Measure & Stir

A Craft Cocktail Blog for the Home Bartender that Focuses on Original Creations Drawn from Culinary Inspiration.


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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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iSi Whipped Cream Dispenser

After eyeing it for a while, I finally caved and purchased an iSi Whipped Cream Dispenser. This is a heavy-duty piece of equipment, and I am very satisfied with the quality. If you’ve been around the internet for a while, or if you have visited a snooty restaurant with thirty tiny courses made out of science,  you are familiar with the molecular gastronomy/mixology practice of making flavored foams. I’d been dying to try it and now, at last, I have.

For my first foam, I wanted to go by the book, so I watched this video by Jamie Boudreau and followed his advice closely. His drink sounded interesting, but I still wanted to go my own way, so I decided to take two recipes that I already know and love, and put them together. The combination was kind of disappointing, but the foam itself was delicious, and overall a huge success. In the video, Jamie mentions that gomme syrup in the underlying drink is important to help its texture stand up to the rich foam. I heard this advice, but I did not have any gomme syrup, so I charged ahead blithely without it, with predictable results.

It wasn’t so much a problem of the viscosity of the drink, in my opinion, as a problem with the flavor. The foam was loosely inspired by my Vanilla Whiskey Fix, except I changed the balance to match Mr. Boudreau’s specifications. For the underlying drink, I used this apple brandy concoction. When I tasted the foam on its own, prior to mixing the drink, it felt like a good match in my imagination, but the flavor of the foam was very powerful, so that all you could taste from the underlying drink was the allspice.

Honey Whiskey Fix Foam
2 oz Honey Syrup
1 oz Vanilla-Infused Bourbon
1.5 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Water
2 Egg Whites

Place all in a whipped cream dispenser, seal, and shake. Discharge a nitrogen cartridge into the dispenser and then place the dispenser in the fridge for an hour to allow the foam to emulsify. If you need foam RIGHT THIS SECOND, discharge two nitrogen cartridges and wait a few minutes.

The foam came out of the dispenser with a very rich, creamy texture, similar to the head on draft Guinness or Boddingtons, but thicker. It completely destroyed the aroma of the underlying drink, so that was a disappointment, but I think the real artistry here lies in finding flavors that are distinct and yet complementary, or perhaps in using a lighter foam.

The only real hitch here was the stability of the foam. It broke down before I could finish the drink, most likely because I needed more sugar relative to the acidity of the lemon juice. Still, I don’t think anyone would complain if I served this foam to them at a party.

Before I go, a quick meditation on capacity. The above recipe made just enough foam for three drinks, and I think the 1 pint canister that I purchased could accommodate roughly double that, or six drinks. If you need to make these in a larger quantity than that, you should probably get the quart. I slightly regret not doing so. Coming soon: Flash infusions.


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Yarai Mixing Glass

My good friend James was kind enough to get me this Yarai Mixing Glass as a housewarming gift. It took its sweet time in getting here, but now that it is, I am thrilled. This mixing glass is a work of art. The heavy base allows one to stir a drink without holding the glass, freeing the other hand to shake or stir another drink. The glass itself is a perfect circumference, giving the user an excellent range of motion for the bar spoon and a fine window into the drink’s level of dilution.

For my inaugural drink in my new mixing glass, I wanted to make a classic stirred cocktail that would truly help me appreciate this method of mixing. The Manhattan was the first cocktail I ever learned to make, and it remains one of my all-time favorites. Different choices of base spirit and vermouth will result in different optimum ratios, and personal taste also makes a huge impact, but for my money, 3:1 is is my baseline, and for Eagle Rare 10 year and Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, it was perfect.

Manhattan

1.5 oz Bourbon (Eagle Rare)
.5 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi Vermouth di Torino)
Dash of Aromatic Bitters (Angostura)

Stir slowly over cracked ice, and gently strain into a cocktail glass. Classic garnish is a cherry, but I do not always have brandied cherries on hand, and it’s not a big deal.*

I can’t believe I’d been stirring drinks this long in the stainless steel half of my Boston shaker, when stirred perfection was just a quick order away. If you love stirred drinks as much as I do, the control and precision offered by the Yarai mixing glass is simply a must-have.

My only complaint is that even with the weighted base, the glass can slip around a little bit on a low-friction surface. An attentive mixologist will place it upon a mat or towel for stabilization.

*Normally, the garnish is immensely important, as it forms the backbone of the drink’s aroma. Cherries are the one exception, as they contribute nothing to the aroma at all. Don’t even waste your time with those red superball “maraschino” cherries — they suck. If you have a truly delicious brandied cherry, that’s worth it, but it does not make the drink itself any better. It’s just a tasty snack.