Category Archives: Bartending

Sour Beers for Summertime Refreshment

As pickled and preserved homegrown-foods continue to grow in popularity, it’s only natural that beverages with similar flavor profiles and origins would become more popular, too.

We recently highlighted shrub cocktails, the pre-colonial era, vinegar-based mixers and mixed drinks that are bubbling under the trend radar, but they’re not the only sour offering available at the bar. Sour beer recipes originating from 18th century Europe (and earlier) have a growing fan base among trend-driving craft beer aficionados all across America.

Sour beer served in snifters

“Sour” beers aren’t necessarily sour in flavor. They’re tart, fruity, and crisp, made so by bacteria added after the fermenting process. Before modern, sterile food processing became the norm, wild yeast and bacteria were just part of the beer brewing process. Today, most brewers who create sour beer add select souring agents in a fairly controlled fashion, but there are some who stick with tradition, allowing natural bacteria and yeast to work their unpredictable magic.

The dog days of summer are near, get to know what sour beers are available from your local craft brewers and lock in a selection for your own beer menu. Their crisp flavors, effervescence, and traditionally low alcohol by volume are ideal for craft beer aficionados who like to while away hot summer days at their favorite watering hole. Pilsner glasses suffice for serving sour beers, but flutes can highlight their coolness and carbonation, and snifters can intensify their aromas.

Understanding Foodservice Glassware Terminology

Marketing departments try to describe their products in the most enticing ways possible, but sometimes that leaves buyers wondering which descriptors actually mean something (if anything).

Mixed drinks in Anchor glasses

Image: The Anchor Hocking Company

When it comes to foodservice glassware, there are many branded terms, seals, and registered trademarks used to make one product sound more advantageous than another, but most manufacturers also use terminology that’s scientifically founded. The following terms are commonly used to describe commercial-quality drinking glasses. We’ve written out some non-scientific definitions that will help the next time you’re comparing products and shopping within a budget.

  • Annealing – controlled heating and cooling of glass that makes it more durable against cracking or shattering in response to temperature change. Annealed glass shatters into extremely sharp shards from very small to very large.
  • Heat-Strengthening – similar to tempering. Heat-strengthened glass is 2x as strong as annealed glass. Heat-strengthened glass breaks into shards that are less likely to shatter.
  • Rim-Tempering – applying the tempering process to only the rim of a drinking glass. Chips and cracks often begin at the rim, where a glass is most likely to endure shock. Rim-tempering offers added durability at a lower cost than a fully-tempered piece. Both Anchor and Cardinal refer to glassware treated in this way as “Rim-Tempered.”
  • Tempering – heating glass above its annealing point and cooling it rapidly. Tempered glass is up to 6x as strong as annealed glass. Tempered glass shatters somewhat uniformly into small, dull-edged piece. Cardinal refers to glassware treated this way as “Fully Tempered” and “Extra Resistant.” Libbey uses the term “heat-treated” for fully-tempered pieces and also for blown glass which is treated only along the top portion.
  • Toughening – see tempering.

History & How-To: Shrub Cocktails

Ruth Hartnup, Flickr Commons

Bar owners and restaurateurs nationwide began reinventing the Prohibition Era speak easy quite a few years ago, launching a craze for classic cocktails and the dashing mustachioed barkeeps who create them. But naturally, as when any style trend becomes conventional, foodie taste makers have had to move on to something new… or, in this case, truly old.

Introducing the shrub, a drink recipe colonial Americans brought with them from England.

A shrub is an alcoholic or non-alcoholic mixed drink built on the flavor of a shrub syrup (aka “a shrub”), which is a reduction of fruit, vinegar, and sweetener.

Shrub syrups are ideal for making use of cosmetically imperfect produce or an over-abundant harvest, something chefs new to managing their own farm-to-table yields may find valuable again here in the 21st century. Though the syrup is traditionally prepared with equal parts vinegar, sugar, and fruit, the possible flavor combinations are limitless when vegetables, herbs, and spices are used in addition to, or in place of, the fruit.

How To Make a Shrub Syrup:

Combine 1 part fruit and 1 part sugar, allow to rest until sugar has dissolved and combined with fruit juices to create a syrup. This could take up to a few days. Strain out the solids. Add 1 part vinegar and let the mixture mellow to taste. Once it’s ready, add it to this simple cocktail recipe.

Fruit Shrub Spritzer Recipe: