Archive for Left Coast Libations

The Proof is in the…Proofs!

Posted in Left Coast Libations with tags on April 25, 2010 by Mr. Manhattan

A few days ago we received a package of proofs from the printers (Toppan) in China. It’s another one of those significant milestones in publishing a book. In fact, it’s pretty much the very very last step before they put the whole shebang on press and turn over a year’s worth of love and labor into books for you. It’s also one’s last chance to change anything, should you find something wrong at this point in the process.

As I write this our book designer Lisa is starting to review the proofs after which she’ll hand them off to our photographer Jenn. This is their chance to make notes which can be passed to the printer regarding adjustments to any of the images and the overall ‘look’ of things when ink is applied to paper. There’s actually quite a bit that can be done ‘on press’ to adjust color balance and tonality. Ideally you don’t want to do anything at this point but should the need arise, this is our chance to provide that input.

For that purpose we’ve had two different kinds of proofs made: digital proofs for all the photos and so-called wet proofs that show how the pages will look when real inks (and not toner) are used to reproduce ‘em. This is especially important for Left Coast Libations because in addition to the standard CMYK ink set we are using two additional spot inks (AKA Pantone Solids) for the page backgrounds. Up till now we’ve only seen what these will look like as simulated by an ink jet printer.

The other things you check for at this point are more mechanical: are all the pages present and in the right order? Are any of the design elements missing from any of the pages? For that we rely on a plotter proof. This proof shows the result of having taken the pages in reader order (as we submitted them), shuffling them together into what’s called an imposition form (as they will be printed together on a single sheet of paper) and then folding and cutting the form to make collections of pages, known as signatures. And if the forms were set up correctly, this results in the pages being presented, once again, in reader order. What you get with the plotter proof is a loose set of simulated signatures wrapped up with the cover and the end papers. Here’s a photo:

Did you follow all that? Good. Celebrate with me and have a cocktail! Yum!

Oh, there was one last bit in the proofing package. It’s a sample of what the finished book will look like…if they forgot to print anything on it. In other words, it’s a blank version of the book. Here it is:

In less than a month we should have a real version of the book to show you here, one of the advance copies we’re having sent back by air. A few lucky reviewers in the long-lead national press will be the final recipients of those.

A Toast to Brooke(lyn) Arthur

Posted in Cocktails, Left Coast Libations, Manhattans with tags , , on April 18, 2010 by Mr. Manhattan

Last Friday was Brooke Arthur’s last evening as Bar Manager at Range. Folks (OK, bartenders) were dropping by to say good-bye to her there and bid her good luck at Prospect, Nancy Oakes’s latest restaurant, where she’ll be managing as well. Those of us who stopped in were treated to a Brooklyn for which Brooke had so very kindly brought in her own bottle of Amer Picon from Spain (I think she said that’s where she got it). Only in writing this post did I realize how totally appropriate and fitting that selection was.

Now it’s Sunday. A beautiful day here in Oakland, California. I’ve got a few racks of baby back ribs smoking slowly in the Weber. A perfect time for a cocktail on the back deck. Remembering Brooke’s Brooklyn I decided to make one of my own, undoubtedly to slightly different effect using, among other things. Wild Turkey rye, Dolin blanc and my bottle of Amer Boudreau. Yummy never the less and more importantly, worth raising, in toast, to Brooke, where ever she may be today! Cheers!

Brooklyn

2 oz. Wild Turkey 101-proof rye
3/4 oz. Dolin blanc vermouth
1/3 oz. Luxardo maraschino liqueur
1/3 oz. Amer Boudreau
orange peel strip, for garnish

Stir over ice to chill.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with the orange peel.

[For more discussion on this cocktail, take a hop over to Jay Hepburn's write up at Oh Gosh!]

And…We’re Off to the Printers!

Posted in Home Made Ingredients, Left Coast Libations with tags , on April 12, 2010 by Mr. Manhattan

It’s been a while since my last update on the book. I’m hoping to do that a bit more often going forward…

Last week we sent the completed print package for Left Coast Libations off to the printers, with no small sense of relief. All of last month was consumed with putting the finishing touches on the book: getting final hi-res color delivered, collecting releases from all the bartenders (herding cats, mon), completing the copyright page information, dealing with Library of Congress, building the index, adding a last minute section at the end for bartender updates, getting photos for our bios, etc etc. And now, that’s all done. Of course, as anyone who’s had a book printed knows, that particular stress was replaced almost immediately with concerns about things we might have missed (and that we’re going to find when we get our very expensive proof back to review) or problems in the print package itself (like missing fonts). It’s a never ending cycle of labor and joy, joy and labor.

What they are saying about Left Coast Libations

One really really cool thing we did in February was to send out early versions of the book as PDF to solicit quotes from key industry folks. These are the sorts of things you need for the back cover and for press releases which get generated before the book is made generally available for review. Amazingly enough not only did we get a 100% response from everyone we approached but everyone got back to us within a month. We didn’t have to follow up or cajole anyone. I am told that’s not always the case.

And, without further ado, here’s (some) of what “they are saying” about us…

“If cocktails aren’t your thing, buy this book anyway. Munat is delightfully entertaining, and his keen wit, coupled with a little sarcasm and a touch of attitude, have served him well here. It’s a darned good read. If cocktails are your thing you’ll get double your money’s worth with Left Coast Libations. It’s packed with fabulous formulas from all the big shots who hold forth from behind the mahogany on the west coast.”

Gary Regan, author of The Joy of Mixology and the bartender’s GIN compendium

“I am so very pleasantly surprised to learn that not only do some of our Western Territories have bars, but—if we are to believe this amusing and informative little volume—the conduct of those institutions is frequently placed in the hands of individuals who thoroughly know their business. I should like to visit them some day.”

—David Wondrich, author of Imbibe

“’Go West young man, go West!’ No truer words were ever spoken, then or now. It might seem like all of the nation’s trend-setting excitement is happening on the East Coast, but when you talk cocktails, you have to pay attention to what is happening in bars and restaurants up and down the West Coast. With Left Coast Libations, you not only have the opportunity to discover many of the great cocktails which have sprung out of the West, but also get a chance to meet the bartenders who created them.”

—Robert Hess, creator of DrinkBoy.com, co-founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail

“Munat and Lazar’s book is the finest attempt anyone has made to reveal the movement that culinary cocktail-making has become. Left Coast Libations not only delivers stellar drink recipes but also includes all of the sub-recipes for each of the bartender’s hand-crafted ingredients. Working through this process gives the reader a fantastic new arsenal of garnishes, syrups, foams, airs, and other unique ingredients that enable anyone to create memorable cocktails at home. Additionally, we get the chance to learn a little bit about the creative souls who contributed these recipes with sharp, humorous, and always entertaining biographies on each bartender. If you love mixology, you will love this book.”

Scott Beattie, author of Artisanal Cocktails

“Far more than a how-to or a coffee table tome, Left Coast Libations stands as a complete and inclusive record of the state of some of North America’s finest bartenders as we wallow contentedly in the second Golden Age of cocktails. By turns humorous, stylish and evocative, Munat and Lazar open the doors to the rich world of American bartending west of the flyover zone.”

Phil Duff, door 74, Amsterdam

Makes my head swim every time I read those. More about the book soon…

P.S. And let no post end without a pretty photo…

I will be hosting a large cocktail event next month. We’ll be serving a selection of drinks from Left Coast Libations, naturally. One selection will be Jim Romdall’s El Globo Rojo which uses a homemade ingredient from Charles Baker’s A Gentlemen’s Companion. Here’s an (enormous looking) jar of what will become Tequila Por Mi Amante in about four weeks time. Slurp!

Cheers!

Shsssh! Secret!

Posted in Left Coast Libations with tags on October 15, 2009 by Mr. Manhattan

I really shouldn’t show this to ANYONE but the image below is the cover page of the just completed reviewer’s version of Left Coast Libations. It doesn’t look like much by itself but behind that page are over 150 more pages of bartender biography and cocktail recipe goodness. I will say that again: over 150 pages. 150. 150. 150. Makes me a bit giddy. Sorry.

What, you might ask, is the reviewer’s version? It’s the completed text of the book put together for the purpose of soliciting some early feedback and (we hope) praise from selected luminaries in the cocktail world. All part of our master plan. Mwah-hah!

LCL Reviewer's Version

An LCL Update

Posted in Home Made Ingredients, Left Coast Libations with tags , on August 19, 2009 by Mr. Manhattan

So Ted is finally done writing the biographies for all 50 51 bartenders (and for those of you keeping score, yes, we added one more bartender to the LCL fold since Tales of the Cocktail: David Shenaut in Portland OR, currently satisfying customers at Teardrop Lounge) and I have completed organizing the recipes for 100 102 cocktails and the associated homemade ingredients. Everything has now been handed over to editorial staff (OK, we don’t have any real staff but we do have real editors to help us out). Book production should to being soon.

I must say it was lots of fun going over all of the recipes again. I think I had forgotten how many great cocktails were made last winter and spring in the run up to the photo shoot. I’m also quite pleased with the level of detail I was able to provide regarding the more arcane and complex homemade ingredients. For example, below are the instructions for making “Smoked Cider Air,” an ingredient in Daniel Hyatt’s Still Life with Apples, After Cezanne. Because this turned into such a total disaster during the photo shoot it was super-important to me to figure out where I had gone wrong and how to avoid doing so in the future. That’s all rolled up into the recipe notes.

Smoked Cider Air

Still Life with Apples, After Cezanne, Daniel Hyatt

1/4 tsp. liquid smoke concentrate
1 liter pasteurized (clear) apple cider
1 1/2 gm. soy lecithin granules
1/2 gm. xanthan gum
An 8-quart food-grade plastic container
An immersion blender

1. Pour cider into the plastic container.
2. Add liquid smoke, soy lecithin and xanthan.
3. Mix and froth the mixture using the immersion blender, keeping it just below the surface to form a thick layer of foam (“air”).
4. Skim the very top (driest part) of the “air” and add to the cocktail.
5. Re-froth as necessary to make more foam.

Notes:

Let me begin by saying that while making “Smoke Cider Air” requires some odd ingredients, special equipment and new techniques, anyone who undertakes it will be rewarded by being able to savor a most excellent cocktail, one of my favorites in the book. And baring that, you can always visit Daniel Hyatt at Alembic in San Francisco and have him make one for you.

After some spectacular failed experiments in scaling (down) I have concluded that this is one recipe that must be made using the quantities specified by the bartender if it is to come out right. It seems wasteful to make this much unless one is making a lot of drinks (since you can get an almost infinite amount of the “air” from a liter of cider by replenishing the lecithin and gum when it stops foaming) however the various problems I encountered trying to quarter the recipe (measuring such small amounts, inadequate foaming and catastrophic precipitation of the lecithin when put atop the cocktail) led me to this conclusion.

It is also very important to do the blending in sufficiently deep and wide enough container. The recommended the 8-quart food grade white plastic container is very affordable and can be purchased at most any restaurant supply store. I’d also get a lid to go with it as well.

Xanthan gum can be found a some specialty spice stores, Indian groceries, cake baking supply stores and of course on the web. If you can’t find xanthan gum, you may try tragacanth gum, which may be easier to find. You’ll probably have to tinker with the amount to use but keep in mind it’s the lecithin which creates the “air” – the gum simply helps to stabilize it.

You will need a precision electronic scale accurate to less than a gram in order to measure the xanthan and the lecithin. These are much more affordable than they used to be but are still not totally cheap. You might ask around and see if you can borrow one.

Finally, unless (or even) when it is very dry, the “air” will have a tendency to precipitate some amount of lecithin into the cocktail once it has been spooned on top. (My conjecture is that this is a reaction with the acid in the Maple Syrup Gastrique, another homemade ingredient used in this cocktail.) In extreme cases, you will have a literal rain of lecithin pouring into the otherwise translucent cocktail. Not much to do but sink it and start again.

Tales of an Outsider

Posted in Left Coast Libations, Musings with tags , on August 5, 2009 by Mr. Manhattan

So Tales of the Cocktail 2009 has come and gone. I guess I should spend a little time blogging on though it’s hardly news at this point.

Tales. Hmm… New Orleans was hot and humid and I got out of the Vieux Carre far less than I should have (read: never got out). I also never really got in to Tales either. Most of the time it felt like it was happening all around me (esp. when sitting in the lobby of The Monteleone) but I was not invited in to play. Among other contributing factors was finding most all of the seminars were sold out before I could buy tickets and the lack of name tags. There were literally dozens of people to whom I would have introduced myself: LCL bartenders from Portland and LA whom I hadn’t yet met and writers who’s blogs and columns I had been reading avidly over the past year. Not knowing what they looked like and without name tags, it was a lost cause. If I could pass one note onto the organizers it would be this: have general registration (even if it’s free or close to it) and get people to wear name tags.

Meantime, I did manage to have something like a good time in New Orleans anyway. Here are the highlights:

  • Getting to taste all of the Del Maguey mezcals including the Pechuga.
  • Meeting Tom Bulleit and toasting him with a glass of his fine bourbon.
  • Trying the Bols Genever (mmm, malt) and learning more about how its made.
  • Sampling all the tantalizing goodies from Haus Alpenz and meeting Eric Seed.
  • Meeting Peter Schaf, one of the masterminds behind Tempus Fugit.
  • Trying any number of amazing absinthes on Sunday.
  • Chatting with Scott Beattie (“Artisanal Cocktails”) amongst a throng of drunken bartenders milling about on Boubon Street outside The Old Absinthe House.
  • Meeting the infamous Ted Breaux of Jade Absinthe.
  • Meeting Matt Rowley and yacking with him about creme de noyau.
  • Cocktails at Arnaud’s French 75 by Chris Hannah followed by a round of Cafe Brulot (and accompanying light show) courtesy of “The Fat Man” in honor of Martin Miller.

Cafe Brulot at Arnaud's French 75 Bar

  • Having Chris McMillian of The Museum of the American Cocktail recite Josha Soule Smith’s Mint Julep ode after dinner at Antoine’s (though no Mint Juleps were prepared or served at this event).
  • Hosting a highly successful LCL cocktail party; cleaning up after the same.
  • Trying Mozart Dry chocolate spirit, a bottle of which just appeared (and then disappeared) at the LCL cocktail party.
  • The unofficial underground swag-off (one of several I assume).
  • Meeting Paul Clarke of The Cocktail Chronicles fame.
  • Scoring copies of Charles Baker’s “A Gentleman’s Companion” from 1934 (both volumes) and “Burke’s Complete Cocktail and Tastybite Recipes” from 1936, thanks to Greg Bohem of Mud Puddle Books.
  • Oh, and having Jackie Patterson make me her award winning “Star-crossed Lovers” cocktail.

Jacking Patterson at Tales of the Cocktail 2009

SF LCL Bartenders Featured at Clock Bar Anniversary

Posted in Left Coast Libations with tags , on July 14, 2009 by Mr. Manhattan

Just back from Tales of the Cocktail (will do a bit of blogging on that later) but wanted to report that several of the SF-based LCL bartenders will be working guest slots with Marco Dionysos at the Clock Bar this week as part of celebrating its one year anniversary. Here’s the skinny:

Brooke Arthur (Range) & Neyah White (NOPA) will be there on Tuesday the 14th of July.

Erik Adkins (Heaven’s Dog) will be there on Thursday the 16th of July.

The Clock Bar is located in the lobby of the Westin St. Francis hotel, off Union Square. Marco’s cocktails (if you haven’t had them before) are simply divine. My favorites are the Uptown Manhattan and the English Breakfast (which will be featured in the book by the way). Marco also makes a mean Wibble, created by Dick Bradsell of London fame.

Of course, I am sure Brooke, Neyah and Erik will all be mixing up specialties of their own. Probably best to come early and bring a posse so you can sample all the goodnes.

Enjoy!

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