Friday, September 6, 2013

Beyond Cocktails: Beertails vs. Winetails

I recently posted about the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival held in Kansas City a couple of weeks ago. One of the highlights of this five-day event was a very special dinner held at The American Restaurant. The theme was "Beertails vs. Winetails" and I was pretty intrigued by the invite (see below).

First of all, I had been looking for a good excuse to visit The American and try out new Executive Chef Michael Corvino's craftwork. Corvino is the latest in an impressive list of executive chef's at this storied Kansas City icon that includes James Beard Award winners Debbie Gold, Michael Smith, and Celina Tio. Corvino's menu for this event was a hybrid of items from his new dinner menu as well as a few courses designed specifically for this meal. Seeing items from the standard dinner menu was a nice surprise as it's not unusual for restaurants to simplify menu items when hosting a banquet-style event. A copy of our menu is below. None of the courses disappointed and the Cold Poached Lobster and Slow Roasted Pig were (IMHO) stellar.

Food and beverage menu from the dinner. Click to enlarge.

I was also more than a little intrigued by the concept of Beertails and Winetails - somewhat awkward terms for cocktails made with beer and wine respectively. This is certainly not a new concept (think micheladas or sangria) but cutting edge bartenders are taking the concept to new and exciting levels. That's what I wanted to see (and drink).

True Masters: Doug Frost and Adam Seger
One of our hosts, Doug Frost, was a known quantity for me. Doug lives in the KC metro and is one of only three people in the world to earn the distinction of Master Sommelier and Master of Wine. USA Today actually wrote of him, "Frost likely knows as much as anyone in the world about how to make, market, serve and identify wines." Not surprisingly Doug was responsible for the winetails. I'm sure I'm not being fair here but in general Missouri wines usually leave me a little wanting. Frankly (generalizing here) the $20 I spend on a mediocre bottle of Missouri Norton can buy me a much tastier California, Oregon, or Argentine red. Kudos to Frost however for incorporating local wines into all his winetails. When it worked (as it most often did) it worked quite well. I was especially fond of the Missouri Mule a riff on the classic Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer, lime). Frost uses a sparkling wine from Missouri's Les Bourgeois Vineyards and adds ginger syrup, sherry, rum and lime (recipe below).

On the beertail side of things we had Adam Seger. Seger is the creator of hum and balsam spirits and runs the cocktail programs for iPic Luxury movie theatres in the US and for WOOBAR at The W Singapore Sentosa Cove in Asia. This guy knows his way around a bar and is at the forefront of the beertail trend. Wondering whether this beertail thing was just a fad or a trend with legs, I put the question to Seger. "Beertails are a sustainable trend that is at the convergence of the craft beer movement and the cocktail renaissance," he explained.  "As bartenders and mixologists are looking for new, high quality ingredients, they are now looking more and more at craft beer. Add to this the increasing awareness that beer is the most chemically complex alcoholic beverage in the world and you have a perfect storm. Beer also adds a texture and a light mouthfeel to a cocktail, details that are more and more appreciated as guests seek new experiences." Makes sense to me.

I appreciated all the beertails but asked Seger for the recipe for the Dark & Stoutly, modeled after the Dark & Stormy (dark rum, ginger beer, lime), as it seemed the most approachable for the home mixologist. The recipe is also below.

↙ Try This at Home 
Missouri Mule 
(reimagined Moscow Mule)
  • 4 ounces Les Bourgeois LBV Brut
  • 1/4 ounce Ginger syrup
  • 1/4 ounce cream sherry
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce Ron Zacapa rum
Fill large glass with ice. Combine ingredients separate glass or shaker. Stir. Pour over ice.

Garnish with dried pineapple and grated fresh nutmeg.
Dark & Stoutly 
(reimagined Dark & Stormy)
  • 1.5 Ounce Ginger Habanero Syrup (see below)
  • 1.5 Ounce Kickass Dark Rum or Bourbon 
  • Juice of 1/2 a Lime 
  • Chill and Strain into Pint Glass that's 1/2 Full of Ice 
  • Float a Dry Stout on top such as Boulevard Dry or Guinness. Porter works as well. 
Note: Use a nitrogen cask conditioned beer for the creamiest head in order to 'tame the habanero'  
Ginger Habanero Syrup
  • 3 Cups Turbinado Sugar 
  • 1 Halved and Seeded Habanero (use gloves, remove & discard Seeds. The fruit has the flavor, the seeds only have heat) 
  • 1 lb Fresh Ginger (washed, skin left on, sliced thin) 
  • 1 Pint Water 
Bring to a simmer, remove from heat and remove the two habanero halves. Let cool and strain out the ginger. Refrigerate. Good 10 days. 



Did I mention there were 12 drinks served per person? That left 96 glasses on the table at the end of the evening.
(We refused to let the servers remove our empties)

First Course: Cold Poached Lobster with cantaloupe, whipped avocado, coral vinaigrette, long pepper.
This is currently a salad course on The American Restaurant's menu. Get it while you can!

Second Course: Dates & Goat Cheese with fruit leather, pistachio, citrus curd, arugula.
The secret here was to get a little of each ingredient onto your fork for a single bite. 

Third Course: Slow Roasted Pig with corn pudding, chili-roasted peaches, chanterelle, mustard seed.
That cube is pork belly. Extraordinary texture and flavor. The pink pieces are perfectly cooked
pork tenderloin. The chili-roated peaches added a sweet and spicy depth to the plate.

Fourth Course: Concentrated Watermelon with cottonwood, truffle funyun, rind, melon emulsion.
The most whimsical course. Remember Funyuns? Onion flavored corn snack?
It's truffled here (the dark squarish item). 

Dessert: Cherry Cobbler with fritter, almond cake, tonka bean ice cream. 

1 comment:

  1. It just shows that all of us love eating. Eye-catching food presentations will always appear to be the best for all gatherings especially if a party showcases cocktail food and finger foods together with wine as appetizers.