Monday, December 23rd, 2013
“Punch Royal dates back to the end of the 17th century,” says cocktail historian David Wondrich in his book Punch, or the Delights and Dangers of the Flowing Bowl. “It was drunk by courtiers, pirates and everyone in between.”
Punch in general has a long and storied place in the annals of festive gatherings. As self-proclaimed “Georgian Junkie” Emery Lee points out, “The Georgian era is widely known for its excesses, the least of which was heavy drinking. A typical Georgian gentleman of leisure would spend his days frequenting one of the myriad coffee rooms and his evenings, many times into the wee hours, in a gaming house, tavern, or gentleman’s club roistering with his cronies over a brimming punch bowl.”
Painting by William Hogarth from the mid-1700s
While I don’t expect our NYE party to have a Georgian theme, and we may not have a lot of courtiers or pirates in attendance, I do like the idea of “roistering with … cronies over a brimming punch bowl.”
Barman Matthew Campbell has crafted his take on the classic Punch Royal with winter in mind. It’s called Medianoche, and according to an email from Matthew it goes like this:
Bubbles are a given since it’s NYE. Add Matusalem rum because it’s delicious and clean. The classic recipe calls for raspberry syrup but I made a more seasonally appropriate spiced huckleberry compote. It also calls for orange juice, as many punches do, so blood orange makes perfect sense for the winter – and it adds dramatic color. Passion fruit purée & a bit of mango tea for a slight island kick and also to provide tartness in lieu of lemon or lime. Definitely more fruit forward than winter spiced. Ladle into a flute and start dancing…
JP (with input from MC)
Monday, November 11th, 2013
With strawberry season on the wane, the beloved SPF 2020 cocktail has been retired (at least for now) – in its place comes a cocktail that is very much of this autumn season, La Catrina. Named after Mexico’s iconic grand dame of death (see this recent blog entry for more info), La Catrina features peak of season pomegranates and “botanical rum” crafted in our kitchen by Matthew Campbell.
The pomegranates are juiced, then cut with amaranth syrup (earthy micro amaranth greens steeped in hot water, then cold emulsified 1:1 with sugar) and crème de violette. The result is a fruit component that is equal parts bright (tart), earthy and floral.
The “botanical rum” is Matusalem rum infused with local redwood branches (yes, local redwood branches), coriander, bay leaf, black pepper, cumin, ancho chile & prunes to create a gin of sorts. Matthew sheds some light on the inspiration behind this unusual brew:
Walking to work these past weeks, watching the shadows get longer and feeling the first chill, I was reminded of fall childhood walks to school through Piedmont Park, smelling the damp forest floor. Foraging in Wildcat Canyon last week, the scent of young redwood branches finally locked with the morning walks I was remembering. Amaranth provides the earthy-grassy counterpoint to the redwood’s more pronounced piney-ness. With the tart finish from the pomegranate juice it’s my closest approximation to tromping around the East Bay hills in autumn, eating miner’s lettuce and building forts – activities that occupied most of my afternoons as a boy.
The botanical rum and the pomegranate juice blend are mixed, shaken hard on pellet ice, then double-strained into a chilled rocks glass primed with one finger of soda and Kold Draft cubes – topped with a dash of orange bitters.
As John Steinbeck said, “The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.”
JP (with input from MC)
Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
Meet the latest addition to our cocktail list: Quince Essential.
From a batch of “utterly esoteric” (to quote our barman Matthew) ingredients comes a cocktail that is equal parts smoke, spice, tart and sweet. Peleton mezcal is a leathery, traditionally smokey mezcal reminiscent of Alipus San Balthazar. It is infused with hoja santa and toasted, ground morita chiles in separate infusions that are then mixed 8:1 to create an herby, spicy mezcal.
From there, add Genepy, a subtle alpine herb liqueur along with equal parts lemon juice, quince syrup and bergamot (think Earl Grey tea – lemony with coriander notes) juice. It’s shaken hard and served in a small coupe garnished with a couple dashes of Peychaud’s bitters and bergamot peel.
JP (with input from MC)
Thursday, August 1st, 2013
Berkeley, CA; August 1, 2013 – Donkey & Goat was recently singled out by NY Times wine critic Eric Asimov as being among the leaders of a wine renaissance happening in CA:
A new wave of energetic California winemakers has helped to push stylistic boundaries while bringing more attention to older producers who had been considered behind the times or out of fashion.
He praised their minimalistic style and made special note of their manifesto, which eloquently describes their uncompromising and rigorous approach to natural winemaking.
On Tuesday, August 27th, Comal will welcome Donkey & Goat Winery owners, husband-and-wife team Jared and Tracey Brandt, for a special dinner showcasing a selection of their wines from the El Dorado appellation in the Sierra Foothills paired with dishes by Comal’s executive chef Matt Gandin. Dinner guests will have the opportunity to engage in lively conversation with Jared and Tracey and learn firsthand about their winemaking approach.
This is the third in a new series of producer dinners (previous dinners include Wind Gap Wines and Arnot-Roberts Wines) held in Comal’s private dining room, Abajo. Both previous events sold out in advance.
DATE/TIME: Tuesday, August 27th at 6:30 PM
PRICE: Tickets are $90 inclusive of food, wine and gratuity
RESERVATIONS: Space is limited – to purchase tickets, follow this link: http://www.ticketfly.com/event/339921
ADDRESS: Comal is located at 2020 Shattuck Avenue (at University Avenue) in Berkeley
Early Girl tomato gazpacho cucumber, papalo
2012 Grenache Gris Rosé, “Isabelle’s Cuvée” El Dorado
Jamón Serrano cantaloupe, chile arbol, mint
2012 Chardonnay, “Improbable” El Dorado
Goat and chepil tamal mole amarillo, queso fresco
2012 Grenache Blanc, 100% Skin Fermented, El Dorado
Oxtails in ancho chile adobo fresh shelling beans
2012 Grenache Noir, El Dorado
Oaxacan chocolate budin Maldon salt, whipped crema
About Donkey & Goat:
Donkey & Goat is a family owned and operated winery located in Berkeley, California. Tracey and Jared Brandt craft their natural wines from Rhône varietals, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in the Anderson Valley, Mendocino Ridge, and the undiscovered El Dorado appellation in the Sierra Foothills. Named one of five “Winemakers to Watch for 2011” by Jon Bonné at the San Francisco Chronicle, Tracey and Jared trained in France, and their maverick winemaking has helped pave the way for the natural wine movement.
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
Our latest cocktail isn’t our first “sour”, as even a margarita is by most accounts a “sour”, but it’s the first on our list to include the word “sour” in its name – probably owing to the egg whites that are commonly associated with classic sours.
It’s named after one of Mexico’s great politicians, Benito Juárez, who served as both Governor of Oaxaca and President of Mexico at different times in the mid-1800’s. His legacy is one of progressive reform – he was a great champion of the rights of indigenous peoples and worked tirelessly for democracy and separation of church and state. Chef Matt suggested that we call the drink “Benito and the Jets”, a name that landed on the cutting room floor but is pretty damn funny.
To make the spiced berry sour, blueberries and blackberries are cooked down with toasted cardamom, cinnamon, allspice and clove, then turned into a compote with sugar and cold set. This brew is then blended with strawberry rhubarb tea and citrus to make a sour. The berry sour is mixed with Pinot noir (!) for front end brightness and dry finish, mezcal to fortify and add smoke, egg white for texture & to round edges and “snake root bitters” (snake root tincture + Creole bitters) for aromatics. Pour over a large cube and garnish with a blackberry and voilà, a Juárez Sour.
Every once in a while a really special cocktail comes out of the lab – this is definitely one of them!
JP (with input from Matthew Campbell)