11 Oct Crafting the Liquid Medium
The Ravens Club was recently asked to be part of a film project to support and shed light on the great film program over at Washtenaw Community College. Nick and I were interviewed about what we love doing the most: working with drinks. The process was a lot of fun. The camera lights were bright and hot so thankfully the make-up they applied hid our perspiring foreheads. This time, the answer to one question that I’ve been asked before came out more clearly than it has in the past.
What are craft cocktails? What is craft? What is a craft cocktail?
I knew the question was coming and maybe should have had a prepared answer for that one. After a short pause and blank stare into the hazy room created by the camera lights and smoke machine, I found myself speaking to what we do here daily. (Yeah, serious program over there at WCC. The smoke machine added texture to the air. I, too, work with texture, well, in liquid form, so I really dug it.)
I tried to explain that craft drinks, or anything labeled as ‘craft’ take a certain care and know-how. It’s not a buzzword, although some conceptualize their place(s) as ‘craft’ so perhaps there is an issue there. Craft is a practice. Craftsmanship is a point of pride. We come into work three hours before service to prep. We come in on days off to make pepper tinctures. We become frustrated working with other people’s products so we make our own. We really love what we do. This is the liquid medium we use to show people what we can do.
Creating or crafting something and seeing that satisfaction in someone else is one of my favorite things about my job. That experience is what keeps us thinking about work when we’re not here. It makes us re-write our menus every season so we can keep improving and growing. It’s what makes this kind of bar so much fun to work at.
Craft is what led to me the newest addition to the cocktail menu; housemade sodas, tonic and elixirs. A year or so ago I struggled with the gin and tonic, to date probably my favorite drink. Finding the right combination of the two and an appropriate garnish is a process of trial and error. My biggest frustration was finding a tonic bitter enough. So I made my own tonic. I found a lot of pleasure and peace by finalizing the recipe because I was able to share and celebrate my take on the gin and tonic.
Next up is soda. Working with cocktails can be time-consuming and can feel like a lot of work to put together when that’s all your doing through the shift. Over the years we’ve found ways to make it easier on the consumer and us. While popular and mad diverse, cocktails are really pretty uniform. Booze, sugar, bitters and you have a cocktail. There are tons of options, but it can still feel limited. So to free things up, we wanted to simplify yet still provide the quality that we’ve been accustomed to. Making our own mixers seemed to be the logical move.
Nick and I came up with three ideas for soda: honey pepper, cherry vanilla and hop soda. We worked on them until we impressed ourselves then paired them with some of our favorite distillates, and just like that, another page of the menu was crafted.
So come and check out the newest evolution to our bar menu and beverage program. We’ve carefully crafted and laid them all out for you. The three varieties of soda are on draft and available every night. Thank you so much for all of your support over the years and helping us grow – we can’t thank you enough. It’s our pleasure to see your enjoyment of our craft. Peace and love.
Zack Zavisa, General Manager