Bar /bär/ An establishment where alcohol and sometimes other refreshments are served
Hack /hak/ a person who does dull, unoriginal work
Hey everyone! Welcome to the Bar Hack Blog – a place to keep track of the drink ideas I have cluttering my brain, as well as a place to share ideas, techniques, and stories of being your everyday average cocktail nerd. My goal for all of this is to create a dialog with friends and other bartenders/mixologists/cocktail nerds in my hometown of Las Vegas, and beyond. My interest in everything cocktail is sort of a new thing for me, but in the relatively short amount of time (it’s been a year), I’ve turned a weekend ritual into an at home hobby, and I am now in hopes of turning it all into a career I’ll love for the rest of my life. For the record, as of writing this, I have yet to spend an hour ‘behind the stick’, but I am currently in the process of finding a place to work for.
As for the name, well, by definition I’m not even technically a bar-hack. To be a hack at anything is to imply that the person in question is terrible at what they do. Considering the fact that ‘what I do’ is experiment with spirits in my kitchen, for myself and, maybe my girlfriend or a few friends – I doubt I even qualify for the title. Calling myself a hack is a kind of self deprecating way to never allow myself to get lazy, to always strive to learn as much as possible from anything and everything I can, and…well, it’s funny.
Whether you make fancy cocktails while wearing a vest and arm garter, just pop tops off of beer bottles, or if you just frequent those establishments – I hope you enjoy what I have to offer. Please feel free to comment on whatever you’d like. You’re also encouraged to email with anything too!
My Grass Is Blue
Here’s my first drink (it’s pretty, eh?), called My Grass Is Blue. It’s technically just a variation of an Old Fashioned using blueberry infused bourbon, with the addition of acid phosphate and homemade berry-cherry bitters. I wanted to keep this first installment pretty simple, yet original enough to have something worthwhile to write about.
An Old Fashioned is step one when it comes to cocktails anyways. As it’s usually the first drink someone interested in cocktails might make on their own. The standard recipe is: 1 ½ -2oz bourbon, 1/4oz of simple syrup (or ½ tsp of sugar and some water), a few dashes of bitters, with an orange wedge and cherry - either muddled on the bottom of the glass with the sugar/syrup and bitters, used as a garnish, or both. The drink is built in an Old Fashioned glass (duh) on the rocks…pretty simple.
My variation stays true to the original (to a point), while also using these techniques I’ve learned while nerding out about everything cocktail:
- Around March or April of this year I started experimenting with infusing various spirits to see what awesome combination's I could come up with. The infusion for the drink recipe below calls for 1 cup of blueberries per 750ml of bourbon. I chose Rebel Yell because it’s a little lighter (‘wheated’) on the palate than say Jim Beam, and it’s one of the tastiest brands for its price ($8 a bottle in Nevada). I was experimenting here, and I’d hate to waste a bottle of something special because I left the fruit I used to infuse it in too long - or worse, the combination of the two never went well to begin with. Needless to say, my three day infusion of blueberries and Rebel Yell made a perfect match, both in the slight change of flavor and hue.
-I first read about Acid Phosphate in the book Fix The Pumps written by Darcy O’Neil. It’s a book about the history of the American Soda Fountain, its correlation with Pharmacies and the American Bar. In short, Phosphate was a ‘pick me up’ added into fountain drinks, and it’s still used in Cola drinks today (just read the side of the can). The simplest way I can describe it is to imagine the tart of lime juice without the taste of lime – just the sour pucker.
-I’ll go more in depth about my homemade bitters in my next entry. Just know that the blueberries that were used in infusing the bourbon were then dried and used again with dried cherries and a little vanilla (among a few other key ingredients) in my ‘Berry-Cherry’ bitters.
I’d like to also add that blueberries do grow in Kentucky, while you can also find phosphate mineral deposits in neighboring Tennessee (Jack Daniels phosphate anyone?). And, what about that giant ice-burg in the glass? Well, that represents the glacier that once covered Kentucky and its surrounding areas thousands of years ago…plus, it looks bad ass, and is easy to make.
The name My Grass Is Blue is pretty obvious and fitting. And of all the many ways the phrase has been used over the years, I chose it as a tribute to an awesome 90’s hardcore band from Kentucky named Guilt. They once used the phrase on a T-shirt design, and it’s always stuck out in my mind.
- 2oz. Blueberry infused Rebel Yell Bourbon
- 1/4oz. Demerara Syrup (or to taste)
- 1/4oz. Demerara Syrup (or to taste)
- 5 drops of Extinct Acid Phosphate (this is to taste also)
- 8 drops homemade Blueberry-Cherry Bitters* (sub with any Cherry bitters, I suggest Bittercube Cherry-Vanilla Bark)
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Garnish: Grapefruit Peel and GIANT ROCK
Glass: Double Old Fashioned/Rocks
Method: Add all ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and stir. Strain into Double Old Fashioned/Rocks glass with either a huge homemade rock, or fresh ice cubes. Peel a nice strand (about 3-5 inches) of grapefruit skin over the drink, rub the rim of the glass, squeeze the peel over the drink and toss it in. Enjoy!
I plan to keep up with this thing, I promise! Hopefully there will be a new entry by next week. Get prepared to read about my adventures in making bitters and also, how to cheaply build a home bar set up! See you then -Bobby