Opened last night in Houston, Texas is Goro and Gun [twitter], with a cocktail menu by Alexander Gregg.
I see: orange-salt bitters, piloncillo sugar, cookie milk, Botox.
Shoe Maker...........................$8 Genever, Old Tom , London Dry, Orange-Salt Bitters, Tonic (Restaurant slang for an individual who is particularly lazy, always looking for a shortcut, and trying to get away with shoe maker-y stuff)
The Lifer................................$8 Blended Scotch, Lemongrass, Bitter Lemon Soda (Service Industry slang for someone who has spent their entire career in the industry and likely will retire in the industry. Lifers often once had dreams of being musicians, designers, photographers, fine artists -and many still are, at least at heart.)
Short Timer...........................$8 Botanical Vodka, Cucumber Water, Lime, Agave Nectar (Short timers are employees who have put in their notice at their current job and generally quit giving a hoot, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel)
Line Cook................................$8 Bourbon, Tamarind Bitters, Ginger Brew (Line cooks are regularly the hardest working individuals in the building, and usually don’t make very much money even though they work ridiculously long hours in blisteringly hot kitchens. To spot one look for scars from knives and burns and a glass of bourbon)
S.A............................................$8 Tequila, Grapefruit Soda, Lavender Bitters, Lime, Piloncillo (Server assistants, often called SA’s , are the line cooks of the foh- they do the unglamorous jobs: run food, bus tables, fill waters, etc. They are an integral part of restaurant operations. Next time you encounter one, thank him/ her for making service happen)
Here We Are Now......................$9 (Entertain Us) New western dry Gin, Lemongrass, Lemon, Peychaud’s, Soda
Life is beautiful ....................$12 Antica Carpano, Aquavit, Lemon, Orgeat, Egg White, Fernet
Recently on Facebook, I was engaged in a mostly-healthy debate about giving recipe credit on cocktail menus.
Rye's cocktail menu from 2007
When we see a classic cocktail section of a cocktail menu, we know that the drinks in that section have not been invented in-house. But some cocktail menus are a single list of both classics and house creations, and that's where things get complicated.
I have seen many cocktail menus that list modern classic cocktails like the Penicillin by Sam Ross and the Old Cuban by Audrey Saunders with no mention of the drink creators' names. When the cocktail menu is divided into sections indicating modern or vintage classics vs. house creations, even people who have never heard of the modern classics would have a clear indication that the drink comes from elsewhere even if the cocktail is uncredited. But when a lesser-known drink is mixed in with house recipes, it is easy for a customer to assume that the drink was created on-site.
Say a cocktail menu lists the following drinks: Martini, Bijou, Red Hook, Lynchburg Buck, Window Washer. Some of those drinks are house creations, some are vintage classics, one is a derivation of a classic, and one is a modern classic. But without the menu indicating which are which, the customer could easily assume that most of the drinks on the menu are made in house. In this case, does the bartender have an obligation to credit each recipe, lest it appear that he is claiming that those recipes are his own creations?
Last year, a restaurant publicist forwarded me some house cocktail recipes after I requested some for a story I was writing. Included among them was a recipe for a modern classic from their menu. I quickly informed her that it was not a house creation, but the fact that even the publicist for the restaurant couldn't tell which recipes were house creations and which were originals was a bad sign.
Had I published that modern classic recipe and credited the bartender who put it on the menu rather than the drink's creator, not only would I get called out as a dummy, the original drink's creator could be justifiably mad that someone else was taking credit for his cocktail.
This was actually the case at another cocktail bar: the menu was a mix of modern classic and house originals, with no indication of which was which. The drinks' creators heard about this menu and were nonplussed. The menu was later revised and now credits drinks not created in house with the bartenders' names, while the house creations are uncredited.
As the debate on Facebook went on, some people argued that the original drink's creators could always be found thanks to the internet, so it isn't neccesary to put everyone's name on every drink and clog up space on the menu.
My counter-argument is: Look at the Cosmopolitan. We often credit three people now: the drink's creator, the person who refined the recipe to its modern form, and the person who did the most to popularize it. But for most of the past 30 years, credit has been given to the person who made it popular. It just took two decades to sort that out.
A very worthy counter-argument to the 'all drinks must be credited' theory is what happens when you add variations? As with the Cosmo, drinks take on new forms as time goes on and ingredients change. If I'm a bartender who puts a Cosmo variation on a cocktail menu with a different name, do I need to add a line saying "Version of the Cosmopolitan", and/or do I need to name it a variation of the original drink, like Neopolitan?
If I call my drink the Camper Amazingness with no explanatory line on the menu am I guilty of implying that the drink was a 100% original thought, or is it fair to assume that every cocktail is based on every other cocktail and therefore we don't need to credit anything anymore?
And since nobody (that I know of) makes royalties off cocktails, does it matter?
I think my opinion on that matter is pretty clear - give credit where it's due, by placing drinks in a section that indicates they were not created in-house (such as "classics" or "from our friends"), by listing the name of the drink's creator on the menu, or by citing the drink as a variation either by giving it a variation on the original cocktail's name or just by stating "a variation of...".
But I'm wrong a lot of the time. What do you think?
South at SF Jazz in the brand new SFJAZZ Center opens March 5th with "craft cocktails from the old south" by Bar Director Erik Adkins of Slanted Door, Wo Hing General Store, Heaven's Dog, and the forthcoming Hard Water.
I'm excited to try the Battle of New Orleans (I love anise), Horse Thief Cocktail, and State Street Cocktail.
Below is the menu.
The Battle of New Orleans Buffalo Trace Bourbon, gum syrup, with dashes of anisette, absinthe and Peychaud’s and orange bitters on a hand cut ice cube.
Tchoupitoulas Street Guzzle El Dorado 3yr rum, lime, Blenheim hot ginger beer, Peychaud’s bitters
Horse Thief Cocktail Hayman’s Old Tom gin, vermouth di Torino, absinthe
Jose Andres, most notable in my world for The Bazaar by Jose Andres with its liquid nitrogen caipirinhas, has opened a new cocktail den in Washington, DC, fronted by Juan Coronado. The space is an extension of MiniBar next door.
The cocktail program at barmini will be spearheaded by ThinkFoodGroup’s Cocktail Innovator, Juan Coronado, in collaboration with Research & Development Director, Ruben Garcia. Juan has worked closely with José and his chefs to craft a seasonally rotating cocktail list, classified by spirit, that’s as extensive (100 cocktails total) and thoughtful as the menu at minibar. Contemporary approaches and techniques, such as “airs,” which capture aromas and flavors in their bubbles, unveiling a beautiful and spontaneous burst of flavor into the cocktail; emulsifiers, such as whey, that add texture and bring a new dimension to the cocktail; barrel aging; carbonation; espumas; extractions and infusions, will be applied to modern and vintage classic libations, including the Rusty Nail, Mai Tai, Whiskey Sour and Margarita.
I want to come play with the equipment.
I was able to get ahold of the menu. It's pretty long so I've pasted it below the jump for those of you not clicking through directly.
Sugar House in Detroit has launched a new cocktail menu with both seasonal drinks and 100 Classics "carefully selected & perfected for your consideration".
I asked Dave Kwiatkowski what the criteria were for being on the list - Most popular? Essential? Best?
His answer was a little bit more involved than I expected but interesting.
I started out by picking my favorite classics (Manhattan, Sidecar, Gimlet, etc.) and made each one, dialing in the recipe until I was happy with the result. Once I had those (maybe 40 all in all) I started digging thru old books, looking for familiar names that maybe I had forgotten about (Stinger, Presbyterian, Suffering Bastard,) - stuff that I couldn't make by memory, but wasn't completely unknown to me. I went thru and made each one of those, keeping some, ditching some. At that point I probably had 75, so I started going thru any old books I could get my hands on and trying out anything that looked interesting... The fallout on these last recipes was much greater (if you've ever actually made the drinks in Baker's Gentleman's Companion you know what I'm talking about.) But after a while I found enough to fill out the list that I could get behind. That's where the drinks like the Hanky Panky, Brown Derby, etc., came from. Some of them, like the West India Couperee (cognac, cointreau & vanilla ice cream) are amazing, but it's just not worth having ice cream on hand in the off chance someone orders one of them. And then of course there were some revisions like when Wondrich unearthed the original recipe for the Singapore Sling (my recipe was totally wrong), and Beachbum Jerry found the Zombie recipe from Don the Beachcomber's...
So, I suppose if I had to categorize this list, I'd say they are the 100 best classics I've ever heard of and made with satisfactory results. Every drink on here I consider an excellent mixed drink. Having said that, there's always room for change.
Camper English is a cocktails and spirits writer for publications including Saveur (Contributing Drinks Editor), FSR Magazine (Spirits Editor), Whisky Advocate, Details.com, PopSci.com, Mixology, Drinks International, and many more. Learn about Camper and Alcademics, or read clips of his published work.