Friday, 21 May 2010

Absinthe Dinner in Malaysia

Many potential buyers and many potential consumers have a fixed idea about what absinthe is. They think it may be dangerous, that it may attract the wrong sort of customers, that people abuse it. Well, think again. Last night I celebrated a Malaysian Decadent Affair with seven different absinthe drinks before, during and after dinner at the Vanity Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. This was exciting for me since I lived in Malaysia from 1999 to 2002, and had experienced wine, champagne and cognac dinners there previously.

But absinthe? Did it work? A resounding yes!

Here's a quick look at some of my pictures and some of Angela's (thank you!). The team at work setting up beforehand:

The menu:

The pre-dinner apéritif, La Clandestine Absinthe and Monin Peach:

The Perroquet: Angélique Absinthe, Monin Green Mint and chilled water:

This accompanied an oyster dish (photo to follow). The Clandestine Caipirinha:

accompanying Ricotta cheese stuffed ravioli fresh & dried tomato & lemon olive oil.

Death in the Afternoon:

which went very well with Warm hickory smoke salmon with chat potato dill creme fraiche & salad:

Classic fountain-served Angélique absinthe complemented the Casserole de Poulet with pan fried spatzle, glazed shallot & carrot:

A triple bill of shooters (White Chocolate, La Clandestine, Baileys and Caramel, and Dark Chocolate) was astonishing:

And the evening concluded with the Asian premiere of a barrel-aged La Clandestine. After 40 months, it is taking on some wonderful exotic notes, but this is not yet being sold anywhere in the world.

I was delighted to meet old friends and new, including Malaysia's own Thirsty Blogger:

I was delighted when one of the diners told me afterwards that this event totally changed perceptions of absinthe. Mission accomplished!

Do any of my readers have experiences of absinthe and food they would like to share?

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

For Cinco de Mayo: Tequila .. and Absinthe!

May 5th was not always connected with Tequila. It was originally a voluntary holiday that commemorated the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

148 years later, it has become a big Tequila day, especially in the USA. I'm fortunate enough to have done some work on Tequilas earlier in my career, and have worked a little on Don Julio (UK and South Asia), Jose Cuervo and 1800 (S.E. Asia and Korea), and Cabo Wabo (UK, Russia, and Australia). Interesting brands indeed. Like absinthe, Tequila has had a "bad boy" image, so it's fascinating to see how the development of ultra-premium tequilas has helped it to become a much more sophisticated drink over the last 10 years.

I am especially delighted, therefore, that while working on absinthe, mixologists have proposed cocktails combining tequila and absinthe. Here are two of them:

The Green Devil (created by Ben Foote, The Bitter Bar)

1.5 oz. Chamucos Reposado Tequila
0.75 oz. Luxardo Limoncello Liqueur
0.25 oz. La Clandestine Absinthe
3-4 leaves of Fresh Thai Basil

*Muddle basil in a mixing glass first, then add all other ingredients with ice... shake for 5-10 seconds, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 
**Garnish with a lemon wheel and a sprig of thai basil.

This was created at the Bitter Bar, Boulder which was then under the supervision of James Lee, named then one of the top 10 mixologists in the country by Playboy Magazine. (Update 2014: James has recently returned as owner of the Bitter Bar).

James and I had corresponded on Twitter, and a few weeks later he sent me details of this cocktail and some additional comments. Over to you, James: 

"The Green Devil was our number one selling cocktail when the Bitter Bar opened last year around this time... We tried many different Limoncellos, but decided the Luxardo came through with better balance and not over the top with citrus flavor profile in the cocktail. Also, and more importantly, we ended up switching to La Clandestine from a verte absinthe due to its softer and smoother profile in the cocktail (especially on the nose and start of the drink..). We just did a "rinse" of verte absinthe in the original version of this cocktail due to strong/heavy profile of absinthe/anise flavor, but now we have La Clandestine/blanche in the cocktail, we use 0.25 oz. in the recipe to enhance and made everyone happy with our cocktail!"


Clandestine Luna (created by George Delgado of Promixology)

1 oz. La Clandestine Absinthe
1 oz. 100% Cabo Wabo Blanco Tequila
1 oz. Combier
Splash of orange juice
Splash of simple syrup
Garnish = Orange Wheel

Glassware = Martini Glass
Finished with a dash of Blue Curacao into finished drink

In an ice-filled mixing glass or shaker, add La Clandestine Absinthe, the Tequila, and the Combier with the splash of orange juice and the splash of simple syrup. Shake vigorously until shaker gets ice cold. Strain into the Martini glass. NOW add the drop or two of Blue Curacao - it will sink to the bottom to form a “layer”. Put an orange wheel on the rim, or a very thinly sliced orange wheel floating in the drink.

If anyone has any other cocktails that combine tequila and absinthe, I'd love to see them. In the meantime, enjoy the Cinco de Mayo, but not too much. Salud!