Christopher Lowder & 1930 – One of Heering´s 200 years

Words by: Ashley Pini

Binging on cooking shows, books and blogs, and bumping into Jeff Bell at PDT, all led to a life behind the stick for Christopher Lowder – now forging his path in Shanghai.

The middle child in a family of three boys, Chris Lowder has been in the bartending industry since 2003 when he started working as a dishwasher in ‘Woody’s Crab House,’ Baltimore, at the tender age of 15.Dishwashing turned into cooking, and I cooked for the next four years,” he explained.

At 19 Chris arrived in Osaka, Tokyo, having received a year-long scholarship to study in full immersion.

“Growing up in Baltimore, we ate grilled cheese, tomato soup, spaghetti, fried chicken and, once per year, crabs. I spent my years in China from 19-22 just understanding the flavours of the world. We went out at least five days per week. It was awesome,” he said.

After a foray into what Chris describes as “real life,” while continuing to cook at home, he “really missed working in the kitchen, cooking on the line; the heat, the intensity, the passion, the teamwork.” So, Chris started binge-watching cooking shows, obsessively reading and highlighting cookbooks with color-coded post-it notes sticking out of the binding.

“I was following a few blogs written by chefs in New York, and would email them pictures of food that I had cooked, telling them that I would gladly sweep, mop, dish wash, if they would just give me a shot and teach me.”

From here, Chris stumbled upon one of these chef’s blogs, highlighting cocktails in New York. Having come across a whole new world; “Cocktails hadn’t happened in China yet, so craft beer was the closest that I had ever come to fine drinking,” he bought a cheap cocktail set and started mixing at home. “Martinis and Manhattans at first, but eventually I was driving across state lines to get things like Maraschino liqueur and Crème de Violette,” he added.

“Before you knew it I was muddling pineapples into a colander to make cocktails with fresh pineapple juice. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but the obsession was real,” Chris told us. “The first cocktail I ever had in my life using fresh juice was a Bees Knees from the PDT cocktail book, and it absolutely changed my life.”

During a trip to New York, Chris went to PDT. “Tending that night was Jeff Bell; he was amazing. I had never experienced hospitality like that before. Jeff showed me that there was a whole social side to bartending that I hadn’t considered before. When I left the bar that evening, I decided that I would spend my adult life trying to make people feel as good as I felt in that bar that night. I think that if I can do that, then that’s a pretty noble pursuit just by itself,” Chris continued.

Of Cheery Heering, Chris has fond memories “One day I was drinking in New York in Mother’s Ruin; it was the first day that I had ever had a drink from the Gentleman’s Companion, by Charles Baker. I was drinking with Greg Bowen and his girlfriend and he made me a drink with Cherry Heering, a ‘Remember the Maine’. We had the most amazing afternoon. I wound up making this drink over and over in my apartment after. As well as this, Giuseppe Gonzalez was bartending, and for me, that in itself is a great memory. It was such a treat; a great afternoon with great people”.

Chris explained that he chose the year 1930, as a homage to one of his bar heroes, Charles H. Baker Jr.

“When I moved to Seoul to open the Four Seasons Hotel, our flagship cocktail bar was called “Charles H.” after the late Charles H. Baker Jr. My first journey into solo menu creation, head bartending, and bar management was all framed around this bar that was dedicated to this man. It was a huge chapter in my life and career, and in making this cocktail we poured lots and lots of Cherry Heering,” he added.

For Chris, the most important element of the bartending industry is “Education. Just more, free, accessible education,” he stated.

“I know there are a lot of issues to rally around in progressive bartending and bar management, but the reality in a lot of the world is that thousands of people are just getting started in the industry and probably don’t have good access to accurate training materials in their native language.

“I travel to lots of cities to do bar training, and the teams there don’t know many of the basics. For me, the real mission is universal access to high quality, accurate, objectively respectable bar educational materials to train people on the fundamentals of bartending and service in their native language. Is that so hard?”

Kirsch au Café #2 Cocktail

20ml Cherry Heering

20ml Fresh Espresso (chilled)

30ml Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac

10ml Kirschwasser

10ml Demerara Syrup (1:1)

30ml Fresh Egg White

Method: Combine all ingredients into a cocktail tin. Shake without ice, shake with ice and fine strain into a tall cocktail glass. Top with a dash of Angostura bitters, made into ornate decoration with a cocktail pick.

Garnish: Serve with a side of dark chocolate and cocktail cherries that have been re-brandied into a 4:1 Cherry Heering: Kirsch blend.

The PDT Project: #3 Cup on .umamimart.com

The #2 drink in the PDT Cocktail Book is the #3 Cup. If you like the Pimm’s Cup, then you cannot pass up this one, which appeared on the PDT menu in the spring of 2009. Created by former PDT bartender Gerry Corcoran, the drink’s name is a reference to the now defunct Pimm’s No. 3, which was essentially a liqueur with a brandy base. There used to be various Pimm’s bottlings, ranging from No. 1 to No. 6, with each number corresponding to a different base spirit. All that remains in the states is the gin-based Pimm’s No. 1.

#3 Cup
1 oz Hine V.S.O.P. Cognac
1 oz House Ginger Beer (recipe below)
.75 oz Martini Sweet Vermouth
.5 oz Marie Brizard Orange Curacao
.5 oz Cherry Heering
.5 oz Lemon Juice
4-5 Mint Leaves (plus 1 sprig for garnish)
2 Slices Cucumber (unpeeled)
2 Slices Orange (2 half wheels; reserve 1 for garnish)

Tools: Muddler, shaker, strainer
Glassware: chilled, ice-filled Collins glass

Method
: In the shaker tin gently muddle the mint, cucumber, and one orange slice. Add the remaining ingredients, then shake and strain into the ice-filled Collins glass. Add the mint sprig and remaining orange slice as garnish.

A cursory glance at this drink’s ingredient list might cast some intimidation, but it’s actually quite an easy drink to assemble. The key is to have a prepared mis en place, and believe me you’ll want to because it’s an incredibly delicious and refreshing drink. In fact you should definitely have a mis en place going because chances are you’re going to want more than one, especially on a nice spring day. Its relatively low alcohol content ensures you can knock back a few without getting knocked over.

WASHINGTONPOST.COM PRESENTS MOUNT VERNON

Mount Vernon

The Washington Post, September 28, 2011

Course: Beverage • Features: Fast

Summary:

One hallmark of PDT mixologist Jim Meehan’s cocktails is his unusual use of fruit brandies and eaux-de-vie as featured spirits. Here, the clear cherry brandy kirschwasser takes center stage (hence the George Washington-inspired title), along with <a href=’http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/a-tasting-of-spanish-brandies-reveals-their-grandeur/2011/03/29/AF8fpmiC_story.html’>Spanish brandy de Jerez</a> (such as Gran Duque d’Alba brand).

 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • 1 ounce kirschwasser
  • 1 ounce brandy de Jerez
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce Pedro Jimenez sherry
  • 1/2 ounce Cherry Heering liqueur
  • 3 preserved cherries (or maraschino cherries, for garnish (see related recipe)

Directions:

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the kirschwasser, brandy, grapefruit juice, sherry and Cherry Heering; shake well, then strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass.

Garnish with the cherries on a pick.

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