Classic Cocktails Workshop at Cook & Brown Public House
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Cook & Brown Public House Cocktail Workshop - Improved Old Fashioned
It was a good night for cocktail lovers.
Sunday evening at Cook & Brown Public House in Providence was the first in a planned series of Cocktail Workshops given by their bartender Chris Amirault. The workshop was co-sponsored by the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, of which Amirault is a director and moderator. Amirault has a wealth of cocktail knowledge and hosted this first workshop on the topic of Classic Cocktails, leading the attendees through the basics, including foundational ratios and principles, spirits and other ingredients and as he says, the crucial role of ice. This wasn’t a “here are some recipes class” but a good lesson in how to build basic cocktails from which you could go off and create your own drinks or work off a recipe with a better understanding of why the ingredients and procedure work the way they do.
Cook & Brown Public House Cocktail Workshop - Chris Amirault
Amirault started off by making Improved Old Fashioneds for everyone and explaining the full range of spirits from whiskeys and whiskys through gin, brandy, cognac, rum, tequila, mexcal and vodka. He said he wanted to explain the principles of making a cocktail, letting the taste of the spirits and other ingredients dictate to your palate a sense of what to do with them. Some people like drinks sweeter than others or more bitter or more tart. Once you understood the taste of these spirits - along with other alcoholic ingredients like liqueurs and bitters, and non-alcoholic ingredients like simple syrup, juices and herbs - you could experiment with creating your own basic cocktails.
Cook & Brown Public House Cocktail Workshop - Rittenhouse Rye
It was Amirault’s inside tips that drove his talking points, often drawing him off on a valuable tangent as he showed the proper way to bruise mint - delicately, not with a heavy-handed muddler - or described the best way to store ice (well below freezing and properly drained). As with cooking, technique serves the cocktail and treating your ingredients with respect will get more flavor out of them. Amirault spent a good amount of time on the topic of ice, saying that most bad drinks are caused by bad ice handling. He thoroughly described and then illustrated what happens with the different techniques of shaking or stirring your cocktail.
Cook & Brown Public House Cocktail Workshop
Overall, the workshop was extremely informative and aided the ultimate goal of places like Cook & Brown is to raise cocktail awareness in Rhode Island. As with the now-wide availability of foods that were unheard of in New England 10 or 20 years ago, the more people interested in good cocktail making can only help to get more cocktails served and better ingredients sold locally.
Cook & Brown Public House Cocktail Workshop - Smoked Bluefish Fritters
Cook & Brown’s chef and co-owner Nemo Bolin, who sent out some delicious dishes - Smoked Bluefish Fritters, liver pate with country toast and some sorbets - said Cook & Brown was very lucky to have Chris. “It’s been a wonderful collaboration," he told me. "Chris has a wealth of knowledge and information on classic cocktails.” The two main goals with their cocktail program are “to have a lot of fun and inform people.” For his part, Amirault said he was “thrilled people are coming and care about good cocktails.”
Cook & Brown Public House, 959 Hope St., Providence, RI 02906 401-273-7275
Cook & Brown Public House Cocktail Workshop - bar
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