Church & State
1850 Industrial St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Monday evening Michel Dozois of Church & State and Névé Luxury Ice with San Francisco's Jon Santer brought together a large group of media personnel, bartenders and food bloggers to introduce and demonstrate the large format ice being popularized first in NYC, and now in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The bistro tables at Church & State were organized into four tops, each set with the following: Bacardi Anejo, Czadores Reposado, and 42 Below Vodka, Boston shakers, bar spoons, stainless steel jiggers, rocks, martini and highball glasses, fresh lime, creme de cassis and ginger beer. Strolling in at 7, I couldn't wait to get my paws in the goodies. I love to mix drinks.
Employing the rules of physical science, bartenders who expound on the wonders of large cubes know that one larger cube creates a lower liquid to ice surface ratio than with many smaller cubes. This causes the heat from the liquid to transfer at a slower rate, melting the cube more slowly and causing less dilution in the cocktail. The goal, as Dozois says, "is to have the last taste of your cocktail taste as good as your first".
After we settled in at tables (I took a seat at the front because I am just that kind of a student), our short glasses were immediately filled with a large ice cube from Névé intended to be used in rocks glasses. Note the large size and beautiful structure.
Everyone poured a generous shot of Bacardi Anejo over their cube, I sipped deeply. I am in love with that spirit. It is definitely a sipping rum, it would be a crime to mix it with anything. This would be delicious sipped outside with a sweet Padron 26.
Next we made Vodka Martinis. The table I sat at was shared with the two Travises, bartenders from Wurstkuche, along with Rachel new at Wurstkuche and also tending at Malo. They were all fun, sweet and so friendly. The two Travises kept me entertained the entire time, irreverant and adorable hipsters that they are. The Travis I was sharing a table with was getting a lesson from Rachel in how to use the Boston shaker, something he will have to perfect when Wurstkuche gets their full bar licensing. First Travis was instructed to make a martini with small, standard machine made cubes. He stirred, we drank. Fine, a simple vodka martini.
Next, we were supplied with a larger sized Névé ice cube. Travis hand cut the ice using the spoon to make slightly smaller (not much smaller) chunks for the shaker. The process was repeated. This time, the taste of the vodka was stronger, the initial pop was more concentrated. Success. Definitely worthy of a Friday evening, or as LA-OC Foodie, says, a Monday evening.
The next cocktail constructed is called a Diablo. Cazadorez Reposado and creme de cassis topped with ginger beer, first over the smaller cubes. Delicious, sizzling in that way ginger beer has tempered by the sweet fruitiness of the cassis. Again, process repeated with the larger longer Collins cube. Initially, the flavor was very close to the same, but as the next 30 minutes wore on, the second drink truly retained that initial spark and sweetness. The flavor in the first drink fizzled over the same time period.
Travis 1 guides Travis 2 with the stainless steel jigger.
Third drink? OG daquiri. I remember making these for my mom in the 1970's during the long hot Sacramento summertime, but she liked hers made with limeade and blended. This is more similar to the Hemingway style daquiri, just dark rum, lime and simple syrup made from cane sugar. Loving rum, this pleased me. Again, as with the martini, the second version was more richly flavorful from the very beginning of the drink. We noticed that the second drinks did not fill the glass as high, and Jon was about to demonstrate why.
We gathered around the bar to watch Jon work his magic. He shook two ounces of spirit with smaller cubes and poured the fluid back out into not two or even three, but four one ounce containers. Using the smaller cubes with the high liquid to ice surface ratio doubles the fluid in the drink by adding 100% as much water to the spirit. The temperature of the fluid is cold as heck, as measured by Jon's laser thermometer. However, that's a lot of ice water.
Second, he demonstrated the exact same amount of spirit with a large format Névé cube. When Jon poured out, the shaking yielded three ounces instead of four. So, while there is still some meltage, your drink should retain a higher level of the structural integrity originally suggested in the recipe. Better flavor initially, and as evidenced by the life of the Diablo, throughout the lifetime of the drink.
Manzke's kitchen would not let us go hungry! Fluffy piles of gougeres...
Potted pork rillette with prune confiture. Anyone dining with me regularly knows my adoration of charcuterie.
Cachat Provencal, a soft jarred goat's cheese flavored with lavendar and honey.
The entire spread, which also included and eggplant caviar, or caviar d'aubergine, if you will. Flatbread pizzas were also to be had, but the crew descended on these in a tsunamic herd.
Drinks with large format ice cubes can be found in NYC at East Side Company Bar, and Angel's Share as well as Milk & Honey. Newer to the West Coast, the cubes can be found in drinks at Heaven's Dog and Slanted Door in San Francisco. Drinkers in Los Angeles can find them at Rivera, Comme Ca and Church & State as well as at Silver Lake retail store BarKeeper.
Thank you, Michel, Névé, Jon and Church & State for an intoxicatingly informative evening.