Last weekend I catered drinks for 350-400 ritzy Brooklinites in a large furniture store.
We brought beer, red & white wine, as well as a cocktail; ten gallons of cocktail to be exact. The biggest cocktail I’ve ever put together.
The cocktail was measured out plus diluted with water into two five gallon Cornelius kegs. I kept putting the drinks up a dozen at a time over ice. The cocktail was even carbonated ever so slightly to mimic the texture of shaking.
EDITED TO ADD: DO NOT OVER DUE THE DISSOLVED GAS BECAUSE IT WILL STICK OUT LIKE A SORE THUMB AND BE AN INAPPROPRIATE ATTENTIONAL DISTRACTION. SO MANY PEOPLE’S VERMOUTH ON TAP SUCKS BECAUSE THEY USE CO2 WHEN THEY SHOULD BE USING NITROGREN.
My serving method was awesomely efficient and no one seemed to care about the lack of artistic constraint usually seen in cocktail service. (I had actually thought the drink was only going to be served on trays from a back room. That didn’t happen)
Anyhow, the really interesting part came when we got more than 50% of everyone drinking the same cocktail. How the hell did that happen? This was definitely not a room full of foodies or hipsters. The drinks were flying off the table. There is no way I would have ever been able to keep up if the drink was not kegged. (I used a simple cobra spout if anyone was wondering)
EDITED TO ADD: I’VE HAD ALOT OF SUCCESS BUYING THE CHEAP COBRA SPOUTS AND JUST CUTTING THE HOSE REALLY SHORT ( TO A FEW INCHES). SAVE THE EXTRA HOSE AND REPLACE THAT TINY SECTION WHEN IT GETS TOO DIRTY. THIS IS FAR CHEAPER AND BETTER THAN ATTACHING A METAL BEER FAUCET PICNIC STYLE TO THE TOP OF YOUR KEG.
I guess I need to explain what the drink was; a riff on a Periodista (the passion fruit liqueur makes a similar aesthetic contribution that an apricot liqueur would).
2 gallons clear rum (I got stuck using three different Puerto Rican brands plus some Seagram’s Brazilian rum)
1 gallon fresh lime juice
4 750ml of azorean passion fruit liqueur (750ml is nearly a fifth of a gallon hence they are sometimes called “fifths”)
1 750ml of Portuguese triple-sec
3 oz. angostura bitters
1 gallon of water
But why was this drink able to capture the average of so many peoples’ tastes?
EDITED TO ADD: NOTICE THAT I DID NOT CHANGE THE DRINK’S RATIO BECAUSE THE DRINK SCALED UP IN SIZE. DISREGARD THAT OLD WIVES TALE ABOUT HAVING TO MAKE THE DRINK SWEETER. PEOPLE ONLY DO THAT BECAUSE THEY BECOME INSECURE ABOUT THE NATURE OF THE ACQUIRED TASTE THEY ARE SERVING.
First of all, whether foodies or not I think what the room had in common that it was from a wine consuming background. Jug wine maybe, but what they share in common is a love of an acidic structure to their beverage. The aroma of cheap wine might be boring, but what most people seem to identify with is the gustatory structure (acidity!). People that come from a Snapple culture (and America has a lot of Snapple-sweet tea culture) are more likely to be adverse to acid. One thing that really seems to hit the average of wine oriented peoples taste is a 350-400 gram/liter liqueur contrasted against an equal volume of lemon or lime acid. I think the passion fruit liqueur is in that upper bound but it is blended down slightly by the triple-sec (250 g/L probably). The triple-sec also has a tonal effect on the passion fruit liqueur lightening it to a beautiful androgynous extraordinary shade. Lime as opposed to lemon brings more extract (lessening the sweet-tart phenomenon changing the hollowness of the sour perception) and lime adds angular contrast which creates more depth in the drink (useful because the rum has none). The bitters add huge amounts of extract (which people seem to love) and more angular contrasts to all the round fruitiness of the liqueurs.
I built this drink out of spare parts on the theory of how they added up and it worked. Some of the only negative comments I got from the entire room was “I don’t drink rum”. But it is very hard to defeat superstitions like that.
I will definitely be using the same keg setup again. Hopefully I can provide a guideline for the perfect carbonation pressure to strive for. (keep in mind too much carbonation can make the drink taste far too tart and spoil all your careful averages. I’m forgetting to spill some details about how I made the gas push the liquid with out carbonating more than I wanted)
I forgot to mention that I used 9 of 10 gallons which is like 350 portions. and cost about 30 cents an ounce. (undiluted)
EDITED TO ADD: AND THE REST IS HISTORY… KEGGING DRINKS IS A PRIVILEGE AND NOT A RIGHT. DO NOT ABUSE IT.