Category Archives: TRENDS

Fat-Wash Duck Whiskey

My chef at the restaurant where I work is pretty damn awesome.

She’s a constant supporter of us bartenders furthering our craft, and is always quick to help out in any way she can.

Her encouragement fuels my excitement for stepping up our cocktail game and vice-versa. The two of us can geek out pretty hard over obscure drink recipes, new techniques and vintage barware… So when I started telling her about how some bartenders have fat-washed whiskey with flavors like bacon and duck fat, it was only a matter of time before we had to try it ourselves.

From all that I’ve read about it so far, fat-washing just seems like a fancy name for infusing liquor in a certain way — a process where we add the fat and then later put the booze in the freezer to solidify the fat for removal.

This recipe for a Duck Sazerac was what we followed when making our own bottle of fat-washed rye whiskey, which is pictured below:

  

So, first and foremost I should say that this was an experiment for ourselves — and not anything we’re serving.

But in terms of the end result, I think we were both pretty impressed with the way the duck fat softened the rye whiskey — sweetening it and smoothing it out.

I’ve seen recipes online using bourbon, but I’m glad we went with rye. So much of the heat and pepper was softened, but the spirit still comes through. 

The rye recipes I’ve seen online for this fat-washed duck rye were basic drinks like the Sazerac and the Manhattan. My intent is to do a Smoked Duck Julep (and just in time for the Kentucky Derby no less). I’ve still got to test out making a smoked simple syrup and weigh it against a scotch rinse and other smoke options.

And I hope Jim Beam doesn’t mind my modification of its label in the picture above!

Further Reading:

— Here’s an article entitled The Science Of Fat-Washing.

— Another How To” post, but this one has a video.

— A recipe for a Smoked Duck Manhattan.

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Filed under BRANDS, FAT-WASH, IN PROGRESS RECIPES, NEW TO ME, RYE WHISKEY, SIMPLE SYRUP, TRENDS, WHISKEY

Esquire’s ‘Best Bars’ Visits D.C.

Esquire’s show “Best Bars In America” aired its second episode of season two last night.

I wrote a rambling little blog post about the show’s return last week, which is only a few scrolls back but I’ve linked it here for convenience.

This week, Sean and Jay went to Washington, D.C. — a place I’ve been a few times, but never as what I’d call a “curious drinker.”

My trips to Washington, D.C. were early in my college career, and early in the 2000s. I remember specifically feeling pretty badass at the time, as I’d “graduated” from rum-and-Cokes to Jack-and-Cokes.

That phase of my drinking life was relatively shortlived, but still, I can’t help but chuckle — as it’s the first thought that comes back to me when I think about “Drinking In D.C.”

The gentlemen of “Best Bars In America” had a much different experience, which is what we want from the show and what we’ve come to expect.

The episode was as varied as they come, with Sean and Jay visiting a bar that’s stood the test of time, a local brewery’s tasting room, a current hip mixology joint, an Irish pub, a historic distillery and a dive bar just to round things out at at the end of the night.

At one point, the duo goes to a whiskey bar which houses a collection of bottles that boggles the mind — literally wrapping the walls of the room. After downing a whisk(e)y a piece, the owner takes Sean and Jay to the speakeasy-style bar that’s housed in the place’s basement.

  

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen bars-within-bars on this show, and I’d wager that this wasn’t the last time we’ll be seeing such bars this season.

Though the concept of “secret speakeasies within other bars” keeps popping up on the show this season (and even last season), the trend has been building for at least a few years.

I bring this up only because I happened to be flipping through an old issue of Market Watch today and right there in the monthly “Bar Talk” section was a feature on “Subterranean Speakeasies.”

BARS WITHIN BARS:

Like so many other bars and restaurants, the place where I work gets sent copies of Market Watch magazine each month. Market Watch is an industry trade magazine which deals with the business side of bars as well as the craft/mixology and service components. 

 

The article I mentioned above was published in the October 2012 issue of Market Watch.

In the piece, the writer, Seth Porges, quotes folks from New York City; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco and Omaha. More specifically, these are the people quoted in the piece and the bars where they work:

  • Justin Koch, of McCoy and Tomoka, in New York City.
  • Derek Brown, of The Passenger Bar and Columbia Room, in Washington, D.C.
  • Erik Rechborn-Kjenerud, of Dalva and The Hideout in San Francisco.
  • John Eric Sanchez, of Sip Bar & Lounge and Hancock Room, in San Francisco.
  • Binoy Feenandez, of Indian Oven and I.O. Speak in Omaha.

The article is interesting from an ownership/management standpoint, as it lists benefits of having a second bar located in a larger bar — it can take pressure off the busy bar, be a weekday moneymaker, allow for field-testing of new drinks and offers the ability to do high-end craft cocktails on a smaller scale than the bigger bar.

On last week’s episode of “Best Bars,” the hosts went to Wilson & Wilson, a speakeasy located within Bourbon & Branch in SanFrancisco. More than just a speakeasy within a bar, Wilson & Wilson has a detective agency theme — which makes me so envious of anyone who has ever gotten to drink there.

More than anything, seeing all these “bars-within-bars” have me dreaming about one day owning a building, not rentingone  — so that I can use the full extent of the space for multiple themes. Until then though… I’ll end this blog post the same way the guys ended the DC episode of “Best Bars,” with a parting shot:

  

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Filed under BEST BARS IN AMERICA, ESQUIRE NETWORK, TRENDS

Predicting The Future: Booze In 2015

The nail is in the coffin! The year 2014 is dead — dead, dead, dead!IMG_6110

But before it was buried and put to rest though, a number of sites online took a minute out from writing retrospectives to look ahead at what we might see in the coming year.

What will be the big trends of 2015? I’ve got a half-dozen links posted below. And there is some overlap of ideas between them, especially when it comes to simply pointing out the extension of trends which already hit the ground running in 2014.

Still, there are quite a few interesting ideas proposed in these lists:

•Liquor.com — Link
•Details — Link
•TechTimes — Link
•DrinkSpirits.com — Link
•The Spirits Business — Link

And then there’s this
• International Food & Restaurant Consultants — Baum & Whiteman Report

I separated the above link from the others because it is largely a report about food. That said, there is also a lot in the report about bars and booze. It’s a 19-page document, not a web list like all the other lists. And there’s a lot of interesting ideas and predictions proposed.

Can’t handle 19 pages? Here’s an article about the report:
•Gothamist — Food Trends In 2015

Everyone wants to be ahead of the curve.

Me? I can’t wait to be completely blindsided by something awesome this coming year, whether it’s just a new flavor, product, brand or technique — or whether it’s something that turns the whole industry on its ear.

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Filed under 2015, LISTS, TRENDS