We were thrilled to receive a copy of Greg Henry’s Savory Cocktails. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know we are not huge fans of overly sweet drinks, so this recipe book has quickly become our go-to for creative inspiration. (Confession: I read Savory Cocktails straight through, as if it were a novel. It’s really interesting!)
The book is organized by flavor categories: sour, spicy, herbal, umami, bitter, smoky, rich, and strong. It also includes recipes for bitters, syrups, and shrubs. Other than a few quibbles with the indexing, we found this recipe book to be exceedingly well researched and accessible, with interesting introductions and notes on nearly every page. The recipes are straightforward and the instructions are thorough.
We made the ginger and black pepper agave syrup, which is an infusion of fresh ginger and black peppercorns into warm water and agave syrup. We’ve made ginger syrup before, but the addition of black peppercorns grounds the ginger zing with some mild spice. We mixed the syrup into the cocktail below, and we could also imagine it pairing well with herbs.
2 oz. Bourbon
½ oz. Lemon juice
¼ oz. Ginger and black pepper agave syrup
2 dashes Whiskey barrel-aged bitters
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a lowball glass with ice and garnish with a lemon peel.
Even though this post was sponsored by Ulysses Press, we will always review products honestly. Contrary to popular belief, free products don’t automatically taste better.
Sometimes we see recipes with directions that have just enough ambiguity to lead to minor disasters. While this isn’t usually a problem with cocktail recipes, we still got excited when we learned about the Cocktails Step-By-Step cookbook by Parragon Books. We love the photography and simple, clean, and organized photos.
The book includes recipes for a wide variety of cocktails using different types of liquor, including a cosmopolitan, Manhattan, caipirinha, and highland fling.
More info on the Cocktails Step-By-Step book can be found here.
We recently received a package from Thomas Henry, a culinary company based in Germany that makes sodas, tonics, and assorted gelées. One of the most intriguing items in this package was a jar of Horse’s Neck gelée. Since we don’t speak or read German, we couldn’t find very much information about this product (though their website provides an English version for their other products). What we do know is that Horse’s Neck is cocktail of bourbon and ginger ale, and that the Thomas Henry gelée is made with Maker’s Mark. That’s pretty much the only words we could read in the product information. Unsure of what to do with this product, we opened it up to sample it. Sure enough, it tastes remarkably like a perfectly mixed bourbon and ginger ale cocktail.
Pleased with the flavor, we did what any self-respecting bourbon lover would do: we put it on waffles. In case you weren’t aware, waffles that taste like bourbon are even more delicious than normal waffles. We highly recommend trying this gelée if you can get your hands on some. (It seems that all their products can be ordered via the worldwide interwebs.) Thomas Henry also makes gin & tonic and earl grey & vodka gelées, in case you want a whole spectrum of breakfast cocktail concoctions.
OK, now for a silly question: is gelée any different from jelly? We noticed at least one of the gelées is slightly more liquid than we’re used to seeing with jellies. Other than that, we didn’t see a difference. Is a gelée used differently from a jelly? Please advise!
Also, feel free to throw out any more ideas for how we might use this Horse’s Neck gelée.
Even though this weekend’s breakfast was on Thomas Henry’s dime, we will always review products honestly. Contrary to popular belief, free stuff doesn’t automatically taste better.
As someone who has lived in the South and whose mother is an avid canner, I have a huge affinity for Mason jars, so when we saw the Mason Shaker, we knew we had to try it out.
We love the look of the Mason Shaker. It’s a part industrial, part home craft look that fits right in to our home bar. But perhaps its main advantage is that it gives you the ability to mix a larger volume of liquid than usual. You could mix up to four drinks in this at once, which is a major plus in our opinion. We also appreciate that it makes less noise during shaking than a standard cocktail shaker.
The Mason Shaker we received did leak a little bit around the lid during shaking and pouring, but we thought that just added to its rugged quality. Overall, this is a very welcome addition to our home bar.
In case you’re interested, we mixed a couple of Lucien Gaudins to test the Mason Shaker. Shocker alert: it doesn’t contain whiskey.
Even though W&P Design sent their product to us on the house, we will always review products honestly. Contrary to popular belief, free things aren’t automatically better.
We are running out of maraschino cherries, a crucial garnish for several bourbon cocktails, so we decided to try our hand at making our own substitute. Mighty Girl provided guidance.
8 oz. cherries
⅓ cup bourbon
Pit the cherries using a cherry pitter or by hand. We happen to have a grapefruit spoon that works well to scoop out the pit from the top of the cherry. Place the cherries in a canning jar (or any jar with tightly fitting lid) and fill with bourbon. Store the jar in the refrigerator for about a month, gently agitating it every day or so. That’s it!
Please note that the measurements above are approximate and can be adjusted depending on how many jars of bourbon cherries you want to make. We are really looking forward to using these cherries in cocktails, as an ice cream topping, and even just eating them straight from the jar.
Next time we may try mixing it up a bit by adding some Luxardo maraschino liqueur.
Sometimes Sunday comes around and the only thing to do is make waffles and drink mimosas. When an emergency of this sort arises, it’s of the severest importance that some high quality maple syrup is on hand (along with freshly squeezed orange juice and good champagne, duh). BLiS Bourbon Barrel Natural maple syrup had been on our wishlist for a while, and we were lucky enough to find some on a recent shopping trip.
The first thing we noticed about BLiS is (obviously) its packaging design and bottle. Not only is it a simple and classic design, but the red wax top and maple leaf imprint seem to pay homage to Maker’s Mark, easily one of the most recognizable bourbon brands around. We have no idea if that’s on purpose or a hint at where their barrels come from. All we know is that the bottle says it’s “aged several months in 12-18-year-old single barrel bourbon casks.” This aging process creates a maple syrup with a light hint of vanilla flavor and a mellower, smoother sweetness than most pure maple syrups. It even paired well with the homemade fig and cherry compote with ginger sauce that Rachel prepared for brunch.
While the BLiS syrup was tasty, if you’re looking for a stronger bourbon flavor in your syrup, we suggest the Noble Bourbon Maple Syrup. Noble sneaks a bit of bourbon into the syrup during the aging process to make the spirit more evident, whereas the barrel notes of BLiS are more background details. It’s all a matter of preference since both are yummy.
Bourbon can be infused with pretty much anything, and though we’re not always keen on drinking a glass of infused bourbon on its own, it can be very useful for cooking or baking.
We have a little something up our sleeves for later in the week, so this weekend we combined some strawberries with Basil Hayden’s. Stay tuned to see how it turns out.
*Update: Here’s the final strawberry-infused bourbon in all its pretty pink glory. We used to make tasty ice cream.
If you have a bourbon lover in your life, Noble’s Tonic 01: Tuthilltown Bourbon Barrel-Matured Maple Syrup makes a good gift. We used it recently to top lemon sour cream waffles, and its rich flavor impressed us because it tastes quite a bit like bourbon, but not so much so that you wouldn’t want it for breakfast. On the contrary, this is precisely what we want for breakfast pretty much every day now. (Could be a problem…)
It is made with maple syrup from Quebec, which then gets aged in bourbon barrels at Tuthilltown Spirits in New York, where they also sneak in a touch of raw bourbon. Pure delight.
We were attracted by the packaging design. Simplicity gets us every time, and the little wax drip from the cork is charming. Unfortunately, the wax was annoyingly difficult to remove in order to actually pull the cork out, and the second time we used the syrup, the cork was wouldn’t come out because it was, presumably, being held in with sticky syrup. We ended up having to use a corkscrew on it because the plastic cap came unattached from the cork when we were pulling on it. (This was a serious battle of wills, you guys.)
One star off for the cork issues, but the taste and quality of the syrup were worth the struggle.
It’s December! That means it’s time to finish up your Christmas shopping (or holiday shopping, or any-reason-to-give-a-gift shopping). We’ve rounded up a few whiskey and bourbon-related gifts for the whiskey-lovin’ special someone in your life.
Custom Vintage Suitcase:
Through his Almost Bohemian Etsy shop, David William will customize this gift with your contents of choice. He’ll even add hidden compartments, cigar boxes, or whatever you want. Contact him to to create your very own custom gift.
Blanton’s is one of our favorite bourbons because it’s super tasty. There’s something about the bottle, with its rounded-shape and the mini-horse statue, that reminds me of a tree ornament. Pick a bottle up and put it under your tree or even on top!
Mint Julep Cups:
Juleps are supposed to be served in silver or pewter cups. We tend to prefer minimalist designs over ornamental, so we like these simple pewter cups from Sunny Day Vintage.
Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons:
This book will help you step up your cocktail game by teaching you everything you need to know about bitters. Parsons tackles the history of bitters, provides DIY bitters recipes, and even includes cocktail recipes to make with your newfound bitters knowledge.
Bourbon Smoked Spices:
Bourbon Barrel Foods uses old bourbon barrels to add the liquor’s flavors to essential cooking spices. One order of this package includes bourbon smoked pepper, sea salt, and paprika, as well as Bluegrass Soy Sauce and Bourbon Barrel Worcestershire sauce.
Cigarettes and Flask Holsters:
This is self-explanatory. It’s a flask to hold your cigarettes (or iPhone?) and flask full of whiskey. Whether you want to add a little Wild West or police detective flair to your outfit, these are perfect.
Pappy Van Winkle:
That’s right, the rare bourbon is arriving at liquor stores as you read this. There’s a reason it’s rare, too. You don’t think people would be scouring liquor stores for Pappy if its quality didn’t match its reputation, do you? Even Julian Van Winkle, who now runs the company, doesn’t seem to know where to find it. In the new issue of Lucky Peach, he’s asked where Pappy can be found. He answers, “I don’t know, but buy it if you find it.” We agree. One word of warning, though: it may be difficult to part with the bottle once you have it.
We’re not usually fans of flavored coffee, but when we saw a reasonably priced bag of bourbon-flavored ground coffee at World Market in Charlottesville, we decided to give it a try. The decision was aided by the eye-catching packaging with amusing copy. (“Have you ever found yourself three sheets to the wind and rolling down a Kentucky hill in an empty cask of bourbon? We have. When you feel like reminiscing over those times, this bourbon flavored coffee will help to bring back the memories that were, most likely, forgotten.”)
This coffee is distributed by Mavericks Coffee Company in San Francisco—a company we were unfamiliar with but happy to be introduced to. Flavored coffees often taste artificial to me, but overall we were pleasantly surprised. The smokiness was immediately evident, and given that 50% of the adjectives the package proclaims are aimed at capturing the cask, I think they were successful. Vanilla was the other main flavor I tasted. The coffee is smooth, and not particularly full-bodied.
I would recommend this for an afternoon pick-me-up, with the acknowledgment that drinking bourbon-flavored coffee will never be as good as actually putting bourbon in your coffee.