Happy weekending! (photo by Ian Norris)
A cocktail called the rattlesnake doesn’t sound frightening at all. It doesn’t even sound the least bit scary, especially not even after you find out there’s absinthe involved. As much as absinthe scares us (or maybe because of it), we couldn’t help but be intrigued by the recipe we found on Saveur (originally from the Savoy Cocktail Book).
1½ oz. bourbon
1 tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. absinthe (or anise-liqueur)
½ tsp. powdered sugar (or simple syrup)
1 egg white
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a lowball glass. Garnish with a lemon peel if desired.
We were pleasantly surprised by this cocktail. We expected the rattlesnake to pack a bigger punch, but it’s surprisingly smooth. The small amount of absinthe is as strong as expected, but the lemon juice and bourbon also get equal time. We used Bulleit 10 for a smoother flavor, but a whiskey with more bite would also complement the absinthe nicely.
Bulleit is a constant staple in our bar, both the bourbon and the rye. They are each are delicious on their own. The rye makes a great Sazerac, and the bourbon works well in just about any cocktail. This means we were very eager to try their newest release, which is the same high-rye mash bill as the standard Bulleit, but aged 10 years. (I believe Bulleit’s standard bourbon is aged 6 years.)
Those extra years really impart the barrel’s oak and char into Bulleit 10. With a light amber and slightly golden hue, its color is a bit lighter than its younger sibling. The vanilla flavor that comes from the wood is really strong in both scent and taste, though it’s not overpowering. We found Bullet 10 to be very balanced, with raisin and plum flavors, and a long, subtle but spicy rye finish. At its price point of $45, Bourbon 10 is comparable to other bourbons in this range. Some markets may have a hard time justifying the price jump from Bulleit to Bulleit 10, but that’s not really something we can attest to. While Bulleit 10 seems to stick around $45 everywhere (that we’ve seen), we’ve found Bulleit to range from $25 on the lower end to our up to $38 in our market. Either way, we think it’s delicious and worth every penny.
We are intrigued by the idea of using absinthe in cocktails. It has such an intense influence on your sense of smell and taste, just a tiny bit goes an incredibly long way. (Some bars take the absinthe rinse out of a Sazerac, turning it into a cheap knockoff of a Sazerac. If this happens to you, you should never return to that bar.) We found the improved whiskey cocktail on Cocktailia. Once we saw the small amount of absinthe in this cocktail, we knew we’d be making it at home.
Improved Whiskey Cocktail
2 oz. bourbon
½ tsp. maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Angostura bitter
1 dash absinthe
Fill a mixing glass with ice, then combine all ingredients and stir until cold. Strain into a glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
Chances are, if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve noticed that we really love old fashioned cocktails. (Honestly, does anyone who likes bourbon not like old fashioneds?) So when Serious Eats posted the recipe to the Fancy Free cocktail, which is basically an old fashioned that subs out muddled sugar and water (or simple syrup) for maraschino liqueur and orange bitters. Also, no muddling makes this cocktail incredibly easy and quick to mix.
2 oz. bourbon
½ oz. maraschino liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters
1 dash angostura bitters
In a lowball glass with a large ice cube or ball, combine all ingredients and stir gently until well mixed. Garnish with a large orange twist.
This is very much like an old fashioned. The maraschino liqueur does add a new depth in addition to sweetening the bourbon. The orange bitters and the large orange twist brings a huge citrus element to the drink as well.
Still not over our canned champagne kick, we decided to feature it again this weekend. We ran across a recipe called the Devereaux that seemed worth a try.
1 oz. bourbon
½ oz. elderflower liqueur
½ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
3-4 oz. sparkling wine
Shake the first four ingredients together with ice and strain into a highball glass with ice. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a mint leaf.
Let’s not beat around the bush here—this drink is tooth-achingly sweet, though we could see its potential. Next time we would increase the amount of lemon juice or greatly reduce or eliminate the simple syrup. The Sofia sparkling wine is fairly sweet, too, so that didn’t help.
With a few alternations this could be an excellent cocktail to enjoy during brunch.