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So the book is done, and we’re pretty jazzed about it.

If you are in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, this is how you can get your hands on one:

*Find Kirk or I. $20 and a copy of the book is yours.
*Buy it from the Tales bookstore in the Hotel Monteleone. $TBD
*It will be on sale at Cure. Just ask one of the friendly bartenders there.
*If you are not in New Orleans, you can order it here from $18 + tax + shipping (blurb isn’t super friendly with all this stuff, which is why we’re only asking $18 for it).

We are doing a couple of book signings at the Monteleone bookstore as well – stay tuned for the exact times. Update: First signing is at the Hotel Monteleone at 6:30 today. Come!

Thank you to the following contributors, we couldn’t have done it without you:

Erik Ellestad, Kyle Davidson, Stephen Cole, Nicholas Jarrett, Don Lee, Toby Maloney, Paul McGee, Troy Sidle, Tim Lacey, Jeff Grdinich, Chris McMillian, Colin Shearn, Brad Bolt, Ciaran Weise, Misty Kalkofen, Mike Yusko, Al Sotack, Charles Joly, Chris Hannah, Mike Ryan, Rhiannon Enlil, Tonia Guffey, David Wondrich, and Chris Amirault.

If we somehow managed to fuck up your recipe, let me know and sorry!

Also, thank you to everyone who submitted cocktails – we got way too many submissions to fit, and we had to make some really tough decisions because a lot of great cocktails didn’t make it in.

And thank you David Wondrich for writing an awesome foreword for us.

Look forward to seeing y’all in New Orleans!


Category : Uncategorized | Blog

Just want to give everyone a heads up that Kirk and I have been working on a new edition of rogue/ beta cocktails and we hope to have it done in time for Tales this summer. We’ve gotten some really amazing submissions and are excited to put the book together. It won’t be called “rogue cocktails” obviously, just providing a bit of context.

Stay tuned for information regarding pre-ordering, release dates, etc.

Also, regarding this blog, obviously we’ve done a bad job updating it, and neither of us can honestly have enough time at the moment to write, so we’ve decided to strip it down and use it primarily to provide updates regarding the new book, and the occasional recipe. Apologies, but figure y’all were tired of checking it out only to see the same old story up top.

Category : Uncategorized | Blog

I was originally introduced to the idea of using salt in cocktails in Kirk’s Search for Delicious, which appeared in rogue cocktails (r.i.p.).  The theoretical underpinning of the salt application in this cocktail was the idea of “seasoning” the artichoke essence of the Cynar, which was used as the base spirit.  Per Kirk’s own words, the cocktail tastes like “blanched artichoke hearts carmelized with belgian endive, and dusted with Maldon sea salt.”

The cocktail, and more specifically, the application of salt, stuck with me for a while.  I did my own riff on the idea, the Growing old and dying happy, blah, blah, blah, which has since evolved into the Italian Heirloom on the Counting Room menu (just substitute a 1/2 oz of Laphroaig 10 Yr and a 1/2 oz of a blended scotch for the Rittenhouse 100), but was never quite satisfied with my understanding of salt, and its effect on the palate.  As anyone who’s ever tasted under-seasoned food can attest, salt worked, I just didn’t understand how.

They say fortune favors the bold, or at least those dumb enough to attempt to read Herve This’ Molecular Gastronomy without any formal kitchen or chemistry education (that would be me). Luckily, buried within the dense prose tackling subjects such as how to gelatinize milk without destabilizing it (use as few polyosides as possible, it turns out), was a chapter entitled “How Salt Affects Taste.”

Among other effects, we learn that salt “increases the ionic strength of aqueous solutions, making it easier for odorant molecules to separate themselves from food.  This is why unsalted soup has no flavor and why adding salt amplifies its odor, which is an important part of flavor.”  Got that?

“Sodium chloride is also a taste molecule that stimulates the papillary receptors.”  That too?  Awesome!

But, does salt really “bring out the flavor of a dish?”

Fortunately for Herve (and us), Gary Beauchamp and his colleagues at the Monell Chemical Senses Institute in Philadelphia were on the job.

The Monell Institute team of psychophysiologists wanted to know whether salt selectively filters tastes, weakening unpleasant tastes while enhancing pleasant ones……they compared aqueous solutions containing one or more of three substances: urea (bitter), sucrose (table sugar), and sodium acetate.  There were reasons for choosing these three: Sucrose added to urea softens its bitterness, and sodium acetate contributes sodium ions without imparting too salty a taste……

As predicted, sodium acetate reduced the bitterness of urea.  What gastronomic empiricism did not predict, however, was that salt masked the bitterness much more effectively than sugar.  Mixtures of sugar, urea, and salt turned out to be sweeter and less bitter than unsalted mixtures of urea and sugar. Moreover, in strong sugar concentrations, the sweet character was increased by the addition of sodium acetate, probably because salt offsets the weakening of the sweet intensity caused by the bitterness of urea.  Consistent with the hypothesis, the addition of sodium acetate by itself to sugar, in the absence of urea, did not increase the intensity of the sweet taste.

Cool, huh?  So, cocktail implications:  In the above examples, not only did the salt “season” the Cynar, but it also helped mask some of bitterness inherent to the Cynar, and brought out of some of its sweeter notes.  Now, lets step up the bitterness quotient just a bit.

In our Ten Trends for 2010 post from a while back we asked y’all to taste “salted” Campari side-by-side with unsalted Campari.  The conclusion that should have been reached is that the “salted” Campari was noticeably less bitter, and almost tasted more like the “essence” of Campari, without the strong, bitter finish.  (Note that Campari contains sugar – it is not a purely bitter substance like urea, but more like the urea/sucrose combination).

Obviously, the next logical step was to create a cocktail featuring this “idea.”  That was fairly simple.  Take the above experiment, increase the volume, add ice, stir, orange twist, and you have the Campari “Martini.”.  Fun, huh?  Its easier to execute if you create a saline solution (roughly 3 parts water to 1 part salt, by weight, as salt has a saturation point in water of around 26%), but whatever works for you.

The Campari “Martini”

3 oz Campari

3-5 drops saline solution (to taste)

Stir, strain into a chilled coupe, orange twist.

This is a relatively extreme application of salt, in that its really acting as the only modifier in the cocktail.  There are certainly more subtle applications out there that I recommend trying, particularly in cocktails containing fresh fruits & vegetables (Toby Maloney’s Juliet & Romeo is a good example of using salt with cucumber in a cocktail), as well as in flips.

Category : Recipes | Science | Blog
2 oz islay Single Malt Scotch*
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz honey syrup (1:1)
barspoon maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Build over ice, stir, strain over fresh rocks. Garnish with a lemon twist.

*We used McClelland’s Islay for this cocktail when it was on our list at Cure, and it worked nicely.
Category : Recipes | Blog


2 oz Hayman’s Old Tom Gin

1/2 oz Cherry Heering

1/4 oz Campari

1/2 barspoon Maraschino

1 dash Regan’s Orange

Stir, strain, garnish with an orange twist.

Category : Recipes | Blog

gunshop-fizz_1381The Gunshop Fizz is one of our favorite examples of a “rogue cocktail.”  While utilizing bitters as a base spirit is not a new idea, it is something that one rarely sees in contemporary recipes.  The drink was conceived when we challenged ourselves to follow in the footsteps of Charles H. Baker, who included the Angostura Fizz in The Gentlemen’s Companion, and create a drink calling for two ounces of Peychaud’s Bitters.  Having made a couple of Pimm’s Cups earlier in the evening, we applied the same treatment to Peychaud’s, and the Gunshop Fizz was born.  The resulting cocktail is surprisingly refreshing and pleasantly bittersweet.

Another example of a “bitters-based” cocktail that we found is the Trinidad Sour, created by Giuseppe Gonzalez at Brooklyn’s Clover Club.  We also include a recipe for a modified version of the Angostura Fizz in the book. Does anyone know of any other similar recipes?  The Calvados Cocktail, at least as presented in Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, comes to mind, though the orange bitters aren’t used as a base, simply in a large quantity.

Gunshop Fizz

2 oz Peychaud’s bitters
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
2 strawberries
3 cucumber slices
3 swaths of grapefruit peel
3 swaths of orange peel

Add all the ingredients except the Sanbitter to a mixing glass and muddle well. Set aside for two minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Add ice, shake and strain over fresh ice in a collins glass. Top with Sanbitter and garnish with a cucumber slice.

Created by Kirk Estopinal and Maksym Pazuniak

Photo by Chris George

Category : Recipes | Blog