The Modern Bar Cart Podcast

Eric Kozlik

A bi-weekly cocktail podcast covering the tools and techniques that make great drinks. If you’re looking to take your cocktail game to the next level, this is the podcast for you. read less
ArtsArts

Episodes

Episode 281 - A Few Last Words with Paul Clarke
Apr 11 2024
Episode 281 - A Few Last Words with Paul Clarke
In this Seattle cocktail retrospective with Paul Clarke, Editor in Chief of Imbibe Magazine, some of the topics we discuss include: How Paul began his drinks journey in the early days of the cocktail renaissance and became a regular at the ZigZag Cafe, a Seattle cocktail den that rose to prominence thanks, in large part, to a bartender named Murray Stenson. The fascinating gravitational pull that Murray exerted, both within professional hospitality circles and on the community of cocktail enthusiasts who congregated at his bar.  How Murray resurrected The Last Word cocktail from the pages of a forgotten 1950s cocktail book and why his quest for the weird, wonderful, and esoteric extended far beyond cocktails. We also examine hospitality through the lens of an old-school bartender, someone who understood that the people are more important than the drinks - and we try to collect some takeaways for young bartenders who are just starting out on their hospitality journey. Along the way, we consider the merits of large vinyl collections and a lifelong fascination with music, the simple pleasure of spilling “your unique weirdness” to the bartender after a couple drinks, why Murray was “too cool” for awards ceremonies, and much, much more. Paul and I pulled up a seat during our recent spirits judging stint at the American Distilling Institute’s annual International Spirits Competition to explore the legacy of one of the cocktail renaissance’s most beloved bartenders: Murray Stenson. Upon his passing in September of 2023, Murray was memorialized for the major part he played in bringing The Last Word cocktail back onto the world stage after decades of obscurity, but he also played a massively important role in stewarding the overall cocktail culture of Seattle for many years. So this conversation, like its cocktail namesake, is an equal parts mix of history, elegy, technique, and idiosyncrasy. Featured Cocktail - The Industry Sour This episode’s featured cocktail is the Industry Sour. To make this Last Word variant, you’ll need either ¾ oz or 1 oz each of the following: Fernet Branca (A minty, alpine amaro from Italy) Green Chartreuse Simple Syrup Fresh Squeezed lime juice Combine these ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, give ‘em a good, hard shake until the drink is properly chilled and diluted, then strain into a stemmed cocktail glass and enjoy. Developed by St. Louis bartender Ted Kilgore in 2011, I think of the Industry Sour as an offspring of The Last Word, designed, as its name implies, specifically for nerdy cocktail bartenders who are “in the know” about esoteric ingredients like Chartreuse and Fernet. In this case, the Fernet kind of stands in for the gin, which works (since it’s a dry botanical liqueur). And instead of the double-shot of sweetness AND nuttiness from the usual Maraschino liqueur, the Industry Sour takes a half-step back with the use of plain ol’ simple syrup--something that any good cocktail bartender will have within arm’s reach For me, the only real shame is that the pearlescent green color of The Last Word is replaced by a kind of muddy brown in this riff - but again, it seems fitting. Anyone can walk up to something as beautiful as The Last Word and understand they’ve got something special, but it takes a true cocktail acolyte to really appreciate the complex, aggressive symphony contained in the brownish soup of the Industry Sour.
Episode 279 - American Agave with Gian Nelson of Jano Spirits
Feb 26 2024
Episode 279 - American Agave with Gian Nelson of Jano Spirits
In this groundbreaking, down and dirty conversation with Gian Nelson of Jano Spirits, some of the topics we discuss include: How Gian found his home in the creative and multidisciplinary workspace of the wine and spirits industry and why he’s selected Agave Americana as the canvas on which he expresses his passion. An overview of the different types of agave spirits currently being produced here in the US, specifically: the differences between using imported agave syrup vs. actual farmed or wild agaves. Why Mexico is becoming the “Old World” of Agave spirits production, and how American and other international producers are responding to a lack of shared knowledge across borders with characteristic punk rock innovation. What it would mean for a bartender or beverage program in Mexico to import American Agave spirits specifically to feature on their sipping or cocktail menu. And How many thousands of pounds of pinas it takes to make just ten cases of agave spirits. Along the way, we meditate on the mystical nature of inulin conversion, celebrate the influence of Chicano flavors and cultures, learn how to get your neighbor to let you dig up their agave plants, and much, much more. Featured Cocktail: The Batanga This episode’s featured cocktail is the Batanga. To make it, you’ll need: 2 ounces tequila (generally, a silver tequila is utilized, but you can feel free to substitute with any agave spirit of your choosing) 1/2 ounce lime juice 3 ounces Cola Salt for rimming the glass. Begin by slicing a fresh lime, squeezing it for juice, and rubbing a spent half around the rim of a highball glass. Next, rim the glass with salt and fill it with ice. Since this is a built drink in the style of a Cuba Libre, all you need to do is add your agave spirit, lime juice, and cola to top (in that order), and, important to the ritual of this drink, stir it with the knife you used to cut the lime. Garnish simply with a lime wheel or a nice lime twist and enjoy.
Episode 277 - Nomadic Distilling with Devon Trevathan of Liba Spirits
Jan 30 2024
Episode 277 - Nomadic Distilling with Devon Trevathan of Liba Spirits
In this roving, wanderlustrious conversation with Devon Trevathan of Liba Spirits, some of the topics we discuss include:  Why Devon has chosen to cultivate a welcoming and mindful relationship with discomfort while traveling, and how this has allowed her to become a sponge for the sights, flavors, and sensations that make different cultures and destinations unique. A working definition of “Nomadic Distilling,” which forgoes stability and a permanent facility in favor of flexibility and the ability to sample widely from multiple ingredient streams and spirits categories. Devon’s thoughts on the notion of Terroir (spoiler: she don’t like it) and the ability to celebrate and mash-up different spirits traditions from around the world by embracing the role of the guest or outsider. Then, of course, we explore the Liba Spirits portfolio, including a Tyrolean gin from the Dolomites, a botanical rum from New Orleans, and a first-of-its-kind American aperitivo made with a bourbon base. Along the way, we explore the perplexingly cozy lunch habits of Austrians, wax poetic on the flavor of green ants, explain why cold brew deserves a place in your next Americano spritz, and much, much more. Featured Cocktail: Jägertee Inspired by Devon’s travels in Europe, this episode’s featured cocktail is Jägertee, which is an Austrian winter warmer cocktail. Is it 70 degrees here in Washington, DC as I write this? Yes. But we’ll just pretend that we’re having normal January weather and that the planet isn’t trying to kill us. To make a batch of Jägertee you’ll need: 250 ml / 1 cup tea (your choice, but I’d recommend black tea here) 250 ml / 1 cup spiced rum (Austrian Strohrum is traditional, but any will do) 250 ml / 1 cup red wine 250 ml / 1 cup plum brandy, schnaps, or any other liqueur to hand 250 ml / 1 cup orange juice 2 to 3 whole cloves 1 cinnamon stick 2 lemon slices Sugar to taste (depends on how sweet your other ingredients are) Combine all these ingredients in a medium saucepan over low-to-medium heat, warm the mixture gradually until it just begins to simmer, then cut the heat, strain out the solids (or don’t…you do you), and enjoy! Jägertee means, essentially, "Hunter’s tea" in Austrian. Presumably, this is because, after a long, harrowing hunt, it’s pleasant to warm up with a comforting, spicy, winey brew, and NOT because the Austrains endorse consuming uppers and downers before brandishing firearms. One interesting thread to follow here is that rum is extremely popular in the German-speaking world. If you go back to my interview with Brett Steigerwaldt, you’ll learn about the importance of Rum verschnitt in the early parts of the 20th century, so it’s not a complete surprise to me to see a spiced or flavored rum product popping up in a traditional Austrian drink.
Episode 276 - Cocktail Theory with Dr. Kevin Peterson
Jan 19 2024
Episode 276 - Cocktail Theory with Dr. Kevin Peterson
In this heady, fragrant chat with Dr. Kevin Peterson, author of Cocktail Theory: A Sensory Approach to Transcendent Drinks, some of the topics we discuss include: Why his time testing combustion engines in a laboratory made Kevin the perfect person to analyze the classic cocktail families for their ideal dilution, temperature, and ingredient ratios How bartenders can use the notion of “olfactory motifs” rooted in memory, nature, and music to design cocktails that thrill at a more three dimensional level--not just on the taste buds. What tips and tricks Kevin has drawn from the perfumery world to punch up the impact and blast radius of his drinks, including atomized spritzes, scent strips, and even service temperature manipulation. The sense in which bartenders are like magicians, constantly manipulating attention and generating novelty, and how you can apply these principles to both cocktail construction and service. And why, at the end of the day, cocktail service and consumption involves a whole bunch of complex systems that are constantly colliding, leaking information, and changing the way we play the game. Along the way, we provide tips and tricks to make your friends and bar guests say “I can’t UNsmell that,” probe the koji-fermented link between pineapple, aged cheese, and sharpies, uncover why Kevin doesn’t want to be known as “the cricket guy.” And much, much more. Featured Cocktail: The Everlasting Daiquiri To make it, you’ll need: 2 oz rum (Kevin recommends Gosling’s Black Seal) ½ oz Fresh Lime juice ½ oz turbinado simple syrup Prior to construction, you’re gonna want to chill down your rum AND a champagne flute in the freezer. Both need to be ice cold. Then, add your liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker with 3 large ice cubes, shake for (according to Kevin) 12 seconds, then strain into your Champage flute over a smaller ice cube. So if you’re using large, 2” cubes in the shaker, plop a smaller one from a standard ice tray or ice maker into the flute before you strain.
Episode 274 - Izarra: The "Chartreuse" of Basque Country
Dec 14 2023
Episode 274 - Izarra: The "Chartreuse" of Basque Country
In this spirited discussion with Alain Royer and Henry Preiss of Preiss Imports, some of the topics we discuss include: What precisely Izarra liqueur is and the geographic and cultural forces that allowed it to remain more of a regional specialty, while Chartreuse enjoyed wider exposure.  How other specialty liqueurs, like Jaegermeister and Luxardo Maraschino, managed to burst the bonds of their relatively “niche” statuses and become heavyweights in the cocktail world. The unique culture and flavors of the Basque nation, a people who transcend political and geographic boundaries and holds tenaciously to their own distinct identity even in today’s increasingly remixed and digital world. Then, of course, we taste through Izarra’s two flagship offerings: Izarra Verte and Izarra Jaune. We compare and contrast these spirits with their logical Chartreuse analogues and explore the best service methods and use cases for each. We wrap up the conversation by reviewing how Henry and his team are rolling out this beautiful duo of alpine liqueurs in liquor stores and bars across the country and give you some insights on how to get your hands on a bottle. Along the way, we cover the medicinal underpinnings of our contemporary genepies and amari, the crucial role of the Armagnac region in the production of these Basque spirits, the one Izarra product that didn’t quite survive the test of time, and much, much more.
Episode 273 - The Fine Art of the Martini with Robby Haynes
Nov 20 2023
Episode 273 - The Fine Art of the Martini with Robby Haynes
In this stirring, ice-cold conversation with bartender and cocktail batcher extraordinaire, Robby Haynes, some of the topics we discuss include: What people mean when they say, “Martini,” and why certain preferences and aversions pertaining to its construction may stem from unresolved fears and myths about ingredients. How Robby teamed up with distillers, wine-makers, and cocktail experts to weave a flavor tapestry worthy of sitting on the shelf next to the legendary Gold Fashioned. What research and development looks like in the gin space, specifically when it comes to nerdy stuff like botanical maceration, gin basket ergonomics, and ethanol proof points. Then, of course, we taste the Hoste Martini, and Robby shares recommendations about freezer settings and over-ice service that take this cocktail to the next level. Martinis in-hand, we wrap the conversation by examining some of the softer nuances of martini service, like: why cocktail bars are super controlled environments, why hosting a cocktail party can be so unpredictable, and the benevolent tension between host and guest that creates a hospitality interaction. Along the way, we get into the latest updates on this year’s batch of the Gold Fashioned, play a rousing game of “Kill, Marry, Fornicate” with iconic Martini trifectas, ponder the mysterious “Vermouth Tipping Point,” and much, much more. You can learn more about the Gold Fashioned and the new Hoste Martini at hostecocktails.com
Episode 265 - The Past, Present, and Future of Mezcals with Gary Nabhan
Jun 8 2023
Episode 265 - The Past, Present, and Future of Mezcals with Gary Nabhan
In this botanically diverse conversation with ethnobotanist and author Gary Nabhan, some of the topics we discuss include: The winding, intersectional, and truly inspiring story of Gary’s personal journey, from his family ties to bootlegging during Prohibition, to his days spent foraging and learning about plants in the Indiana Dunes, to his documentary work showcasing the pollinator relationship between bats and agave. How he teamed up with his co-author, David Pinera, a famed distributor and curator of agave spirits, to assemble his latest book detailing the ethnobotanical importance of plant/people relationships and the nuances of the mezcal and tequila industries. Some notes on the sacred nature of agaves, and how his background as an interfaith member of the Franciscan order has informed his mission to protect what is sacred Why mezcal can truly be described as “Biodiversity in a bottle,” plus some advice for navigating the almost dizzying array of distillates to choose from in today’s market. And of course, we speculate on what the future might hold for our beloved agave spirits, including why the Tequila industry might learn a thing or two from the parable of “The Prodigal Son.” Along the way, we cover the relationship between agave spirits and deforestation, explain why cactus and agave are truly the “bison” of the plant world, sing lavish praises for the elusive black sphinx date, and much, much more. You can pick up your copy of Agave Spirits: The Past, Present, and Future of Mezcals wherever books are sold. This episode is brought to you by Near Country Provisions. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic and want to enjoy ethically raised (and delicious) meat from local farmers delivered to your door every month, then you need Near Country in your life. Head over to NearCountry.com and enter the code BARCART when you sign up for your subscription to receive 2 free pounds of bacon or ground beef in your first delivery.