The Mad King – Parker Girard
St. George’s Absinthe, Commonwealth Gin, Midori, Lemon, Salt, Mint
The Strangler – Diana Cole
Cab Sauv, Old Overholt, Clove, Blood Orange Shrub
The Mountain And The Viper – Diana Cole
Tequila Cabeza Blanca, Laphroig 10 yr, Yuzu, Grenadine, Serrano, Orange
Take The Black – Ruairi De Burca
Blackberry Liqueur, Sorel, Lime, Champagne
Last week, when we knew we wanted to stack our house cocktail list with Game of Thrones cocktails, we all decided to draw cocktail names out of a hat and design a cocktail around the name. So we threw a few GoT-related nouns and phrases into a hat, and we went around the restaurant distributing cocktail names.
Fair warning, guys. It’s about to get nerdy in here.
Concept drinks are no stranger to the Elixir Bar. When we first started playing around with what the Elixir Bar would be and the cocktails we would have on it, we were mostly exploring flavors, ingredients, and drink styles as the central weekly theme. But as time passed, we received the most positive feedback when we strayed from this for concepts like adapted fictional cocktails, cocktails based on our favorite albums of the nineties, and cocktails based on Quentin Tarantino movies. So naturally, since GoT is premiering next Sunday, we all got pretty excited. When it came time to draw names out of a hat, I picked two names, “The Mad King” and “Whitewalker”. For this entry, we’ll be focusing on The Mad King.
The first thing I did was refresh my memory, reading up all I could on who the Mad King was, how he died, why he was so crazy, etc. Reading through GoT wiki entries on Aerys II Targaryen (a.k.a. The Mad King), I was reminded that it was the drinking of wildfire, the bright green fantasy equivalent of napalm in R.R. Martin’s universe, that drove him so mad. He eventually became so obsessed with fire that he thought it would turn himself into a dragon, and he made plans to burn down King’s Landing with wildfire hidden all over the city.
I already had enough information to start making the cocktail. We knew the cocktail had to be green, we knew we had to involve fire, and since the cocktail was designed for a king, we wanted the cocktail to feature Commonwealth Gin and be up in a coupe. The rest was just a combining of flavors working together. For the absinthe, we used St. George’s Absinthe Vert, as it was brandy-based and fully capable of lighting on fire. To make the whole drink green we used Midori as a sweetener, and added a pinch of salt to mimic the flavor of salted melon. To garnish, a small sprig of mint floating on top for aromatics. If you’d like to taste this cocktail, it will be in the Elixir Bar all week. And if you can’t make it in, here’s the recipe:
The Mad King – Parker Girard
COUPE – SHAKE – FIRE – MINT SPRIG
1.5 oz Commonwealth Gin
1.0 oz Lemon Juice
0.75 oz Midori
0.25 St George’s Absinthe
Pour absinthe in coupe and set aside. In a shaker, combine gin, Midori, juice and salt and shake with house ice. Once mixed, set absinthe on fire in coupe, wait five seconds, and pour contents of shaker into the coupe to extinguish the flame. Garnish with a small mint sprig.
Sometimes, the best cocktails are the ones that are the hardest to make. At the time, the Stanton Park Swizzle was the most difficult cocktail we’d ever put on a menu downstairs, but in retrospect, was one of the most fun and different.
This was also one of the first cocktails we had ever done with a shrub, a vinegar-based potable that, when combined with alcohol, somehow makes the perfect cocktail. I could explain it here, but I’m sure there are better and more knowledgeable resources about the history of shrubs and their emergence in contemporary cocktails. Like this book, called “Shrubs,” which has been immensely helpful.
This drink continues the tiki theme of at least two different kinds of rum, a complicated additive made in house, crushed ice, and a vibrant and loud appearance. There’s nothing quite like giving a drink like this to an unsuspecting patron. It’s a loose riff on a Queen’s Park Swizzle, but named after the park closest to our restaurant.
Stanton Park Swizzle
PILSNER GLASS – CRUSHED ICE – SHORT SHAKE – MINT SPRIG
1.0 oz Gosling’s Dark Rum
1.0 oz Cana Brava Rum
1.0 oz Pineapple/Ginger Shrub
Mint sprig for muddling
Mint sprig for garnish
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Combine both rums, mint sprig and pineapple ginger shrub in a shaker with a small amount of crushed ice and shake until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Dump contents of the shaker into a pilsner glass and swizzle with crushed ice until the drink is full. Form a snowcone-like top with crushed ice (don’t be afraid to use your hands) and garnish with a mint sprig, long straw, and bitters.
We hit a bit of a creative dry spell trying to create cocktails this week, so someone had an idea that was new to us; turning to the outside for inspiration. Whereas usually the bartenders creating elixirs will stay in certain lanes, using ingredients for inspiration or twisting pre-existing classics, this week we chose a completely unrelated concept and ran with it. That concept was the work of film director Quentin Tarantino, and what we are left with is our most diverse and unique elixir selection yet. Rundown to follow.
Each bartender drew a film from a hat. No rules; however a film inspired us, we followed that impulse. Here’s the finished product:
A River Derchi – Inglorious Basterds
Jack Daniels, Cynar, Fig Syrup, Lemon
Buck’s Pussy Wagon – Kill Bill
Plum Gin, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lime, Ginger Beer
Hanoi Watch Locker – Pulp Fiction
Goslings, Ginger Juice, Lime, Beet Syrup
Mr. Pink – Resevoir Dogs
Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Coffee Liqueur, Cardamom syrup, Regan’s Orange Bitters
Polynesian Pearl Diver – Django Unchained
Appleton VX, Lime, Orange Juice, Pearl Diver Mix (Butter, Honey, Cinnamon, Vanila, Allspice Dram, Velvet Falernum, Lemonhart 151)
Hanoi Watch Locker Recipe – Kody Siegel (H/T Tarantino)
Coupe – Salt/Sugar Rim – Shaken
1.5 oz Goslings Black Seal Rum
.75 oz Ginger Juice
.75 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Beet Syrup
Shake first three ingredients and double strain into a glass with a salt/sugar rim. Drizzle beet syrup in and around the glass in a fancy/bloody fashion. Enjoy.
“Are you putting an egg in a cocktail?”
Flips and fizzes are some of the oldest and most classic cocktails, but in the modern bartending world, they just aren’t as popular as they were at the turn of the century. So when patrons see bartenders crack an egg into a cocktail, it throws them for a loop.
And before we even talk about egg white cocktails, there’s the food-borne illness element in the room. Yes, consuming raw or undercooked eggs can increase the likelihood of food-borne illness. That’s why we’re very careful about selecting which eggs we use for cocktails, and only source the highest quality eggs. Combine that with a 1 in 10,000 chance an egg contains salmonella, and it’s really not that dangerous. Trust me. If you’re that nervous about it, there are safer methods, like powdered egg whites.
Here’s an egg white cocktail about to go on our Elixir Bar menu. It’s our house take on a Clover Club, one of my favorite egg white cocktails, with a little bit of Campari and the addition of Dry Vermouth, which the original Clover Club recipe called for. Egg whites in a cocktail necessitate a lot of air to whip and emulsify the egg proteins, which means dry-shaking is a priority if you want a nice, fluffy cocktail. But even that’s up for debate.
But enough talk, let’s get to the fun stuff.
DRY SHAKE – COUPE – NO GARNISH
1.0 oz Ford’s Gin
0.75 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
0.5 oz Campari
0.5 oz Raspberry Syrup
Combine all ingredients in a shaker and dry shake for as long as you can until your arm is about to fall off (30-40 seconds should suffice). Then add house ice and shake for 10-15 seconds and double strain into a chilled coupe. No garnish.
8.0 oz Raspberries
2 cups boiling water
2 cups white sugar
Crush raspberries, pour in sugar, pour in water, bring to a boil and strain.
When I first came to Barrel to interview back in early March of 2014, we went downstairs as part of the interview process, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was beautiful; there were large, dark wooden tables and a sliding glass door with some of the rarest bourbons on the market. I remember thinking it would be an honor just to work downstairs in that space. I was the last bartender hired to work on our opening staff, and when I arrived for training, I was easily the least experienced bartender in the room.
So when it came time to launch our rotating cocktail program in the Elixir Bar, I was honestly just humbled to be a part of the process.
Once we picked “smoke” as our central theme for our first menu, this was honestly the first cocktail concept to pop in my head: a smoke-rinsed corpse reviver. It ended up being slightly more complicated than that, but it’s one of the cocktails I’m most proud of during my time at Barrel. We’ve even had the honor of featuring it at a few of our off-premise events. It was also the most fun cocktail to prep that we’ve had on the list. There’s nothing quite like filling the downstairs room with smoke to turn a few heads.
0.75 oz Hayman’s Royal Dock Gin
0.75 oz Rosemary Syrup
0.75 oz Cocchi Americano
0.75 oz Lemon Juice
Applewood-smoked 8 oz mason jar.
1.) First, prep mason jars by setting up smoke gun, filling with smoke, sealing, and storing in a dry place. This should be done at the beginning of service, but expect to run out of smoked glasses.
2.) Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, double strain into prepared mason jar, and garnish with a rosemary sprig.
Having run out of any ideas for a cocktail list this week, and with a dearth of exciting fresh ingredients for inspiration this time of year, BM Parker came up with a left-field idea: Cocktails adapted from works of fiction.
Working from a longer list, we decided on 4 drinks:
– Moloko Plus, from A Clockwork Orange. In the book, Alex and friends drank this milk based cocktail loaded with drugs before going out for a little ultraviolence. Parker turned it into a neat little milk punch, with bourbon, rye, some orange and vanilla bean. Ultraviolence is strongly discouraged until you leave the elix.
– Soiled Kimono. This one was dug up from a season 3 episode of SNL that is worth tracking down on hulu. Champagne, Plum Gin, Sugar, and Lemon.
– Flaming Moe – Adapted by Ruairi from a little show called The Simpsons. Our version is Sambuca, Brandy, Peppermint, and a little fire. No cough syrup included in ours.
– Lastly, Butterbeer, adopted from the Harry Potter books. JK Rowling describes it as – a little bit like less sickly butterscotch -, but that’s not really what we were trying to achieve. So we butterwashed some rum, made it a strong, rich drink with an egg yolk, some caramel syrup and a dash of cream soda; and voila. Here is the recipe:
mixologists bartenders, we have the benefit of standing on the backs of giants when it comes to creating cocktails. The reality is, while there are quite literally an infinite number of possible combinations of flavors, a lot of the hard work in regard to ratios and flavor combinations has already been done. This drink, the Valdez, is the perfect example of how we can combine three drinks from within the same genre and create a drink greater than the sum of its parts.
The Valdez is a hodge-podge of concepts taken from three different tiki-inspired cocktails. Firstly, there’s the daiquiri, which the Valdez imitates mostly in form, as this drink is served to customers in a coupe with a lime wheel, as one would expect a classic daiquiri to arrive. Then, there’s the Corn and Oil, which is essentially a rum old-fashioned with dark rum and Velvet Falernum, a tiki sweetener with notes of clove and ginger. Lastly, we find inspiration in the Jungle Bird, a drink that proves Campari is a bitter capable of working in a tiki setting.
To this day, this was the only drink I’ve ever been this proud about that hasn’t had multiple drafts. After we made it the first time, we were so happy with it that we just decided to preserve the cocktail in this state. When we featured it on our rum menu earlier this year, I expected a lot of people to send the drink back, unhappy with the bitter finish, but we recieved more repeat orders for the Valdez from unexpected patrons than any drink in recent memory. People that have never had Campari before were ordering 3-4 of these drinks. I guess I can’t complain, but I’m still puzzled by it.
This is a drink where chilling the coupe is very important, bitter flavors work extremely well in cold glasses. Nobody likes warm Campari.
1.0 oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
1.0 oz John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
0.5 oz Campari
0.5 oz lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin and shake with ice for 20 seconds. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish a with a lime wheel. Serve immediately.
It’s getting harder and harder to surprise people at cocktail bars these days. Even things like Green Chartreuse, once relegated to a dusty shelf in the back of the liquor store, are being rediscovered as tremendously popular cocktail ingredients. So naturally, when we stumbled upon a recipe for milk punch, we jumped upon the opportunity to do something we’ve never done before, that we think our customer base would be very interested in.
Let me first of all start by saying that milk punch is a blanket term covering a few different types of cocktails. The milk punch we’re referring to here is not a thick, fatty cream-based drink, but a silky, completely clear pre-batched cocktail made from adding hot milk to a mixture of spirit, sugar, juice, zest and spices. It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite cocktails we’ve had the privilege of making at Barrel, and I have a feeling you’ll be seeing more and more batches of it sooner rather than later.
This recipe is courtesy of Dave Wondrich, who helped adapt the recipe from Mary Rockett’s Milk Punch, the oldest known version of the drink. While the recipe originally calls for brandy, bourbon was an easy and logical substitution. We are, after all, a bourbon bar.
Also I should note that I switch back and forth between metric and U.S. measurements in this recipe, but mostly because they didn’t really care much for continuity back in those days. Just try to keep up, and remember that following the recipe by the book is for squares.
Bourbon Milk Punch:
What you’ll need:
1 gallon of bourbon (we used 3.5L, or 2x 1.75L bottles, of Old Grandad 100)
4 quarts water
2 pounds white sugar
1.) Pour bourbon into a large container and add the rind of 8 lemons, taking care to leave out the pith (white part). Add a few spices, but not too many (alcohol will amplify and extract more flavor than you’re expecting), cover and let sit for 24-48 hours.
2.) Remove spices and lemon zests and move into a container capable of holding 10L (at the very least) of liquid, but likely more. Then add 4 quarts of water, 2 pounds of white sugar, the juice of 8 lemons.
3.) Bring 2 quarts of milk (1/2 gallon) to a boil and then add to the mixture. You will see the milk fats starting to curdle, and it’s really gross. Put it somewhere where you can’t see it so you don’t have to look at it.
4.) After a few hours, skim the large chunks off the top, then strain the mixture through a chinois fine lined with cheesecloth into a separate, large container. This is the part where you’ll start to wonder why you ever wanted to add hot milk to a cocktail, but trust me, it’s worth it in the end. Make sure you soak the cheesecloth with a bit of bourbon before you start the transfer, as the cheesecloth will soak up a good deal of liquid, and you don’t want to lose any of this. You’ve worked too hard for this. Let stand for 24 hours in a cool place.
5.) After this amount of time has elapsed, you’ll start to notice the bottom of the container is full of a fine sediment of milk solids. As tempting as it is to try to strain this out with cheesecloth, it’s likely too fine, and will make it through the cheesecloth and make the resulting mixture cloudy again. Lame. Siphon as much as possible from the top (doing your best not to disturb the sediment) into 750ml swingtop containers, and refrigerate. What’s left is the resulting lactose sugars from the milk with none of the fat solids, so the resulting mixture should, if done correctly, last indefinitely in the fridge.
6.) Pour over a ice with a lemon twist. Revel in your masterpiece, and try to explain to all of your friends that they’re drinking clarified milk. It’s more fun than it sounds.