Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
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  Not Just Wine Issue 26, January 2005   
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Issue 25, December 2004 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 27, February 2005

Cocktails

After the end of World War Two, since the spreading of cocktails, this way of drinking has never been influenced by fashions and does not show any sign of decay, it is always alive and new

 The Italian dictionary of correct style reads: “cocktail is an Anglo-American term used to refer to the well known blend of many liquors with crushed ice which is drunk after having been shaken in a can called, in English, shaker”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of 1947 defines cocktail as a “short beverage of liquors blended with aromatic ingredients, or a beverage made of fresh fruit juices”. Ten years later the Modern American Dictionary defines it as a “beverage of gin, whisky or brandy blended with vermouth, fruit juices and other”. None of the above definitions fully describe it - a world continuously shaking - where the classic and modern live together, in which are being continuously invented new recipes and new ways of amazing, inviting and stimulating the ones who are always looking for something new.

 

History of Cocktail

 The history of humanity and the one of alcohol, since the beginning of times, have come a very long way. Since man has discovered how to ferment sugar and musts, he began to appreciate alcohol, to drink it, straight or blended with aromatic and officinal herbs, always looking for miraculous elixirs capable of healing the many diseases of life. Romans, for example, used hydromeli - that is cooked wine blended with honey - as an aperitif. This custom slowly spread beyond the borders of the empire and reached Brittany where it is still known today. During the Middle Age, from Caterina de' Medici to Girolamo Savonarola, as to mention two illustrious figures, it began the exploration of the art of blending, the first mixtures made of liquors and extracts of herbs were created, having the most fanciful properties. Even viticulturists, monks and alchemists were involved in this practice.

 In “Vie de Paris Sous Louis XII”, Louis Batiffol wrote «when vinegar producers began to distillate brandy, they had the idea of selling cherries preserved in spirit and served in small glasses or cups. The brandy smoothened with sugar and fruit, was then called “eau clairette”. In the sixteenth century, instead of cherries, they began to use oranges, strawberries, black currants and other, therefore creating the first orange, strawberry and black currant waters. The trade or liquors remained free until Louis XIV who established the confraternity of Limonadiers (literally, lemonade makers), joining them to brandy distillers, it was 1676».


Cocktails: fantasy and creativity for an
always new way of drinking
Cocktails: fantasy and creativity for an always new way of drinking

 It is now accepted the origin of making modern cocktails is Anglo-Saxon: this theory is confirmed by the fact the most ancient name was “bitter sling”. In 1806 a magazine defined cocktail as “stimulating beverage, made of different alcoholic substances to which is added sugar, water and bitter”. Paolo Monelli wrote that when he arrived at New Orleans, he deserted the concert of Louis Armstrong in order to follow the advice of a barman: curious and impatient he went to 437 Royal Street where he found a small house in which was written “The cocktail is born”. It was the house and shop of Antoine Peychaud - a pharmacist follower of a local masonic lodge - and when one of the members entered the pharmacy, he used to welcome them with a beverage prepared according an ancient recipe of his original country, Santo Domingo. It was a mixture of marc, cognac, sugar and other spices. For the dosage of the ingredients and to serve the beverage, the good pharmacist used a cocquetier. The pharmacist's beverage of 437 Royal Street was so successful that all of his clients began asking for a “cocquetier”. It is believable that from the name “cocquetier”, the term was transformed into “cocktail”. The figure of the pharmacist is well suited to represent the father of a beverage whose preparation must be scrupulous and never be the result of chance or approximation.

 The cocktail rapidly spread all over the world, in the first place among the persons working in this area - in particular barmen - who know all the secrets of the blends and know how to use fantasy in order to create new combinations that always stimulate the curiosity of their clients. The world of the “blended drinks” traveled our planet from the most renowned bars of the world to fashion night clubs and international places. Every luxury place, bars, hotels and fashion restaurants, begins to serve cocktails with sophisticated names as well as extravagant and exotic. The equipment of barman gets enriched of new tools: the shaker and a long series of tools used to cut, squeeze, peel and filter.

 The history of cocktails is full of characteristic figures who strongly influenced their spreading, such as Ernest Hemingway, the writer who loved to go to bars and restaurants in company of illustrious friends from all over the world, excellent connoisseurs and lover of wine and of the world of cocktails. Hemingway used to go to the Harry's Bar, whereas other figures went to famous places of the world, there they got together to talk about many subjects or just to spend some good time with friends, in a relaxing room hopefully with a good glass. In these places were born many of the drinks which will become famous worldwide. An example can be the creation of the popular Negroni born at the Casoni's in Florence where they used to serve the “classic American” made of Red Vermouth, Cinzano and Bitter Campari. The count Camillo Negroni was used to add some gin to this classic blend. The barman Fosco Scarsellini was frequently asked by his clients to give them it «like count Negroni», it was not difficult to give a name to the new born.

 In order to make a good cocktail it is not enough to blend liquors at a chance. A good barman must use a scrupulous choice of liquors, juices, aromas, a scrupulous preparation and a good aesthetical aspect. In a cocktail is very important the fine taste to the palate, colors, aromas and presentation. During the congress of IBA (International Bartenders Association) it was set to five the maximum limit of ingredients to be used in a cocktail in order to avoid confusion among aromas and flavors.

 

Glasses and Tools

 In the making of a cocktail nothing should be left to chance, not even the glass. Just like every wine needs its glass in order to be better appreciated, even cocktails have their range of glasses. A good cocktail served in the wrong glass can be detrimental for its appreciation. Despite there are general rules, there is however room for originality, always in respect of good taste and of traditions.

 

  • Cocktail Glass - very used for short cocktails without ice, used for serving pretty alcoholic drinks such as Martini. It must be frozen at the moment of service
  • Double Cocktail Glass - its size is almost as twice as the classic one, it is used for not excessively alcoholic drinks, refreshing and served without ice
  • Flûte - indicated for sparkling, in other words, a category of light cocktails made of sparkling wine and fresh fruit
  • Champagne Glass - ideal for Champagne cocktails or for “dark drinks” (beverages made of coffee, liquors, cream) and for sparkling. It can also replace the double cocktail glass in some recipes
  • Copita - it is the traditional Sherry glass. It is used for flips - cocktails that includes egg yolk in its ingredients - as well as for sours, with lemon juice and shaken
  • High Tumbler (Collins) - suited for the service of long drinks, cool and with ice, it is mainly used to serve the typical cocktails of summertime
  • Medium Tumbler - useful for cocktails without ice, medium long, or for American style recipes in which it is added soda water. It is the classical glass for whisky and soda
  • Short Tumbler - used for some short cocktails served with ice such as Negroni

 The glass called Old Fashion - slightly taller than a short tumbler and wider - is used for cocktails making use of ice cubes or soda water, typical in drinks called on the rocks. Besides ingredients and glasses, it is also required to have the proper equipment in order to make a correct preparation. Let's begin from the shaker, that is the tool used for mixing ingredients. There are two types of shakers: the continental one - made of three parts; container, filter and cap - and the American one - also known as Boston - made of two conical parts, one being of glass and the other being of steel which hermetically close one to each other. The shaker is useful for the preparation of recipes which make use of milk, cream, eggs and juices and in case the ingredients must be well blended together with energy.


 

 As in the composition of cocktails and of long drinks are frequently used fruit juices, it is required to have a stainless steel strainer with a spiral in order to keep ice. The mixing glass - which should not be confused with the shaker - is a big conical glass with a spout. Mixing glasses come in different sizes and are made of glass or crystal. In the mixing glass the ingredients - as opposed to shaker - are simply blended. The stir - a tool part of the mixing glass - is a spoon with a long handle which can also be used for crushing. The stir is used for blending ingredients in the mixing glass or directly in a glass.

 For the preparation of cocktails can also be used a fruit squeezer. There also are appliances, of course more handy than manual ones, however they have the drawback of pulping some parts of the fruit - such as the pellicle - or to make the juice thick and turbid. Alternatively it can be used a centrifuge machine - an appliance capable of separating the juice from the solid parts - however it is more expensive than a manual fruit squeezer. The blender is a food processor used for the preparation of beverages which need to be whipped such as milk shakes, drinks made of eggs or cream, as well as cocktails served with crushed ice (frozen).

 The ice bucket - made of glass, crystal or metal - must be sufficiently wide and it must never be completely filled. It usually comes with pliers to be used to take ice cubes, however it can also be used a spoon or an ice spoon. Another indispensable tool is a chopping board to be used for cutting lemons and fruits, a knife and a fork to be used to hold the fruit during the cut, a knife to cut the peel of fruits and a small stainless steel grater for spices, such as nutmeg. Moreover it is essential the measuring vessel. It is a container made of two cone trunks joined to the base allowing the dosage of 2 and 4 cl of liquids. It will also be useful having a corkscrew, a foil cutter and a can opener.

 The more exacting ones could also have a soda water siphon - which must be kept in the refrigerator until the moment of service - and a carafe with water. Another tool is the ice crusher useful for crushing ice cubes and useful for the preparation of some recipes. It can also be useful having an ice machine with which can be produced more pure and crystalline ice cubes than the ones produced in the home refrigerator. The ice produced in this way remain solid for a longer time while avoiding the dilution of the distillate contained in a glass.

 

Short Glossary of Cocktails

 In the cocktail parlance are being used some terms which are useful to know in order to understand the many recipes better.

 

  • After dinner (digestives - are drinks served after meals, are used as digestives even though not always having this function
  • Non Alcoholic - in the United States of America are also called “Shirley Temple”. They are preparations made with no alcohol, are being generally used fruit juices, syrups, sparkling water, decorations of fresh fruit or in syrup. They can be drunk at any time
  • Buck - long drink made of lemon juice and soda pop
  • Cobbler - it seems it was a cobbler to invent this beverage. It is a fruit liquor and ice
  • Cooler - is a particularly refreshing long drink
  • Fix - short drink with fruit juice and crushed ice
  • Flip - originating from the United States of America, it is an energetic cocktail usually made with egg yolk
  • Frappé - (from French frapper = to shake) it is a non alcoholic beverage made of milk, fruit juice, syrup, sugar and crushed ice
  • Pilèe Ice - it is hand made crushed ice or made with specific machineries
  • Light - it is a moderately alcoholic cocktail
  • Long Drink - indicates the cocktails made of fruit juice, sparkling water and sometimes small quantities of liquors or sparkling wines. It is a thirst quencher beverage which can be served at any time
  • On the rocks - it is a cocktail prepared with some ice cubes, therefore shaken or directly served in a glass
  • Pre dinner - are aperitif drinks served to prepare the stomach to a meal
  • Seltz - it is sparkling water obtained by adding carbon dioxide. It is used to dilute alcoholic beverages
  • Short drink - like to say a short cocktail
  • Soda - water, carbon dioxide and soda used as a digestive or to dilute beverages. The name is the abbreviation of soda water
  • Sparkling - indicates drinks obtained by fruit juices blended to sparkling wines or Champagne. They can also be served as aperitifs
  • Straight - indicates a liquor or beverage served with no other ingredients

 

Preparation of Cocktails

 In cocktail recipes are usually found terms such as “a bar spoon” or ” 3/10 or 3 parts”. Let's make things clear. The quantity of alcohol contained in a glass generally is 7 centiliters. A short drink contains from 6 to 12 cl per glass, whereas a long drink can contain from 12 to 25 per glass. A spray corresponds to about 5 grams, whereas a spoon bar corresponds to about 8 grams. A tablespoon measures 15 grams, a liquor glass about 25 grams, a cocktail glass about 50 grams, a long drink glass from 120 to 250 grams, whereas a wine glass is about 80 grams. When percentages or fractions are mentioned, the measure is referred to the total quantity. For example, a cocktail glass contains about 50 grams, therefore 1/4 is equal to about 12 grams.

 Among the many ingredients it is necessary to distinguish between bases and correctors. Bases include liquors making the body of the beverage, such as gin, whisky, vodka or rum. Correctors are the ingredients which modify the taste, aroma and color of the base. Examples of correctors may include vermouth, bitters, syrups and fruit juices. When using the shaker it is necessary to energetically shake it for some seconds, it is then allowed the blend to rest for some seconds, therefore the shaking is resumed with a slower movement and for a longer time. The shaker must always be cooled before use, it must never be filled for more than four fifths and the ice must cover at least the half of the container. For mixing glass is always valid the rule of never shaking the beverage and it must be slowly stirred with its spoon. The minimum percentage of ice must be of at least three quarters.

 Most cocktails must be served cold. A good ice must be crystalline, made of limpid water, it must not be kept for a long time in the refrigerator and it must never be touched with the hands. In case the drink is to be served cold, remember to cool the glasses down in a refrigerator or fill them with ice. It is important to pay attention on the dosage, especially for concentrated ingredients - such as mint syrup - because few drops more may completely change the taste of cocktails. Never use the same container for the preparation of different types of cocktails without having washed it first. Sparkling ingredients, such as soda water, seltz, Champagne or sparkling wines, must never be introduced in the shaker and must be directly poured in the glass.

 Finally, here they are three cocktail recipes to try:

 

  • Negroni - 1/2 orange slice; 1 ice cube; 1/3 red vermouth; 1/3 bitter Campari; 1/3 dry gin. It is prepared directly in the medium tumbler. Put the ice in the glass, add 2 tablespoons of dry gin, 2 tablespoons of bitter, 2 tablespoons of red vermouth and stir with a bar spoon. Decorate with an orange slice
  • Martini Dry - 2/10 dry vermouth; 8/10 gin. It is prepared by energetically stirring in the mixing glass. Put 4-5 ice cubes in the cold mixing glass, add 5 tablespoons of gin and one tablespoon of dry vermouth, energetically stir for some seconds. Serve in a double cocktail glass and squeeze in the surface a small lemon peel
  • Alexander - 1/3 milk cream; 1/3 dark cocoa cream; 1/3 cognac. It is prepared in the shaker with crystalline ice, energetically shaking. Put in the shaker 2 tablespoons of cognac, 2 tablespoons of milk cream, 2 tablespoons of cocoa cream. Energetically shake and then serve in a double cocktail glass. It can also be served by sprinkling some grated nutmeg

 



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  Not Just Wine Issue 26, January 2005   
CocktailsCocktails AquavitaeAquavitae Wine ParadeWine Parade  Contents 
Issue 25, December 2004 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 27, February 2005

Aquavitae

Review of Grappa, Distillates and Brandy

 

Distillates are rated according to DiWineTaste's evaluation method. Please see score legend in the "Wines of the Month" section.



Grappa di Chardonnay, Accattoli (Italy)
Grappa di Chardonnay
Accattoli (Italy)
(Distiller: Distillerie G. Di Lorenzo)
Raw matter: Pomace of Chardonnay
Price: € 13.82 - 500ml Score:
This grappa shows a pale yellow nuance, limpid and transparent. The nose denotes intense and pleasing aromas of banana, pear and hints of clover, almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. The taste is intense with perceptible sweetness and alcohol pungency in good evidence where the sweetness sensation continues to prevail. The finish is pretty persistent with flavors of banana and pear. Alcohol 40%.



Grappa di Chianti Classico, Castello di Fonterutoli (Italy)
Grappa di Chianti Classico
Castello di Fonterutoli (Italy)
(Distiller: Distilleria Giovi)
Raw matter: Pomace of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon
Price: € 26.50 - 500ml Score: Wine that excels in its category
This grappa is colorless, limpid and crystalline. The nose reveals intense and clean aromas of dried plum, violet, raspberry, black cherry, hazelnut and hints of hay, almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth is intense with a dry taste, evident alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly and a low perception of sweetness. The finish is persistent and dry with flavors of plum and raspberry. This grappa is produced with the discontinuous system and it is shortly aged in barriques used for the aging of Chianti Castello di Fonterutoli. Alcohol 45%.



Grappa di Barbera, Sibona (Italy)
Grappa di Barbera
Sibona (Italy)
Raw matter: Pomace of Barbera d'Asti and Barbera d'Alba
Price: € 15.00 - 500ml Score: Wine that excels in its category
This grappa shows a pale golden yellow color, limpid and crystalline. The nose denotes intense, clean and pleasing aromas of vanilla, violet, caramel, plum, licorice, raspberry, blueberry, apple and hazelnut, almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth is agreeable and intense with alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, balanced sweetness, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of caramel, plum and licorice. A well made grappa produced with discontinuous method in steam operated alembic stills and aged in small barrels. Alcohol 44%.



Grappa Riserva Botti da Porto, Sibona (Italy)
Grappa Riserva Botti da Porto
Sibona (Italy)
Raw matter: Pomace of Nebbiolo
Price: € 21.00 - 500ml Score:
This grappa shows a deep amber yellow color, limpid and crystalline. The nose reveals good personality with intense, clean and pleasing aromas of praline, cinnamon, vanilla, raspberry, hazelnut, caramel, black pepper, licorice, pear, blueberry, black cherry and chocolate, elegant with almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth is intense with pleasing and balanced sweetness, alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, agreeable. The finish is very persistent with flavors of caramel, praline and licorice. A well made grappa produced with discontinuous method in steam operated alembic stills, aged for some years in casks and followed by 12 months of aging in casks used for the production of Vintage Port. 44%.





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  Not Just Wine Issue 26, January 2005   
CocktailsCocktails AquavitaeAquavitae Wine ParadeWine Parade  Contents 
Issue 25, December 2004 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 27, February 2005

Wine Parade


 

The best 15 wines according to DiWineTaste's readers. To express your best three wines send us an E-mail or fill in the form available at our WEB site.


Rank Wine, Producer
1 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Villa Gemma 1999, Masciarelli (Italy)
2 Harmonium 2001, Firriato (Italy)
3 Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile 1999, Maison Trimbach (France)
4 Turriga 1998, Argiolas (Italy)
5 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Capitel Monte Olmi 1999, Tedeschi (Italy)
6 Brunello di Montalcino Prime Donne 1998, Donatella Cinelli Colombini (Italy)
7 Pinot Noir Napa 2002, Clos du Val (USA)
8 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2002, Domaine Billaud-Simon (France)
9 Barolo Cicala 1999, Poderi Aldo Conterno (Italy)
10 Jerez Fino Tio Pepe, Gonzalez Byass (Spain)
11 Moscato d'Asti 2003, Vignaioli di S. Stefano (Italy)
12 Aglianico del Vulture La Firma 2000, Cantine del Notaio (Italy)
13 Château Roquebrun St-Chinian 2002, Cave de Roquebrun (France)
14 Palazzo della Torre 2000, Allegrini (Italy)
15 Notarpanaro 1999, Taurino (Italy)

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