Other Uses for Pistachio Syrup

You might recall, I made a Pistachio Syrup to recreate the Mustachi-ode from Booker & Dax.

While the Mustachi-ode is a fantastic drink, I’ve been experimenting with other uses for the syrup.

The first easiest targets are mostly simple substitutions for Orgeat.

Here are a couple interesting, and so far unnamed, things to try with Pistachio Syrup:

2 oz Tequila Ocho Blanc
Heavy Barspoon Pistachio Syrup
2 dash Miracle Mile Chocolate Chile Bitters

Stir and strain into a small cocktail glass. Grate fresh Cinnamon on top.

Obvious riff on the Japanese Cocktail, really like how this highlights the interesting vegetal characteristics of the Ocho.

1 1/2 oz Barbancourt 8 Rum
1/2 oz Neissen Blanc Rhum Agricole
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Pistachio Syrup
1/2 oz Orange Curacao

Shake and strain over cracked ice in a 10 oz glass. Garnish with Mint Sprig and Lime Wheel Cherry Boat.

Fairly literal Mai Tai variation, for me the nut character of the Pistachio syrup really pops in this.

Of course, if you don’t feel like making Pistachio Syrup yourself, you can always stop by Heaven’s Dog!

Agricole Libre (Part Two)

When we first opened Heaven’s Dog, we knew that a bunch of the staff would be short timers, who intended to defect to Thad Vogler’s new restaurant Bar Agricole when it opened.

However, an optimistic start date, meant most actually departed “The Dog”, some the SF vicinity, before Bar Agricole opened.

However, for those of us who have been patient, Bar Agricole opened this August.

As you are walking towards Bar Agricole, the first thing you might notice is this insignia on one of the outside walls, indicating that the building and construction process were certified “Gold” by the US Green Building Council. This indicates not just that they have used much recycled material in the project, but that the paints and other materials are certified non-toxic. Good for the contractors and the people who will work in the building. More information about that program here: What LEED Is

So ambitious is the Bar Agricole project, it’s kind of hard to get your mind around. They’ve even got gardens out front with herbs and vegetables they hope to use in their kitchen and in their drinks. Not sure what to call it… “Farm to Table, er, bar”? “Garden to Glass”? “Cradle to Grave”?

They aim to be open early to serve coffee and breafasty type things, then have a lunch, and then to be open for dinner, and late night service. So far, they are serving dinner and open into late night.

I arrived for a pre-opening party about 15 minutes early and was surprised to see construction relics peeking out from behind this and that door. Figuring I should give them some time to get it together, I loitered out from, taking some photos. Eventually Vince, a bartender from Beretta, also rolled up, and we chatted for a while, as they swept up the garden and put away their ladders.

We sauntered up the walkway, and entered the dining room, where the tension and excitement was nearly tangible. The first party in the new restaurant! How would it go?

Ostensibly, the reason I was invited to one of the preview events for Bar Agricole is that they are featuring St. George Spirits cane based rums on their cocktail menu. So, here we have it, 4 months later, a ‘Ti Punch made with St. George Agua Libre Blanc. Definitely worth the wait. Though, now that I think about it, isn’t a ‘Ti Punch just a cold Agricole Rhum Toddy garnished with lime peel?

If you’re interested in picking up a bottle of either the aged or unaged Agua Libre, a number of local retailers are carrying it, including: Cask, K&L, Healthy Spirits, John Walker & Co, Jug Shop, Ledger’s, and Swirl on Castro. At this point, it might be wise to call ahead and ask if they have it in stock, as I understand the early sales were quite brisk.

Wait, go back a sec, ‘Ti Punch? That’s not a Savoy Cocktail! What’s a ‘Ti Punch? You mentioned it a couple drinks ago with the aesthetics of the Tinton Cocktail, but didn’t really explain.

‘Ti Punch (I can never quite decide where to put the apostrophe), reportedly short for Petit Punch, is a Caribbean libation often associated with Martinique Rhum and/or sailing. It is: Rum, to taste. Sugar, to taste. Lime, to taste. Add Ice (or water), stir, and smile.

According to some, a very strict recipe would be:

Ti Punch

2 oz Agricole Rhum Blanc
1 tsp Martinique Cane Syrup
1 quarter size disk of lime peel

Add Cane Syrup to a heavy bottomed glass. Squeeze lime peel over cane syrup, rub on rim of the glass and drop in. Add Rum and stir. Add ice and stir until chilled. Savor slowly and enjoy as the rum marries with the cane syrup, melted water, and lime.

That is, pretty exactly, a Cold Toddy or Sling.

However, Rhum Agricole Blanc can be a bit of an acquired taste. It’s usually 100 Proof and its flavor is sometimes compared, by the uninitiated, to Jet Fuel or Kerosene. A lot of people just don’t have the patience or proper relaxed attitude to wait around for the ice to melt and mellow the spirit. That first sip can be a bit of a shock. I’ve made ‘Ti Punch as described above for people who specifically ordered a Ti Punch and they sometimes ask for more lime wedges to squeeze into their drink, that I add more fresh lime juice, or if I can add more sugar. At this point, the cranky cocktail nerd inside me really wants to say, “Dude, if you wanted an Agricole Daiquiri, you should have ordered an Agricole Daiquiri, not a Ti Punch.”

On the other hand, when I was talking to Michael Lazar, of Left Coast Libations and the Stirred Not Shaken Blog, about Rhum Agricole Punch he mentioned his first exposure to Agricole-Style Rhum was in Guadalupe, where they are pretty relaxed about the whole thing. If you order Agricole Style Rhum, they just bring you a bottle, some limes, sugar, and, interestingly, a couple jars of jam. It’s up to you to figure out what you prefer in your drink. Then at the end of the night, they charge you based on how much Rhum is left in the bottle.

Maybe a more relaxed attitude is proper for an “Island-style” Drink.

And just about on cue, the battery in my camera flaked out. No more pictures of Bar Agricole, the staff, or their cocktails. Curses, I guess there will have to be a part 3 of this series!

Agricole Libre (Part One)

There are things that I like to think I do well on the blog.

Generally: research, photography, and content creation

There are things I do pretty badly.

These things include: posting timely journalistic content and spirits reviews or comparisons

So no real surprise that the photos for this post were taken in April and the post has been sitting in my “Drafts” bin for most of that time.

One day I was hanging out in the Mixoloseum Bar when Camper English mentioned that he had been invited to a launch party for the new R(h)um from St. George Spirits. Being that it was in Alameda, and he doesn’t have a car, he was trying to figure out some way to get to the party that wouldn’t involve a half day on public transit. Oddly, I had the care of the Flannestad car that day. Hm. Free Booze, check. Free Food, check. Cool people, check. Visit distillery, check. It did not take me long to come to the conclusion that I should give Camper a ride over to Alameda, if he could figure some way to get me in.

Thankfully, it wasn’t hard to convince them, and a short time later, we were both sampling Cuba Libres made with St. George’s Agua Libre!

A few Craft Distillers make Rums, but just about everyone in the US makes their Rums from some form of Sugar or Molasses.

The people at St. George decided to take a different tack and make an “Agricole-Style” R(h)um from fresh pressed Sugar Cane Juice.

They did something similar when they made their Agave Spirit, sourcing freshly roasted Agave Pinas from Mexico, fermenting and distilling them.

However, when they investigated the Farming and Agriculture rules for Sugar Cane, they discovered it was Illegal to import “live” sugar cane into California. It would have to be cooked or something, which wouldn’t work for making an Agricole style Rum from fresh cane juice.

This meant they would have to find a Sugar Cane farmer in California.

A few years ago, as part of a plan to increase productivity from his Sugar Beet farms Carson Kalin, of Kalin Farms, had started planting a few varieties of Sugar Cane. Sugar Beets are only harvested once a year, so much of the year, his Sugar Refining facility sits idle. He thought, if he was able to get sufficient interest, he could use his refinery during the idle part of the year for processing sugar cane into sugar, and maybe even use the cane byproducts (bagasse) for Ethanol production.

Unfortunately, he never found sufficient investors to bring that idea to fruition, and has simply had a few experimental plots of Sugar Cane growing on his farm.

When Lance Winters of St. George Spirits called, asking about purchasing Sugar Cane for Rum, I imagine he was pretty thrilled, maybe even incredulous.

The thing about Sugar Cane, is it must be juiced very soon after harvest. St. George purchased the mill above for crushing cane. You push a cane stalk in one side, and cane juice and fiber come out the other. But even then, while not as challenging as the Agave Debacle, it was a difficult enterprise due to the variety in diameter of the cane, from an inch to a few inches. Well, it wouldn’t be a St. George product, if there weren’t some threat of death, or at least life threatening injury, during the production.

Once they have the cane juice, they inoculate it with yeast and start the fermentation process, racing the wild bacteria and yeast, which would love to turn it into Cane Vinegar. While we were there, they were just distilling a new batch, and so, had a big container full of “Cane Wine”. Dave Smith was more than happy, overjoyed perhaps, to tap a taste of it for us. Let me just say, “Wine,” is kind of a stretch, and vinegar isn’t far off. I was really surprised how sour the “wine” was. Not something you’re going to see on tap in a bar near you any time soon.

As I mentioned, this was something of an exhibit, celebrating the release of the original batch of Agua Libre, now 2 1/2 years old, along with the distillation of a new batch made from cane from the same producer. A number of bartenders and local press in attendence, we were given a fair bit of attention from the producers, including samples of some of their more obscure experiments, like this Carrot Eau-de-Vie…

…and the mysterious young Corn based Whiskey below, fresh from a very attractive graduated beaker, cigar optional. ┬áNot to mention some product involving Foie Gras and Vodka… What did they call it, Foiedka? ┬áThe whiskey and carrot eau-de-vie were tasty. Not so sure about meat flavored vodka.

But, for me, the star of the show was the fresh R(h)um coming off the still. I’d never tasted the fermented product and distillate together before. It amazed me how much of the flavor, scent, and character of the “Cane Wine” was captured in the R(h)um. It had such and interesting vegetal and complex taste. Descriptors like grass, green beans, and ripe olives seemed appropriate.

As the flavor haunted me over the next couple weeks, I wondered how close the current unaged spirit was similar to that which they had been serving, so I sent a note to Lance Winters asking about how similar the spirits were before aging.

He replied:

As for the rum, the character of the barrel aged was almost identical to this one as a new make spirit. It’s going to calm down dramatically as it sits, even out of wood. You should come by and taste it as it ages.

To which I replied, “I may just take you up on that offer, but for now, I just kind of want to make a Ti Punch with it as it is…”