Shaved Ice, Chartreuse & The Hard Shake

Make sure you’re up-to-date with a few interesting booze & cocktail articles from the inter-web that have come across our radar this past week.

By: Tiff Christie|September 9,2019

High-End Bars On Pairing Cocktails With Food

The whole package of food and drink is ridiculously intertwined,” says chef Adam Handling. The two have always had a close relationship, with combinations such as red wine and steak or beer and burgers partnering perfectly. Cocktails have seldom shared table space with food, but a ripple of change in the on­-trade may be about to alter this.


“Wine naturally springs to mind when you think of pairing drinks with food,” says Jake Burger, director of London’s The Distillery and creator of its immersive dining experiences. “Cocktails and spirits also make a wonderful accompaniment and can really enhance the flavour of the food and overall dining experience.”

While Burger and his team pair food and drinks during bespoke events, at Australian restaurant Lûmé cocktails are paired with its cuisine on a regular basis. “It’s definitely possible to pair spirits and cocktails with food, and it’s something that we have been doing for quite a while,” says John Rivera, executive chef at the Melbourne venue.

“There are times that cocktails are a better pairing than wine or beer. Our food is meticulously composed, and because cocktails can be tailored we can amplify and accentuate what we want from the dish with the beverage.”

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The Lychee Martini Was So 1993

The ’90s were a decade of “Asian fusion” and the advent of the clubstaurant, a time when sour mix still flowed freely and vodka was the booze of choice. It was also the decade that gave us places like Ruby Foo’s, the so-called “dim sum and sushi palace,” and Lot 61, the see-and-be-seen nightclub where nightlife impresario Amy Sacco put a whopping 61 Martinis (er, ’tinis) on the menu. Opened in 1998, the club served a Chocolate Martini, a Breakfast Martini, the Anis’tini, the Raspberry Mocha’tini and something called the Pooh’tini. Among the deluge, however, one stood out from the rest: the Lychee Martini.


While it may never have reached the ubiquity or achieved the infamy of the Appletini, the Lychee Martini became an apt shorthand for the time and place it was invented. But these days? It feels verboten among cocktail drinkers, and only celebrated at clubstaurant holdouts like Tao, where the drink still has a slot on the menu. Even the good people of Nobu, once (and, really, still) a beacon on the hill for those Lychee Martinis, declined to talk about the drink. A representative explained that although it’s one of their most popular cocktails, they “don’t feel that it fully encompasses the distinctive qualities that make a Nobu cocktail unique.”

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The Myth Of The Japanese Hard Shake

“Nobody can do the hard shake but me,” declared Japanese bartender Kazuo Uyeda in a 2010 visit to New York, during a seminar organized by Cocktail Kingdom on the Japanese way of bartending. The statement roiled the audience, seemingly undermining their earnest interest in replicating the singular technique—an intricate three-point motion executed with machine-like precision—thought to yield better aeration, temperature and texture in cocktails. But, despite the countless YouTube videos documenting bartenders across the globe showing off their hard shake, Uyeda was, it turns out, right.


It wasn’t arrogance that Uyeda’s statement revealed, however, so much as a fundamental misunderstanding of what the hard shake really is. Based on Uyeda’s belief that his particular approach results in “the best possible cocktail for my guests,” the hard shake came to be viewed as representative of Japanese bartending as a whole, itself a growing object of fascination for a maturing American bar culture in the late aughts. Before long, the hard shake became synonymous with the broader notion of Japanese bartending.

“There’s a common misconception that shaking a Japanese three-piece cobbler shaker is always the hard shake,” explains bartender Frank Cisneros, noting that the prevalence of the more compact cobbler shaker in Japan, a tool typically passed over in the U.S. in favor of two-piece shakers, has contributed to this conflation of terms. Bartender Julia Momose of Chicago’s Kumiko echoes this sentiment. “Perhaps it is more accurate to say that the cobbler shaker is synonymous with Japanese bartending.”

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The Berlin Distillery That Decoded Chartreuse

Recently, I glimpsed one of the most closely guarded secrets: a recipe for Chartreuse. The long-yellowed typewritten page was set out on a table in the center of a laboratory with wooden counters and red tiled floors. Blue lab coats hung on a coat rack beside a chalkboard with complicated equations. Hundreds of glass bottles, filled with exotic botanicals, crowded the shelves along one wall, and the formula too included many strange roots, barks and flowers. But when I began to copy them into my notebook, a worker looked my way and said apologetically, “Please don’t write that down.”


I had not infiltrated the French monastery near Grenoble, where Carthusian monks have distilled Chartreuse for more than 200 years. Rather, I was spending an afternoon at the Preussische Spirituosen Manufaktur, or Prussian Spirits Manufactory—a brick distillery in Berlin with a long history of its own.

In 1874, the Preussische Spirituosen Manufaktur was established by the newly unified German state as a spirits research and education center. At the time, northern Germany produced a variety of herbal liqueurs and a grain spirit called Korn, while southern Germany specialized in Obstbrand, or fruit brandy. But none of these products was particularly popular abroad. The Manufaktur was part of a German campaign to compete on the global spirits market against French Cognacs and British gins and whiskies. The resulting products were rarely sold outside Berlin, but the research was shared throughout the country to help distillers improve their craft.

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Top Bartender Kevin Beary’s Current Obsession: Shaved Ice

Craft cocktail bartenders think a lot about ice. From giant balls and long spears to crystal clear cubes, ice has been essential to the rebirth of the cocktail.

That is, except, shaved ice. But Chicago bartender Kevin Beary is trying to change that.


Just take a look at his unique twist on the classic Daiquiri that he serves at the Bamboo Room, a 22-seat oasis that opened last February, which is tucked inside acclaimed tiki bar Three Dots and Dash. You’ll get a coupe filled with a heaping mound of pineapple-flavored shaved ice as fluffy as it is frosty. Next to it, you’ll find an oversized clam shell with a rum-filled carafe nestled in a bed of ice. Pour the concoction into the glass and watch snow-like ice dissipate to perfectly fill the glass.

“It’s a bit of an interactive service,” says Beary. “It’s almost looks like the way when you pour liquid on cotton candy—the whole thing just like implodes into itself and you’re left with this super light, almost slushy consistency in the cocktail.”

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Shaved Ice, Chartreuse & The Hard Shake

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