Portland ‘Cocktail’ Week


Thank you to all of you who attended class sessions here at Elemental Mixology during Portland ‘Cocktail’ Week!

It was a lot of fun to run something of a shadow week to the official happenings.

There are ten spaces available in the Annual Craftmasters’ Course next year at Elemental Mixology during Portland ‘Cocktail’ Week 2016. They will go to the first ten people who purchase them — so, don’t delay once you know you will be in Portland next year!

There are also the travelers’ courses, also!

Cheers to old friends and everyone new I met in the last week! Have some happy holidays!

Rare Liquors Tasting Added!


A Rare Liquors Tasting has been added to the Elemental Mixology calendar for the afternoon of Saturday, October 17th.

This is a chance to taste forbidden fruit in the form of liquors not sold in the U.S.A.

That’s also the first day of Portland ‘Cocktail’ Week, so you out-of-towners traveling for PCW should consider it — along with the Advanced Craftmasters’ Course taking place in the off hours that same PCW week.

Cushion Subscriptions Still Open and a Brief History of the Good Times Coach

Before Elemental Mixology was relocated to Portland, there were almost always more people intent on becoming cushion subscribers than there was room for. Here in Portland, plenty of cushion is available for subscription. By the autumn, that will probably no longer be the case!

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Between 1898 and 1900, a group of plutocrats that commonly ensconced themselves at the bar in the Waldorf Hotel in Manhattan, New York, maintained a coach, driver and horses to take them from the Waldorf bar to other exclusive drinking establishments and back to the Waldorf Hotel at their whim. They named the coach the Good Times Coach. The Waldorf Hotel Bar’s Good Times Cocktail (later generations of debased drinkers might think of it as the ‘classic’ gin Martini with orange bitters) was named after the Good Times Coach. In 1900, the Good Times Coach was awarded first place in the luxury road team category at the national equestrian exposition at the Madison Square Gardens. In what may have been the most sophisticated pub-crawling of all time, the few men who contributed to the cost of the maintenance of the Good Times Coach had use of it to travel between drinking destinations all over New York City. Those men were referred to as cushion subscribers.
An Elemental Mixology Annual Cushion Subscription enables the full attendance and participation of all courses and symposia (except for the shorter Brief and Casual classes) for the duration of the subscription.
After a year of Elemental Mixology, just about any cushion subscriber will be intimately aware (beyond a master’s level) of:

1) Elements, their ingredients, nature and how they present in drinks in all possible proportions.

2) Traditional genres of drinks, which elements they depend upon for their best character, and how to mix them without needing to memorize recipes.

3) All specific drinks that have been important in American bars, saloons and hotels from 1750 to present will be second nature. Many of these drinks are now almost impossible to order in any bar, and real advantage attaches to being able to make them well and with familiarity.

3) The important aspects of various liquors, including much knowledge that is often glossed over or not fully understood by most in the industry today. The main flavor-making stages of production will be understood: duration of fermentation, type of distillation and aging. The two major overall types of liquor production, the wasser and geist methods, will also be fully understood. Liquors selected to elucidate specific qualities differences will have been tasted numerous times.

4) Many other items of knowledge and experience that will not be laid out here for various reasons!

For anyone making full use of an Elemental Mixology Cushion Subscription, the discount is massive.

Get a Cushion Subscription here.

Using Bad Bitters

Using Bad Bitters

Over the years I have ended up with a lot of imitation bitters and bad bitters. I consider any ‘bitters’ made with glycerin instead of spirits to be imitation. I consider any bitters to be bad if their flavor is inferior — or, if they lack the bitterness needed to remove the sensation of alcoholic harshness in a true cocktail.

I will never use imitation bitters or bad bitters in any tipple that I want to serve or drink. I have no interest in packing them up and taking them north.

Then a solution occurred to me for getting the most use out of all of these products…

Today I emptied all of the above-pictured products down the drain. That freed up the bottles (and their dasher inserts) to be stripped of their labels, washed and set aside for the students in the Ingredient Fabrication Course to use to take home the peach bitters we will be making.

Waste not, want not!

P.S. – Since posting, I found a bottle of Elmegirab’s guess at Boker’s bitters and a couple of bottles of things by the San Francisco Diego bitters company. All of that stuff went down the drain to free up the more valuable empty bottles!

Last Batch of Los Angeles Peach Bitters

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Today, I put up the last batch of peach bitters that will be finished by attendees of an Ingredient Fabrication Course in Elemental Mixology’s Los Angeles location.

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4 ounces of dried peach kernels and 2 ounces of dried cinchona bark were placed in each jar. 192-proof rectified spirit was added to the one on the left and 80-proof French brandywine was added to the one on the right. The students will filter, blend and add other ingredients next week to finish the peach bitters.