Wednesday, July 29, 2015

crown to crown to crown tonics

Where does it all go?

But first, I want to draw your attention to those huge chunks of ice. Look at them. LOOK AT THEM!! In Spain, they're sold everywhere - gigantic, uniform, perfect cylinders of ice. You see what I'm saying about the Spaniards having superb cocktail culture? It's not just about a town having good bars. For a culture to form, there needs to be traditions, collective behaviours, habits ... an environment that allows top bartenders to succeed, with a clientele that is enthusiastic, and a trade that brings it all together. Si, and those ice-makers too.

Schweppes does this line of flavoured tonic waters that is an exercise in how much of an impact each ingredient of the gin tonic has. As we talked about earlier, the tonic water is the *heart* of the gin tonic, to borrow a sushi shokunin saying. We know who wears the crown in that relationship, so to speak. So naturally, to express each at its fullest, we use only one gin - Citadelle - and the same garnish - a lime wheel. But really, the ice, in my opinion, is an oft-forgotten element, that crucial piece that takes a good gin tonic to the sublime. Why? Well, what purpose does ice serve, in any cocktail? Two purposes, as a matter of fact - dilution and chilling. So why are large ice cubes crucial to a great cocktail? In a word, control. As in all things, the more factors you can control, the more of yourself you can put in. With large ice cubes, one can carefully monitor both dilution and temperature, and can better achieve that most elusive drink - the one that gets better as you drink.

Right. The tonic waters. Schweppes Premium Mixers, in 4 expressions. The Original Tonic - slightly sweet, letting some of the Citadelle's alcohol come through. As you drink though, with more dilution, becomes dryer, more powerful. Well extracted on the palate. Next, the Pimienta Rosa (pink pepper) - aromatic, very peppery, sort of a combination of the aroma of white pepper with the heat of black pepper. A slight note of curry powder as well. Great balance, although too sweet (take a note of personal preference). What you end up with is a really floral tonic water that in some ways obfuscates the gin. Third, the Azahar y Lavanda (lavender and orange blossom) - quite aromatic, but more subtle, bringing forth more of the herbal notes of the Citadelle. Slight bitterness on the palate, which I enjoy. Subtleness rules here. And the final, the Ginger y Cardamomo (ginger and cardamo) - very dry, distinctly floral. I love using cardamom as a garnish, but this tonic doesn't give you so much of those aromas as much as a slight curry power again, with a touch of sweetness on the finish. The alcohol of the Citadelle slips through again, breaking the balance a bit. Overall, for all 4 - great work on the texture, on the finesse of the carbonation, but just a touch too sweet, which obscures the gin, Citadelle being a more neutral example. I would, for instance, never use a Spanish gin such as Gin Mare, or Xoriguer here - far too much going on. You want love-making in your mouth, not a shouting match.

I miss long, quiet, hot summer nights in Barcelona. Last year around this time, I had just wrapped up the final draft of the business case I was authoring, Oliver Conti - A Dream with a Glow. I was getting ready to move to the town of Zaragoza, to begin my second project. So as I send out yet another application/CV/cover letter, I'm reminded of how great, how lucky I was to do an MBA, to study at IESE, and to have lived in Barcelona. The times we spent in class. With friends. With gin tonics in hand. 

Where did it all go?! 


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Post No. 3001

The last one of these stupid things, I promise. Although, super interesting to see what I was doing a hundred ago ...

January 1, 2014, check it out. In Madrid, with the homies, sleeping off the New Year's hangover. Good times. So much excitement at finishing the first term of the MBA, finally out with friends to do a bit of travelling, spending the holidays in Europe ... so where did that excitement go? Somewhere, dormant, under the heaviness of the job hunt. Everyone's saying don't worry, it's just a process, you'll find something. I KNOW. It doesn't make it any better, nor does it help to hear it over and over again. I'll figure something out, something great will come along, I always manage - just please, leave me alone.

Good. Chin up. What are my expectations, moving forward? I want to keep LCF going, even if it's just me reading, which it most likely is. But if you're here, many thanks dear reader. Will I find a job in wine & spirits, trade or otherwise? Jury's still out on that one. I know what I offer, the value I bring - nay create -  for a firm. I'm not industry-specific because the principles of marketing are completely transferable. Good marketing, like all things, are based on good fundamentals. And I has it. 

Here, you see my pride and glory - I'm a published business case author! Oliver Conti - A Dream With a Glow, the story of a little family owned winery in the north of Catalunya, producing wines of great style and character. And yet they struggle - with nature, with the market. So what do we do? Call it a day, wipe your hands clean of the mess? Of course not. You (I) find a way, think, put that 150K€ education to use. And then we find a way.

The last one of these stupid things, I promise ...


Sunday, July 12, 2015

tonics should have their moment of glory too

We say, the sushi rice is the *heart* of the sushi.

So goes the wisdom. Perfection you see, as they say, is achieved not when you cannot add anymore, but rather when you cannot take anymore away. Gin tonics, like sushi, like all things which strive for that elusive perfection, is about simplicity, about minimalism, about a deep respect for the natural character of each ingredient. Forget about this trendiness in foodyism spreading like a virus - you don't create a drink or a dish, so much as discover the essence of what you're working with. Bear with me ... I'm in that mood this week

One year ago, I was in Pamplona with friends, taking in the festival of San Fermin. Good times. But that's neither here nor there. What's here is this situation I'm in - job hunting is like death by a thousand cuts. I'm ten times the man I was before leaving for Barcelona, and I'll be fucked before I go back to the sad sucker I was. Hell gon' freeze over. Let's keep things simple, no? Do things the right way, with patience, with humility.

The right gin with the right tonic with the right garnish. See how smooth I did that? The right tonic water has to be aromatic, bubbly, and dry. Yes, dry - a subtle sweetness is needed, of course, to balance out any roughness you may get from the gin. But it has to have that dryness, that extract on the palate that gives you a feeling of freshness. Schweppes has that, particularly these Premium Mixer bottles. A whisper of citrus, a balanced bitterness, all over a layer of dry extract that gives you everything you want in a tonic.

Simplicity, perfection - important in all elements of a cocktail. Supporting players need some love too.