Sunday Catchup #4

Lip Smacking Science – Crystals, Emulsions, Foams

An absolute treat today, coming out of the Harvard Lecture Series. The talk is lead by Bill Yosses who now acts as the pastry chef for The White House! He is accompanied by Naza Tanesh who achieved the rare feat of working her way around every section of the El Bulli kitchen, but began life in the pastry section.

The lecture focuses on creation of crystals, emulsions, and foams. We see the recipe for how to make El Bullis legendary hot and cold gin drink and let into the secret of how to make a meringue without using any egg whites.

Cocktails with Bompas and Parr

Although the medieval splendour surrounding the launch of Cocktails with Bompas & Parr was more than a little memorable, the thing which will stay with me was being greeted with an ether cocktail. Ether was a popular cocktail ingredient during Prohibition as it was intoxicating but not quite legally defined as alcohol, and the B&P boys have brought it back with a vengeance in their signature cocktail: champagne with an ether-soaked strawberry bobbing drunkenly through it. So, medicinal-smelling glass of fizz in one hand (and another in the other, if I’m honest), I set off to find out how Bompas & Parr throw a party…

Star attraction: new museum celebrates gin

The museum itself, called the Ginstitute, is on the first floor above the Portobello Star, lined with cabinets full of vintage bottles and books. Many are grouped in honour of classic cocktails, such as a bottle of Moët from 1932 for a French 75 or a 60-year-old bottle of Campari for a Negroni. Old bottles of gin include Plymouth Gin from about 1900, Burroughs Black Cat Gin from the 1930s, Booth’s Old Tom Gin from the late 19th century, Nicholsons Gin from the 1920s and an 1894 bottle of genever from Nolet in the Netherlands.

Vintage cocktail books include the Stork Club Bar Book from 1946, the fourth edition of the Savoy Cocktail Book from 1931 and the second edition of Harry Johnson’s Bartenders’ Manual from 1900, which included the first printed recipe for a Martini. In pride of place in one cabinet is a small business card – belonging to the great American bartender Jerry Thomas himself and dating back to about 1882-84.

The Case for Small Bottles of Vermouth

Brooklyn’s Q Tonic is sold in four-packs of 6.4 ounce bottles. London-based Fever Tree, which also makes tonic water and other carbonated beverages often used in cocktails, sells four-packs of 6.8 ounce bottles. And while you can also get Q Tonic in 8- or 24-ounce bottles, the company understands that it’s nice to have smaller sizes so that the tonic water doesn’t go flat if you’re not going to make six gin & tonics at once.

So why don’t vermouth companies think this way? Where are the deluxe four-packs of Dolin, Noilly Prat, and Martini & Rossi? And why does Carpano Antica Formula only come in a one-liter bottle?

Barrel aged mincemeat with absinthe wash


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