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Molecular Mixology at Absinthe

Have you noticed the beginnings of the molecular mixology movement trickling into bars in the US? Following the molecular food revolution that began in Spain, bartenders here are moving into their kitchens to concoct tinctures and other flavorings for their cocktail inventions. But these aren’t the fruit-based infusions of the past decade: these flavors are vegetable and even meat-based. And the cocktails are savory, not sweet.

Have we finally grown up and evolved away from childish things? Some of us have, finally. And the very grown up rye whiskey is one of best bases for these new cocktails, according to Jeff Hollinger at Absinthe Brasserie and Bar and Restaurant in San Francisco. He showed me a bartender’s new “Garlicky Tomato Tincture” so intense that the bartender’s wife told him to throw it away immediately. (He didn’t, but the bottle is still pretty full so I wonder how much of it is getting used?) Jeff himself is in the midst of creating a new perfect flavor: smoky bacon, to be used for an upcoming cocktail event. Is this a great idea?!?

Absinthe, to drink
And for the perfectly served Absinthe drink? Just ask Jeff — the elegant turn-of-the-century Absinthe Fountain and other paraphernalia are right at his elbow.

January 2008

Ever heard of Malbec made in Amarone style? Is this a good idea? Well, I just tried it, courtesy of Mailisa Allegrini – of Allegrini in Valpolicella — who makes it in Argentina with Patricio Reich at Renacer in Mendoza, Argentina. Actually, it’s 50% Malbec, with Syrah, Bonarda and a tiny bit of Cabernet Franc.
In the dry air of Mendoza’s hills it takes days, not months, to dry the grapes. The result, a wine called ENAMORE, speaks of gently dried green leaves wrapped around dark cherries, with a touch of earthy tobacco. [The 2006 will shortly be in stores in the US through Leonardo Lo Cascio’s Winebow Brands International]

It took me quite a while to get it through my thick head that I was meeting Chris Phelps from Swanson, not Chris Swanson from Phelps. (I bet he’s used to that.)
From post-UC Davis training in Bordeaux to Dominus to Caymus to Swanson: I’d never have guessed that this soft-spoken, easy-to-be-with guy had such a pedigree. And the wines were easy to drink too. I hope I run into him again. I’ll practice his name just in case: Chris Phelps, Chris Phelps, Chris Phelps…

Don’t you hate those sites…

…where people post notes on every bottle of wine they’re drinking?  Yet, I am sometimes tempted to do this.  Why? Vanity — assuming people care what I drink — probably has more to do with it than anything else.

As a wine writer, maybe I want to let people know about interesting bottles.  Should I post or not?  We’ll se…