So Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Here in the Mayhew household, Thanksgiving is the high holy day of my year. Its my chance to take care of loved ones, celebrate the year and reflect on those who aren't joining us at the table this year. I have lost a lot of people in my life, more than I'll ever care to share on a blog, and sometimes I think that I live with the constant expectation that I won't see the next Thanksgiving. So for me, its always important to have a huge Thanksgiving feast. If its going to be my last, it better be the best too. So every year gets larger and more elaborate, but certain things always happen at my Thanksgiving. First, I always do the cooking. Sure, people might bring a side dish or a dessert, but rest assured, no one needs to bring anything because there will be leftovers for weeks when I am done.
This year, there is a definite chill in the November air here in Oregon, much more pronouncedly so than last year, I'm still going to barbecue my turkey but I'll need a little something to warm me up when I step back inside from my hourly checks on the bird. This year, I'm offering guests a Stone Fence (Buffalo Trace Bourbon, 2 dashes Angostura bitters and Apple Cider) as my cold drink and I'll offer up Hot Buttered Rum for those that need to take the chill off of their bones. Now, Hot Buttered Rum isn't the hardest drink to make in the world, and neither is the batter. That said, most of the Hot Buttered Rums I have tasted are downright nasty, and most batters just don't quite get it right. I'm going to offer a few easy do's and don'ts for making an enjoyable Hot Buttered Rum.
- Use a quality rum. I like one with some age on it. I'll be using Bacardi 8 this Thanksgiving, I don't think there is a better rum for a Hot Buttered Rum.
- Use cheap rum. Cheap rum is going to taste even cheaper when you warm it up. You can't hide poor quality ingredients in this drink.
- Make your own rum batter. It isn't hard, takes less than 10 minutes and you'll be amazed at the difference in quality.
- Buy commercial buttered rum batter. Yuck. I have yet to try one that doesn't taste like chemicals and stabilizers.
So lets get down to the recipe shall we? I like to leave a stick of butter out for about an hour to soften it up to make this a really easy preparation.
Hot Buttered Rum Batter
1 stick butter, room temp
¾ c brown sugar
¼ cup agave nectar
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp clove
To make a hot buttered rum, simply slice a good dollop off of the batter, add to a mug with 2 oz Bacardi 8 rum, fill with hot water, stir to incorporate, and enjoy.
Here is wishing all of you the best this Thanksgiving.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Tonight you won't find me at 50 Plates or behind the bar anywhere else. Nor will you see me pouring beers and shaking cocktails on Saturday. Instead, I'm taking a long overdue vacation to Palm Springs. I won't be blogging while I'm gone, and, to be honest, I probably won't even be checking emails or answering my phone. I'm going to sit on the edge of the Salton Sea, do a little fishing and just relax for a while. Perhaps a good hike or two at Joshua Tree will do me some good as well.
I posted a picture of Isaac from the Love Boat because he is my favorite fictional bartender of all time. I actually read a pretty funny top 10 list of fictional bartenders that you can read here. I think Isaac deserved more than honorable mention, but thats just my opinion. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Sunday, I'm driving over to Temecula to do some wine tasting with my friends Jason and Grace. I'm particularly fond of Hart and Thornton, and I'm always pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wine in Temecula.
I just had some punch recipes published in this weeks edition of the Portland Mercury. You can check them out here.
Its also looking like I might get a chance to collaborate again with one of my favorite Portland chefs. I don't want to let the cat out of the bag, but this should be very very cool.
Lastly, I've agreed to facilitate a couple of cocktail classes as items for upcoming Holiday Charity auctions for a couple of worthy charities. If you are interested in either me donating some more of my time for a good cause that you might be aware of or if you are interested in bidding or which charities I'm supporting, shoot me an email and I'll be happy to share all of the pertinent details.
I'm rolling out of the office right now and going home to pack. I'm turning off the old cell phone, taking my watch off and heading for vacation. No deadlines, no conference calls, no crazy calls in the middle of the night. See you all when I get back.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I'd heard that Jim Meehan was working on a new and revised edition of the venerable Mr. Boston guide and to be honest, I was curious just how much the publisher would let him revise it. I own more copies of Mr. Boston than any other book (currently 31 copies ranging from really old to copies from the last few years. Hint- when purchasing a Christmas gift for a bartender, he might already own a copy or two of Mr. Boston), and while I never, ever crack them open, I still can't bear to part with any cocktail books so they sit high on an out of reach bookshelf, taking up space and needing a good dusting. I don't keep Mr. Boston behind the bar, and the last time I can remember using one to look up a drink was 1994 when I was wearing a bolo tie as I worked a Stuart Anderson's Black Angus Fun Bar. Whatever I made was clearly not what my customer was expecting and I felt pretty burned by the guide. Since then, I've always held a rather low opinion of the Mr. Boston guide and I tend not to reach for it when I have questions about a cocktail.
That all changed last night. I got home and found a copy on my front doorstep. Let me just say now that Jim Meehan should be congratulated on a job well done. Instead of adding a 32nd useless copy to my bookshelf, this new edition (I believe it hit bookstores yesterday) mixes classics with 200 modern classics from some of the top bartenders in the country (including Oregon's Kevin Ludwig, Kelley Swenson and Ryan Magarian). The book is beautifully photographed by Ben Fink, not something I was expecting, and there are some nice tips and hints scattered throughout the book from people like Dale DeGroff, Robert Hess and David Wondrich. This book is easy to use, dividing most of the drinks by base liquor, but also has sections on hot drinks, frozen drinks, eggnogs, punches and even wine in mixed drinks. This is a great reference now, and I was inspired to work on a couple of new cocktails after reading a few of the drinks contained inside of this volume.
At $14.95, this is a great reference and every bartender should own a copy of this book. It provides a concise reference for what the modern bartender needs while also offering up cocktails from the most creative minds in the business right now. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Friday, November 7, 2008
House Spirits Distillery Open House/Absinthe Marteau Release!
Saturday, November 8th, 1pm-4pm
Free to the public, 21 and over
2025 SE 7th, Portland, Ore.
If you haven't tasted Marteau, don't miss out on this opportunity! I'll see you there
I try to stay on top of what is current in cocktail books. A lot of what comes on the market, is, quite frankly, crap. However, over the last couple of years, the quality of cocktail related writing has improved somewhat markedly. The last month has seen the release of two fantastic cocktail books by two of the people I respect most in the world of mixology, Robert Hess and Dale Degroff.
Dale Degroff's latest, The Essential Cocktail, The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks , is a beautifully photographed and well put together book. Featuring approximately 500 different cocktails and their variations (a nice touch), this book isn't as comprehensive as Degroff's earlier book, The Craft of the Cocktail, but this book is a wonderful introduction to the world of classic cocktails. This is an easy to use and wonderfully laid out book, full of nice photography and of a decent enough size that you can lay the book out and read from it if need be. If you know a bartender or have any cocktail enthusiasts to do Christmas shopping for, they will be very happy to find the "Essential Cocktail" under the tree.
Robert Hess, sometimes known as Drinkboy and host of the Small Screen Network's wonderful shows, has just published "The Essential Bartenders Guide". While DeGroff's book seems to appeal to a broader audience of cocktail enthusiasts and bartenders alike, Hess delivers a precisely focused, well written and designed manual for working bartenders. While he does offer some tips on stocking a home bar, I think the real value in the Essential Bartenders Guide is to the professional, who can put it behind the bar (great job on the binding with this one) and read and reread selections from it when it they have time. Hess provides the background on things like Fernet Branca, proper glassware selection and more. Even better, while the recipes are heavy on the classics (A Bamboo cocktail anyone?), Hess doesn't waste time with half assed contemporary drinks, instead focusing on a small but signifigant selection of modern classics including Ryan Magarian's Pepper Delicious and Paul Harrington's Jasmine in addition to some of his own creations. This is going behind the bar at 50 Plates tonight, joining the Hess autographed and rather dog eared copy of the Museum Of American Cocktails recipe book, and it is an invaluable addition to any bartenders library.
Both of these books come highly recommended. If you can't make up your mind between the two, buy both, you'll be glad you did. Both are excellent new offerings from some of the top people in the world of mixology. I'm glad that they both have a home on my bookshelf.