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Sweet Versus Sour: Sour Cocktail Specs from Different Bars

This post is part of a mini-project looking at sweet and sour elements in cocktails, sponsored by PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur. I asked bartenders on Facebook how they prepare their simplest Sour cocktail, like a Daiquiri, that calls for a base spirit, lime juice, and simple syrup. The goal was not just to get a Daiquiri recipe but the house standard measurements for Sour cocktails in general. I made sure to collect everyone's simple syrup recipe as that makes all the difference. The ratios are of sugar to water, so that 1:1 is equal parts by volume sugar and water, and... Read more →

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Syrups are the New Bitters on Details.com

Have you looked through your December magazines yet? In just about every one that I get (and I get a lot of them), there is a recommendation for a specialty cocktail syrup of one flavor or another as a suggestion for gifting. By the time I noticed this, I'd already written my latest story for Details.com, which we ended up calling Syrups are the New Bitters. It's not to say that you no longer need bitters now that there are more syrups on the market, but rather where once there was a lack of variety of bitters on the market... Read more →

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Sweet Versus Sour: Sweetness as an Innate Craving

This is a mini-project looking at sweet and sour flavors, sponsored by PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur. Looking at sweet, sour, and the balance between them, we'll now start with sweet. Sweetness is sensed on the tongue as one of the four (up to possibly six) basic tastes. We sense sugars as sweet, of course, but also some proteins and amino acids taste sweet to us. Some things we consume are both sweet and something else. An example used in the book Taste Matters is saccharin, which is both sweet and bitter. The preference for sweetness (and different reactions for sour, salty,... Read more →

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Sweet Versus Sour: Introduction

I'm doing a mini-project looking at sweet and sour flavors, sponsored by PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur. The sweet-to-sour balance in a cocktail is crucial. I like Sam Ross' quote about it: “The sweet and sour elements in a cocktail are like the pieces of bread in a sandwich. If they’re not in balance, the whole thing falls apart.” I'm going to look at sweet and sour (plus the other basic tastes) separately, then at how they interact. Basic Tastes We all know by now that at least sweet, sour, salty, and bitter are four basic tastes, with others proposed including umami... Read more →

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Cocktail Mixers, Syrups, and Sodas Available on Amazon.com

I'm always looking for cocktail mixers on Amazon.com that I can order to save myself a trip to the store. I like to drink, and I'm lazy. I also have Amazon Prime that gives me free shipping on a ton of stuff in addition to some free streaming movie content online. So I've been keeping an eye out for stuff. Here's what I've found that I know or suspect is quality stuff, with special mention if it's available for free shipping with Amazon Prime. Q Tonic Water [Prime] [link] Tomr's Tonic Syrup [Prime] [link] Jack Ruby Tonic Syrup [link] Bradley's... Read more →

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Small Hand Foods Syrups Launches Web Store

Delicious Small Hand Foods syrups have been hard to get in most parts of the country/world, but as of now it will be a little bit easier as the new web store has launched. Small Hand Foods is the brand by Jennifer Colliau, a Bay Area bartender who began making authentic orgeat and pineapple gum arabic (for Pisco Punch) when none was available on the market. She expanded the line to include grenadine, unflavored gum syrup, and raspberry gum syrup (plus the occaisional surprise). The small (8.5 ounce) bottles run for $12, which is less expensive than you'll find on... Read more →

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A Sampling of Sugars from Asia

Last year at Tales of the Cocktail I gave a talk along, with David Cid of Bacardi, about sugar, syrups, and rum. A detailed write-up of that talk is on the blog Commercial Free Cocktail. As part of that talk, I passed around a ton of samples of sugars to taste. Most of these sugars were purchased in Singapore by Michael Callahan, bar manager of 28 HongKong Street. He carried a full suitcase of them for me, so he is awesome. Many of the sugars were taken home by seminar attendees (I encouraged it), or were no longer transportable, but... Read more →

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When Did Grenadine Become an Artificial Ingredient?

We all know that grenadine is supposed to be a syrup made of pomegranate juice and sugar, often with orange flower water added in. But most commercial grenadines are little more than red food coloring and sweetener. We might think that artificially-flavored cocktail ingredients like grenadine all came to be in the post-war 1940s and 50s, or in the disco-drink 1970s, but it turns out that grenadine has been an artificially flavored syrup for over 100 years. As we read in a previous post, pomegranates were brought to California by the Spanish in the late 1700s, and grown commercially before... Read more →

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