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.
We always try to incorporate rhubarb into our diet when it’s in season. An easy way to get rhubarb flavor in cocktails is to use Rhuby, a liqueur from Sweden, which is featured to great effect in the strawberry rhubarb fizz cocktail.
Strawberry Rhubarb Fizz
1 oz. Rhuby
1 oz. Bourbon
1 oz. Strawberry juice
1 Tbsp. Lemon juice
Combine first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to mix, then strain into a lowball glass with ice and top with ginger beer. Garnish with a lemon twist.
This cocktail is so delicious that we couldn’t stop exclaiming about it for several minutes after first tasting it. The Rhuby gives it an earthy tartness, which is brightened by the lemon juice, and balanced by the sweet strawberry juice. We used a higher proof bourbon, which we thought worked well because with only one ounce, you have to make it count. Don’t use a wallflower bourbon.
This drink reminded us a bit of an amped up strawberry rhubarb smash. Our strawberry juice was particularly seedy, and if you don’t do look forward to straining a million seeds, this drink could be modified to use strawberry-infused bourbon.
Even though yesterday’s nightcap was partially on Rhuby’s tab, we will always review products honestly. Contrary to popular belief, free drinks don’t automatically taste better.
Continuing our Cynar kick, we decided to try a variation of a classic whiskey sour.
Cynar Bourbon Sour
1 oz. Bourbon
1 oz. Cynar
1 oz. Lemon juice
½ Egg white
¼ oz. Maraschino liqueur
¼ oz. Agave nectar
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
This cocktail is interesting because the Cynar adds more bitterness than a sour typically has, but the egg white froth helps to smooth everything out. This may be the most Cynar we’ve ever put in a cocktail (the usual amount is half an ounce or so), and we have to say we like it. The taste lingers for a while after each sip.
Inexcusably silly name aside, this cocktail from Matt Biancaniello in Imbibe is enjoyable on a sunny day and combines one of our favorite liqueurs, Cynar, with bourbon.
California Bubble Bath
2 oz. Bourbon
¾ oz. Lemon juice
¾ oz. Lavender simple syrup
½ oz. Cynar
Mix bourbon, lemon juice, and lavender syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass and float the Cynar on top.
Lavender Simple Syrup
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. Sugar
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. Water
1 Tbsp. Dried lavender
Boil water in a small saucepan. Add lavender and remove from heat. Let it steep for 15 minutes, then add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved, about three minutes. Strain into a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator.
This is a nice, aromatic drink. Our Cynar didn’t float very well because the ice got in the way, but imagine how enticing the artichoke, lemon, and lavender aromas are together. And let’s not forget the bourbon. We used a higher proof bourbon so that it wouldn’t get lost in the other strong flavors, and it worked out well. It tastes like a more complex whiskey smash. This is a very well-balanced drink that we will return to several times throughout the warmer months.
Everyone’s going to be drinking mint juleps this weekend to celebrate the Kentucky Derby, and as much as we enjoy the classic, sometimes it’s nice to mix it up a bit. We chose to try a variation from Food & Wine that sticks close to tradition with one addition.
Blackberry Mint Julep
¼ cup Blackberries
2 Tbsp. Mint leaves
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1½ oz. Bourbon
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously to extract juice from the berries and oil from the mint. Strain into a lowball glass (or a julep cup if you have one) with ice and garnish with mint and a blackberry.
This is a lighter twist on the classic because the addition of blackberry juice decreases the alcohol by volume. The blackberry goes very well with the mint, which adds the coolness that makes the julep so well loved. We chose to use a higher proof bourbon so that the spirit’s spiciness wouldn’t get overwhelmed by the sugar. If we were to make this again, we would probably reduce the amount of sugar to one teaspoon.
For another take on the mint julep, try mint julep ice cream, and here’s the recipe for a delicious pie traditionally served around the Derby weekend.
We’re already fans of Victory Brewing Company’s beers, so we jump on any of their barel-aged offerings at every opportunity. (A while back, we reviewed their Otto in Oak Ale, which we loved.) Patrick was especially excited about this beer because he loves barley wines. The Oak Horizontal is Victory’s Old Horizontal Barley Wine, but aged in bourbon barrels. We haven’t tried the original version because not all of Victory’s beers are readily available in our market, so we can’t say how the Oak Horizontal compares to its barrel-aged counterpart.
This beer is exactly what we expected from a bourbon-barreled barley wine. It’s not particularly unique—it tastes very similar to the other barley wines we’ve had—but it is delicious. It pours slightly amber with very little head. Rachel noted that it’s very sweet and malty, with a long aftertaste that turns slightly sour. The bourbon and oak flavors really comes through during the aftertaste as well. At 11% ABV, the Horizontal packs a nice punch. It’s a seasonal ale, so if you can find it, we’d recommend picking it up before it disappears for a while.
We’ve been teased with warm, sunny weather lately. It seems like this was the fourth or fifth weekend it’s looked like spring might be arriving. We’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and assume the sunshine is here to stay. To celebrate the arrival of spring (hopefully), we decided to make the whiskey smash sorbet from The Kitchn.
Whiskey Smash Sorbet
makes about 1 ½ quarts
4 cups water
1½ cups sugar
1-2 Tbsp. freshly grated lemon zest
4 oz. whiskey, divided
½ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
2 cups fresh lemon juice, cold (from about ten lemons)
Bring the water, sugar, lemon zest, and half the whiskey to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Turn the stove to low, and allow the syrup to simmer five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Remove the syrup from heat, add the mint, and stir. Let the mixture rest until it cools to room temperature. Then put it in the refrigerator and allow it to cool for 4 hours, or overnight.
Strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove the solids. Press down firmly on the solids to get all the juices out.
Add the lemon juice and the remaining whiskey, stir, and process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
This sorbet is like drinking a refreshing whiskey smash, exactly like you’d expect. It’s a wonderful balance of tart and refreshing from the lemon and mint, with a slight boozy kick. It’s perfect for the warm spring and summer days we’ll be enjoying (we hope) very soon.
We’re still very much intrigued with mixing absinthe into our bourbon cocktails. Our latest experiment is the Waldorf, which has an interesting history. On his site, Barry Popik compiled numerous variations of the Waldorf. Most of those cocktails noted that the absinthe would take over, so we kept that in mind while mixing our cocktail. Our Waldorf most closely resembles this one.
2 oz. Bourbon
¾ oz. Sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
In a mixing glass, combine bourbon, vermouth, and bitters with ice. Stir until mixed well. In a cocktail glass, add enough absinthe to coat the glass. Spin the glass to coat the sides, then dump the excess. Strain the other ingredients into the cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist (optional).
Absinthe experiment success! We were actually more concerned with the vermouth content, since sweet vermouth is definitely not our favorite flavor. The Waldorf is very balanced though. The spiciness of the bourbon (we used Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve) and the absinthe rinse complement the good parts of the vermouth while mostly removing the aftertaste we don’t like. The Waldorf is a strong, spicy cocktail that we recommend highly.
Now that the sun is shining on a semi-regular basis, we are excited to get back into light warm-weather drinks. The bourbito has been on our radar since the fall and now seems the perfect time to give it a try.
3 oz. Bourbon
1-2 Orange slices with rind
4-5 Mint leaves
Splash Club soda
Place orange slices and mint leaves in the bottom of a highball glass or medium Mason jar and muddle gently. Add the bourbon and club soda and stir to mix well. Add a generous number of ice cubes and garnish with fresh mint if desired.
This drink is super refreshing. Orange and bourbon are well-known accomplices, and the mint oils add a cool, tingly feeling. The club soda adds a nice touch of carbonation. This is a recommended drink for weekend afternoons.