All posts by Rohan Jelkie

About Rohan Jelkie

Rohan is a beverage trainer for the wines & spirits trade in India and has had experience in running training projects in SE Asia. An ardent fan of the craft of the cocktail, you can be sure to run into him at a bar near by cloaked in his alter ego, the thirsty tippler.

Cocktail Time – Kadak Taaza Cocktail Ingredients

For this month’s rambling, I thought it would be good to leave you with some tips on buying / selecting fresh fruits for your next cocktail gig. After all, who would mind the goodness of fresh ingredients in their drink? Here’s my list.

Lime: These are what you get to buy readily with your local sabji wallah. Look for ones that are about the size of a ping pong ball, green in colour and firm. Best used to make a mean Mojito, or to bring about sourness in a classic Margarita or Daiquiri or a glass of nimbu paani.

lime and lemon
Lemon:

Large and yellow. Mostly imported into this country. Look for ones that feel firm and even. Classically used for cocktails that call for gin or vodka and in some cases cognac. A classic Gin & Tonic is garnished with a slice of lemon. Not lime. Or for that matter Campari & soda.

What is the fuss about using either, you may ask? Both limes & lemons yield juice that is very different from each other. Lime juice is pungent, vegetal, has a slight bitter aftertaste and is very tart. Lemons on the other hand are more aromatic, almost floral, the juice is less tart with a slight hint of sweetness. So the next time you come across a bar book that calls for lemon juice in one recipe and lime juice in the other, think twice before substituting one for the other.

Pineapple:

A wonderful tropical fruit that makes for great tasting tropical drinks made with rum. Used in the classic Pina Colada cocktail and a host of other drinks. Look for one that has turned into a bright shade of orange with specs of green on the ridges. You should be able to cut into it easily. Best used for drinks that require the fruit to be muddled to extract flavours or blended with ice and alcohol in a blender.

pineapple
Banana:

Your quintessential breakfast fruit that has suffered in popularity due to an over familiarity of taste amongst consumers. Who the hell wants to pay for banana’s when you can have acai berries from Brazil, right? Here, too, look for fruit that has ripened to the stage beyond which it will deteriorate if left for another day or so. Excellent when used along with rum or a coconut liqueur like Malibu. Muddle or blend. Be sure to strain well if you opt for the former technique.

banana
Mango:

One really doesn’t need to be advised on how to buy mangoes! However when using them for making drinks, use very ripe ones (duh!) and better still prepare a puree blending the fruit first and then sieving it to take out the fine fibres. Now use this along with tequila to make a fine mango margarita or rum to make a similar daiquiri or even with yoghurt to make lassi!

mango
Apple:

Red or green? The former is easier to use! Look for fruit that is smaller in size instead of the ones that look large and glossy. This is one fruit that you should never judge by its cover…or skin! A bite would be better. While using the green version, be mindful of the fact that the fruit wont be sweet and your recipe will have to be balanced with a touch of sugar. Both types work wonderfully well with spices. Red apples work brilliantly with cinnamon and clove whereas the green one takes to vanilla like a breeze. Choice of alcohol could be anything including whisky!

red n green apples
Herbs:

Often the most misused, abused, overused, hardly used etc. ingredient behind Indian bars. The critical thing to remember is that herbs are about aroma first. Taste follows naturally. Muddling mint in a Mojito with an idea to flex your muscles will hardly make for a great tasting drink. Leave that for your mum and her prized chutney’s! Just take a handful of leaves and slap them a couple of times in between your palms. And while doing it you can feel as kinky as you like. Same goes for basil or rosemary in a drink.

herbs
(Note: Muddling as a technique needs the right amount of pressure and force that is required to extract flavours and not pulverize the ingredients)

I think this should get you started on a path to attaining cocktail supremacy amidst your peer set. And you can always throw in a bit of your new understanding of fresh fruit jargon while doing so. Nobody would really mind your loud mouth as long as the drinks taste good.

Happy tippling.

Tulleeho!

Rohan Jelkie

Cocktail Time – Molecular Mixology

Come 4pm, everyday, the kitchen at the TH (Tulleeho) office reverberates with a constant clanking sound of a spoon being used to whip up what sounds like the greatest omelette ever made! 10 minutes later, with clockwork precision, emerges the frothiest cup of coffee you’d have seen which is hurriedly carried into Boss man’s cabin while the poor accountant is almost dead due to the lack of caffeine! The vicinity’s greatest barista (aka Gopiji) has just made yet another stunning cup of doodh coffee that will put any self respecting server at a coffee shop to shame.

The point of me waxing eloquent about Gopi’s coffee making skills lies in the fact that he puts to use one of food science’s most basic yet difficult to master techniques of creating what may be crowned in a fancier manner as ‘Molecular Gastronomy’. Wait? What? Isn’t that stuff supposed to have smoke coming out of dishes with pureed spinach that looks like olives and tomato soup in the form of noodles? Well, not always. In combining sugar and coffee together with a bit of warm water and then vigorously mixing the blend, the carbs in the sugar and the protein in the coffee combine to generate a frothy texture accelerated by air molecules that get trapped in the mix. Simple, yet very effective.

Molecular Mixology, an extension of Molecular Gastronomy, entered modern bar lexicon at the turn of the last century when award winning chefs like Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal worked on serving cocktails that were created using molecular gastronomy techniques. Very soon this trend was taken to the next level by pioneering mixologists like Tony Coniglario in London and Eben Freeman in New York City. Suddenly, instead of drinking a boring glass of bubbly, you could have it with small clear caviars made from Cointreau or a glass of Margarita with an added zing of lime air on top of it! Today, craft bars across the world (and including India) adopt molecular mixology techniques to give their drinks an added appeal. Take for example the ‘Churchgate’ cocktail made by award winning Indian bartender, Devender Sehgal at Ellipsis, Colaba. It is a heady mix of rum, tamarind and jaggery topped up with and frothy air of Earl Grey tea. The Earl Grey air slowly ‘bursts’ as you sip on the drink, there by creating a lovely aroma as well as flavours the concoction. A must try when ever you are there next!

While the terms may sound like jargon, here are some popular techniques that are used by bars to create drinks with a molecular touch.

Spherification: A technique created by renowned Spanish Chef, Ferran Adria, it uses alcohol or juice mixed with algin (extracted from seaweed) which is introduced drop by drop to a bath of calcium lactate or chloride with water to create ‘pearls’ or ‘caviars’ out of liquids. Bars use this method to create garnishes for sparkling wine or serve a portion of the drink in this form on the side.

Reverse Spherification: Here, calcium lactate is mixed with the alcohol or juice and then introduced into a bath of algin. This technique is used to create ravioli sized round balls. Popular for preparing a molecular take on the B-52 shot where In the Kahlua and Baileys is formed into ravioli’s and then allowed to float in a shot of Cointreau or Grand Marnier!

Cocktail Gels: Or also known as Jellification, it is a very popular technique adopted by bars. This is something you can do at home as well. Either gelatine or agar is used along with alcohol or juices to help the mix coagulate into a gel. Depending on the firmness you want to achieve in the drink, you can vary the proportions of gelatine or agar in the mix.

 

Suspension: Xanthan gum mixed with alcohol or juice is used to create a thick liquid into which fresh chopped fruits are added. The pieces of fruit do not sink into the drink as the xanthan helps in letting the pieces of fruit remain in suspension. One of Chef Adria’s creation is a white sangria with pieces of fruits and herbs suspended in the drink.

Carbonated cocktails: Imagine drinking an Old fashioned or Negroni, that is freshly carbonated with CO2?! This technique is possible by introducing a pre mixed cocktail into an air tight container and then charging the mix with a CO2 capsule. This is only possible in special containers made for this purpose. One such device is the Perlini Shaker.

These are just a few MM techniques that have become popular over the years. Bars also use smoking guns to create smoked cocktails. Smoking, as a technique, is more on the lines of enhancing flavour than it being a molecular technique in itself.

And if you were wondering about the potential hazards of such cocktail, fear not! Molecular ingredients used by bars are all food grade and are stuff that you and I imbibe in various other forms. Take for example Xanthan Gum. Sounds like you might have a stuck jaw after drinking a cocktail made with it! But in reality xanthan is present in readymade sauces to toothpaste to purees. It helps holding water and solid particles together in a thick form. Most Chinese eateries, worth their weight in salt, would use agar as a thickening agent in their cuisine.

Bars across the world are seemingly divided in their approach to molecular cocktails. There are bars that incorporate a great deal of such techniques in their drinks. While there are others who stay away. I, for one, prefer using simple molecular techniques in creating an enhanced appeal in my recipes. Imagine a classic martini served with pureed olives shaped as raviolis on the side. Rather cool, no?

To end my piece, I’ll leave you with a recipe for creating a cocktail gel in the comfort of your bar (or kitchen). Try looking for good quality gelatine (powder or sheets) or agar. I prefer the latter. Usually imported. Agar should be readily available in a high end food store. Incase you are using gelatine sheets, soak them in cold water for a few minutes till they are soft.

Gin & Tonic Cocktail Gel

Premium London Dry Gin 60ml

Schweppes Tonic Water 200ml

Sugar syrup 20ml (to offset the bitterness of the tonic. Omit if desired)

Agar 2.5gms

OR

3 sheets of Gelatine

In a glass bowl, add the gin and tonic and slowly heat over boiling water (a double boiler). Heat till it becomes slightly warm. Now add to this the agar and whisk well to dissolve. Leave this mix in a refrigerator for a few hours till it sets. Cut into cubes and serve over freshly sliced lemon soaked in a drop of cocktail bitters.

Please note: If you are using gelatine sheets, dissolve the softened sheets in 100ml of hot water prior to adding the rest of the ingredients.

TH!

Rohan Jelkie

 

Cocktail Time – The trouble with sugar – Rohan Jelkie

About a month or so ago a friend posted a picture on Facebook of two shot glasses of sugar syrup – one that had been made with boiling water and one in which the sugar had been dissolved into normal room temperature water. By next morning the post had attracted nearly a 100 likes and an equal number of comments. What is the big deal you may ask? Sure, the pic didn’t have a big bosomed lady holding the shot glasses. Neither has the price of sugar reached anywhere near that of onions or potatoes or what is being made of salt. But fact remains that it did generate a lot of excitement amongst people from my fraternity (including yours truly!). We debated, discussed, opined, experimented etc. So what was the fuss all about?

Honey
Honey

Lets begin by understanding the origins of this white crystalline substance. The worlds oldest known sweetener is honey. At a time when the ancient civilizations in India were already hooked onto sugar, most of the western world relied on honey. Europe came in contact with this “sweet salt” only when warriors returned from the Crusades around the 12th – 13th century. However the foundations of the modern day sugar industry / trade was laid when Christopher Columbus planted the first cuttings of sugar cane in Hispaniola. By the 16th century the English were hooked onto sugar and went to great lengths to monopolize the sugar trade. This also gave rise to a slave trade. Led to wars. Helped to lay the foundation of an empire. Etc. etc. etc.

Cut to behind the bar, sugar is, in my mind, probably the most critical element (along with ice) of a cocktail that calls for sweetness. Not only does it make for a great tasting drink, it also lends a certain amount of texture and weight to the end drink. It makes up for the lack of sweetness in fruits or juices, it takes the edge off a strong (read alcoholic!) drink and in the right amount and mix is great for the body. What my friend inadvertently did when he prepared the two samples of sugar syrup – one made with hot water and the other one with room temperature water – he ended up creating two liquids that behaved differently from each other despite being made using the same ingredients. The one made with hot water would typically have a heavier mouth feel and appear thicker. And typically contain a higher content of glucose. The one that was made by dissolving sugar in room temperature water would appear to be lighter on the palate yet taste significantly sweeter. This is because this time around, the sugar would have broken down into fructose instead of glucose. And to a trained hand behind the bar this is of vital relevance.

When I prep for dispensing drinks from behind the bar, I prefer to stick to sugar syrup that has been made in a 1:1 ratio of refined sugar granules and warm RO water (sometimes referred to as simple syrup). I then know how much to use while making a drink. And this would be dependent on the levels of sweetness of the other ingredients like fruit juices, flavourings, liqueurs etc that the recipe may call for. I have often noticed many bars miss this crucial understanding and sticking to set standardised recipes that call for fixed amounts of ingredients including sugar syrup. And then you may end up with a drink that is either a tad bit sweet or somewhat lacking in taste. And who wants to pay for one of those?

So the next time you ask for a dash of sweetness in your glass of nimbu paani, pat yourself on the back. ‘Cause you’d be paying homage to one of nature’s greatest gifts to us. And one which you can now see why, was fussed about in the opening lines of this piece.

Tulleeho!

Rohan Jelkie aka The Thirsty Tippler

Rohan is a beverage trainer for the wines & spirits trade in India and has had experience in running training projects in SE Asia. An ardent fan of the craft of the cocktail, you can be sure to run into him at a bar near by cloaked in his alter ego, the thirsty tippler.