Sunday, December 27, 2015

Tasting #3: Holiday Party Redux

Just about two years to the day after my first tasting menu presentation, I was invited back (in a fit of poor judgment, no doubt) to handle drinks for another holiday party!  This was a great experience for me, in that it allowed me to think back on what worked well vs. not so well at the previous event, while reworking the format for a slightly bigger crowd.

Five drinks wound up being a little impractical the last time around, so we shortened to three rounds (I cheated by doing two variations on the same formula for round 2, as you'll see below).  To start things off, we added a relatively gentle communal punch, which gave everyone a chance to settle in and grab something to eat while getting into the spirit of the event.  The other major difference this year, although it doesn't show in the menu below, is that I recruited volunteers from the crowd to help out with measuring, stirring, and shaking.  I've done this with friends at home, and it's a great way to keep everyone engaged while also demonstrating one of the points I try to get across the most fervently: that with a little instruction, anybody can put together a good drink.

(There were a lot of pictures taken as well - I'll try to hunt down some copies and post them up here.)

1 oz (8 oz) gin (Tanqueray)
½ oz (4 oz) overproof white rum (Wray & Nephew)
½ oz (4 oz) cinnamon syrup*
½ oz (4 oz) Campari (or similar)
½ oz (4 oz) lime juice
3 oz (1 standard 750ml bottle) sparkling wine
4 oz (1 standard 1 liter bottle) soda water
To build: Combine in a large glass, or punch bowl over a large block of ice. Garnish with cranberries, orange slices, rosemary sprigs – whatever you want! (All of the above at the event, which was maybe a bit much, but which got compliments on its appearance!)
Other notes: You can make this as an individual drink, or as a communal punch for 6-8 people (using the amounts in parenthesis).

2½ oz aged rum (Plantation 5 Year)
¼ oz cinnamon syrup*
¼ oz falernum (John D. Taylor)
3 dashes Angostura bitters
To build: Stir over ice and strain into a chilled glass, or just stir over a large ice cube; garnish with a small strip of lemon peel squeezed over the glass.
Other notes: Don’t skimp on the rum here; you want a smooth operator for this one.

1½ oz gin (Tanqueray)
1 oz falernum (John D. Taylor)
1 oz lemon juice
½ egg white
1½ oz gin (Tanqueray)
1 oz apricot liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
1 oz lemon juice
½ egg yolk
To build: Shake once without ice and once with ice, then strain into a highball glass and top with 3-4 oz of soda water to taste.
Other notes: Two different variants on the same basic formula; you can omit the egg for a plain fizz if you’re squeamish, but this way nothing goes to waste.

1½ oz aged rum (Plantation 5 Year)
1 oz overproof white rum (Wray & Nephew)
½ oz apricot liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
½ oz falernum (John D. Taylor)
¼ oz cinnamon syrup*
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters
To build: Shake vigorously and pour unstrained into a highball glass; garnish with flaming rum in a lime shell only if it’s your first drink of the night. (I was asked why I made this point at the event, and it bears repeating: alcohol is flammable, and you don't want to set your bar/home/self on fire.)
Other notes: This is a cobbled-together version of several different Zombies that can be found in the wild; the original goes back to 1934.

*For Cinnamon Syrup: Combine 1 cup each of white sugar and water in a saucepan and add 4 whole cinnamon sticks. Heat and stir until the sugar dissolves, and let stand for at least 1 hour or overnight. Strain, bottle, and keep in an airtight refrigerated container.

I'm sure they'll never read it here, but I'd like to extend my thanks once again to our hosts, both for the aforementioned hosting duties and for inviting me back.  Events like this are always a blast, and it was fun to get participants a little more hands-on this time around!