Posts Tagged ‘PDT’

With it being national Margarita Day, usually it would be normal for a few blogs to be posted on the more popular drink sites on the Internet. Recipes and twists abound, maybe with a few photos, and maybe even an anecdote or two about people’s favourite story about how the drink actually came about would all be commonplace.

Unfortunately at A Pint of Green Chartreuse, however, such a notion could not be further from the truth.

While it’s important to acknowledge the popularity of the Margarita – not to do so would be foolish – it’s just one of those drinks that if I tried to care for it less than I do, it would start to verge on ‘hatred’ territory, which I wouldn’t actually mind admitting to.

It’s not even the people who order them; I’ve served all sorts of folk who have ordered them, and they’re pretty easy to knock up together on a busy Saturday night (bar the salt rim, which for me, is one of the most unfathomable parts of a drink I will ever come across). Even Margarita twists are OK; I mean, hell, I’ll drink a Tommy’s Margarita any day of the week, though that’s assuming that someone else is paying.

Tequila as a spirit as awesome, but on it’s own, as a shooter or in a mixed drink, and I’m all about cocktail that are fresh and clean, usually because they’re the best way to introduce people to cocktails, especially those with a sensitive palate. Nonetheless, that mixture of triple sec, tequila and citrus is something my brain fails to recognise as genius

So does that mean that other cocktails with the same DNA are also liquid contraptions that I despise? Afraid so.

The Sidecar is, in my opinion only, a generally crap cocktail, while a White Lady, as close as the drink is to my heart, is maybe just a little overrated, and one of the hardest drinks to balance I’ve ever come across (and there’s only four ingredients if you include the egg white). If anything, the White Lady is the best out a bad bunch, which is by no means a good thing, although my favourite recipe for the drink comes from Jim Meehan’s PDT cocktail book (similarly, his version of the Margarita uses the same ideology when preparing the drink for the modern pallet).

But White Lady’s aside, and in the good form and dry humour of a disgruntled Englishman, I’m going to give you a recipe on how I think they should be made, assuming you want to waste your time in the first place in trying to assemble them for either yourself, your guests or your friends.

Margarita (Recipe taken from Jim Meehan’s PDT Cocktail Book, 2012)

  • 50ml White Tequila
  • 20ml Tripe Sec
  • 20ml Lime Juice
  • 7.5ml Agave Syrup

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake, and double strain into a cocktail/margarita glass – of that you’re that much of a ponce – with a salted rim. Drink apathetically.

It’s at this point that I would usually sign off and tell you to enjoy your Margaritas on this awesome national Margarita Day. But in this case, I’ll just simply sign off.

Slante.

Read Full Post »

A week or two ago, I had the pleasure of two customers have a few drinks at The American Bar at The Savoy. It turns out they were both bartenders – whose names and place of work will go unnamed – with one having visited before and the other visiting for the first time.

Like some specialist bars in London, we too are also subjected to the odd visit from industry folk on a Sunday, which is great to see, especially as five of their seven days are spent in bars talking and serving people.

Hosting industry folk on a Sunday has something I’ve always found fun. All kinds of subjects are brought up, from football to films, though the subject of booze talk is always inevitable, and it’s great to share views, opinions and information with like minded people whilst knocking up a few drinks.

This particular evening I convinced one of the guys to try a new drink I’d been working on, and one that may be in contention for the new menu that we’re looking to put out at The American Bar over the next few months (the recipe follows this article). Even though I was only making one drink, I had the attention of both gentlemen, describing the thought process behind the drink and what led me to mix what it was I was mixing.

As it turns out, the chap whom I made the drink for said it was one of the best drinks he had ever tried. I was taken back a little at his forthcoming flattery, though I showed my gratitude nonetheless and thanked him.

However, what followed next left me a little confused.

“Can you tell me the recipe, or are you keeping it a secret?”

Bitches telling each other secret stuff.

Without thinking, I chuckled (or laughed, or humored the situation, or whatever) and told him I would be delighted to give him the recipe, in the hope that he could make the drink for someone else in the future if the opportunity was right.

Sticking to the subject of drinks and new cocktail lists, the gentlemen informed me they themselves were involved in putting together a new drinks list for their venue. However, when I asked outright about the drinks, they said they were keeping it under wraps, and that they weren’t at liberty to divulge any recipes, or give any indication as to what kind of influence of direction the menu would be taking.

The problem with this attitude was not so much the arrogance of the bartenders thinking that their product was better, wanting to keep it for themselves so they can maximize its potential and the effect that such exclusivity might have with regards to their respective audience.

Where the problem lay, however, was that it was an example of what reinforces the social barriers that exist within modern cocktail drinking, the ones associated with those who put the cocktail on a pedestal and therefore put it out of reach of themselves because of its mistaken identity that only those with money and taste consume drinks in such a manner.

When the speakeasies took over the old saloons and hotel bars of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the 18th amendment that brought in Prohibition did one of the greatest things within the history of drink; it brought women right into bar alongside the men. Set against a back drop of illegal alcoholic consumption, the speakeasy became a melting pot for the working and upper classes, and everything in between; no-one was above or below anyone, everyone’s opinions counted for something, including the women, who before the 1920s, rarely, if ever, set foot into the male dominated saloon.

Citizens of Detroit heeding a “last call” in the final days before Prohibition went into effect, 1920.

The Tiki movement that followed the years of prohibition and into the 1970s supplied the world with creative and tropical-themed escapism drinks, a trend that lasted more than 40 years, which in modern day drinking circles translates as several lifespans in an environment which see trends come and go fleetingly.

But the secrecy behind some of the drink-making aspects of the the tiki movement inspired the effect of curiosity amongst the general public, which in turn helped circulate the cult and craze that surrounded the Tiki movement in general. At the heart of the Tiki restaurant and Tiki bar were the drinks they spawned, conducted in such a way that top level secrecy was needed in the form of unmarked bottles and coded recipes. Tiki restaurants tried to outdo each other in terms of exotically-themed drink making, and employed the most secretive tactics to make sure their drinks weren’t leaked to rivals or competitors.

A zombie, holding a zombie.

Some of the most famous bars and bartenders in the world have made their methods and recipes known to all and sundry. A perfect example arose in 2004 when Vincenzo Errico, a bartender at Milk & Honey in New York, created the Red Hook, a 21st Century version of the Brooklyn. Both the drink and the style of the drink became so popular, that it not only spawned another five spin-offs, all of which originated from Vincenzo’s drink, but also prompted Jim Meehan to produce another a twist on the drink, recognizing the popularity that was friendly plagiarism.

Milk & Honey in New York have recently released a new cocktail app with around 400 recipes, some of which have become famous over the last few years because their ability to be recreated and the willingness of the bartenders to share their recipes (and that’s even before you talk about the rife plagarism and recipe lifting that existed during the cocktail books of the 1880s and the 1940s).

The cocktail scene has come a long way in the last 25 years, though for the bartender who see the ‘exclusive’ cocktail as a way to empower their position behind the bar, and thus increase their control over what the customer drinks, seem to miss the point of serving alcohol in an a hospitality-based industry.

The UK isn’t blessed with the talent and infrastructure that is found within literary circles in the US. Sure, the UK can boast talents such as Tony Conigliaro, Ryan Chetiyawardana and Erik Lorincz to match the best of what the US has to offer in terms of drink making and innovation. But when it comes to food and drink writing, bloggers such as Camper English, Darcy O’Neil and Jeffery Morgenthaler have been writing about drink subjects for a number of years in a country that has embraced the concept of quality over quantity, to a point where the online content blossomed due to the dedication of quality research and interesting blog posts.

And even though the cocktail blog boom of the mid to late 2000 era has died off, there’s still very little to suggest that the higher end of print and online media in the UK will even come close to talking about the next twist on The Last Word or how bartenders are working Italian amari into their drinks to give customers new flavor combinations in a contemporary drink setting.

With this in mind, bartenders need to be mindful about what they create and how their drinks interact with the general public’s perception of how the cocktail scene is viewed and judged, especially those who are exposed to cocktails within mainstream popular culture (Mad Men et al).

Secrecy and exclusivity isn’t a trend that is either fashionable or sustainable, especially in a financially soft atmosphere that has been effected by double-dip recessions. The power and satisfaction gained by a bartender that serves a product seen as mythical and en-vogue serves only to restrict the bright future the cocktail scene has, instead of strengthening the already solid foundations that transparency and information sharing has given the modern day drink environment.

Read Full Post »

When Brian Shebairo Chris Antista opened up hot dog joint Crif Dogs in Low East Side back in 2001, followed by a certain PDT, little did they know how far ahead they were of a trend when they started applying the concept of gourmet-style dedication to the heart of fast food cuisine.

The resataurnt-style dedication given to their hot dogs is only scratching the surface. Look a little deeper, however, and you’ll notice something else; American popular culture is reinventing itself, especially within the food and drink area. It’s rebirth and makeover from the hotdog to the cocktail are evident to say the least. And London can’t get enough of it.

As the infatuation of PDT’s ideology of a junk food and cocktail joint slowly make it’s way across the Atlantic, entrepreneurs in London are looking at ways to cash in on how cocktails and the fun-filled elements of American culture can be fused together.

Examples throughout the capital are plain to see. Want to live out your Big Lebowski fantasy by drinking a Caucasian and hitting a strike? All Star Lanes have got it sussed. Want a heart-stopping burger and a well-made cocktail? MEATliqour is your choice of venue.

Whether Shebairo and Antista helped kick off a trend, rather than something they inadvertently stumbled upon is up for debate. But for those who are dining out in London, either as a resident or a tourist, the amount of restaurants that are offering well-crafted junk food have now become outright destinations to visit instead of a place you just went to eat.

Cue Dach & Sons, the third venue from the gentlemen at Fluid Movement aka, the guys behind the famed Purl and Worship Street Whistling Shop, an American-themed diner with industrial-esque décor and some professionally and proficiently cooked diner food.

Located in Hampstead, the venue is the first of its kind in the area, and is the definition of American sub-culture through and through; the interior of the downstairs are lined with tiles and neon lighting, reminiscent of something that lies between a clean subway toilet and an American 1960’s milkshake diner.

As well as hiring a full-time butcher who make their own frankfurters, sausages and burgers onsite, the venue also employs  progressive cooking techniques such as sous-vide and flash frying, and is set against a backdrop of American craft beer and a good selection of whiskey; boilermakers are matched with burgers and hotdogs, with an emphasis on well-cooked and locally sourced meat.

The menu itself is impressive; bone marrow popcorn was the one that caught my eye, with an option of sliders also available for those of us who suffer from the old ‘option paralysis’. But, just like the guys over at MEATliqour and Crif Dogs, the food served is fantastic reminder of how the category of fast food, a category that has tired over the last 20 years, mainly due to aggressive expansionism by the likes of McDonalds and KFC, can be given the ‘craft of the chef’ treatment and become a well executed and excellently marketed food type set in contemporary surroundings.

On top of that, there’s a mysterious ‘Flat P’ on the next level, a speakeasy-style bar where you don’t really have to talk quietly to reveal what it is that’s going on in there, with the ‘Flat P’ a clever (or lazy) ‘wink wink’ to the smaller ‘Purl; MK II’. Expect Sazeracs given the usual absinthe air treatment, and an outdoor space to enjoy the sunnier climates and rooftop views of the London skyline.

Those who want that PDT-style experience of up market junk food and solid, stiff drinks without flying across the Atlantic need to look no further. While the UK have yet to accomplish a drinking and eating concept which PDT seem to effortlessly execute, no doubt that there’ll be another trend emanating from the US within the next few years, where the following equation of cocktails + x = hundreds of fun. Until then, however, Dach & Sons will be fulfilling that gap in the market (and in the stomach) with their  appetising mix of burgers and beer, and is definitely here to stay.

Read Full Post »