By Frank Sabatini, Jr. / Photos by Paul Body
If pouring drinks nearly two dozen stories above downtown doesn't make Jeremy LeBlanc "San Diego's top mixologist," literally, then at least the cover of his new book does... promotionally, anyway. Co-authored by food journalist Christine Dionese, LeBlanc's picture-heavy paperback, The Best Craft Cocktails & Bartending with Flair, promises "an incredible collection of extraordinary drinks."
In the book, LeBlanc, a self described "mixologist trapped in a bartender's body" who began working behind the bar in his native Boston more than 16 years ago, details cocktail concocting procedures including "fat washing" whiskey before using it to assemble a Whiskey Pig. This fat-infusion process, best applied to brown liquors, is achieved by adding bacon, beef or venison fat to the whiskey, and then chilling the mixture until the lard solidifies.The whiskey is strained with a coffee filter, which lets the opulent flavor flow through while eliminating the greasiness.
The volume's original recipes spotlight other tricks for making aperitifs, punches, the classics and the exotics. Many are combined with fresh syrups, herbs and other organics. Persimmons and ginger spears, for instance, appear in the high-octane Kings County Moonshine cocktail; a pulpy fruit of Andean origin called cherimoya lands in LeBlanc's Moet & Chandon White Star bellinis.
One of LeBlanc's favorite cocktails from the book is the Blood & Sand (in photo above).
"Containing neither blood nor sand... you'll sip, you'll wonder why, but you won't care," LeBlanc says.
The recipe calls for Cherry Herring, a ruby-red liqueur made by soaking crushed Danish cherries and a blend of spices in neutral grain spirits, which, LeBlanc says, "makes this classic stand out."
"I also picked this because, in my book, we quote Will Ferrell's character Ron Burgundy from Anchor Man: 'I love Scotch. Scotch, Scotch, Scotch."
Blood & Sand
(Yields 1 cocktail)
1 oz. 18-year-old Scotch whisky (we like Macallan for this recipe)
3/4 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 oz. Cherry Herring Liqueur
3/4 oz. Sweet Vermouth (We like Martini & Rossi for this recipe)
Combine Scotch whisky, orange juice, Cherry Herring, vermouth and 20 pieces of ice (or about one scoop of ice with a 16-ounce shaker). Shake well for a count of 20, strain and pour into a chilled martini glass.
Join the Club
From working at Altitude to chilling by the flight path
When he isn't serving drinks to high-minded patrons at Altitude Sky Lounge or preparing for the release of his next book, a whiskey guide, Jeremy LeBlanc can sometimes be found drinking Whistle Pig, a 100-proof rye he requests when ordering an Aero Sour at The Aero Club Bar on India Street in Midtown.
"The rye gives the whiskey a spicy, fruit flavor that goes down smoothly, even when sipping it straight," Le Blanc says.
Aero Club general manager Chad Berkey combines one and a half ounces of the whiskey with a half-ounce of simple syrup, a splash of sour, a half-ounce of egg whites and a lemon wedge muddled in a shaker. The ingredients are shaken vigorously to generate froth; sprinkled cinnamon on top seals the deal.
"It's a craft whiskey sour, creamier in texture and ending with cinnamon on the palate," says LeBlanc, who's pleased to take a break and let someone else do the mixologizing from time to time.