bitters: blood oranges are pretty.

On December 12, 2010, in bitters, by Stephanie

blood oranges are pretty.

The last stage of the bitters is in process; the orange peels are soaking in light rum for the next 12 days, and then we’ll be ready to start the final mixing of the product. everything smells so very good.

Earlier tonight I squeezed 3 pounds of blood oranges, taking that picture there in the middle, because they were just so very pretty and vibrant.

After they got squeezed, I carefully peeled the rind off the squeezed fruit and its soaking, now, in light rum. Then I took the juice and reduced it to about 6 oz. of very thick, quite tasty blood orange syrup, which will get added into the bitters again later on to bring the blood orangeyness of the bitters.


syrups, bitters etc.

On December 6, 2010, in bitters, by Stephanie

I am going to be making some of the coffee syrup for the By Near or ByFar later this week. While I’m making syrups, would anyone like some?  $8 for a pint jar; I have the ingredients to make coffee, ginger and cinnamon syrups. for $10 I can make any of them a rich syrup, which is sweeter and slightly more concentrated – and thus you can use it if you’re using a SodaMaster. you add about an ounce and a half to one of the one litre bottles. This works well with the ginger, and I developed a recipe with a more ginger beer flavour, using some other spices to give it a kick. I think a cinnamon soda would be a little perverse, to be honest.

Some days with the things I try in syrups and the soda machine, I feel like a one-person Soda oriented baitcon (for those of you who do not know, that’s a private event where they go kinda nuts with the ice cream flavours).

I also got my hands on some excellent kosher dried egg white tonight. This means I can make proper bar mix/sweet and sour mix that will properly froth when you shake your margarita once more (it also adds a bit of flavour depth to the drink). $8 for a litre. The margaritas I made at L’s party were made with my recipe, and they got raves.

I’m going to be following up the bitters experiment with….more bitters (I had a request to see if I could make a walnut flavoured bitters, that might retain some of the nuttiness, and it seems weird enough that I think I just might, though it will absolutely take real research).


I maded you a shirt.

On December 1, 2010, in buy stuff, by Stephanie

So a while ago I had been talking about wanting a certain shirt for myself. Carrie Nation, temperance advocate and domestic terrorist, used to greet bartenders with the phrase, ‘Good morning, destroyer of men’s souls,’ and I’ve just wanted it on a shirt, since. Yesterday I got around to making it for myself, and I figured I’d totally throw it up to the world in case anyone else wanted it.

I put it up on Zazzle, which has good dark shirts, and competitive prices; and also because I wanted it on a tank top that Cafe Press doesn’t have. I like that I can upload an item there and then say ‘sure, let people but this on anything else they want.’ I wish they had plus size women’s shirts, like Cafe Press does, though. If anyone wants this on anything CP does instead, let me know, and I’ll put it up there (you’ll need to tell me exactly what item you want it on, though).

BTW, the ‘view detail’ really looks crappy on Zazzle. The tif they got is 12×12, 150dpi, and this quality (that’s a small version for the web). They looked at the file and assured me that’s what it’ll look like when printed, their system just reduces the pic for display poorly when putting it over fabric-looking materials.


Deal: 50% off wine/accessories

On November 29, 2010, in books, buy stuff, deals, wine, by Stephanie

Wine.comThis deal might be of interest to people with an interest in this blog; $30 for $60 of wine and accessories at They carry wine, gift sets, glasses, and have an interesting sake section. It can sadly not be used on a couple of the high end things, including my personal favourite, Veuve Cliquot (more details at the deal site). I’m going to need explore other things, instead, it seems.

I’ve been trying to expand my wine palate appropriately, which is hard on a budget and mostly happens at parties right now. I recently started reading Educating Peter, which has the subtitle, ‘How I Taught a Famous Movie Critic the Difference Between Cabernet and Merlot or How Anybody Can Become an (Almost) Instant Wine Expert’. It’s a really good primer on the subject. The info is presented in a narrative fashion, which makes it a lot easier for me to retain (recently in Soundbites, the bartender mentioned that someone had ordered a Stinger, and he had to look it up. I knew it not because I had studied it, but because there’s an anecdote about the drink in Boozehound).

Also, since I know there is some confusion; the law about shipping to Massachusetts was struck down at the beginning of 2010, as unconstitutional. While they do restrict the shipping cross state lines to MA, has a Massachusetts warehouse, which means for those who live here, they can indeed take advantage of this deal. For those of you who are not in MA, check their site for restrictions (and if you’ll be here for Arisia, we can talk about shipping to my place). blog, on twitter and on facebook.


Bitters: I smell great

On November 29, 2010, in bartending, bitters, by Stephanie

by any other nameSo earlier tonight I was agitating the various bitters mixtures (cherries in Jack Daniels, ginger in Vodka, various bittering agents in Everclear, etc). Making bitters is very much like when I’m made extracts in the past, like vanilla or cherry, except right now I’m making 14 different extracts, some are blended mixes, and then later on I’ll combine them.

The reason for doing this is so I can adjust the flavours after the extracts have done their job; if I find that a mix of cherry and gentian is too bitter, well, I’ll have a couple cups of gentian, and a couple cups of cherry extract, to then readjust the flavour profile.

One of the things that I also did tonight was rebottle the rose petals; one of my jars is of rose petals and flowers, which were soaking in vodka (the Everclear would be a little harsh on them, I believe). They had soaked enough that they were slightly above the alcohol line, though, so I decided to put them in a larger jar, and also add a little more vodka to cover them.

The extract smells amazing.

A tiny bit of it got on the back of my hand, and I’m still getting a whiff of it every so often, this amazing, light, floral scent, which is definitely rose, but is not at all like a rose perfume scent. It’s going to be added to the blood orange bitters, to emphasize the floral nature of the bitters that I’m hoping to evoke, but with the addition of the vodka tonight, I think I’m going to have a few extra ounces of just this stuff, which I think will be excellent in a rose petal Vesper (using this rose petal infused vodka as the vodka portion). We shall most certainly see.


USBG Boston: general interest meeting

On November 22, 2010, in USBG, by Stephanie

Yesterday I attended the United States Bartenders’ Guild‘s general interest meeting; they are starting up USBG Boston.

Because it’s been a little word of mouth, lots of people who were there were people involved in the high end craft cocktail scene down in Boston proper, and they’re hoping to expand their reach, and draw in people from all over the bartending field.

They need, right now, to get butts in the seats; they have until December 4th to put together 40 interested people (they got cheques from about 15 people for membership yesterday). Membership is quite reasonable for a professional org, $100 a year.

The USBG is open to anyone with a desire to connect with other people with the shared interests; they have differing membership names, but basically they work out to:

  • Active Bartender (worked as such in the last year)
  • Associate (People who have worked as a bartender in the last year, and people who are in related fields, ie, liquor store employees, cocktail servers, restaurant managers, etc)
  • Non-pros (are you really into cocktails, bartending, home brewing?)

They offer BarSmarts certified training, are planning on offering classes, are arranging for road trips to other cities (Philly, NYC, DC) for to learn about the bar scenes there, and also offer afforable health insurance to members (starting at $77 a month, will be compatible with Commonwealth Care). There will also be networking social events, and competitions (there’s one in January featuring 42 Below vodka, with the regional winners going to New York and the NY winners going to New Zealand).

Check out the facebook page if your interested. I don’t want to post the email address of the gentleman who is handling the memberships and questions without his permission, but if you mail me, I’ll send your mail onto him and cc you so you have his contact info.


Orleans: Gingersnap Martini

On November 20, 2010, in cocktails, by Stephanie
The Gingersnap Martini at Orleans

The Gingersnap Martini at Orleans

Now, let’s say one thing first.

If I have to order something that’s not gin, vermouth and an olive and call it a martini, I will, but I’ll resent it. I’ll certainly do it, because while I’m a purist, we’re still talking about alcohol – anyone who is being that much of a snob can go home and nuzzle your Bombay Sapphire.

But I’ll still grumble.

That said, I had a voucher, and so I went into Orleans tonight. I was mostly hungry, but after (eating something I normally have to split there), I had enough for a fancy pants girltini, or a dessert, and I kinda went girltini.

That drink was a new addition to their menu, a seasonal drink with vodka, ginger syrup, brown sugar and a cinnamon sugar rim.

It was no martini, but it was a really grand finishing drink. It tasted freakily like a gingersnap cookie that happens to be alcoholic.

Gingersnap Martini: $8

Orleans Restaurant
65 Holland Street
Somerville, MA 02144
(617) 591-2100


Mutineer Magazine

On November 19, 2010, in bartending, by Stephanie

Mutineer MagazineEver encountered a magazine that was just amazingly…cohesive?

Mutineer Magazine is just that. I encountered it for the first time while taking the bartending class in Boston. The July/August issue focused a lot on New Orleans because they were very obviously gearing it towards the crowds at Tales of the Cocktail (TotC seems to be very close to being…hmm. Not Worldcon…sort of like Dragon*Con for cocktail enthusiasts, bartenders, etc).

I couldn’t find the September/October issue anywhere. The Borders that had carried the last issue didn’t have it, neither did the Coop or Out of Town News. Or The Boston Shaker, which was sad. So when I did a survey that offered ‘Subscription to a magazine’ as the ‘payment’, and found Mutineer on the list, I totally snagged it.

The Nov/Dec issue showed up today, and it’s *great*. It’s like if Alton Brown and Mario Batali were turned into a drink magazine. Ok, that’s a really bizarre way of putting it, but one that my friends will understand.

The magazine is enthusiastic, recognizes great things but doesn’t stick up its nose at lowbrow stuff (it has interviews with sommeliers as well as articles deconstructing the popularity of Mexican Coke). It doesn’t stick to bar culture; there is a really gripping article on a woman who was leading a wine bike tour in Austria that was mostly full of New Yorkers during 9/11, another on A Child’s Right‘s work to provide water and pumps to third world schools, and finally a really interesting article on Coffee Strong, “a veteran-owned, veteran-operated GI coffeehouse. Veterans provide a safe place for soldiers to share the effects of disastrous wars, within 300 meters of the gates at Ft Lewis.”

The magazine is new; this is its 14th issue, and it wasn’t a glossy until just over a year ago, it seems (it has zine type roots). It’s obviously having issues being found. It it interests you, I encourage you to consider throwing $15 at them for a year’s subscription, or even just ask after it, especially in Borders, which *can* get the magazine, but isn’t making it very findable in the Boston area (Boston Shaker wants to carry it but their magazine distributor doesn’t have it, from what I understand).


i want this on a shirt.

On November 18, 2010, in bartending, by Stephanie

“It was while in Medicine Lodge that she began her temperance work. (Carrie) Nation started a local branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and campaigned for the enforcement of Kansas’ ban on the sales of liquor. Her methods escalated from simple protests, to serenading saloon patrons with hymns on a hand organ, to greeting bartenders with pointed remarks such as, “Good morning, destroyer of men’s souls.””


four loko comment

On November 16, 2010, in bartending, by Stephanie

Four Lokoa few of you have posted things about the Four Loko investigations, etc. I’ve commented in some of your journals about it, blah blah. What I’ve seen in the little glimpse of the pro trade mags and sites I see has basically been “If a business was told for for years that there was an issue with their product, ‘could you please do something about making your product safer and educating your customers more?’ and they didn’t, well, they brought it upon themselves, but it’s worrisome because they brought it upon others, too.”

(consider for example; my freshly brewed coffee syrup has, in 1 cup of it, about the caffeine of 4 cups of coffee. So each ByNear/Byfar has about half a coffee worth of caffeine. And vodka. I think it’s safe to say that my craft cocktail is a very different thing than a $2.50 can of Four Loko, but laws tend to be indiscriminate)

Anyway, I came across the best quote on the subject today at Liquor Snob that rather casually sums up what most bartendery types seem to be saying on the subject.:

It’s fairly obvious the drink is being aimed at college kids and maybe even high schoolers, who are only chasing the buzz and have not developed any real taste for good booze yet, and that’s pretty shitty.