Archive for Left Coast Libations

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.


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.


Announcing Left Coast Libations Fall 2009

Posted in Left Coast Libations with tags on July 6, 2009 by Mr. Manhattan

Scott, Ted and I are just about to leave for New Orleans. We’ll be arriving tomorrow (Tuesday) evening and staying at the venerable Monteleone (with all the other poor fools). We’re hauling a big pile of print collateral (paper is heavy!) which I’ve spent a lot of the last week or so designing and then sending off to the printers. For those of you not fortunate enough to be at Tales where we’ll be handing all of this stuff out and/or simply wishing to save a tree, click on the image below to download your very own PDF version of our announcement… Enjoy! [P.S. It's a BIG file.]

Announcing Left Coast Libations Fall 2009

P.P.S. Don’t forget to ask us about the secret cocktail schmooze…

Oh, That Cocktail Book!

Posted in Left Coast Libations with tags on July 1, 2009 by Mr. Manhattan

Yes, I’ve been a busy boy for the past few months, making ice blocks, brewing shrubs, drinking peach whiskey, tasting bitter tinctures and visiting a lot of local bars. But, wait, you say! Didn’t you start this blog to write about the making of a new cocktail book? Whatever happened to that project? Well, I am glad to say, I’ve never stopped working on it! The three of us on Team Left Coast (Ted Munat, Scott Bodarky and myself) have been operating in stealth mode for the past few months while we continued to work on the book, hammer out business details and setup more infrastructure. With Tales of the Cocktail just a little over a week away, we are now ready to move full speed ahead. Meantime a few mesmerizing details:

Our Spiffy New Logo!

Left Coast Libations Logo

It was a long hard road but we finally managed (with the help of our trusty graphic designer Pilar Erika Johnson) to get this baby finished. And just in time too, as we make a mad dash to the printers to get business cards and other collateral printed up to hand out in New Orleans.

Our Website

We are live. We are building a mailing list. We are even taking pre-orders for the book. Check it out at

The Secret LCL Cocktail Schmooze

Team Left Coast will be hosting a cocktail party sometime during our week in New Orleans. We’ll be offering three four select drinks from the LCL100 plus visits from the bartenders who made ‘em. “How do I get to attend this event?” you ask. Well, first you need to get your ass to the conference and then you need to find one of the three of us. Tell us how excited you are about the book and how you plan on buying a copy for everyone in your family this Christmas. Fill our heads with flattering fluff and nonsense. Then, when you think you have us buttered up enough, ask for details on the cocktail party. Hopefully, we’ll remember them too.

See you at The Monteleone next week!


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