Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Liquid Nitrogen in a Cocktail. In Rockford.

Last Saturday, I was in Rockford, Illinois for a tasting event at a great little wine, spirits & beer store (the best one in Rockford, as far as I know). I have a friend who grew up in Rockford, and the last time I saw him, he mentioned that there was a new restaurant doing great cocktails in Rockford. This I had to see.

Low and behold, I found Social, which looks to be a great restaurant (the pork belly tacos were delicious). They have several people behind the bar who actually know a few things about cocktails, even! In talking with them, it turns out they took inspiration from a few places in Chicago in developing their approach to food and drink, and they are offering something completely different for Rockford.

Full disclosure - they do carry our absinthe behind the bar, which was my first beverage of the night. Then, I asked Greg and Jeff for whatever they felt like making. Greg made me what they call a
JFK. Essentially, it was classic daiquiri (reportedly JFK's favorite drink). However, rather than serving it the traditional way, they actually chilled it with liquid nitrogen.

They shook the drink with ice quickly, strained it into the glass, and started adding in liquid nitrogen with a ladle. You can see from the pictures just how cold the ladle was, and when a drop of liquid nitrogen scattered across the bar, they warned me to steer well clear of it. It's so cold, it will freeze alcohol (and do some damage to you too).

The resulting drink has a smooth, icy texture, reminiscent of a well-blended frozen daiquiri, without all that extra dilution. It was fantastic on a hot day, and a real delight to try, especially in Rockford.

If you find yourself in the area, you must go there.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Not at Tales Cocktail Crawl

This year, I did not attend Tales of the Cocktail. Instead of sitting at home drowning my sorrows alone while looking at all the updates and pictures on Facebook, I invited some friends out for a "We're Not at Tales" cocktail crawl. Granted, most of the great bartenders and mixologists in town were not around, but a few were left behind to hold down the fort, and a couple even joined us for the crawl.

Stop No. 1: Sepia
The lovely lady behind the bar, Logan Lavachek (at right), wowed our group with her mixing skills. We tried variations on the Aviation, Moscow Mule, French 75, and some of Logan's own creations too. All delicious. And only some of 'em were made with my stuff.

Stop No. 2: 160 Blue
Rich Szydlo was holding down the 160 Blue fort, and we enjoyed more great cocktails. I had a Corpse Reviver No. 2, and several Manhattans were enjoyed, along with a few of Rich's original creations. Plus, Thursdays are $4 burger night at 160 Blue, so we had some delicious burgers, too.

Stop No. 3: The Drawing Room
Charles, Tim and Cristi were all at Tales for various events and competitions, so Grant Hurless was left to hold down the fort. He invited guest bartenders each night to join him, and on Thursday Al Klopper from the Elysian Hotel was making cocktails. More Manhattans, some Ethels, and a Blackthorne or two were enjoyed, along with a few bartender's choice libations.

At one of these places that shall remain nameless (ahem, DR, ahem), a drink was attempted. The High Life 75, to be exact. It was a failure. Not. Good. At. All. Do not try this at home.

Unfortunately, it was a school night, so most of the crowd had to depart after the third stop. Next year, we'll go longer, and to even more places. Or perhaps I'll be at Tales, and reading about this on Facebook instead.