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Mary Katherine Morris Photography

Bartending With Fire, Eggs, and Science to Impress Your Friends

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Mary Katherine Morris Photography

Knowing how to mix tasty cocktails will make you a hit at any party, but adding flair to the process can bring the house down. These two drink recipes will capture people's attention before they've even taken a taste. Be warned: Failure to practice these beforehand may result in the party tricks backfiring. Know what you're doing lest you start a fire or literally end up with egg on your face.

Unlocking Citrus With Fire

Citrus fruits store the majority of their aromatic oils in tiny sacs within their peels. When heated, the walls of these sacs weaken and bring that oil to the peel’s surface. Ejecting these oils through a flame vaporizes and ignites d-lemonene, the aromatic hydrocarbon that gives citrus fruits their smells.

This vapor will evenly distribute over the surface of your drink and provide the lingering scent of citrus to your cocktail. 

Hit the Lab

Orange peels are, in my experience, the easiest to flame. After choosing a firm one, cut a slice of peel about the size of a silver dollar and clean off any fruit that is still attached. Hold your lighter in your non-dominant hand and the peel in your dominant hand with the pith towards your palm. Pass the peel over the flame but don’t let the two come into contact. Repeat until the peel’s surface is shiny and your fingertips get warm.

Now, hold the lighter between the peel and the area over your cocktail. With the outside of the rind facing close to the flame, squeeze the peel.

The classic Negroni is a perfect test subject for a flamed garnish. The orange complements the bittersweet Campari and herbaceous gin perfectly, giving the classic Italian cocktail even more oomph.

Mary Katherine Morris Photography

Negroni
1 oz Campari
1 oz sweet vermouth
1 oz gin
1 orange peel

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Stir for 12-15 seconds or to taste. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a flamed orange peel using the practice above.

Cracking Up With Eggs

Eggs have been used in alcoholic beverages since before the word “cocktail” was coined. In addition to the "wow" factor of breaking out an egg to make a drink, egg whites give cocktails a creamy texture and a beautiful foam cap.

Since egg whites are mostly water and proteins, shaking them with citrus juice and sugar unravels and stretches out the protein chains, strengthening air bubbles' walls within your drink.

Concerned about salmonella? Per the CDC, the bacteria count in most infected eggs is way below a level that would make you sick. To be on the safe side, buy eggs that are as fresh and local as possible. Keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to use them and wash both the eggs and your hands before making the drink.

Hit the Lab

Depending who you talk to, a traditional whiskey sour includes an egg white for texture. The creaminess offsets the sour lemon juice and adds a fluffiness to its sweetness.

Traditional Whiskey Sour
1 egg white
1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz whiskey of your choice 

Add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Shake without ice for 15-20 seconds to begin emulsifying the mixture and unraveling the proteins in the egg white. Add ice and shake for an additional 20-25 seconds to chill through. Strain into a glass to avoid excess dilution.

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What's the Right Way to Make a Sazerac?
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If you pronounce New Orleans "New Or-leens," or if you can’t get enough of those Big Ass Beers sold on Bourbon Street, you’re probably not actually from New Orleans. But if you’re feeling adventurous and missing the Big Easy, a Sazerac might be just what the doctor ordered. 

‘Tails and Stories

A few hundred years ago, you might have actually gotten a doctor’s order for a Sazerac. One of the drink's origin stories claims that it was invented by New Orleans apothecary Antoine Amedie Peychaud. According to this tale, Mr. Peychaud mixed up the drink with his eponymous bitters and served it in an egg coupe in his shop. 

A more likely origin story states that the drink was invented by a different New Orleans resident (though in the same neighborhood). Around 1850, Sewell T. Taylor sold his bar to Aaron Bird and went into the import business. One of his products happened to be Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils brandy. While Taylor was importing, Bird renamed his bar the Sazerac House and began serving a house cocktail that featured Taylor’s brandy and, as the story goes, bitters made by his neighborhood apothecary, Mr. Peychaud.

In the 1870s and 1880s, Europe's grape crops were decimated by an infestation of American aphids. In just four years, French wine production was cut by 67 percent, and even the most dedicated cognac drinkers switched to whiskey. For New Orleans, that meant switching to rye whiskey that was shipped to the city down the Ohio River and through the Mississippi. Thomas Handy, who owned the Sazerac Bar during that time period, likely switched the drink's main ingredient. This take on the signature cocktail is the one that found its way into the 1908 edition of The World's Drinks and How To Mix Them, with the recipe calling for "good whiskey," not Sazerac cognac. 

The origins of the Sazerac’s name is vague. It’s possible that it was a nod to the fact that it was the bar's house cocktail, but it’s also possible that it’s a reference to the brand of brandy. In those days, “cocktail” referred to a specific alcoholic drink format. As put forth by The Balance and Columbian Repository in 1806, a “cock-tail” is “a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.” If you wanted this type of drink with whiskey in it, you would ask for a Whiskey Cocktail. If you wanted Sazerac brandy (until the aphid plague, at least), you'd ask for a Sazerac cocktail.

Hit the Lab

Sazerac Recipe:

2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
.25 oz simple syrup (or a sugar cube)
2 oz good rye whiskey (use the good stuff)
lemon peel for garnish

Place the sugar cube into an absinthe-rinsed rocks glass. Dash the bitters onto the cube and muddle. Add whiskey and one large ice cube and stir to combine. Garnish with a lemon twist.

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Flickr User Janice Waltzer // CC BY 2.0
What’s the Right Way to Make a Caipirinha?
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Flickr User Janice Waltzer // CC BY 2.0

The Rio Olympics start in just a few weeks, and all eyes are on Brazil. To celebrate, we decided to focus on the country’s most famous cocktail creation: the Caipirinha.

In form, the Caipirinha is pretty much a Brazilian Daiquiri. It’s made from sugar, lime, and cachaça. Cachaça could be considered a cousin to rum, but it is altogether unique. While most rum is made from molasses, cachaça is made from fresh sugarcane juice.

Unlike rum, which can be made anywhere, cachaça can only be made in Brazil. Though it’s often sold unaged, it is usually matured in woods that are native to Brazil, like peanut and balm. As with wine, beer, and whiskey, different kinds of wood affect the product inside differently.

The classifications of cachaça aren’t based on the type of cask in which it’s aged. It can get a bit confusing: Spirit that is not stored in wood or is kept in stainless steel vats before it’s bottled is often called branca (white). But cachaça aged in wood that doesn’t color the liquor may also be labeled as branca. This category goes under several other names, including prata (silver) and clássica (classic).

Cachaça that’s stored or aged in wood is usually labeled as amarela (yellow), in reference to its color. These may also be labeled as ouro (gold). Envelhecida (aged) cachaça, a subtype of amarela, is a bit more involved: it’s considered aged if more than 50 percent of the content of the bottle has been aged for at least a year in a barrel that’s 700 liters or smaller.

Cachaça is the “third most produced distilled drink in the world,” according to Alcohol In Latin America: A Social and Cultural History. Though more than 5000 brands existed in 2008, it was relatively ignored outside of Brazil until the recent resurgence of craft cocktails. In fact, until 2013, it had to be labeled “Brazilian rum” to be imported into the U.S. As a result, it’s often mistaken by many people for being a type of rum.

Unfortunately, we don’t really know anything definite about the origins of the Caipirinha. Like the Mojito and the Old Fashioned, the formula was perhaps first used in folk medicine. Carlos Lima, the executive director of IBRAC (the Brazilian Institute of Cachaça) told Casa e Jardim that a mix of lime, garlic, and honey with a pour of cachaça was probably used in São Paulo around 1918 as a remedy for the Spanish Flu.

As the story goes, someone eventually decided to skip the garlic and honey. Then, to balance the acidity of the lime, sugar was added. Over time, the drink spread into bars, ice entered the equation, and it became the Caipirinha we know today.

HIT THE LAB

Like the Mojito, the classic Caipirinha recipe is quite simple, but it’s also been the subject of many, many variations. We’ve included the International Bartenders Association (IBA) recipe as well as a modern take on the drink.

Caipirinha
Modified from the IBA website.

2 ounces Cachaça
1/2 of a lime
1 tablespoon sugar

Muddle lime and sugar in an Old Fashioned glass. Fill with ice and pour cachaça over it. Stir and enjoy.

Prata B. (Puerto Rico Asta Ah Brazil)
Recipe by Luis Ramos, bar manager of Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco.

1 3/4 ounces Avua Prata Cachaça
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce pineapple gomme syrup
1/2 ounce Pedro Ximenez sherry
1/4 ounce Punt e Mes
Grated nutmeg, lime zest, lime wheel for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a Collins glass. Add crushed ice and stir until glass frosts. Top glass with grated nutmeg, lime zest, and lime wheel.

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