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Walker Menus: Apples

Walker Menus: Apples

Choosing topics for The Walker Inn’s menu has become a sort of discipline. While there are many points of inspiration that could make for delicious cocktails, we’ve tried to push one another to explore topics that are dynamic and that, ultimately, create an immersive experience that’s unique with every visit to the bar. Our team’s current list of potential menu inspirations is long and, at times, very silly — but most have various sub-points of inspiration from which to tease out flavor combinations in lots of forms. But for our third menu, we thought it’d be fun (and challenging) to explore one single idea, an ingredient that many people know and feel they understand, and see how many ways we could express it through cocktails. Given the time of year, October, nothing felt more appropriate than Apples. 

Mise

To follow up something as fun and poppy as “Wet Hot American Summer,” and in preparation for the excess and whimsy of the holiday season, we felt that late autumn was the perfect time to ground ourselves in a subject a little more serious and culinary. We avoided an ingredient-driven menu early in Walker’s life mainly as a way to steer clear of comparisons to seasonally-focused restaurants — we are, afterall, a bar. We like being a bar. As the first menu in this style, apples were an obvious choice. Is that because they were in season and there was a wide variety at the market every week? Sure. But if you’ve ever been to one of our bars before, you may have also noticed the self-referential (self indulgent?) nod to our collective stone fruit fetish — we love them. All of them! If it’s made from apples, pears, peaches, or apricots, we’ve probably used it into the ground.

While development for our first two menus was deeply rooted in somewhat open-ended narratives that took place well outside of the glass — as in the case of Pacific Coast Highway and (Wet Hot) American Summer — a menu centered around apples required a more focused approach and a need to continue asking ourselves “what makes this unique?” We began by getting our hands on a whole bunch of different apples, and then played with them in as many ways as we could: we juiced, puréed, clarified, cooked, infused, distilled, and blended until we found ingredients we loved, explored how each was expressed themselves in all those different forms, then we built the cocktails around those ingredients. In that way, the Apples menu came about as exploration of the diversity of apples, both in their inherent, beautiful form, as well as the ways we can manipulate them. In the drinks below, you’ll find cocktails that bend the rules of classic cocktail structure and that, we hope, are an interesting adventure through many varietals of apples and what makes each so unique. 

After all, an apple a day…gets you tipsy? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

-The Walker Inn Team

AmuseIII

Apple Cocktails

Oshibori & Amuse

The Idea: Did we mention we love apples? Good. That extends beyond the fruit itself and into ciders, brandies, wines — you name it. Made from apples? We’re in. This menu was a great excuse for us to stock up on a whole bunch of interesting boozes made from apples. For our guest’s first sip — a welcome taste alongside a hot, scented towel — we served a very simple amuse of organic Le Brun Brittany Apple Cider (complex, dry, slightly funky) with a few spritzes of cinnamon tincture for aroma in the glass.  Cinnamon helped curb some of the barnyard funk present on the nose of the cider and nod towards the seasonal change. To aromatize the area outside the glass, the sip was served alongside a husk of lemon filled with high-proof rum, lit afire, and a sprinkling of pulverized cinnamon — which sparks dramatically and perfumes the room. Welcome to fall!

The Recipe:

  • 2 oz Le Brun Organic Apple Cider
  • Atomized Cinnamon Tincture*

Method: Pour cider into small stemless wine glass, mist with three sprays of cinnamon tincture.
Glass: Small stemless wine glass
Garnish: In a juiced half lemon, pour 0.5 oz navy strength Jamaican rum. Light on fire just before drink presentation and dash cinnamon powder on flame, creating aromatic sparks.

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Cinnamon Tincture (Very Advanced): Combine 1000 grams liquid with 100 gram cinnamon bark in distilling flask. We source ours from Terra Spice. Set rotary evaporator water bath to 45C. Connect flasks, pull out all oxygen (but do not allow to boil), and spin at 30rpm in bath for one hour. Increase spin to 200rpm and distill.

NOTE: We use a Heidolph Rotary Evaporator for lots of fun ingredients, but it should be first understood that using one with alcohol of any sort is illegal in the United States. Though it would make for a much better flavor, sadly we are handicapped with simply making hydrosols — that is, using water as the base instead of alcohol. If you were to use alcohol, it would be very, very tasty. That’s all we’ll say.

WineI

APPLE WINE

The Idea: So much of the aromatic quality (and nutrients, for that matter) of an apple come from its skin, but that’s often a part of the apple that doesn’t get much attention in drinks. In order to isolate and capture this little-used part of the apple, we used a rotary evaporator to capture its flavor and aroma.. After nosing a number of different varietals — searching for which varietal had the most pronounced character — we settled on Fuji. Not only are Fuji apples intensely fragrant, but it’s one of the more familiar apple aromas (a “regular” apple, if you will) — allowing our guests an intellectual anchor when experiencing the finished cocktail. The result was even better than we had hoped: crisp, fruity, floral, and almost tannic. It immediately brought to mind orange wine, which is no surprise given the role grape skins play in that style of wine. To the apple skin tincture we added Oeno Chardonnay (which we infused with the leftover Fuji apple flesh), Amontillado sherry (for the “oxidative” effect), and a combination of neutral acids and sugar to season and balance. The end result drinks like a wine, albeit one that you might find aged in amphora. 

The Recipe:

  • 3 oz Apple Oeno Chardonnay*
  • 1 oz Apple Skin Tincture**
  • 0.5 oz Lustau Los Arcos Amontillado
  • 0.5 tsp Verjus
  • 0.5 tsp Sugar Cane Syrup***
  • 2 drops Salt Water****

Method: Stir (for much longer than you think), Strain into Decanter
Glass: Burgundy Wine Glass
Garnish: None

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Apple Oeno Chardonnay (Advanced): Just like all infusions, the success of this relies on high quality Fuji Apples. Buying from a bargain-basement grocery store probably won’t be terribly flavorful. In a blender, combine 750 grams Fuji Apples (cored, cubed) with 750ml Oeno Chardonnay and one teaspoon citric acid. If you can’t find Oeno, look for a dry, un-oaked American chardonnay. Blend. Strain out solids and weigh. Add 0.04% by weight Pectinex Ultra SP-L. Keeps for one week.

**Apple Skin Tincture (Very Advanced): Combine 1000 grams liquid with 100 gram Fuji apple skin, and 50 grams Fuji apple flesh in distilling flask. Set rotary evaporator water bath to 45C. Connect flasks, pull out all oxygen (but do not allow to boil), and spin at 30rpm in bath for one hour. Increase spin to 200rpm and distill. Best within two weeks.

NOTE: We use a Heidolph Rotary Evaporator for lots of fun ingredients, but it should be first understood that using one with alcohol of any sort is illegal in the United States. Though it would make for a much better flavor, sadly we are handicapped with simply making hydrosols — that is, using water as the base instead of alcohol. If you were to use alcohol, it would be very, very tasty. That’s all we’ll say.

***Sugar Cane Syrup (Simple): Combine 500 grams organic pure cane sugar with 250 grams filtered water in blender. Blend until fully dissolved. Keeps for one month.

****Salt Water (Simple): Combine 100 grams filtered water with 30 grams kosher sea salt. Stir until dissolved.

PopII

APPLE POP

The Idea: Granny Smith apples are by themselves bright and acidic, so we wanted to see how much brighter they could become if we clarified them — that is, remove the pulp for a clear, clean and pure juice. To highlight the vegetal qualities present in this type of apple, we combined the clarified apple juice with clarified celery juice, then made a soda out of the two juices by combining white sugar, phosphoric and malic acid, water, and then force carbonating it all together. We were happy with the soda on its own, but when we combined with our base spirits (a fairly neutral combination of unaged apple and pear spirits, plus blanc vermouth), we found the drink fell flat. As it turned out, our delicious, balanced soda made for a not-so-interesting cocktail, so we went back, threw it out of balance with a little bit too much sugar and acid, and wound up with the cocktail we wanted. Imagine the color green. Now imagine it as bright as you can and dusted in ice cold glitter. That’s what this drink tastes like.

The Recipe:

  • 1 oz  Blanche de Normandie Apple Brandy
  • 0.5 oz Clear Creek Pear Brandy
  • 1 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
  • Green Apple & Celery Soda*

Method: Build in Glass with cracked ice, top w/ Apple-Celery Soda
Glass: Collins
Garnish: Mint Sprig & Celery Leaf

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Green Apple & Celery Soda (Advanced): inspired by our Orange Cream Soda, this soda is comprised of 9 ounces Clarified Granny Smith Apple Juice**, 3 oz Clarified Celery Juice***, 7 oz Simple Syrup, 1 oz Acid Phosphate (LINK), and 1.5 Malic Acid Solution****, and 12 ounces of seltzer water. Mix, and combine into carbonating bottles. Carbonate at 45 PSI*****. Keep refrigerated and pressurized until used.

**Clarified Granny Smith Apple Juice (Advanced): using a Champion Juicer, juice Granny Smith apples. Add 1 teaspoon of Ascorbic acid to every one liter of juice. Follow process HERE.

***Clarified Celery Juice (Advanced): follow the same process as Granny Smith clarification. 

****Malic Acid Solution (Simple): Combine 100 grams water with 10 grams Lactic Acid Powder.

*****Carbonation (Intermediate): See technique described HERE.

BongIV

APPLE BONG

The Idea: During our early brainstorm sessions, as we searched deep, pondered the philosophical virtue of apples, our personal connections to them and dug up every last possible association we could think of, there was one non-culinary use that we all agreed we had to recreate: a glorious and ubiquitous high school hack, the apple bong. Ever spend time as a suburban teenager? Yeah, you know what we’re talking about. (In retrospect, apple “pipe” probably would have been more accurate – but you get the idea). We chose Red Delicious apples mainly because they look the most apple-y of all the apples, plus they’re sturdy enough to hollow out and use as a drinking vessel. Then, we tried to think of all the edible ingredients that are reminiscent of (bad) weed; hops and sage were no-brainers. We made a hops tincture using the rotovap and combined with mezcal for a smoky edge, red delicious apple juice for body, and lemon juice, simple syrup, and apple ice wine for balance. The final cocktail was served in a hollowed out Red Delicious Apple, with dried sage (lit tableside) as the aromatic garnish. And just like that, you could be transported to [insert memory here; for example: the dog days of summer, 16 years old in my Volvo parked in a church parking lot by the lake. Sup, Andy MacDonald?!].

The Recipe:

  • 0.75 oz Bruxo Espadin
  • 0.75 oz Hops Tincture*
  • 1 oz Red Delicious juice
  • 0.5 oz lemon juice
  • 0.25 oz simple
  • 0.25 oz Apple ice wine

Method: Shake, Strain
Glass: Apple Bong** with dividends beaker 
Garnish: Dried sage***, lit with presentation of drink

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Hops Tincture (Very Advanced): Hops come in many varieties. Some are intensely floral, others are brightly citrusy, earthy, or spicy. We blended three types to evoke a flavor profile that might be close to that of some fine grass (whatever that is). All hops are whole leaf sourced from our local home brew store: Eagle Rock Homebrew. In a blender, combine 20 grams Cascade Hops (floral), 20 grams Citra Hops (citrus), 10 grams Willamette Hops (earth & spice) with 1000 grams liquid. Blend. Strain through chinois and add to the rotovap’s distilling flask. Set water bath to 45°C, pull out most pressure (before boiling), and spin at 30 rpm for 1 hour. After hour, distill. 

AppleCoring

**Apple Vessel (Simple): We chose a red delicious apple for its relative stability (they’re hearty) and because they’re often a bit larger than other apples. An apple that is under ripe will be a bit harder to hollow out, but in the end will hold up a bit better. Ascordic acid solution (10 parts water to 1 part ascorbic acid) is our friend here — it prevents the apple from oxidizing and turning brown during service. Start by slicing off the apple’s top and placing it in ascorbic acid solution. Using a melon baller, scoop out the center of the apple, placing in a separate container for later juicing. Be sure to not go too close to the skin of the apple so it will be able to hold firmly. Once hollowed out, place the apple in ascorbic acid solution. Use a metal pick or straw to punch a hole in the top of the apple — this is where the straw will go. Remove the stem. Place cocktail in a small votive holder that will fit inside your “bong”. Replace the top of the apple, use a couple dried sage leaves where the stem was to light on fire. Sip through the straw while sage is smoldering. 

***Dried Sage (Simple): Using a dehydrator (or oven at a very low temperature), lay sage leaves out flat and dehydrate until crisp. Keep in a cool dry place until used.

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APPLE SNACK

The Idea: The goal for this drink was essentially to turn what would be a garnish (apple slices) into the vehicle for alcohol, while using what would be the cocktail as more of a compliment to the apple slices. A cocktail in reverse, if you will. To achieve this, we cooked apple slices sous vide with Clear Creek 2 Year Apple Brandy until the apples absorbed as much of the booze as they could. Since this particular brandy is made from Golden Delicious apples, that seemed like the natural choice for the slices as well. As far as flavor was concerned, we knew we wanted this drink to be “spiced” but didn’t want to go the traditional baking spice route. Instead, we opted for a more savory direction with Black, Pink, and Szechuan peppercorns, each isolated during the infusion process and paired with another complimentary spice (turmeric, chile flakes, and green cardamom, respectively). Once the apples were infused, we combined all three cooking liquids to make an incredibly complex and dynamic spiced apple brandy, which we then mixed with some Amontillado sherry for a riff on a classic sherry Cobbler. Once fully chilled, each flavor of apple slice was served separately on a cold slate alongside the cobbler. A boozy snack with a cocktail as garnish. 

The Recipe:

  • 1.5 oz Lustau Los Arcos Amontillado
  • 0.5 oz Peppered Clear Creak 2 Yr**
  • 0.5 oz sugar cane syrup
  • 2 drops salt solution
  • Lemon wedge squeezed and dropped in

Method: Whip, Dump, Top w/ Crushed Ice
Glass: Double Old Fashioned
Garnish: Mint Bouquet, orange crescent, shaved cinnamon. Served on a plate with one slice each of the peppered apples.

SnackIII

Techniques & Ingredients :

*Sous Vide Apples (Intermediate): For each of the three cooked apples, add 5 oz Clear Creek 2 Year Apple Brandy with one of the following in each bag:

  • 1 Tbs black peppercorns, 0.5 tsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbs pink peppercorn and 0.5 tsp red pepper flake
  • 1 Tbs szechuan peppercorn and 5 green cardamom pods

Slice apples in half, cook with the cores. Vacuum with spices and liquid, cook sous vide at 135°F for one hour. Plunge into ice bath. Once cool, slice each half into thirds and return to their liquid to store in the walk-in. Just before service, place in the freezer so they are served very cold.

SendOff

INTERMEZZOS

The Idea: For many of our menus — and especially for guests sitting at the bar — we’ll have small sips of something special in between cocktails. For this menu, the natural option was to stock up on a bunch of interesting ciders and one particularly badass ice apple ice wine from spain. Some of our favorites for this menu were the following, often served alongside an apple-y snack. The image above shows the Sidra Diamantes with dehydrated Pink Lady apple slices.

  • 101 Cider House Black Dog: Los Angeles, raw cider with charcoal and Ventura lemons. 6.9%
  • Sidra Diamantes de Hielo: Spain, a sweet frost cider. 11.5%. This was typically the send off for folks at the end of their experience.
  • Millstone Cobbler Maryland, farmhouse-styled cider with candied peach. 8%
  • Troy Sonoma, an archaic cider, still, oak barrel-aged, wild fermented. 9%

Cocktail

APPLE COCKTAIL

The Idea: That we’re lucky enough to have a centrifuge to play with means we want to clarify just about everything. Apple juice happens to be one of the more delicious clarification experiments, so we couldn’t help ourselves from using the stuff more than once on this menu. One of the biggest challenges in developing the Walker Menus has been fitting in boozy drinks — Manhattan and Martini style cocktails don’t always lend themselves to the kind of subtle flavor combinations we’ve found ourselves working with. Especially given the time of year, we were determined to have a full proof, boozy cocktail on this menu. We’ve always loved the combination of crisp apple and blended (read: mild) scotches, so we thought: what if we used clarified apple juice as a sort of vermouth, helping to stretch out the base spirit and adding a little of acid/complexity? It tasted delicious, but needed more body and structure. The addition of Rainwater Madeira and Cognac did the trick, along with a little “seasoning” of salt, sugar cane syrup, and Verjus (sensing a pattern here?). We finished it off with a few spritzes of a blend of Islay scotch and Douglas Fir Eau de Vie. The resulting cocktail was like drinking cold Martinelli’s Apple Juice under falling leaves on a damp autumn morning – undeniably apple-driven and clean but with a backbone of wood and earth.

The Recipe:

  • 1.25 oz Famous Grouse
  • 1 oz Madeira
  • 0.25 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840
  • 1 oz clarified Golden Delicious juice*
  • 0.5 oz clarified Granny Smith juice*
  • 1 tsp Verjus
  • 1 tsp Sugar Cane Syrup
  • 1 drop salt solution

Method: Stir, strain
Glass: Stemmed Cocktail Glass sprayed with Douglas Fir/Octomore blend
Garnish: Gall leaves

Techniques & Ingredients :

*Clarified Golden Delicious & Granny Smith Juices (Advanced): See technique described above.

DessertII

APPLE DESSERT

The Idea: As a kid growing up in New England, apple picking was a pretty common autumn activity. Sometimes it was with your family, sometimes it was a school field trip, but one thing was always certain: the day would end with fresh pressed cider and warm cider donuts. Our hope was to create a cocktail that would bring me back to biting into an actual apple with warm cider donuts on the side. However, turns out cider donuts are impossible to find in Los Angeles proper (please, take this is a challenge: we’re begging you to prove us wrong). Instead, we modified the drink idea to recreate another classic apple treat: caramel apples! To achieve this, we brown butter fat-washed a blend of two kinds of apple brandy and combined them with a generous amount of fresh Honeycrisp apple juice (reminiscent of the pressed cider from those field trips), lemon juice, sugar cane syrup, and a bit of Fino sherry. The Fino is the star ingredient here — I’m not entirely sure I can explain why, but I’ve always found that a little bit of Fino in an apple cocktail helps recall the experience of biting into an apple, giving the impression of texture while maintaining continuity with a liquid cocktail. A single teaspoon of Smith & Cross as a flavor extract (its intended use, according to our friend Ed Hamilton) takes the brown butter flavor into delicious caramel land. In lieu of the cider donuts, we served this drink alongside some delicious apple crullers bought from the donut lady across the street.

The Recipe:

  • 1.5 oz Brown Butter Washed Clear Creek 8 Year Apple Brandy and Clear Creek 2 Year Apple Brandy*
  • 0.5 oz Fino Sherry
  • 1 oz Honeycrisp Apple Juice**
  • 0.5 oz Cane Syrup
  • 0.5 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Smith & Cross
  • 3 Drops Salt

Method: Shake, strain
Glass: Stemmed Cocktail
Garnish: Apple Cruller

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Brown Butter Washed Clear Creek 8 Year Apple Brandy and Clear Creek 2 Year Apple Brandy (Simple): In a wide cambro, pour one 750ml bottle Clear Creek 8 year and one 750ml bottle Clear Creer brandies. Heat 8 ounces of unsalted butter until melted. Butter will begin to foam, just as it subsides, and the butter smells like toasted hazelnuts, remove from pan and pour into cambro. Stir to combine. Cover and place into freezer. Remove after 24 hours, strain out the solids, then return to bottle, label and date.

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