So it’s been over a month since I’ve actually written about a cocktail. I don’t really know what my lack of motivation has been, but to be honest I haven’t really been up for making cocktails in the last month or so. I’ve had a lot going on both in my work and personal life, and when you are busy it is so much easier to just grab a beer and go. However, I’m back in the saddle and ready to go.
Our next entry in the vintage cocktail series is one with (to borrow a phrase) a long name and amazing results. A fabulous blend of rum, fruits, and ice, this is a cocktail for the summer. It is light and refreshing, sweet, but not too sweet, and when you are finished the drink, you have the wonderful fruits in season to partake of. Cheers!
Knickerbocker à la Monsieur
2 oz Virgin Islands Rum
1/2 oz Orange Curacao
1/2 oz Raspberry Syrup
1 oz Lemon Juice
Garnish with seasonal fruit
Back in March when I was up in Vancouver for Tales of the Cocktail On Tour, I made a point to stop in at several of BC’s liquor stores to see what I could find that is not locally available to me. In addition to several bottles of liquor, I picked up a couple of beers that are not available in the US, including Unibroue’s Raftman.
This beer is billed as being brewed from peat-smoked whisky malt, and the comparison is undeniable. It pours a golden amber color with a moderate haze and a thick head that recedes to a gentle lacing. The aromas are woody, gently smoked malt, with hints of vanilla, yeast, and apricots. It has an amazingly smooth mouthfeel, with great, crisp flavors of toffee sweetness, peppery spiciness, and a hint of yeast. At only 15 IBU’s the hop flavors are very lights, but appear at the end of the swallow and provide a great dry finish. This beer is quite different than the majority of Unibroue’s offerings, and at 5.5% abv, makes a great session beer.
Raftman is only available in Canada, which is a shame because I really enjoyed it, and would probably drink it on a regular basis if it were available. Definitely worth picking up if you come across it. Cheers!
Following up on my post on how to build your own Stir Plate, lets talk a bit about how this can be used in the home.
The most common use of a stir plate in the home is by homebrewers. Homebrewers use a stir plate to propagate healthy yeast. With a yeast starter, the stir plate keeps the yeast in suspension and does not allow the yeast to settle. It also continually adds oxygen to the yeast starter. This helps keep the yeast growing and reproducing. As long as there is oxygen in the yeast starter, the yeast will reproduce. This increases the number of healthy yeast cells, which in turn allows for a faster, more healthy fermentation.
For the cocktail enthusiast, there are also some applications. The first and easiest application is a syrup. Simple syrup can be made both by a hot process, (water is heated and sugar is mixed in until dissolved) or a cold process (water and sugar are not heated, but shaken or stirred until dissolved. I am not going to get into the scientific debate on hot process vs cold process, but I am going to show you an easy way to make cold process simple syrup using a Stir Plate.
First measure out your ingredients. I store my syrup in empty 750ml bottles, so lets go with 350ml of both sugar and water. Add your water to your mixing container and drop in your stir bar. Turn on your stir plate and slowly pour in the sugar. Now just sit back and wait until all the sugar is dissolved into the water. When the sugar is all dissolved, pour the syrup into your bottle and you are done!
Another great technique that takes advantage of a stir plate is the making of flavored “caviar”, or flavor pearls. Almost anything can be made into caviar and it makes a super cool and fun way to add garnish and flavors to your cocktails. You can check out a video of Jamie Boudreau making some Cointreau Pearls here!
So there are a few ideas to help get you started. In reality, almost anything that requires stirring can be mixed on a stir plate. And not that I would recommend this as a credible technique, but just for fun, I have mixed up a cocktail using a stir plate as well Let me know what fun and creative ideas you have for using your stir plate.
So what is a stir plate and why is it useful?
Well, as its name implies, a stir plate is a piece of equipment that continually stirs liquid by means of a magnetic stirring bar. There are a variety of practical applications for homebrewers, cocktail geeks, and home cooking. Let’s look at how to build one, and I’ll talk about some practical applications later.
First you will need to source your parts. Most of these can be obtained for free, if not, you can probably purchase everything for around $30. Here is what you will need:
- Cell phone charger or any DC power supply in the 5-12 volt range.
- Computer fan. Can be obtained from old computers or electronics stores.
- Magnets – These can be obtained easily from old hard drives, although they can also be purchased cheap from craft stores.
- Wire – About a foot of 18-20 gauge wire is needed.
- Hardware – 10/32 nuts and bolts. Any hardware store will have these.
- Switches – 12 Volt DC/30Amp Rocker Switch & 25 ohm 3 watt Potentiometer.
- Project box – Any box or enclosure can be used as long as it fits your components and is not magnetic.
Now that you have your parts, let’s get this baby up and running.
The first step is to mount your fan into your enclosure. I mounted mine into a wooden box using 10/32 bolts. Locknuts are used on the bottom of the box and double up as feet. Regular nuts are used on the inside of the box to place the fan towards the top of the box. Once you have the fan positioned, mount your power switch and Potentiometer in your box and you are ready for some wiring!
The first step is to strip the ends of the wires coming from your power supply and your fan. Everything can be soldered, but I used some spade connectors so I wouldn’t melt my plastic switch. Before soldering any wires together, make sure that your power supply wires are fed into your box
Take the Black wire from both the fan and your power supply and connect these two wires to the “Earth” connection on your switch. Then connect the Red/Black&White wire from your power supply and connect it to the “Supply connection on your switch. Then, using the scrap wire, attach the center pin of the potentiometer to the “Load” connection of your switch. Last but not least, attach the Red wire from your fan to the right pin on the potentiometer. Now plug in your power supply, turn on the switch, and your fan should spin. Turning the potentiometer should slow/speed up the fan. If so, you are nearly there. At this point, I was concerned about airflow to the fan, so I drilled 3 holes in the back of my box to prevent overheating.
The last thing to do before closing up the box is to position the magnet onto the fan. Turn your potentiometer all the way down so the fan spins its slowest, and place the magnet onto the fan. The idea is to get the magnet centered so that the stir bar will spin easily and freely. Once you see that it is centered, glue the magnet down to prevent it from being knocked or drawn off center, close up the box, and you are good to go. You can test your new stir plate out by placing a bar magnet, stir bar, or bolt into a flat bottomed glass container filled with water. Center it on the stir plate and let it rip! Come back soon for some practical applications to apply to your new toy. Cheers!