Glossary: Pousse-café

The first in a series of posts dedicated to demystifying the vernacular of the studied bartender.

The first word is the pousse-café and was inspired by my trip to Mexico and the tourist bars that cater to a clientele who perhaps favors flourish over flavor.


pousse-café \ˌpüs-(ˌ)ka-ˈfā\ a drink with layers of spirits, juices or other liquids. In french it means coffee-chaser as it was originally intended as a digestif after coffee. To make, a bartender starts with the densest liquid (typically those sweeter and less alcoholic) pouring each spirit individually in the glass using the back of a spoon or the side of the glass.

The patron is then meant to enjoy the drink as it is presented... never stirring.

Now my only questions is what place the pousse-café has in modern mixology. Traditional recipes are very sweet. Is it possible to created one that is balanced or satisfying like the courses of a meal? Could the pousse-café be re-imagined like the fantastic chewing sensation in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory?

Willy Wonka: Don't you know what this is?
Violet Beauregarde: By gum, it's gum.
Willy Wonka: Wrong! It's the most amazing, fabulous, sensational gum in the whole world.
Violet Beauregarde: What's so fab about it?
Willy Wonka: This little piece of gum is a three-course dinner.
Mr. Salt: Bull.
Willy Wonka: No, roast beef. But I haven't got it quite right yet.

Stay tuned.

Resources:
Great list of liquor densities
WSJ Article "Neither Shaken Nor Stirred"
Tons of Recipes

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