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The virtual mixing game

Inthis day and age, when you talk, work and even romance virtually, is it surprising that you’ll also drink and eat voraciously — yes, virtually? Well, food blogging is yesterday’s news as mixology posts take over as the new kids on the blog (excuse the pun)!

Going beyond average discussions, these blogs belong to an eclectic bunch of professional bartenders, mixologists and thirsty enthusiasts dabbling in the latest and newest tipple trends.

From molecular mixology to organic spirits, cocktails by your zodiac (yes, that’s right) to on-line cocktail parties — name it and you’ve got it at the click of your mouse.

If summer’s leaving you feeling drained and thirsty, just read on. Statutory warning: you might just run up a huge Internet bill once you settle down, click and scroll.

Here’s a peek at all that’s hip and happening in the world of mixology blogging.

Molecular mixology

Molecular gastronomy has had its moments in the sun and now the idea behind it has been hijacked into the world of mixology. Molecular mixology is the way to go and quite a few bloggers are going to great lengths to wrap their heads around it.

As mixologist and bar consultant Jamie Boudreau defines it: “Molecular mixology is the practical application of the theoretical findings of molecular gastronomy in a bar environment.” His blog, Spiritsandcocktails.com, is a popular haunt for those looking for cutting-edge stuff.

Michael Gall, a professional bartender whose blog is called My Aching Head, says: “Molecular mixology involves adding other chemicals to a drink rather than just the regular alcohol and juices.” So, people are now experimenting with edible cocktails, alcohol foam or even caviars to enrich cocktails.

Care for a sip? Well, what about the Singapore Slingshot that Boudreau has posted on his blog? He has used Cherry Heering caviar, Benedictine caviar and carbonated gin and bitters instead of soda water. Or maybe you could try his Bohemian Cocktail or Gall’s Rum Manhattan recipe in which he uses Maraschino cherry caviar to infuse the drink with the flavour.

Is there any real commercial future to molecular mixology? Gall answers in the negative. “I think it will probably remain an upmarket style of mixology in exactly the same manner as molecular gastronomy. Most bars won’t benefit hugely from taking the extra trouble and the steps required for this sort of drink-making,” he says.

But according to Gall the silver lining to this cloud is that this is not “prohibitively difficult”, so molecular mixology may just go one step further than its culinary cousin.

Boudreau disagrees with the notion that molecular mixology is elitist. “I don’t feel that it will remain elitist either, just the way molecular gastronomy isn’t elitist. I think of it like a pret-a-porter fashion show, where designers pull out all the stops for the show, but the core elements of the extravagant show trickle down into everyday wear,” he says.

Blogroll http://myachinghead.net http://spiritsandcocktails.wordpress.com

Going green

It appears that your friendly neighbourhood drunk may just get an image makeover as the eco-friendly neighbourhood drunk! Green alcohol, and no, not the St Paddy’s Day special coloured beer please, seems to be everybody’s favourite topic.

It’s the new launches that are catching on in popularity. So, you’ll find details of Tru 2 Gin on Camper English’s blog, Alcademics. By the way, English is a journalist specialising in cocktails and spirits. On the other hand, Gwendlyn Sutherland Kai-ser’s blog, Intoxicated Zodiac, offers a whole shopping list of official eco-alcohol.

Kaiser is a mixologist and artist who also retails her product line from her website. From an organic saké to green vodka, you’ll find an exhaustive list on her blog. She’s just posted a review of CROP organic vodka and has helpfully even provided a fun recipe.

And if you want a huge virtual swig, then mixologist and writer, Natalie Bovis-Nelsen of The Liquid Muse blog, has something that might interest you. Her recent tęte-ŕ-tęte with the people behind Casa Noble makes for a droolworthy read. For those who came in late, Casa Noble tequilas are one of the two organic tequilas available worldwide. So her post offers a description of scrumptious cheese pairing with the Single Barrel Reposado and Ańejo tequilas.

So has organic liquor hit the high? According to English: “We’ll continue to see more organic liquor brands hitting the market in the years to come.” He identifies the space for growth too. “Recently, some exciting organic liqueurs, brandies, and non-grain-based vodkas and gins have come onto the market and this is where we’ll see jumps in growth,” he says.

Blogroll: http://www.alcademics.com http://intoxicatedzodiac.com http://theliquidmuse.blogspot.com

Fun factor

There’s a lot of fun to be had on these weblogs. Think cocktail astrology, virgin cocktails for mothers-to-be and even some dope on the gadget front.

What gadget, did you ask? Well, there’s the latest Dave Arnold invention. Arnold, director of culinary technology at the French Culinary Institute in New York, has invented Red Hot Poker, a nickel-alloy heating rod that’s used to ignite drinks by heating them to over 1700°F. For more on this, go straight to Sam Meyer’s blog, Cocktailians.com. Meyer, an amateur enthusiast and a journalist has posted a review and an interview with Arnold.

But if gadgets are not interesting enough, how about a bit of cocktail astrology? Yes, Intoxicated Zodiac is certainly worth some serious hours of surfing. Astrology meets mixology and the result is fantastic. Get to read your baroscope — what your drinking future may hold — for the month, or get a recipe by your zodiac sign. And add to that, info on what’s happening in the alcohol business, latest recipes, latest liquors and all that jazz.

Does cocktail astrology work, you might ask. Kaiser says: “It’s usually an accurate indicator of taste.”

And then for that little dash of celebrity scoop or the latest in liquor launches or even non-alcoholic cocktails — The Liquid Muse is the site to go back to. Nelson is the author of Preggatinis™: Mixology for the Mom-To-Be, a non-alcoholic cocktail book.

She says: “I was thrilled when it immediately landed on the Top Ten Cocktail Books of the year... I thought that the ‘preggie party girl’ was hugely overlooked, so I thought this was a fun concept, and I’m excited that it has been well received.”

Nelson will be launching the site Preggatinis.com shortly, featuring DIY videos and recipes.

Blogroll: http://www.cocktailians.com

Where’s the party tonight?

Look no further, it’s party time folks! Virtual cocktail parties are quite the rage amongst mixology bloggers, with such events as Thursday Drink Night and Mixology Monday creating ripples.

Thursday Drink Night (TDN) is an event hosted in The Mixoloseum Bar (chatroom at http://bar.mixoloseum.com). Rick Stutz, mixologist and writer who works for a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, is one of the founding members of this forum. Stutz’s blog, Kaiser Penguin, has regular updates on the event. He says: “The purpose of TDN is to spontaneously create and share drink recipes, provide feedback on drink submissions, tweak and adjust them in real-time, and generally have a good time with like-minded people via the Internet from the comfort of our own homes.”

The event begins at 7 pm (EST or the North American Eastern Standard Time) and lasts until 3 am (EST) with 20-25 drinks being offered and sampled, according to Stutz.

Another online cocktail party of note is Mixology Monday, started and moderated by Paul Clarke, writer and magazine editor by day, and contributing editor of Imbibe magazine. Clarke’s blog is called The Cocktail Chronicles. It is hosted each month on a different blog, and the host chooses a theme along with Clarke. Participant bloggers post either a recipe or a blog entry around this theme.

Both bloggers are a part of Cocktail and Spirits Online Writers Group (CSOWG).

Blogroll: http://www.cocktailchronicles.com/ http://www.kaiserpenguin.com/

Behind the screens

The weblogs demand enormous time and effort, and in return earn genuine appreciation for the finer sips in life. But do mixology blogs generate enough footfalls and advertising money to make them a full-time career option?

Kulpreet Yadav, of the blog Indian Food and Wine, believes that it’s the right time for mixology blogging to catch on in India. He predicts: “Wine, in particular, is likely to catch on as a subject like wildfire.”

Yadav has been studying the subject for over 10 years and writes on wine in several publications, including Sommelier India. He has a daily traffic of about 50-60 hits. Gall too is on the moderate end, expecting about 100 visits a day by next month.

But on the other end of the spectrum, Kaiser’s blog gets about 500-1,000 hits a day while Clarke’s blog gets about 16,000. Stutz has 15,000 visitors a month and English reports daily hits anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000. Boudreau’s blog too enjoys high traffic, with about 50,000 hits a month. And somewhere in-between is Nelson, who averages 6,000-8,000 a month.

But they all agree that it’s going to be a long haul before such mixology blogs can generate enough advertising revenues to make them commercially viable. Clarke says: “Most mixology blogs receive relatively little advertising and certainly not enough to make blogging a full-time option. Liquor companies, especially in the U.S., are mostly apprehensive about advertising on web logs.”

Most bloggers use multiple sources of information for the content they post. Gall relies on the Internet and other blogs as well as reading up on the subject, something that Yadav does keenly too. Mainstream media is another source that works well for Meyers and English, the latter also gets material through press releases, Google news alerts and industry publications.

Everyday experiences like talking to bartenders or tidbits from friends also help.

So go ahead and link ’em up, who knows you might just start adding some tipple talk on your blog soon enough.

Blogroll: http//indian-wine.blogspot.com/

drink to this

To bring you a touch of reality from the virtual world, here are three recipes that you may want to try out this weekend

Rum Manhattan
(Michael Gall)

Ingredients 45ml Mount Gay Extra Old rum 25ml sweet vermouth 3 dashes Angostura bitters 1 bar spoon Maraschino liq-uer

Method Shake the ingredients well and garnish with Maraschino caviar and a twist of lemon.
To make Marashchino caviar: Add water and sodium alginate to Maraschino cherry juice until it is the consistency of honey. Then, using a food syringe, drop balls of the mixture into a 1gm per litre mix of calcium chloride. Leave for a few minutes and remove with a strainer. Wash the caviar with water and serve in drink.

Bohemian Cocktail
(Jamie Boudreau)

Ingredients 1˝oz bacon-infused bourbon ˝oz Cordial 4 dashes cherry bitters

Method Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
To make bacon-infused bourbon: Slow-cook two pieces of bacon. Place bacon (along with fat) in a jar with 10oz Bourbon for at least six hours, shaking occasionally. Remove bacon, place jar into a freezer overnight. Strain out solid fat pieces and filter bourbon through a coffee filter.

Marry Mi’ Gold
(Gwendlyn Kaiser Sutherland)

Ingredients: 1 cup raw organic sugar 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 3 marigold flowers Any pale beer

Method: In a pitcher, add sugar, lemon juice and marigolds. Stir every 20 minutes or so until sugar dissolves. Allow to sit for at least an hour so that marigold flavour is extracted. To this marigold lemonade, add an equal amount of pale beer. Garnish with a marigold.

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