Finally – a new cocktail technique?

Compared to cooking, where new techniques are seemingly infinite, the cocktail playbook is limited to a few, relatively simple moves:  Pour. Shake. Strain. You get the picture.

So you’ll understand why I get excited to find someone doing something new, like Ryan Maybee of Manifesto in Kansas City, MO. 

Initially, I was pointed in his direction because of his Smokin’ Choke cocktail; he was among the first to use a “smoking gun” to quick-smoke liquor. And he was smart enough to make a video, which PolyScience glommed on to, making Ryan the poster child for the product. (Contrary to my initial perception, the videos are not created by or sponsored by PolyScience. They just knew a good thing when they saw one).

So what other cool tricks does Ryan have up his sleeve? Using eyedroppers to drizzle a spicy float on top of a cocktail. Although I know that eyedroppers are not a new tool in the bartender arsenal – they’re sometimes used to dose a drink with bitters or aromatic tinctures – I have never seen it used to add heat to the top of a drink. It’s different.

The drink itself, called “The Tempest,” is a riff on the classic Dark & Stormy, and it’s shaken to create a foam on the top of the drink. Then he drizzles a five-pepper-infused tequila on top of the drink. “It gives just a whiff of pepperiness,” he explained to me. “It’s the first thing you smell.”

Ryan was kind enough to share the recipe with me. I have to admit, for the quintet of infused peppers, I worry about infusing two habaneros, even roasted habs, in a bottle for a full week. A week! I’ve done hab infusions that are searingly hot in just a couple of short hours. A week seems a little insane with habs, although perfectly reasonable for bell peppers and poblano peppers. But then again, you’re just getting about a teaspoon’s worth, not a full two-ounce pour of this firewater.

The Tempest  (courtesy of Ryan Maybee, Manifesto)

2oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum

1 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

1 oz homemade ginger syrup

Eyedropper of 5 pepper-infused Tequila (recipe below)

Combine Rum, lime juice, and ginger syrup in mixing glass, add ice.  Shake vigorously for 15 seconds.  Strain into Collins glass with ice.  Using an eyedropper, drizzle a few drops of 5 pepper infused Tequila over the top of the foam.  Garnish with a lime wheel and piece of homemade candied ginger.

 5 pepper infused Tequila

Using Blanco or Silver Tequila, infuse 1 750ml bottle with 1 sliced Green Bell Pepper, 1 sliced Red Bell pepper, 1 sliced yellow bell pepper, 1 sliced Poblano, and 2 small roasted Habaneros.  On all sliced bell peppers, remove the hearts and seeds.  Infuse for 1 week in a cool, dark place, shaking up occasionally.


Spice & Ice cocktail contest winners!

Many thanks to everyone who came out to last night’s Spice & Ice event at Trattoria Cinque (and a special thanks to Devin, bartender extraordinaire)!  One of the highlights was our DIY cocktail contest –  we had two winners, Meryl Rosofsky, with The Hot Scrooge, and the Law Librarians of NYC, with Fred (you’ll understand the cocktail name in a moment). Congrats to both, who each took home a copy of Spice & Ice for their tongue-tingling original creations.

The Hot Scrooge, created by Meryl Rosofsky
A perfect name for the holiday season! Meryl describes this drink as a “hot holiday homage” to the classic Screwdriver cocktail. We didn’t have O.J. on hand, so she cleverly subbed in pineapple juice. And get a load of that garnish! 

The Hot Scrooge

lemon wedge, for rim
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder, for rim
4 jiggers pineapple juice
1 jigger vodka
3-4 dashes Frostbite (a clear hot sauce)
1 slice each jalapeno, poblano, and habanero, skewered on a cocktail straw (alternate green and red colors), for garnish
Rub the lemon wedge around the rim of a glass to moisten it. Roll the edge of the glass in the ancho chile powder to coat; allow to dry.
Combine the pineapple juice, vodka, and hot sauce with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Pour into prepared glass and garnish with hot pepper skewer.  Enjoy!
Fred, created by the Law Librarians of NYC 
This drink was a group effort, created by Vicki Szymczak, Janet Peros, George Prager, Kathy David, and Karen Schneiderman. Since this drink heavily features ginger – both crushed fresh ginger and Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur – this drink started as “Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers.” But in the end, the group opted for the simple, wry “Fred.”  Ginger is implied. Get it?

Team Fred

As for the drink itself – the flavor profile is similarly clean and elegant. It reminded me a bit of a zingy, refreshing ginger-limeade, the kind I only wish I could buy at the store.
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. Domaine de Canton
2-3 Tablespoons crushed fresh ginger
lime juice
club soda
garnish – lime wedge
Muddle fresh ginger in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add vodka, ginger liqueur, and lime juice. Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with club soda and garnish with lime wedge.

Spice & stitches

I hear Mercury is still in retrograde. Surely that can be the only excuse for yesterday’s random series of events that landed me in the emergency room for five stitches in my index finger and a tetanus shot.

I’d been very much looking forward to the annual “Celebration of Our Members” event held by the Culinary Historians of New York. In addition to general catching up with friends I hadn’t seen all summer, I wanted to pick up books written by members (Raising Steaks! Grains Greens & Grated Coconuts! Seven Fires!) and hear about Diana Pittet’s round-the-world cheese adventure. And surely a few people would be reporting back from the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery.

This was also meant to be a low-stress preview for Spice & Ice – game plan was to mix up a few shakersful of Poblano-Blackberry Margarita for a friendly audience, and then sit my butt down and listen to other people present their work.

Not so fast.

I keep thinking about all the “what-ifs” that might have allowed me to participate as planned. If only…

…our venue had an ice maker on site, I wouldn’t have dashed out to the corner deli to pick up a bag of ice.

…the ice hadn’t been frozen solid (meaning it was poorly handled – partially melted and then re-frozen) I wouldn’t have needed to bash it to pieces to create usable chunks.

…I’d had the brains to smash it in the sink, not on the floor.

…the cheap-ass bag hadn’t broken, spilling ice cubes all over the floor.

…the janitor had arrived sooner with the mop, the floor might not have been wet.

…I’d been smart enough to go around the other side of the kitchen island, I might not have slipped.

…I hadn’t been carrying a bottle of Cointreau, it wouldn’t have smashed, lacerating my hand.

Of course, it was just an accident, plain and simple. But these are the things that went through my mind as I sat in the ER, dejected at missing all the fun and smelling rather like a distillery. (Self-pity trumps fear!) Renee, a cool-headed friend keeping me company at Lenox Hill, charitably said that the high orange note of the liqueur smelled more like strong perfume.

Here’s a photo of the morning after the night before. I’m trying to come up with less embarrassing reasons for the bandage than “I slipped.” Knife fight (you should see the other guy…). Trapeze mishap. Daredevil monster truck race. Got any bad-ass ideas I can use?

My war wound

My war wound

The stitches come out in a week. Hopefully by then Mercury will have moved far, far, far out of retrograde.