When Tao — short for Taoufike Zrafi, bartender extraordinaire at Piano Rouge in Old Montreal — came out from behind the bar after his turn up at bat competing in Montreal Bar vs Chef, I beelined over to him, pat him on the back and bellowed, “Looks like someone really wants to go to Jamaica!” (Because the top prize at our little Appleton-sponsored cocktail competition was a trip to, um, Jamaica.)
What Tao invented (“concocted” is too culinarily namby-pamby a word) sent my lower jaw slamming into the floorboards. When you’re at home futzing around with your shaker and your bottles, do you ever play-act mad-scientist-going-MWAH-HA-HA fantasies in your head? Tao’s Smoking Kingston is actually that.
As if that is not enough, Tao’s presentation included a laminated copy of this flow chart (Tao calls it a “polygramme”; adorbs!):
And now, since you are absolutely as confused/titillated/stunned/feeling stupid as I originally was, I’ll let Tao explain (in cutely imperfect English) what’s up.
My goal and main way to create the cocktail was to peel out every information from every word in “Appleton Estate Reserve.”
I noticed that Appleton didn’t have a spiced rhum which I’m fan of so I decided to create one! [Ed. Note: Infusions of the mandatory Appleton Reserve rum or any other liquors you chose to include were highly encouraged.]
I’ve already made before a rhum recipe with hickory smoked sauce, for the competition I wanted to push the idea further and make it smoky and flowery!
The dry ice was to complement the idea. It’s the same smoke that comes out when I smoked my pisco with apple wood and orange peel — white, intense and heavy — and since my cocktail was short, without any actual fruit addition, the dry ice seemed well as a garnish.
The lab tube expresses the work behind the recipe, I have infused a lot of rhum samples with multiple spices, some of my infusions took a month some of them took 24 hours just to be able to blend them and get the perfect spiceness! I had to mix them in lab tube which is something that made my friends call me the alchemist cause I have tendancy to mix stuff even outside the regular cocktail form or just to create something new !
Now let’s get around to what the Smoking Kingston tastes like. Guess what? It actually tastes like two drinks in one!
For the taste, the first nose will be very smoky in the mouth. You’ll find spicy notes with sugary flower hint. After a while [Ed. Note: I think at the competition Tao said three or four minutes] holding the tube in your hands, the liquids get warmer which gets you to a different level: a smoky taste with citrus hints and a flowery odor mixed with vanilla, and at the end, spicy tanginess in the back of your tongue. Which explains more the use of dry ice. Once it’s warm you can put the tube back in the ellen meyer [Final Ed. Note: He means Erlenmeyer, as in flask, but srsly, is that not a swoon-worthy malapropism??] to retry the first taste !
The Smoking Kingston
1 ounce Appleton Reserve, infused with pink peppercorn, green cardamom and slices of Kaffir lime
1/2 ounce Pisco, infused with rose petals, smoked apple and dried orange peel
1/2 ounce St-Germain
Juice of a quarter lime
2 drops liquid hickory sauce
Here’s how Tao says you do it: “For the making you just put all the ingredients with four cubes of ice [Ed. Note: Into a mixing glass, I’m assuming] and stir them and then double strain them [Ed. Note: Into your test tube, natch].” [Absolutely last Ed. Note: And then of course, you’ve got to put some dry ice in an Erlenmeyer flask. Consider this my official disclaimer stating that I don’t know how the fuck to do that.]
I’m sure you’re dying to know more about these in-sane-fusions, so here goes.
The infused Appleton rum: “Simple infusion of these three ingredients in 8 ounces of Appleton Reserve rum, then re-diluted with non-infused rum to achieve the desired taste. (For best results, a maximum of two pieces of cardamom for each 8 ounces.)
The Pisco infusion: “Simple infusion with rose petals…” I’m going to translate the smoke-infusion part, and speaking of, let’s do some on the blog soon, ay? So anyway, you would smoke an apple like you would smoke meat or whatever, but in a relatively small smoker, one where you can run a piece of tube off the top of the smoker, aka the stack (smoke rises!) and submerge the other end, which must be outfitted with an aerator, directly into your liquid. Next… “Repeat the operation at least 8 times. Strain the liquid following the smoking process and infusion to achieve the desired result.”
The orgeat whozit-whatzit: “Bourbon vanilla beans submerged in a mixture of Appleton Reserve and ground mace, put in the oven at a low temperature. (122 degrees F)” Yeah, I converted that shit for you, reader!