No, this is not the title of our memoirs, but the name of a delicious cocktail by Jamie Boudreau. His bar, Canon, is on our list of establishments to visit every time we go to Seattle.
Bourbon Dynasty 2 oz. Bourbon 1 oz. Lillet Blanc 1 tsp. Crème de Cassis 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Stir all ingredients together with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist.
This drink is darkly juicy, like blueberry jam with alcohol. That may not sound appetizing, but if you knew how much we love blueberries, you would know that is highest praise. Crème de cassis is, of course, French black currant liqueur and it, mixed with the Lillet, lends a dark fruit jamminess to this well-balanced drink. We used a mild bourbon that worked well with the other flavors. A spicier whiskey wouldn’t pair well with the sweetness of this cocktail.
Jim Meehan’s PDT Cocktail Book has been getting a lot of run here recently. It’s almost like it’s a beautiful book full of tasty cocktail recipes or something. As soon as we noticed there’s a bourbon cocktail in it called There Will Be Blood, we knew it was only a matter of time before it ended up on There Will Be Bourbon.
There Will Be Blood 2 oz. Bourbon ¾ oz. Godiva chocolate liqueur ¾ oz. Blood orange juice
We were really unsure of this cocktail at first, mainly because we’re not really big fans of creamy liqueurs like Godiva. But the spiciness of the bourbon (we used Temperance, though the PDT recipe calls for Old Grand-Dad) brings together the chocolate and blood orange juice nicely. It might not be an “every occasion” cocktail, but it’s nice for a rare, decadent treat. Does Patrick like it?
We’re absolutely loving the PDT Cocktail Book. Last week we made the De La Louisiane during the first portion of Rye Week, and here we are making the Frisco. We’ve also got our eyes on a few bourbon cocktails once we resume our regularly scheduled bourbon programming.
Frisco 2 oz. Rye whiskey ½ oz. Bénédictine
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with an orange or lemon twist.
That’s it. Two ingredients, stir, strain, and drink. Jim Meehan’s recipe calls for Old Potrero Hotaling’s Rye, presumably for its taste as much as its connection to San Francisco. (Meehan notes that this cocktail is “named after one of the most established cocktail communities in the world.)
This cocktail is as delicious as it is simple. The Bénédictine uses all its herbs and citrus flavors to round out the rye into a smooth, slightly sweet cocktail. The rye remains the star of the show. When making this cocktail at home, be sure to use a rye you really love.
Rye whiskey is really great in cocktails. Rye lends itself well to drinks more on the savory side, where its spice and herbal characteristics shine. We adapted the recipe below from the original, which appears in Savory Cocktails. It is categorized as a “fermentation cocktail” because the whiskey supposedly feeds on the sugar from the cherry juice. Science!
The Fatal Hour 2 oz. Rye whiskey ¾ oz. Cynar or other herbaceous amaro 2 dashes Chocolate bitters 1 Luxardo cherry
Combine the rye, Cynar, and bitters in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Let chill for about 20 seconds, the strain into a chilled coupe. Use a bar spoon to scoop a cherry with a little bit of syrup still clinging to it. Slowly stir it into the cocktail.
This drink is bitter but well balanced. The Cynar almost steals the show, so be sure to use a higher proof whiskey to keep the Cynar in check. The chocolate bitters add silky sweetness.
Rye Week continues into its second week because we feel like drinking more rye. This time we’re drinking Wild Turkey Rye. Since Wild Turkey is famous for its bourbon, we were curious to see what the rest of their whiskey catalog had to offer.
The first thing to note is this whiskey’s relatively low 81 proof, as it sets up the entire drinking experience. Overall, Wild Turkey rye is a balanced, light whiskey. It has a light gold color and very subtle aroma. I couldn’t pick up any specifics when giving it a whiff, but Rachel found hints of nectarine or white peach. It has some of the vanilla and raisin sweetness from the wood, but is (as expected) less sweet than Wild Turkey Bourbon. Overall, it’s a well-balanced, light whiskey. It’s not heavy on any flavors, but it doesn’t lack flavor either. There are hints of malt, corn, and spice throughout each sip. Its linger is long but subtle and slightly spicy. It makes for a nice sipping rye and we can easily understand why this is repeatedly mentioned as a favorite by bartenders.
*Even though this nightcap was on Wild Turkey’s tab, we will always review products honestly. Contrary to popular belief, free drinks don’t automatically taste better.
We wanted to make the most of Rye Week on our blog, so we decided to mix up a cocktail from the wonderful PDT Cocktail Book. We didn’t alter this recipe at all, which is very rare for us.
De La Louisiane 2 oz. Rye whiskey ¾ oz. Sweet Vermouth ¾ oz. Bénédictine 3 dashes Absinthe 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with three cherries.
The author credits this drink to an old book called New Orleans Drinks (1937). Aside from the fact that we love any book title that sounds like a factual statement, we appreciate the history behind this Manhattan variation, as well as its blend of American and French influences—just like its city of origin.
The drink is very smooth and aromatic. The absinthe plays a supporting role to every other ingredient without overwhelming. The rye is a great spicy addition to the drink, which could otherwise be too sweet or herbal. We loved this cocktail and will certainly make it again.
We are going to have an impromptu Rye Week here because sometimes we like to drink other kinds of whiskey besides bourbon. First up is Hudson Manhattan Rye from Tuthilltown Spirits. We decided to start with Manhattan Rye because Tuthilltown’s Four Grain Bourbon is one of our favorites. On the other hand, we were lukewarm on their Baby Bourbon, but mostly because we like full-bodied whiskeys more than the lighter stuff. Feeling in the mood to treat ourselves, we finally picked up one of these mini bottles of rye.
We had high expectations, and we’re happy to say the Manhattan Rye met them. Like their other whiskeys, this rye is pot-distilled and aged in small barrels for less than four years. The color is a dark red, amber color. I thought the nose was mostly floral and full bodied, while Rachel got hints of cherry and amaretto. We agreed on the flavor, tasting a lot of raisin, apple, vanilla, and of course rye. The finish was lightly peppery and stuck around long enough to make you want to drink more. I also thought there was a slight char flavor in the aftertaste that rounded out the overall sip. We really, really like it. At 92 proof, it’s right about average for most whiskeys. The only real drawback of this—and the other Tuthilltown Sprits—is the cost. At $45 for 375ml, the Manhattan Rye becomes a special occasion spirit.
Know what’s super tasty? Bourbon. Bourbon is super tasty. Believe it or not, we don’t sit back and enjoy a nice glass of bourbon very often. We’re often conducting experiments in our kitchen or bar trying to find the next fun thing we can add bourbon to because blogging about bourbon is such a…burden. Sometimes we just want to drink some ice cold whiskey without our drink tasting like water and maybe even have a really cool looking ice ball rolling around our glass without splashing our faces, OK!
When we got an email asking if we’d like to review these Arctic Chill ice ball molds, we weren’t really sure what we could say. After all, we’ve actually had an ice ball mold for a few years, so what more really *is* there to say about an ice ball mold? Honestly, not a lot. These Arctic Chill molds are pretty much the same as the Muji one we already have. They’re made from BPA free silicone, are easy to fill and freeze, and make 2.5-inch ice balls. The real perk is that there are 4 of these molds in one order. So imagine you get home and think, “You know what, I don’t feel like experimenting with bourbon, a liqueur with a name I can’t pronounce, and bitters with clever wordplay in the brand name. All I really want is a tasty glass of cool Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon AND I WANT IT NOW!” And maybe you’d like to share this experience with your significant other and/or partner in drinking. The last thing you want to do is open up the freezer and realize you forgot to make extra ice balls, right? Well, hooray these molds are less than $20 and come with 4 molds per pack, which means you could totes have more friends over and have a whiskey party!
*Even though Arctic Chill supplied us with this product, we will always review products honestly. Contrary to popular belief, free stuff doesn’t always equal cool stuff.
Thyme Old Fashioned & Review of Cocktails for the Four Seasons
Jenny Park and Teri Lyn Fisher write Spoon Fork Bacon, one of our favorite food blogs that always features delicious recipes and beautiful photographs. Their new book Cocktails for the Four Seasons is a pocket-sized book that matches the quality of their blog. As the title suggests, the book is broken into four sections based on the seasons and the ingredients usually available during those months. Before all the recipes though, are some helpful tips like which glasses to use for what drinks and why, suggestions for variations of simple syrups, and tips on making simple but elegant garnishes. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the number of cocktail recipes that include roasted fruit, such as the “Roasted Strawberry and Jalapeño Freezer.” You might imagine some of these drinks take quite a bit of preparation or require ingredients you wouldn’t normally have on hand. Those are really my only complaints about this book, but the recipes seem to be catered toward drinks you might serve at a dinner party—most recipes are calculated to make at least four drinks—so maybe you’d be shopping for special ingredients anyway. We’d be foolish not to make one of the bourbon drinks included in Cocktails for the Four Seasons, so we made their variation of the old fashioned.
Thyme Old Fashioned 2 oz. Bourbon 1½ oz. Thyme simple syrup* 1½ oz. Fresh orange juice ½ oz. Pomegranate juice
Make the thyme simple syrup by heating a half cup sugar and half cup water with a few sprigs of fresh thyme until the sugar dissolves, then let it cool.
Mix the bourbon, thyme simple syrup, and orange juice in an old fashioned glass and stir. Add ice and top with pomegranate juice. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.
Admittedly, we hesitate to call this an old fashioned as we’re used to the classic whiskey, sugar (or simple syrup), and bitters old fashioned. But we knew just by looking at the ingredients this was going to be delicious. It’s dangerously tasty. It’s so smooth, but also has a slight tartness to it from the pomegranate. The thyme simple syrup does wonders for balancing all the other ingredients and leaves a freshness lingering after each sip.
We’ve written before about Lar’s scrumptious bitters. He sent us a sample of his charred pineapple bitters, and we were delighted to try them in a cocktail of his creation (with our own small adaptations).
PUDC 2 oz. Bourbon ¾ oz. Lemon juice ¼ oz. Brown sugar simple syrup Egg white 2 dashes Charred pineapple bitters Ground cardamom
Dry shake the egg white, then add the rest of the ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into an old fashioned glass with one large ice cube. Dash a small amount of ground cardamom on top.
This drink has a lot going on. The char on the pineapple bitters and the ground cardamom complement each other well. We used a brown sugar syrup to amp up the sweetness a bit. We chose to use Woodinville bourbon and its oakiness works nicely with these flavors; we would recommend using a similar bourbon if you make this at home.
We’re always game to try any new variation of a whiskey sour. This one adds fig to the mix, which is pretty great.
When Figs Fly 1 Tbsp. Fig jam 1½ oz. Bourbon ½ oz. Lemon juice ¼ oz. Cointreau
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously to combine. Carefully strain into a lowball glass with ice and garnish with a lemon twist.
This is a surprisingly well balanced cocktail. To be honest, we were concerned that the sugar and gelatin from the jam would not be great additions to a drink. We were happy to discover that most of that stays in the bottom of the cocktail shaker and just the juicy figgy goodness makes its way into the glass. We would probably make this drink again, but maybe with fresh figs when they come into season.
It seems to be barrel-aged release season in the beer world, so we’ve been building a small stockpile of bourbon barrel-aged beers in our refrigerator. Since we haven’t had one of these in quite some time, we figured we’d get back to it with an old friend. We tasted the 2010 version a few years ago, which we enjoyed so much that we now consider Widmer’s Barrel-Aged Brrrbon a can’t miss. (We even have a 2013 release that we’ll likely let age for a year or so).
This specific edition was bottled in August 2012. We figured that’s long enough to stay under wraps. We also just really, really wanted to drink it. We couldn’t find a whole lot of information on this specific beer because the 2013 has been released. It tastes very similar to the 2010 edition. It pours a nice light amber color. It smells a whole lot like cherries. The strongest flavor is maple syrup (but not syrupy in texture). It’s also slightly sour, but overall it is very balanced and especially light for a barrel-aged beer. Usually these beers have a heavy finish, but this has a very light, sweet linger that is pretty great. We recommend you pick up this beer if you see it, which you should. Even with the 2013 release, the 2012 should be floating around wherever you buy beer, too.
Widmer has also released a Vanilla Barrel-Aged Brrrbon and Ginger Barrel-Aged Brrrbon for 2013. Just a heads up.
Everyone knows ginger and bourbon are a match made in heaven. Ginger is delicious. Bourbon is obviously totally delicious. Put those two flavors together, and we can almost guarantee we’ll be willing to try pretty much anything you can throw at us. So when we saw these recipes for ginger syrup and a ginger old fashioned at Fresh & Foodie, it was only a matter of time before we made some ginger syrup for ourselves.
Ginger Old Fashioned 2 oz. Bourbon ¼ oz. Ginger syrup* 3 dashes Angostura bitters 1 dash Whiskey barrel-aged bitters
*Ginger Syrup ½ cup Water ½ cup Sugar 1½ inch Ginger root
In a small pot, bring water and sugar to a simmer over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add ginger and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, depending on how strong you want the ginger flavor.
In a mixing glass with ice, add bourbon, then ginger syrup, then bitters. Stir for approximately 30 seconds, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange peel.
This is a very good take on the old fashioned. While we prefer the muddled sugar cube method of making our old fashioned cocktails, we gladly altered our methods for the simple syrup, using the directions on Fresh & Foodie. The ginger flavor, unexpectedly, smoothed out the whiskey burn while leaving a subtle gingery finish. We’ll surely be making more cocktails with the ginger syrup in the near future.
With everyone experiencing outrageously cold temperatures this week, we though it would be a good time to test out the winter julep recipe from Imbibe. The hot herbal tea and the hint of bourbon will warm you right up. We were delighted to have the opportunity to use Berkshire bourbon from our frozen friends in Massachusetts.
Winter Julep 5 oz. Peppermint herbal tea 1½ oz. Bourbon ¾ oz. Brown sugar syrup (equal parts brown sugar and water)
Brew herbal tea, then stir in bourbon and brown sugar syrup. Garnish with a mint leaf.
This is a wonderful little nightcap. We enjoy how refreshing the peppermint is and its calming warmth combined with the gentle sweetness of the brown sugar syrup and the slight spice from the bourbon creates just the cocoon we’re looking for right now.
We found this cocktail recipe intriguing because it includes a few of our favorite spirits that don’t often make it onto this bourbon blog. We have been fond of Lillet since the Lillet event we attended during Portland Cocktail Week. Rachel is a secret gin lover, too, so we were keen to try this take on the classic Corpse Reviver #2.
Kentucky Corpse Reviver ¾ oz. Bourbon ¾ oz. Cointreau ¾ oz. Lillet Blanc ¾ oz. Lemon juice
Shake all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a mint leaf.
This cocktail is very light compared to most bourbon cocktails. There is almost too much citrus, so if you prefer less acidic drinks, we recommend playing with the proportions a bit. The Lillet Blanc adds nice botanicals and some bitterness from the quinine. We really enjoyed this drink and will certainly make it again.
We moved out of Boston six months ago, just long enough to start really missing certain people and places. One of those places is Highland Kitchen, where we could just pop in and always know we would get a good meal and great drinks in a casual and fun atmosphere. This recipe is from one of their wonderful bartenders.
Macintoddy 6 oz. Spiced apple cider 1¼ oz. Bourbon ¾ oz. Ginger liqueur ½ tsp. Allspice Orange slice
Heat spiced apple cider, then stir in next three ingredients. Garnish with an orange slice.
This drink is so comforting, especially since Patrick has had a cold for weeks. We were worried at first that it would be overwhelmed by allspice, but it’s balanced nicely by the ginger. We used a wheaty bourbon, since the drink is spicy enough without adding a spicy whiskey to the mix.
We’ve been really excited about getting our hands on more Temperance Trader Bourbon ever since we toured the Bull Run Distillery last summer. We tasted a variety of Bull Run’s products at that time, and we enjoyed them so much that we knew we’d be buying a bottle for more…research. BECAUSE WE ARE A BLOG FOR THE PEOPLE!
This barrel strength bourbon is the stronger version of Temperance Trader, and the one we prefer. The bottle we purchased is actually slightly higher proof (115) than what we tasted at our tour (113), which makes sense that there would be a slight variation from barrel to barrel. Temperance is distilled in Indiana and bottled in Portland. Its color is a dark amber, slightly caramel color. Rachel caught notes of crème brûlée and banana, while my cold-congested nose only got so far as sweet and alcohol. Luckily I was able to taste more than I could smell, because this is a very delicious bourbon. It’s very balanced, with sweet vanilla, apple, and raisin flavors, but also the deep flavors usually from a mash with high wheat or malted barley contents. Rachel thought it was very spicy with a smooth, medium length finish with hints of cherry, while I thought only the finish was spicy and it lingered very nicely for a long time. We both enjoyed this very much and would encourage all of you to pick it up and let us know what you think.
We are taking advantage of grapefruit season by making as many recipes featuring the fruit as possible. This take on a brown derby offers a richer, sweeter taste, which is perfect for the holiday season.
Black Derby 2 oz. Grapefruit juice 1½ oz. Bourbon ½ oz. Molasses
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake to combine. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
This cocktail is heavily influenced by the molasses. One of us didn’t care for it, while the other thought it was different, but tasty. Patrick mentioned that it smells and tastes like a bourbon barrel-aged beer. If we made it again, we would decrease the molasses by half.
Joe & Jill Gallagher are a husband-and-wife team of writers, publishing professionals, and bourbon enthusiasts who live in Brooklyn, NY with their puggle, Chief. Jill writes about books and fashion at her blog, Looks and Books.
The two-story brick building in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard that houses Kings County Distillery is still topped with a sign designating its original occupant, the base’s Paymaster. The structure’s historic feel is fitting, as it now houses the oldest distillery in New York. That claim is somewhat spurious, since prohibition-era laws preventing the establishment of distilleries in the city (and the various riots they used to incite) were only overturned in 2009. But Colin Spoelman and David Haskell, the owners of Kings County, wasted no time in moving Spoelman’s moonshine operation from his apartment into more legal environs as soon as they had the chance, and, having been in continuous operation since 2010, the title of oldest operating distillery is now officially theirs.
Our tour guide was Spoelman himself, and the tour began earlier than he intended, when he met us at the large locked gate that guards the government facility in which the distillery sits. After explaining that the gate was locked because it was Sunday, and the distillery doesn’t normally offer tours on Sundays, he did some quick thinking and passed his own ID card through the fence so that each of us could swipe through the turnstile. It all felt very clandestine and adventurous, like we were doing something illicit.
With blond disheveled curls, drowsy eyes, and a wrinkled, untucked shirt, Spoelman plays the part of Brooklyn-by-way-of-Kentucky whiskey distiller very well. He is charming, with a wide smile and the tinge of a drawl. He gave a brief history lesson on whiskey in New York (including the Moonshine Wars. Look it up. It’s fascinating.) before leading the group around the back of the distillery, to the room where the magic happens.
The distillery is spare and rustic, just the kind of aesthetic one would imagine a Brooklyn whiskey distillery to have, with exposed brick and unfinished wood. Inside, the smell is what you notice first—tangy and sour, it hits you at the back of your throat. Spoelman pointed out the various stills and explained their functions as we sidestepped barrels full of steaming “mash.” He went through each step of the process for us as we poked around. A pair of workers sat at a table to the side, listening to the radio and putting labels on the bottles.
Upstairs, the barrel room was flooded with sunlight from the tall windows. Blown up photographs from Hurricane Sandy hung from the ceiling, floating over the rows of barrels. A black and white cat sauntered up and down the rows, playing sentinel, as another of its feral kind darted out of the open door to the outdoor staircase. Each barrel had a date, alcohol percentage, and number scrawled in black marker, along with the name of the person who was responsible for loading the barrel. One barrel, dated 10.27.12, read “Don’t fear the hurricane!” Sandy hit two days later.
The tour concluded, Spoelman led us to the “tasting room,” a small bar surrounded by simple wooden shelves full of the distinctive Kings County bottles. Each bottle is small and clear, almost medicinal in appearance. The space is spartan, clean, nothing ornamental beyond a few black and white vintage photographs.
The distillery makes three varieties of whiskey—moonshine, chocolate, and a traditional bourbon. We got to try each one. The moonshine, which Spoelman learned how to make growing up in Kentucky, is sharp, stinging, like the blade of a knife. The more traditional variety is amber in color and straightforward in flavor—it’s uncomplicated, but solid. The chocolate variety is a surprise. Though it seems like a novelty item, cotton-candy flavored vodka this is not. It’s made by infusing the moonshine with cacao husks from the nearby Mast Brothers Chocolate factory, resulting in a cocoa flavor that’s malty and rich, not sweet or syrupy. We asked the woman behind the bar if she had any serving suggestions for the chocolate whiskey (we have a bottle at home that we’ve been a little stumped about), and she said her favorite way to drink it is in a milkshake—blended with almond milk and ice. We’re also looking forward to trying it in our hot chocolate (or coffee?) throughout the winter.
Citrus and bourbon are very good friends. Even better is when the citrus is not something pedestrian like lemon or lime. Grapefruit is the star of the show in this cocktail that we decided to make after seeing it on the lovely site Back Down South, both because it looks delicious and because we can see Mount Saint Helens on a daily basis, so we were intrigued by a drink with a similar name.
Mount Saint Helen 2 oz. Bourbon ½ oz. Grapefruit juice ½ oz. Simple Syrup 2 dashes Angostura bitters 3 Mint leaves
Gently muddle simple syrup, bitters, and two mint leaves in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the grapefruit juice, bourbon, and ice and shake briefly to combine. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with the third mint leaf.
You’ll notice this drink is similar to the brown derby that we featured before, but this version is more complex. The bitters add a nice contrast to the sweetness. We used a stronger bourbon to offset the other bold flavors in the recipe, and it worked really well.
The folks at Chopin Vodka make three varieties of vodka—potato, wheat, and rye. We love that Chopin vodka contains no additives and its ingredients are sourced locally in Poland, where it is produced.
We were intrigued by the idea of tasting a neutral spirit that uses two ingredients (wheat and rye) that are commonly found in bourbon to see how each vodka would compare with bourbons featuring different mash bills. We know that vodka and bourbon sounds like an unusual pairing, but with careful matching, it actually works. We found an inspiration recipe and adapted it for our use.
Holiday Spirit 1½ oz. Bourbon 1½ oz. Chopin wheat or rye vodka ¼ oz. Cointreau 1 bar spoon Luxardo cherry juice
Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously to combine. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
For this cocktail we chose to pair Woodinville bourbon with Chopin wheat vodka. The drink is exceptionally smooth. One of the vodka’s main contributions to the drink is its smooth, velvety texture. This is a strong drink, so it’s a sipper for sure, but we were really impressed by how well the two spirits complemented each other.
We’re looking forward to playing with Chopin rye vodka, too. We think it would go nicely with Four Roses Yellow Label.
Even though this nightcap was on Chopin’s tab, we will always review products honestly. Contrary to popular belief, free drinks don’t automatically taste better.
We recently spent an evening sampling cocktails and nibbles at Double Dragon in Portland. We were served two versions of their whiskey toddy, one hot and one cold. The bartender, Dan, was kind enough to share the recipe with us.
Double Dragon Toddy 2 oz. Rye 1 oz. Honey five spice syrup 1 oz. Lemon juice Whiskey barrel-aged bitters
The cold version is the same but with the addition of an absinthe rinse. While we preferred the hot version on a chilly evening, the cold cocktail was quite tasty and we always appreciate how an absinthe rinse can amplify whiskey.
We were also delighted to witness some cocktail demonstrations. Dan walked us through how to make two drinks. We’re going to share with you our favorite and the drink that had all our companions reaching for second sips, too.
No Name No. 5 2 oz. Dickel rye 1 oz. Sweet vermouth 1 oz. Italian amaro Chocolate bitters
You might notice the similarity to the Little Italy cocktail, but the chocolate bitters that Dan at Double Dragon used take this to the next level. It is off-menu, but if you ask for it (and we recommend you do), he will make you one.
We are smitten with ice cream of any variety, but the other day when I decided to make a lemon ice cream to use up some extra lemons we had lying around, the idea hit me to add some bourbon and make a whiskey sour-inspired ice cream. It was a magical moment.
Whiskey Sour Ice Cream 2 cups Heavy cream 1 cup Milk 1 cup Sugar ½ cup Lemon juice 3 Tbsp. Bourbon ½ tsp. Vanilla extract
Whisk milk and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved. Gently whisk in the other ingredients and pour into your ice cream maker. Freeze for about half an hour, then transfer to a container and place in the freezer for four hours or overnight to harden further. Garnish with a maraschino cherry if desired.
This ice cream is so delicious and it actually does taste like a whiskey sour. It is light and refreshing, but with a tiny bite from the bourbon. We chose to use a sweeter bourbon to help balance out the tartness of the lemon. If you really wanted to boost the cocktail factor of this recipe, you could add in some bitters, but we opted for a more refreshing citrusy ice cream.
A Second Review of Woodinville Whiskey Co. Bourbon
Last year, we reviewed the Woodinville Whiskey Co. Bourbon. The general opinion back then was that the wood from the barrels overpowered all the other flavors. We wrote that the whiskey didn’t taste bad, it was just a one-note experience. Well, we recently received an email from Woodinville Whiskey Co. saying they read our review, they’ve been working on their process, and would we be interested in tasting the new product.
We agreed for a couple of reasons. It’s not very often anyone gets an opportunity to taste the progression of a product. Also, it shows that Woodinville Whiskey Co. is seeking out feedback and attempting to improve their product. Trying to get better is always respectable.
We noticed a difference as soon as we unwrapped the bottle. The color of the whiskey was noticeably darker than before. The biggest takeaway from this tasting is that this bourbon is much more balanced than the bourbon we tasted a year ago. While we could still smell and taste the vanilla and oak from the barrels, this time we noted some floral, cherry, and raisin notes both in the smell and taste. It’s also much smoother than before, though we wish the finish would linger for a bit longer than it does. At one point, we discussed how it was very interesting to taste a product where we could taste that it was the same product we had before, only a better version of it.
*Even though this nightcap was on Woodinville Whiskey’s tab, we will always review products honestly. Contrary to popular belief, free drinks don’t automatically taste better.
Until recently, we’d never tasted Drambuie. Since we’re always down to try new flavors, we jumped at the opportunity to add it to our bar. Drambuie is a blend of scotch, honey, spices, and herbs. It’s extremely sweet, almost cloying, but it mixes well with just about any whisk(e)y without overpowering.
We mixed equal parts Maker’s Mark and Drambuie over ice. Anthony Caporale of Drambuie is calling the Maker’s mixture “Little Bit Rusty” because it’s basically a variation of the classic Rusty Nail (which mixes Drambuie with scotch). Honestly, we were a bit skeptical of Drambuie before we tasted it. We’re generally not very big on infusions or herbal blends with whiskey, but this liqueur does make a good accompaniment to any type of whiskey when you’re in the mood for something sweet.
Just in case you needed step-by-step instructions, here’s how to make a Little Bit Rusty:
1 part Drambuie 1 part bourbon
Stir in a mixing glass with ice, then pour into an old fashioned glass over ice. Garnish with a maraschino cherry if desired.
*Even though this nightcap was on Drambuie’s tab, we will always review products honestly. Contrary to popular belief, free drinks don’t automatically taste better.
Michelle Ruocco has been shaking up cocktails at The Bent Brick since February and already the bar has seen a revitalization of its cocktail menu. The Bent Brick uses only domestic spirits in the bar, so Ruocco has supplemented the inventory with her own house-made liqueurs, cordials, and syrups. She changes the menu seasonally, pulling ingredients in from the kitchen’s stock of local farm produce, as well as harvesting herbs from The Bent Brick’s own patio garden.
For fall, Ruocco made an infused bourbon with butternut squash and mixed it with Root, herbal liqueur, and spices to come up with The Fall Back cocktail. To be honest, we were skeptical of a butternut squash bourbon, but after tasting the drink, we are converts. It is well balanced, with the squash taste hitting the palate first, then mellowing into the Root and spices. The bourbon flavor doesn’t get lost, and it’s the oaky vanilla notes that pull this cocktail together.
Being limited to domestic spirits hasn’t posed much of a problem for Ruocco, who noted that America is great at bourbon and other whiskies and Portland produces a number of delicious gins. At the time of our visit, half the drinks on the cocktail menu contained bourbon, which is just what we like to see. The Bent Brick’s well whiskey is Henry McKenna, a Heaven Hill Distilleries bourbon known for its high quality and low profile.
One of the greatest things about The Bent Brick is that they have an old fashioned on tap. Yes. You read that correctly. Old fashioned on tap. And it’s delicious! We asked for just a sample (pictured above), so it wasn’t served over the usual large ice cube, but since Ruocco pre-dilutes the drink, it didn’t really need the ice. She mixes up a big batch of bourbon with carefully measured sugar and bitters, then stirs it all with ice and strains it.
The Damson in Distress is one of Ruocco’s most recent inventions and she’s proud of its low alcohol content. Ruocco said “People aren’t looking to go out and get smashed anymore. They just want to enjoy themselves and enjoy the beverage.” This drink is really tasty and would be nice as an aperitif because it is bitter, tart, and juicy. It is made with whiskey, damson gin liqueur, blueberry syrup, lemon, egg white, and Angostura bitters.
We only tried one item off the food menu and it was one of the best charcuterie plates we’ve ever had. We’ve honestly never enjoyed paté and rillettes more than at The Bent Brick, possibly because they were lightly dusted with flakey salt and pickled shallots. The plate also included two lovely ham slices, pickled cucumbers, and surprisingly tasty pickled celery.
I'll Take Manhattans: The Story of Bitters with Dale DeGroff
We’re always looking for an opportunity to expand our knowledge, especially when it comes to cocktails, so we jumped at the opportunity to attend Portland Cocktail Week's The Story of Bitters class with Dale DeGroff. If you ever get the chance to learn about mixed drinks from a guy whose alias is King Cocktail and makes bitters with his face on the bottle, you should open your mindgrapes to some booklearnin’.
The class began with a brief history of bitters, including the creation of Angostura bitters in the 1830s as a stomach tonic and how the inclusion of bitters defined a cocktail. He then led us through a bitters tasting, which was essentially the same familiar process as tasting wine or whiskey (if you’d like to try this on your own).
The sequence of bitters we tasted were (from left to right) Angostura bitters, Boker’s, The Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters, DeGroff’s Pimento, and Fee Brothers Whiskey-Barrel Aged Bitters. After tasting the bitters on their own, he then had us sip each one mixed with rye whiskey. Then we were served a couple different manhattans (made with rye or bourbon and one of the sampled bitters) to taste how the different bitters interacted with the other ingredients to create variations of the classic Manhattan. While it might be tedious to get into the minute details of each cocktail and bitters, we did notice a wide variation in flavor. (For the record, our two favorite Manhattans were mixed with the Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters and The Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters.) Since we’re sure you’re curious, the Manhattan recipe used by DeGroff was as follows:
1½ oz. George Dickel rye ¾ oz. Sweet Dolin vermouth ½ oz. Dry Dolin vermouth (bitters)
The general takeaway was that knowing your bitters will make you a better bartender. The Angostura bitters made a much sweeter Manhattan, while the Fee Brothers and DeGroff bitters made much for a much smoother overall texture. Every drinker will have a different preference. Our class of about 30 people was pretty evenly split on which of the five Manhattans was our favorite.
The event took place at Portland’s newest whiskey bar, the Multnomah Whisk(e)y Library. As wordnerds and whiskey lovers, we feel this place was created almost specifically for us. Not only does it have an extensive catalog of whisk(e)ys, but they accounted for every detail from library ladders on the back bar to dimly lit accountant lamps to create a very classic library atmosphere. Any library where drinking is encouraged is our kind of place.
Apéritif 101: Elegant Fundamentals with Lady Lillet
There’s really no better way to start a Sunday morning than with a light cocktail and French pastry. Lillet, St. Jack, and Imbibe made that lovely experience possible with their Apéritif Cocktails 101 class for Portland Cocktail Week.
We were fairly new to Lillet, but thankfully Lady Lillet (AKA Amanda Victoria) taught a great class, which was full of students just as excited as we were.
Apéritifs are low in alcohol and intended to stimulate the appetite before a meal. Lillet, founded in 1872, is a fortified wine composed of 85% Bordeaux grapes and 15% macerated liqueur containing 10-12 different stone fruits, barks, and quinine.
Lillet Blanc is the original and the most popular Lillet product. It was created in 1872 (though it has been reformulated since that time) and made famous by the Vesper cocktail in Casino Royale. Lillet Rouge was released in 1962. It is sweeter and tastes rather like sangria. Lillet Rosé was released in 2002. It is blended in the Champagne style and is more delicate than its sister products.
The best way to drink any type of Lillet is “on ice with a slice” of orange, lime, or grapefruit. They are also terrific in cocktails, recipes for which are readily available online (and one appears below). One of us preferred Lillet Blanc, while the other was partial to Lillet Rosé for sipping on their own, but we are both intrigued by the possibilities of Lillet Rouge for whiskey cocktails. It could be used in place of sweet vermouth in classics like the manhattan or the boulevardier.
We then created our own apéritif cocktail as a class.
2 oz. Lillet of your choice 1 oz. Raspberry tea ½ oz. Honey syrup Grapefruit tonic
Combine first three ingredients in a highball glass. Add a generous amount of ice and top with grapefruit tonic. Garnish with a lemon wedge and mint sprig.