Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cocktailery, En Masse Version

Over at his blog, Hurricane Hayward, chronicler and scribe of the single greatest annual cultural event in SoFla, is planning to discuss "punch for 200." Which is a noble endeavor indeed.

Speaking of cocktailery en masse, among the things I'll be tackling as the main focus of this evening's symposium is selecting ardent spirits for the purposes of entertaining a group of people the number of which blurs the tenuous line between "every single person you've ever met still living" and "a restless throng."

Those of you who remember me immediately before the lovely and gracious Poppy and Badger got me into blogging will recall, with varying degrees of mnemonic limpidity, JoeFest.

For the maladjusted, or at least the arrivistes, JoeFest is how I celebrated turning 40. It was an event scheduled around my 40th birthweek, and encompassed not just two birthday parties on the Saturdays straddling my birthday (on a Wednesday that year, if memory serves), but a sushi bar crawl and a tapas crawl (on the Fridays straddling my birthday, respectively), a driving tour of SoFla for the uninitiated, and assorted things that fall under the category of what my long-suffering beloved generally terms: "Stuff Only YOU Would Think Of."

(And, for the truly insider-y types, Sunday Brunch.)

And, because, I'm just wired wrong, JoeFest featured a registration desk, name tags, an agenda and the like. (If you've ever had to attend these sorts of professional meetings/trade shows/conventions, you'll know EXACTLY what I was going after.) In fact, the only regret I have is not being able to secure sponsorship, because this was a wallet-eviscerating indulgence of my rather puzzling sense of humor.

Anyway.

The point is that we had kind of a significant crowd loitering around who needed to be fed and quenched.

As someone who, with no little frequency often has to feed and quench a not-insignificant number of persons, I am often finding myself facing this dilemma:

People expect excellentness of me in terms of what they are to imbibe/ingest. *I* couldn't possibly provide anything that I, personally, considered substandard, either in the edibles or the potables. (That other people may think them perfectly adequate is scandalously irrelevant.) But there's are the issues of

a) budgetary constraints for the edibles and potables that need be obtained to adequately meet the needs of a small horde.
b) the substantial percentage of people in that horde who, regardless of their other manifold sterling qualities, have a...um...not quite fully developed palate. (i.e. people whose dietary regimen features prominently drive-through activity and microwaving) These are people who, ma-a-a-a-a-aybe, could tell the difference between your chili with beef and your chili with, say, turkey.
c) my not wanting to consume, at my own party and my own expense, stuff I think is $#!+.

Which brings us to spirituous liquors.

The vast majority of my -- and I'll cheerfully wager, your -- guests will not be able to taste the difference, in a trial of a thousand years, between...oh, I dunno...Beefeater's and Bombay gins.

With wines and beers, this is easy enough to cover. There are plenty of either that meet the criteria of "very good" and "very cheap." And to a certain extent, cheapness is crucial here. Let's be blunt. Many of these guests (mine and yours) are, from tastebuds to palate, utter philistines. Hanged if we're to drop excess coin on people who simply will not be able to appreciate it.

So what we're looking for, in entertaining for a regiment, is that sweet spot. Stuff that's great, but cheap. Or, at least, pretty good, but cheap.

Since this is Tiki month, and since I've already hinted at it, I'll start off with the rums:

White Rum: Cruzan (1.75L for $14.99 at my local Total Wine)
Aged/Gold Rum: Bacardi 8 (750ml for $13.99 at my local Costco, which brings us to...)
Spiced (what? shut up) Rum: Kirkland Signature St. Croix Island Spiced Rum (1.75L for $15)

I'd like to now expound on the surprising sweet-spotness of Costco's store-brand liquors for the purposes of entertaining a crowd. Their Bourbon (made by Jim Beam, as is their spiced rum, above), vodka, tequila and -- not that this would go into crowd-cocktail mode -- single malt scotch (traditionally made by Macallan) are all excellent value and definitely better-than-adequate for dispensing cocktails to a guest list that brings to mind the word "teeming." We'll cover gin at a later date, as I am trying my hand at infusing my very own. Cognac? (i.e. as in Sidecars for the People) Go with Martell VS.

You wouldn't want to necessarily serve them at a meeting of the Executive Council of the Super Tasters Guild, but when you have to provide for people who frequently eat frozen dinners and still have to consume some yourself...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Tiki Month followup.

Over in Peguville, U.S.A., the estimable Doug Winship was kind enough to link and comment on my Aku-Kapo Cooler, and gave it its first variation, a Don the Beachcomberesque "flash-blend." He also gave it its second variation, the omission of the coconut rim.

The first is what is known in parliamentary circles as "a friendly amendment" which neatly and elegantly -- and as one whose sartorial acumen approaches mine, Doug oughta know from elegance -- bridges the gap between the version (v. 1) generally preferred by, ahem, 51% of the imbibers within my sphere of influence and the version (v. 2) generally reserved for those who show up in waistcoats, Victorian facial hair, armbands, and bow ties, ready to fight to the death over blood insults (real or imagined) on the matter of whether Key Lime or Kaffir Lime bitters are preferable. (You know who you are.)

The second variation? Well...keep reading.

(If you make it according to the aforesaid rubrics, you now have what we in the trade call the Aku-Kapo Cooler "Dougie Style." ask for it correctly, lest you be humiliated.)

Incidentally, something that may have been lost in this discussion is the relative importance of the white rum. To many of the Serious Cocktailians, white rum is more or less one step above vodka on the evolutionary scale, where the latter is "primordial soup" and the former "the first unicellular organism." Partly this is due to the evolution of white rum itself, both in terms of white rum-qua-white rum, and also in how it's marketed to the general public (i.e. sugarcane vodka). It makes a goodly bit of difference to use something with a more visible flavor profile than the usual stuff. Flor de Caña 4 Year White is my go-to for a more intimate setting, and if I had to make these for a brigade* of people I'd opt for Cruzan. But you do whatever. Just try to avoid the blander whites, OK?

I also want to shout out to the very estimable Blair Reynolds, whose empire of Tiki cocktail adjuncts are the default go-to if you're not deranged enough to cover your entire kitchen surface area in a 3 micron-thick layer of sucrose-based adhesive film. Tell him I sent you and tell him to "show up to Hukilau this year, ya big pansy."

Anyway.

As a consequence of DW posting and linking, the lovely and gracious Tiare weighed in, taking my (i.e. "the sensible") side on the matter of the coconut rim. This rim operation was declared by DW - and I quote: "This is a pain in the ass to accomplish." Let us not hold it against DW that he does not consider it a PITA to do THIS to an orange peel. Stop and ponder that.

So that you, gentle and kind reader may decide freely on where it ranks on your PITA scale, I humbly submit the entire coconut rim process ("CRP") for your benefit, without comment, asking you merely that you compare its degree of difficulty with that of symmetrically and artistically excoriating an orange.


 




Ideally you'd toast the coconut flakes in a small, dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant -- they'll be slightly tan in color -- and then proceed.

Better?

-J.

* When Tiki-entertaining en masse, assuming your budget isn't quite what it was in 2007, but you still want to serve excellentness in potables, the white rum of choice is Cruzan and the aged rum Bacardi -- what? shut up -- 8.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tiki Month, we meet again.

Helping out the estimable Doug Winship with an original Tiki cocktail creation. The "Stationery" format will resume shortly.

OK.

This is likely to get me demerits from the Serious Bartender's Guild.

The SBG does not really care for sweet drinks. This is a sweet drink.

This is something I devised for when I am entertaining in Tiki mode and needed something that would please, er, the...uh...how shall I put it? Something that -- AHEM -- 51% of my guests would enjoy, ifyaknowwhatImeanandIthinkyoudo.

The 51%ers I run into don't, as a rule, like rich and funky rums, and balanced spices. (There are exceptions, natch...and they are to be cherished and treasured.)

They like fruity and sweet.

While this is sweet, it's not cloying. But, to save my reputation among Nature's Noble Aristocracy (i.e. cocktailians) I have a 49%er version. See what thinkest thou.

AKU-KAPO COOLER
¼ oz grenadine (either this or the real DIY stuff, not that luridly flourescent dreck from the supermarket)
1 oz passion fruit pulp (thawed, I prefer Goya)
½ oz orgeat (again, either this or the real DIY stuff)
1 oz aged rum (Doorly's XO, Chairman's Reserve or Dos Maderas 5+5. Rhum Barbancourt* would also be stellar, but use whatever your tastes direct. Even — in contrast to its more mass-market appealing products — Bacardi 8 works great here.)
1 oz white rum (I prefer Flor de Caña 4 Year White here, but even 10 Cane or Cruzan would work)
½ oz coconut rum (for floating…again, I prefer Cruzan)
dried, toasted coconut flakes (the tiny, granular flakes, not the big ol' shreds...sorry, Comrade Winship) for rimming the glass

Shake with cracked ice and serve in a “chimney” glass, floating the coconut rum at the end.

-J.

* Which, if Haiti were still part of France instead of an independent republic, would be an agricole.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A pseudo update

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Testing, testimg, 1-2-3