Friday, May 21, 2010

Embury cocktail lounge

It's been awhile since I've posted to this blog. My apologies. But with good reason, I might add. Where this post started as a forum to share thoughts on wine that I, as a prominent Wine Director in Pittsburgh, had many opportunities to taste throughout the years, after losing that position I found myself employed by the one place I soooo badly wanted to write about: Embury Lounge located at 2216 Penn Ave, Strip District, Pittsburgh.

The original blog would have begun "I have found my new home! A classic cocktail bar in Pittsburgh! Hosted by a true cocktail craftsman Fred Sarkis..." and gone on to lavish Fred and Embury with praise upon praise for raising the bar (no pun intended) on cocktail culture in da 'Burgh. However, before I could even start that article, I found my self unemployed and quickly hired by the very establishment that I wanted to dote on.

Not that that was a bad thing.

I spent the last 9 months learning how to prepare classic cocktails. Techniques, recipes, new liquors, the joy of gin, better whiskey, Pickle Backs and Chartreuse consumed my every waking hour. Classic cocktailing is not an occupation, it is an obsession. Fred & Geoffrey both took me under their wings and taught me how to make a proper, well-balanced libation. In turn, I was given the opportunity to introduce hundreds of Cosmopolitan or Jack & Coke drinkers to the joy of a perfectly designed tipple.

But, alas, all good things must come to and end. And last night was my final shift at Embury. Moving on to Mio Kitchen & Wine Bar in Aspinwall ( where I will take over duties as General Manager (more on that later). I leave Embury with a heavy heart. As much as Fred started the trend for Pittsburgh craft cocktailing, I can't help but think I added a special touch to the place, and after only 9 months helped fortify a steady clientele who will continue to imbibe there long after I'm gone. There's nothing like the look of honest satisfaction on a customers face when they take that first sip of an Embury cocktail.

What this means to you? Well, I'm back in the wine game and will be sharing more tasting notes with all my readers in the months to come, BUT, I will also take the cocktail knowledge I've gained and share thoughts and comments regarding trends and tastes in the cocktail kingdom as well.

What I've learned at Embury:
1) Jalapeno makes an excellent addition to a cocktail recipe
2) Chartreuse has to be one of the greatest liqueurs ever created by man or God
3) Gin is king when it comes to mixing a cocktail
4) Vermouth is good. Vermouth is, in fact, great! Dolin, Punt A Mes & Antica Carpano
5) Absinthe, Scotch, bitters from a tincture dropper can change the whole profile of a drink
6) Ice cubes matter. Get yourself a rubber tray and start making your own good cubes
7) Bourbon is the best whiskey, followed closely by Rye. Try 'em both out.
8) Patience is not a virtue but a necessity when waiting to a good cocktail.
9) Always double strain a shaken drink through a fine mesh tea strainer. And shake HARD!
10) Beer can be a great mixer for a cocktail. Try a Michelada this summer and tell me I'm lying.
11) Stir drinks that are all alcohol. Shake drinks with juice. Dry Shake drinks with egg before adding ice for a second shake.
12) Measure EVERYTHING. There is no "counting" in classic cocktailing. Recipes are precise.

What I drank at Embury: Aperol, Vieux Carre Absinthe, Eagle Rare Bourbon, Old Pogue Bourbon, Maker's Mark Mint Julep, Rittenhouse Rye, Rhum Barbancourt, Sazerac Rye, Green Chartreuse, Yellow Chartreuse, Shot of Jameson followed by shot of pickle juice, Aviations, Amaros, Velvet Falernum, Navy Grog, Benedictine, Cynar, Antica Carpano Formula Vermouth, Flaming Bijous, Ginger/basil/honey/strawberry-habanero syrups, Blackstrap Rum, Maraschino Liqueur, Bluecoat Gin, Bacon bitters, Firehouse Punch, Buffalo Trace, Peychauds Bitters, Sazeracs, Faust Pacts, Guilty Roses, Pepper Delicious, Bitter Slings and Death's Comebacks.

That and so much more. What an education!

I leave you now with a few cocktail creations I designed in my time at Embury. Slainte!

Rusted Root

1 oz. Root Liqueur

1 oz. Drambuie

1 oz. Famous Grouse Scotch

Glass: Rocks

Ice: large cubes

Garnish: Orange Peel

Fill mixing glass with Root, Drambuie and Scotch. Add 2 large ice cubes. Stir until the outside of the glass get cold. Strain liquor into a rocks glass. Using a peeler, peel a 4 inch strip of orange peel (no pith). Squeeze oils over the drink and add peel to glass. Add 2 new large ice cubes. Laugh at the sun.

Crisis Car

1 oz. Cognac
.5 oz. Absinthe
.5 oz. Grand Marnier
.5 oz. Lemon Juice

.5 oz. Simple Syrup

Garnish: 4 drops Angostura Bitters

Glass: Coupe

Mix all ingredients, except the Bitters, in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously. Strain through a fine mesh tea strainer into a cocktail coupe. Add four drops of Angostrua bitters to 4 corners of the top of the drink, using a tincture dropper filled with the bitters. Swirl Angostura drops with a straw to make a pretty design. Lay low.

1 comment:

Racheal Borgman said...

Now that Embury is gone, any chance you might share the recipe for a Faust's Pact? Or if not, perhaps you could point us thirsty souls in the right direction, ingredients-wise?

Great job at Embury, btw. We definitely remember you as a great addition to the place.