Monday, May 27, 2013

Mandarine Napoléon Coffee & Cocktail Labs

There were so many great seminars and events this year held as part of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic.  It was very difficult to choose which ones to go to, and there were many times when I wished I could have been in more than one place at one time!

One of my favorite series were the Mandarine Napoléon Labs - three events co-hosted by Saveur Magazine - the Mandarine Napoléon's Double Buzz: Coffee and Cocktails, a Mandarine Napoléon Cooking Lab with five cocktail pairings and dishes that incorporate the spirit, and finally, the Weird Science  Master Mixology in Napoléon's Cocktail Lab at Pouring Ribbons with Jaoquín Simó.  My favorite of the series was the Coffee and Cocktail Lab, because some damn fine cocktails were crafted out of a rather non-traditional combination.  Seeing that two of my favorite things in the whole world are coffee and mandarin oranges, I was interested in learning how to combine the two.

Photo courtesy of  Mandarine Napoléon 
Saturday morning, post Gala, I made my way over to the gorgeous Saveur test kitchen in Manhattan; the night before hidden behind large sunglasses.  I was greeted with not only a gorgeous spread of fresh granola and fruit, quiches, bagels with cream cheese and cucumbers (just what this girl needed), but a Napoleon's Complex - a remix of the traditional Old Fashioned made with cold brewed coffee and Mandarine Napoléon.  Happiness.

Napoléon's Complex 
Bagels and an Old Fashioned: Breakfast of Champions
At the helm of the day's lessons were Elad Zvi of The Broken Shaker in Miami and Mike Morgenstern of Joe Coffee who taught a small group, including yours truly, the basics of cocktail craft, how to make cold brewed coffee, and the importance of quality ice.  First, we did a tasting of just the Mandarine Napoléon - which is a cognac based liqueur that tastes predominantly of mandarin, with flavors of clove, cardamom, green tea, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  As I am learning, it is quite the versatile spirit.

Photos courtesy of  Mandarine Napoléon 

Mr Morgenstern spoke on the difference between hot brewed coffee and cold brewed coffee - most importantly that cold brewed coffee has a higher ratio of coffee to water (1:5 vs 1:17 of hot brew) and cold brew coffee is less acidic because it is the hot water that brings out the acids in the coffee.  It is this smoother variation of our beloved brew that makes such a sultry combination with mandarin cognac.

Photo courtesy of  Mandarine Napoléon
Onward to the cocktails!

The first cocktail we made was Mandarine Margarita - spiked with Cold Brew Buena Vista Bolivia Coffee!  After a few cocktail primers from Mr. Zvi (learning to handle a boston shaker), we were ready to build and shake our Margaritas!  The flavors of the Tequila, the Mandarine Napoléon, and the coffee from Bolivia balanced so nicely, especially with the touch of tarragon.

Yours Truly and Jessica Leibowitz of My Camera Eats Food - Photo courtesy of  Mandarine Napoléon 
Mandarine Margarita
Mandarine Margarita

¾oz Mandarine Napoléon
¾oz Joe Coffee - Cold Brew Buena Vista Bolivia
2 oz Tequila
¾oz Fresh Lime Juice
¾oz Tarragon infused Agave Syrup
Fresh Tarragon to Garnish

Shake with ice and strain into a low ball glass.  Garnish with fresh tarragon leaves.

Photo courtesy of  Mandarine Napoléon
Our third cocktail of the day was the Parisian Painkiller, a tiki drink that was pretty damn delicious.  We used Thai coconut milk, freshly pureed banana, Mandarine Napoléon, Appleton Estate Rum, cold brew Apukuna coffee, with a garnish of freshly ground nutmeg, cinnamon and clove.

Photo courtesy of  Mandarine Napoléon 
Parisian Painkiller

1oz Mandarine Napoléon
1oz Joe Coffee - Cold Brew Apukuna
1oz Appleton Estate Rum
1oz Thai Coconut
1oz Fresh Banana
Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Clove  

Shake with ice and strain into a tall glass or Tiki mug filled with freshly crushed ice.  Grind some nutmeg and cinnamon on top, and garnish with fresh fruit and a festive umbrella!

I was extremely impressed with all of these cocktails, and they are all libations I will be making at home when I entertain this summer.  They brilliantly showcased the versatility of Mandarine Napoléon in its ability to combine with other sophisticated and complex flavors, and shine in a diverse range of cocktails.  It was really impressive how well the mandarin balanced with the bitterness of the coffee, one of the most complicated flavor profiles around, with more than 20 compounds per brew.  It's exactly this kind of versatility that makes Mandarine Napoléon a great addition to a bar - namely, my bar.  Speaking of which, I had better start brewing some coffee, I have some cocktails to make!!

Cheers!  Photo courtesy of  Mandarine Napoléon 

Napoleon's Complex

¾ oz Mandarine Napoléon
¾ oz Joe Coffee - Cold Brew Papua New Guinea
2¼ oz Rye Whiskey
2 drops Cold Brew Vinegar
Flamed Orange

Stir with ice for a minute, and strain into a low ball glass with a large ice cube.  Garnish with flamed orange peel.

Brew Cold Press Coffee

Grid coffee to a medium grind.  Add one fifth of your brewing water to the bottom of your vessel, add half of your grounds and half of your water (at room temperature).  Allow to sit and "bloom" for 4 minutes.  Add second half of coffee and second half of water.  Make sure the coffee is fully saturated at at both steps.  Leave the coffee over night, and filter before using. 

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