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Fresh Citrus and Hibiscus Cocktail — New York

Fresh Citrus and Hibiscus Cocktail — New York

Local Flight - Sn 1/Ep 7Local Flight - Sn 1/Ep 7

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This week, Shawn's in New York, learning about the resurgence of old school soda fountains, and how they help inform modern mixology.

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- I'm Shawn Thomas and this is Local Flight, a show where I travel around to some of the best bars in the country to meet amazing mixologists and challenge them to create innovative cocktails using unique local ingredients. In this episode, we're turning a soda fountain staple into a cutting edge craft cocktail. New York has a way of balancing cutting edge with classic and that's exactly what Pouring Ribbons aims to do. Behind the bar, owner Joaquin Simo uses art and science to mix the old with the new. Hey. - Hey. - Joaquin. - Nice to meet you. - I'm Shawn, a pleasure to meet you as well. - A pleasure. - Very excited to be here. Talk to me about just in general what you guys do here at Pouring Ribbons. - I think if we have to sum up what we do, it's conviviality and deliciousness. We've got a concise menu of about 30 drinks, 15 house, 15 classics, and we've mapped those out on a little matrix, more or less a Cartesian plane, that goes from spirituous to refreshing, comforting to adventurous, and that gives our guests a chance to figure out what drink might be right for them. - And these are all variations and originals that you guys have come up with inhouse. - Yes. - That's great. Well, I'd love to try something. - We'll get started with the best-selling drink from our first menu, and more or less this is a urban Mai Tai with a couple bourbons doing the work of the usual rums, and perhaps most importantly a corn milk syrup. We call this guy the Dueling Banjos. We've just got a little bit of cracked ice here. We wanted something a little more rustic than crushed ice. We're gonna start with 3/4 of an ounce of this corn milk syrup. - And how do you make the corn milk syrup? - We just take fresh raw corn right off the cob, run it through an extractor, and fine strain that and then we just do equal parts of corn milk to white sugar. A little curacao in there, a little bit of fresh lemon juice. And now the whiskies. - Two different styles of bourbon? - Two different styles. We will have one weeded bourbon and one with a higher rye content. So we've got one that's a little smoother, a little rounder, another one that's got a little more spice to it. - [Shawn] Great. - [Joaquin] Right there you can see the origin of the bar's name. Alcohol moves through the air, so it looks like you're pouring a ribbon. - [Shawn] I see what you mean. - And this does get a rather elaborate garnish. We're gonna take a channel knife and cut a really nice long swath of orange peel. In this case we're going to knot it this way. - Got it. - Take a little bit of fresh mint, spank that to wake it up and to remind it how naughty it is, and now you are all ready. - [Shawn] Great, well, Joaquin, thank you very much. - [Both] Cheers. - That is delicious. The bourbons really offset each other. You get the creamy mouth feel from the corn syrup that you made. Really subtle but not too sweet. A really nice complement between the curacao and the lemon to drive the acidity. - I'm saying, well, we strive for balance. - This is fantastic, man. A solid drink choice. - [Joaquin] I'm glad you're enjoying it. - It's clear to me that you guys are really doing this beautiful dance between what's old school and cutting edge. You know, old school meets new school. I found some guys not too far from here called Brooklyn Farmacy. - Yeah, those guys live right in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. - Oh, fantastic. What I love about them is they're bringing back the soda fountain culture which not a lot of people know about. - Our little club soda lines are actually directly from a soda fountain. - Really. - Yeah, you get club soda if you go this way, and if I tilt it this way, it'll be a really thin, hard stream. - Wow, do you use that stream for when you're doing fizzes or things like that? - That's exactly what we use it for. - [Shawn] That's awesome, that's really great. - Yeah, we love soda fountains. - In recent years, you'd be hard-pressed to find a soda fountain anywhere in the country, but Brooklyn Farmacy is bringing it back in a big way. I met up with owner and head soda jerk, Peter Freeman, to get the scoop. I gotta tell you, this is my first time in a soda fountain. - Well, hopefully it's not your last. - Hopefully not. What's the drink, what do I get? - Well, I'd say to start from the top, you need to have an egg cream. It has very simple ingredients, milk, seltzer, and syrup, and this is Fox's U-Bet Syrup, which is a Brooklyn-made chocolate syrup since 1903. - Wow, so it's been around longer than both of us. - Not this syrup though. We're not that vintage. So this is a classic Brooklyn chocolate egg cream. - There it is. - [Peter] Right, and you see how they got a nice, white top? - Yup. - You see there's a little bit of chocolate underneath, and that's one of the reasons you don't ever serve it with a straw. But what you do serve it with is a pretzel. - A pretzel. So there's not even eggs? - There's no eggs, there's no cream. - Why do you call it an egg cream if there's no eggs and cream in it? - I don't know, you got a better name? - Ah, no. Chocolatey goodness. The combination between the seltzer and the chocolate make it almost malty. So, Peter, did you always envision yourself opening up a soda fountain? - I like to make things, I like to make people happy, and this just seemed like a really nice, natural fit. And this building said, "Hey, you know we need somebody. "Like you're the one." And in fact it chose me as much as I chose it. - That's awesome. So this was a pharmacy once back in the day? - One of the last intact pharmacies in New York City. Because the phamacists were the first people licensed to carry the gas to carbonate the water. And then once again they kind of had another renaissance during Prohibition. - That makes sense. - When they threw everybody out of the bars, they had to go somewhere. What happened was the bartenders kind of started taking jobs in soda fountains, so that's when you started getting more like fancy sodas, right? So they changed the soda fountain and then when they left, I feel like they took part of the soda fountain with them, you know in the same way that the barmen influenced the soda fountain, they soda fountain influenced the barmen. - What is it called a soda jerk? - I know 'cause we're jerks. Well, you know it comes from jerking seltzer. Right, so this action right here. - [Shawn] You mean the motion? - Exactly. - Well, I'd love to try one of the drinks off your menu if you don't mind making me something. - Yeah, absolutely, I think one of the things we'll make is a hibiscus syrup. You know all medicines started with botanicals. You know something very natural in its origin, but also if you wanted to go and take that and put it into a cocktail, you could do some really wild, cool stuff with that. - Amazing. - Okay, so here's our hibiscus syrup, so it's hibiscus that we steep, and then when it's all cooled down, we put a lot of lemon juice in it actually. We're gonna use a vanilla ice cream for this. - [Shawn] It makes sense. - But the ice cream that we use is made in the Hudson Valley, so you're gonna see it's gonna rise back up. And that's one of the reasons we call it the Pink Poodle is 'cause when it comes up, it gives the appearance of-- - A big, poofy pink poodle. - I had this guy come in, a big Brooklyn guy, right, a big fella right, and he orders this drink. He's like so, "You know I'll have a Pink Poodle." So I serve it to him, I go back there, and say, "You know, so how was it, did you like it?" He says, "Yeah, it was nice. "It was like someone took a bouquet of flowers "and shoved it right up my nose." - I'd say it's a bit better than a bouquet of flowers in the nose but-- - [Peter] He shoved up-- - He must have been having a bad day. - But you know, New Yorkers are really known for being brutally honest. They'll tell you right what they think. - All right, Peter, so I'd love to take some of that hibiscus here with me back to the bar to see what he can do with it. - Yeah, it sounds great, you got it. - All right, thanks, awesome. That'll be plenty. - Okay. - Thank you very much. - Yeah. - Peter, thanks for having me, and thank you for teaching me what it means to be a jerk. Following in the footsteps of history, I'm bringing a soda fountain ingredient back to the bar the same way it might have happened after Prohibition. What I've brought you here, this is made by steeping hibiscus tea and then reducing it to a hibiscus syrup. - Let's see what we're working with here. - [Shawn] Yeah. - That's gonna work. It's a little floral, it's got that nice balance between the sweet and the tart. Yeah, this is a great-- - A little tannin. - A great little modifier. We're gonna do a nod to the classic soda fountain, so we're gonna start with one of the great ingredients that's been brought back and you're starting to see in more craft cocktail bars which is acid phosphate. But it's something that the soda jerks would use a lot in order to give a lot of brightness. So we're just gonna take about a teaspoon of this. - [Shawn] A little goes a long way? - Oh, yeah. We're gonna use a little bit of our grapefruit wine cordial. So we're just gonna do about a half an ounce of this 'cause we really wanna feature this lovely hibiscus syrup. So we're gonna do about an ounce and a quarter of that, just about there. And last but not least, a little Grey Goose Vodka, about two ounces of that. Really the vodka is just a flavor booster, right, and that's what vodka does so well, is it makes all the flavors that are around it really pop. Just a little bit of dramatic ice in there. A little bit of the soda water. This should have just a real pretty color, oh yeah. - [Shawn] And it does. - This drink could still have a little bit more going on, so we're gonna take and make this a little bit more fun and cheeky and we're gonna put a little bit of vanilla ice cream, and then just a few drops of Peychaud's Bitters. - Sure, a creole spiced bitter. - Yeah, just a little bit and you're gonna get a little bit of that vanilla, a little bit of the anise. Good to go. - Amazing. - Cheers. - The hibiscus is right at the front, but not too acidic, definitely nice effervescence. Yeah, the vanilla and the hibiscus are like two peas in a perfect pod, my friend. - Outstanding. - The last order of business, what do you call a drink like this? - We could call it the Farmacy Float. - We could definitely call it the Farmacy Float. - Yeah, a little nod to who brought us the hibiscus here to begin with. - That's right, the Farmacy Float. - To the Farmacy Float. - Joaquin, you my friend are a trendsetter. You guys are doing some amazing things here. - The pleasure's been ours, thanks again. - Cheers, thank you, Joaquin. - Cheers. - Take it easy.

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