Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Recipe Tester: The PDT Cocktail Book

The PDT Cocktail Book (2011) by Jim Meehan and Chris Call
Call No.: 641.874 MEE
Find it in the catalog! 

Named after the super popular NYC cocktail lounge PDT at which nationally renowned mixologist, Jim Meehan, is the head bartender, the PDT Cocktail Book is a must read for bartenders and cocktail geeks.  It has all kinds of information on how to set up a bar, bar etiquette, bartending techniques, a lengthy bibliography (lest you run out of cocktail books to read), and lots and lots of recipes.  Even cooler, Jim Meehan includes liquor recommendations and exact recipes for drinks served at PDT, so if you can recreate them at home, if you are so inclined. That is--if you have the skills and a sizable liquor budget. Meehan also provides the background for each drink in the book, so you know who was responsible for creating a drink, as well as when and where a drink was created.  

To test out the cocktails in the book, I tried making to unusual PDT cocktails that involved some liquor infusing- Benton's Old Fashion and the Cinema Highball.  Below are the results of my experiments: 

Benton's Old Fashion (p.62):

Old Fashions are one of my favorite low maintenance drinks.  You don't even have to get out a cocktail shaker to make them!  This one, however, involved infusing bourbon with bacon.  Also, instead of sugar, you use maple syrup.  It's like a brunch cocktail.  How could I resist?!

The recipe called for Benton's Bacon Fat.  Not having any of that lying around my house, I decided to DIY my own.  First, I cooked up some bacon (about five pieces):

Next I let it cool down a bit and took out the bacon:
Bacon fat.
It yielded about one ounce of bacon fat.  I then added the bacon fat to some bourbon in a ceramic dish at let it sit for about awhile (the recipe said four hours, but I left it over night).  Then, I moved the bourbon into the freezer to solidify the bacon fat into disgusting globs.  

Mmm..delicious pork fat!
Then I strained the fat globs from the bourbon using a coffee filter and a funnel.

Finally, the bourbon was ready to use!

Overall, I thought the drink was a nice switch up, but the bacon bourbon was a little underwhelming.  I could only detect the bacon flavor in the aftertaste. But I used Jim Beam instead of the recommended Four Roses Bourbon.  I think the recipe would be better using a whiskey with a little more complexity. 

Maple-bacon old-fashioned complete!

Cinema Highball (p. 90).

It's a fun play on the Cuban Libre with popcorn infused rum.  Honestly, I never drink Cuban Libres unless I'm at a pretty terrible bar (you can't mess it up).  However, the popcorn element intrigued me.  Would it be undrinkable or fun?  

First, I popped a microwavable bag of popcorn.  The recipe called for an ounce., so I used a single serve bag (about 1.5 oz, enough for infusing and a little snack!).  

Popcorn floating in rum.
I let it set for about an hour and then fished the popcorn out with a mini-strainer (easier said then done).  After than, I added an ounce of clarified butter (aka. melted butter run through a coffee filter). 

At this point it wasn't looking too pretty.  I let it sit at room temperature for about 24 hours, and then put it in the freezer for four hours.  This time the fat globs were less impressive!

After straining off the globs, the rum looked a little more drinkable.

This was my favorite cocktail of the two.  You definitely can taste the popcorn and butter in the rum, but it's still pretty mild.  Mix with some cola, you have a nice summer drink.  This also would be great to serve at a movie-themed party. 

Cinema Highball complete!