November 24th, 2014
CookSpace Hawaii put students in a holiday frame of mind during a class Friday presented by Jennifer Fiedler, author of "The Essential Bar Book: An A-to-Z Guide to Spirits, Cocktails, and Wine, with 115 Recipes for the World’s Great Drinks" (Ten Speed Press, $19.99).
Yup, that's the full title, and the book lives up to its promise as a valuable compendium that will help anyone shake or stir up cocktails like a pro.
My late husband loved a great bar. Me, not so much, but I'd humor him and go along. So it was that we once headed to New Orleans to sample Sazerac cocktails in the place of their origin. He was an avid reader and romanticized the louche lives of some of his favorite authors and poets, always seeking out the same experiences, the sum of which I credit for his early demise.
He would have loved to know that thanks to Fiedler, I now know how to make a Sazerac, one of the recipes on the menu during the session entitled Shaken, Stirred and Something Different. With a lighthearted approach to the bar, Fiedler, a former editor at Wine Spectator magazine, made it all accessible and fun, throwing in some history for good measure, so that I now see the beauty of this creative alchemy.
As we sipped gimlets, she launched into her French 75 that she described as "basically a Tom Collins with the soda water swapped out for champagne," giving it a festive touch perfect for holidays.
And she pointed out the misguided logic of James Bond's "shaken, not stirred" martini, which she said defeats the beauty of the drink, for which she said the aim is "to keep clarity and viscosity."
Shaken cockails would include such cloud-causing ingredients as juice, cream or egg whites that when shaken, change the drink's texture, adding froth and air bubbles.
The class had the opportunity to shake and stir their own cocktails after the demos, and let's just say as the evening wore on there were a lot of happy, giggly campers.
Here are the recipes so you can make the cocktails yourself:
» 2 ounces cognac or gin
» 1/2 ounce lemon juice
» 1/4 ounce simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
» 3 ounces sparkling wine, preferably dry champagne
Instructions: Add first 3 ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe or flute and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a long curling peel of lemon.
Note: Most of us students thought it was too much sparkling wine. A thinner layer would give the drink the festive, bubbly effect without losing the rest of the cocktail.
» 1 splash absinthe
» 1 sugar cube
» 1 splash soda water
» 2 ounces rye whiskey
» 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Instructions: In a rocks glass, add a dash of absinthe and swirl to coat. Discard. In another rocks or mixing glass, muddle sugar cube (or teaspoon of sugar or 1/4 ounce of simple syrup) with soda water.
Once dissolved, add whiskey, bitters and ice, and stir well. Strain whiskey and bitters mixture into absinthe-coated rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.
Also, a taste of the holidays:
HOT BUTTERED RUM
» 2 sticks butter
» 1 cup brown sugar
» 1/4 cup honey
» 1/4 cup vanilla ice cream
» 1-1/2 tablespoons EACH ground cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and allspice
» 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
» 1 teaspoon salt
» Dark rum
» Black tea (hot)
Instructions: Add first 10 ingredients to a mixing bowl and blend with an electric mixer. Refrigerate until ready to use. When ready to use, warm mugs by filling with hot water. Let stand a minute or two then discard water.
Add 1 tablespoon batter to each mug. Top with 2 ounces hot tea and stir to mix. Add 1 ounce of rum to each mug, then top with 2 more ounces of tea. Rum will form a 1/4-inch cream over top of drink. Garnish with whole star anise if desired.
Note: The pumpkin pie spice flavors and the heat of the cayenne are strong and not for anyone with a milquetoast palate.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage appears in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.