Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Tales of the Cocktail: SavourEase – Savory Cocktails

August 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Spirits Events


The presenters of the SavourEase seminar at Tales of the Cocktail did a fine job of trying to bring the wisdom of the kitchen to behind the bar. While I cannot present all the information from the wide-ranging, and occasionally wandering, presentation, I’m going to present my condensed take away from the seminar for the benefit of others.

Herbs and Spices:

It should come as no surprise that proper storage and handling are key to preserve the potency of your flavoring herbs and spices, and to help avoid wasting a lot of ingredients creating a flat cocktail. And some deliberate behaviors intended to aid in this effort are flawed.

For herbs, especially mint, many bartenders tend to submerge the leaves in water, thinking that way they will keep the herbs hydrated, fresh and full of flavor. While the hydration part of that is likely true, the other effects are definitely not what’s intended. The actual results are the water becomes infused with the flavoring oils of the herbs, and the herbs fill with water, having exchanged their oils with their surroundings. If you’re intending to make an herb-water infusion, this may be fine. Otherwise, you should store your herbs dry, or at most with water for the stems, and keep the leaves high and dry, and preferably in the refrigerator. To maximize impact, you can also blanch herbs then shock them with cold water, before use.

In the case of spices, you should reheat all spices before use, to get the buried oils to come back to surface. Care should be taken to do this over low heat, unless you’re seeking a toasted flavor.

Infusing:

A quick hack is the “one minute infusion” which can be done with an ISI carbonation bottle. Pressurizing the mixture quickly infuses the flavoring ingredients. Simply add the herbs or spices, cared for well, as described above, with your liquor or water or syrup, to the bottle, pressurize and shake for about one minute, and you should have a result with potency akin to what a day or a week would give you otherwise.

Fat Washing:

When infusing oils/fats, cook until it foams. At that point the majority of the water has separated from the fats. Once you have reached that stage, you can follow more or less the same scheme as above to infuse/fat-wash your spirit. Simply pressurize and shake the fat/alcohol combo to ensure the best bond between the fat and the spirit. Non-pressurized fat washing will work too, of course. However it likely will tend to separate earlier, according to the presenters.

Shrubs and Vinegars:

Shrubs are simple to create vinegar-based concoctions. Basically, you cover over-ripe fruit that would otherwise become waste with vinegar for 10 days, and mix with water and sugar before reducing. Given 1 cup of the flavored vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of sugar, you should expect to cook the mixture down to reduce to 1 cup of shrub.

As an additional note, they suggested that The Farmer’s Almanac web site has some good shrub recipes.

Salt:

Table and kosher salts are popular with chefs because they dissolve quickly, unlike some other fancier salts. This helps avoid the risk of adding some more interesting, but slow dissolving, flavoring salt to a dish or drink, tasting before it’s all dissolved, and then over-salting by adding more. Patience, and/or preparation of a pre-salted liquor or syrup, is key to using the more interesting salts available today.

And one final note:

The presenters were obviously big fans of The Meadow (Portland, OR and New York, NY) as a source for flavoring salts, exotic peppers, spices, and bitters they use in their kitchens and bars. We’re also big fans, and I was very happy to hear some of our locals were so well regarded, coast to coast.

Comments

3 Responses to “Tales of the Cocktail: SavourEase – Savory Cocktails”
  1. Rhonda Davis says:

    This was called “Savory Cocktail”  But there aren’t any recipes or examples of one?  Why not?

  2. Mr. Boozenik says:

    The recipes for the cocktails we tasted at that event were a bit more involved than I would have wanted to add to that already long post. Each required a shrub or other concoction to be made first, and while that was the point of the piece, I think that all at once might have been a bit much.

    We will be posting some more savory cocktails, but there are already a couple that use salts on our site. We’re working up to some of the other savories, ourselves!

  3. Anonymous says:

    The recipes for the cocktails we tasted at that event were a bit more involved than I would have wanted to add to that already long post. Each required a shrub or other concoction to be made first, and while that was the point of the piece, I think that all at once might have been a bit much.

    We will be posting some more savory cocktails, but there are already a couple that use salts on our site. We’re working up to some of the other savories, ourselves!