratosphere, and meanwhile here we all are, still stuck on the ground.

We ordered classics off of the unspoken menu of Japanese standards; Old Fashioned, White Lady, Gimlet. We haven’t had a cocktail recipe yet since I came back, so let’s take a quick detour here to note that in fact, a White Lady, which is not a very common drink in the States, is made like so:

1.5 oz Gin
.5 oz Cointreau
.75 oz Lemon Juice
Barspoon of Simple Syrup
Shake over ice and double strain into a cocktail glass.
Personally, I like to make mine with an egg white.

aliviar

With apologies for the poor photo quality. Anyway, the bartender at Aliviar served such a beautiful Old Fashioned that I had to write about it, though I will note that the strange Japanese practice of placing a bitters-soaked sugar cube on top of ice instead of integrating it into the drink meant that he basically served us a whiskey on the rocks. And Aliviar’s bourbon of choice? Wild Turkey 101.


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The Stella – Tokyo Craft Cocktail Series #9

On the last night of “Measure and Stir’s Magical Mixological Journey in the Land of the Rising Sun(tm)” we found ourselves visiting three bars in a single night. Stella was the last stop on our journey, and I and mine were feeling quite fatigued. As a result, my memory of this bar is a little bit hazy, like a dream. I regret that our visit was not longer.

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When we entered the Stella, I admit, the decor did not give us the best first impression. It was a little cheesy. First impressions can be deceiving, however, our bartender, Takashi-san, was very skilled, and the drinks that he made were both delicious and creative. Like Codename:Mixology, the Stella is a molecular bar, and they serve drinks that are smoked, frozen, barrel-aged, and otherwise scienced.

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What a menu! For our first round, my friend Tom started with a Truffled Salty Dog, which was made with grapefruit, vodka, truffle essence, and truffle salt. It was exactly as advertised, and I certainly enjoyed it.

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Dave and I both ordered the “LN2 Lemond -196C”, a drink made with red wine, orgeat syrup, lemon juice, and panna cotta foam, but the twist is that both the drink and the foam were frozen using liquid nitrogen, such that it game out more like a granita. You can see it here, NO2 vapor rising lightly from the glass.

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After that we went with Bartender’s choice or “omaksase” as they say in Japan, and he served us a smoked bloody mary “dolce” with cocoa powder. Notice how the glass has a narrow mouth with a little lid to hold in the smoke.

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Also as part of the omakase service, I received an earl gray orange blossom, above, dusted with powdered sugar and garnished with whole spices. Takashi-san let us try a house-made amaro and a barrel-aged house blend of Islay scotches. Delightful.


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Tokyo Craft Bar Trench – Tokyo Craft Cocktail Series #8

As “Measure and Stir’s Magical Mixological Journey in the Land of the Rising Sun(tm)” drew to a close, we found ourself in a cozy neighborhood joint known as Bar Trench…

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Gen Yamamoto told us to go to Benfiddich. Benfiddich told us to go to Codename:Mixology. Codename:Mixology told us to go to Bar Trench, and after a chain of suggestions like that, we simply could not say no. Bar Trench turned out to be in Ebisu, only a few minutes from where we were staying, so it was an easy choice. Trench is owned by the same people as a bar two blocks away called Tram, and both describe themselves as “Elixir and Absinthe”. Of all the bars we visited in Tokyo, Trench was the most similar to an American style craft cocktail bar. In fact, if you found Trench in Seattle, you wouldn’t think twice.

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We did not have a lot of time, and honestly, because it was so familiar, the menu had less to offer than a place like Codename:Mixology, but I want to commend them for creating a great atmosphere and for serving us a rock-solid drink, which they called “Gin and Jam”. Every week, they make a new gourmet jam, and then premix it in jam jars with a spirit as a sour. We were lucky enough to get Gin with homemade Apple-cinnamon jam, and everyone at the table drank it in record time. That’s how you know you did something right.

This was a two-man operation when we were there, and right as we were about to leave, the lead bartender came over to our table and hung out with us for a minute, even though the bar was fairly crowded, and he poured us all a shot of Zacapa 23 and took a shot with us. Little things like that can help take a bar from good to great.

Alas, we were a little short on time at this point, and we only had time for one drink. Still, it was a good time, and if you are in Ebisu, and looking for an American-style craft bar, Trench is the place.


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Codename: Mixology, Akasaka – Tokyo Craft Cocktail Series #7

We still have a few stops left on “Measure and Stir’s Magical Mixological Journey in the Land of the Rising Sun(tm)”, so let’s make them count!

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Codename:Mixology has a location in Akasaka, and a location next to Tokyo central station. The one by Tokyo station has standards, apparently, and they wouldn’t let us in. Fortunately, the one in Akasaka was willing to entertain riffraff like us. Before we get into the meat of this article, I would like to note that it is located right next to liquor store that carries Lemonhart of both the regular and the 151 variety, and that sells green chartreuse for 30$/bottle.

C:M’s interior was probably my favorite of all the bars on the trip, though it was baroque in its style. As you walk in the door, you are greeted by a rotovape distiller, a freezing centrifuge, and a vaporizer gun, announcing the modernist aspirations of the bar. The inside is lavishly decorated with bottles, bitters, ornate barware and leather-bound books. I did not smell any rich mahogany, but then again, I was getting over a cold.

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C:M had the only bottle of Pappy we saw all trip, and for that matter, their house barrel-aged Manhattan, dubbed “the Manhattan experience” is made with 15-year old Van Winkle rye, Pedro Ximénez sherry, Abbott’s bitters, and a raspberry shrub. I have never had a Manhattan as good as theirs. The particular genius of this drink was to barrel-age a shrub. It sounds obvious once you say it, but I had never realized, prior to this drink, that it is possible to barrel-age a maceration of fruit. Since the vinegar in the shrub acts as a preservative, it is possible to make a drink of this nature.

The menu at C:M explains that their mixology comes in four flavors:
1. Barrel-aging
2. Roto-vape distilling
3. Classic cocktails
4. Other Molecular drinks

And indeed, they have a whole page of barrel-aged drinks, including a mai-tai made with barrel-aged house made mai-tai mix, and a barrel-aged “woodland negroni”, in which a Negroni made with Campari, Amer Picon, and Gin is aged with a house tincture of woodland herbs and spices.

They also had a page of drinks made with rotovape-distilled spirits, including an Asparagus tonic, a Parmesean Vodka martini, and a Blue Cheese Hennessey Martini. They also let us taste a small glass of vodka distilled with foie gras. Let’s just take a moment to talk about rotovapor distillation. Here is an excerpt from Tony Conigliaro’s book The Cocktail Lab, in which he describes the machine:

The Rotovapor is an instrument used to distill a solvent. The purpose of distillation is to separate a given mixture into its components based on their respective volatilities, through the process of evaporation and condensation. What makes the Rotovapor so fantastic is that it has a vacuum. This allows you to evaporate things at lower boiling points because you are evaporating through pressure rather than heat. This is incredibly useful because the less heat you use, the less likely you are to damage or pull apart the more delicate volatiles of an ingredient. Alcohol is a fantastic medium for carrying flavor and volatile aromas. You can extract the purest and freshest flavors from ingredients by removing the water and replacing it with a solvent such as alcohol, gently and at low temperatures. This means your final product has a full spectrum of aroma and flavor notes.

The rotation of the evaporating flask, immersed in a heated water bath, increases the surface area of the product, greatly speeding up distillation and also, through forced convection, keeping the mixture evenly mixed and heated, to promote stable, even evaporation. For example, when distilling rose petals, you have very delicate, small molecules, which too muc hheat would simply burn. With less heat, the delicate molecules are preserved and come through along with the bigger molecules. In this way you have the big picture of what a rose is. What I love about the Rotovapor is that it is one of the most complicated pieces of equipment used in the lab but the products made from it are incredibly poetic.

By the way, if you haven’t read Mr. Conigliaro’s book yet, you really ought to check it out. I will have a book review coming shortly.

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After we each drank a 15 year Van Winkle Manhattan, Dave ordered a “hot bourbon moscow mule” (isn’t that a Kentucky Mule?), Tom ordered a drink made with roughly equal parts of clarified tomato juice and champagne, and I ordered, in fact, the Blue Cheese martini. The rotovape makes it possible to create distillates at room temperature, so it is possible to distill ingredients such as cheese into a spirit, which would otherwise melt and clog up the still.

I am not sure if it sounds appetizing to you, but in fact the flavor of the blue cheese, or at least, the portion of if that was distillable, really did come out in the drink in a unique and delicious way. This was the most interesting martini of my life to date.

mixology5 “Hot Moscow Mule” on the right, and I apologize but I can’t remember the drink on the left.

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Finally, because Dave is a lover of all things tiki, he ordered their mashup of a Piña Colada and a Mai Tai, called “Mai Piña”. To be honest, we both would have preferred if this had been a little more rum-forward, but in true Japanese style, the spirit was soft and light upon the palate. Regardless, that tiki glass is amazing.

Codename:Mixology was astonishingly good. Go there.

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