Can Buffalo Trace Put Pappy on the Shelf?|

Can Buffalo Trace Put Pappy on the Shelf?| On Whiskey

WARREN BOBROW (this article was originally published on April 2, 2012)

On Whiskey is a monthly column on whiskey and whiskey drinks by Warren Bobrow.

On Whiskey is a monthly column on whiskey and whiskey drinks by Warren Bobrow.

Johnny Dodds is on the short wave radio, crooning to me from another world.

“After you’ve gone, after you’ve gone away.”

What better series of words are calling out for a restorative sip of Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey…  This venerable bottle has graciously rested over there on the shelf, alongside many other bottles, and it remained under-sipped and under-appreciated until now.

Music from the 1920s makes me want to drink good bourbon whiskey like Buffalo Trace.  Maybe it’s because Johnny Dodds left New Orleans in 1920 – never to return; yet his music is firmly grounded in the essence of New Orleans.  This passion for the whiskey seems to ooze out of my pores even more intensely when I listen to music from this man. Enjoying a bottle of Bourbon in New Jersey is, to me, at least akin to Johnny leaving New Orleans.  Once this bottle left Kentucky, it would never return.

Buffalo Trace is not a mass-produced liquor. Nor is it overpriced for a spirit being produced in such small batches.

Most importantly a bottle of Buffalo Trace shouldn’t set you off by more than $25 a bottle or so.   That makes it a good deal in a market clogged with expensive expressions of Kentucky bourbon.

Whiskey this well made usually costs double or even triple the price.

There are flavors in the Buffalo Trace that harken to Pappy. And that would be correct, because the same distillery makes Pappy.

Which Pappy are you speaking of?  That Pappy is Pappy Van Winkle!

Of course the recipe is different. That’s what makes Buffalo Trace so unique!

Buffalo Trace is made from Corn, Rye and Barley.  In order for them to call it bourbon, the product must be 51% corn.  There is certain spiciness to each sip from the rye and a creamy quality from the cask.

I like it a lot.

So, I’ve been up to my ears in Pappy. I brought a bottle of the 15-year Pappy down to Charleston for the Wine and Food Festival.  It was much less expensive to drink my own rather than someone else’s Pappy at $30 per GLASS!  Why drink anything else?  If you have it, drink it.  That was until I opened this bottle of Buffalo Trace.  I cannot believe that this expression has rested so long without even being sipped.

The aroma of dark maple syrup permeates the room almost immediately upon opening the cork-finished bottle.  I have a wood stove fire going and the wind is howling outside in more of a shriek than a mere whisper- but this shouldn’t make the situation any less conducive to enjoying a few nips of this lovely hand-crafted bourbon whiskey.  Given the fact that it is suddenly frosty as winter outside, what better reason than to breathe in the sweet aroma deeply?  It is woven into the smell of the earth, the fire and the wind all at once. This is good stuff!

Pappy, go back up onto the shelf. I think I’m going to enjoy this glass of Buffalo Trace!

Packaging Notes:

Nice hand-torn-looking label and natural cork finish!  Very nice touch.

 

Photo by Warren Bobrow

 

Tasting Notes:

The memorable aromatics of freshly tapped maple syrup fills the room almost immediately along with notes of sweet toasted corn and charred cinnamon toast slathered in freshly whipped butter.  There is the warm underpinning of scraped nutmeg along with a deeper backbone of sweet molasses.  I love the scent of this elixer and I jam my nose deeply into the glass, breathing the toasty flavors aggressively into my nostrils.

On the tongue, flavors of Asian spices predominate with vanilla and caramelized peaches.

The sharpness of the alcohol is in the background of the almost juicy mouth-feel.  This would be the perfectly marvelous mixing bourbon.  There is so much going on in my mouth, across my tongue and down my throat.  It’s quite remarkable to taste.  There is a certain density to this bourbon.  It is not thin or cloying in any way.  The sugars reveal themselves slowly and the finish just goes on and on.  There is a certain dusty quality to the finish as well as unmistakable flavor of the earth.  The unique terroir of this whiskey differentiates it from all other liquids on earth.  This terroir is unique to the place.

Weighing in at 45 % ABV, Buffalo Trace has all the stuffing to lead in a mixed drink, not play follower.

Think about Sazerac cocktails, Manhattans, and of course my favorite, a Bourbon Hot Toddy.  All are perfectly suited to Buffalo Trace’s full-bodied approach and long finish.

I’m going to err on the side of craftsmanship.  This bourbon needs creativity- but it also needs simplicity.

This afternoon I’m sprinkling a bit of branch water over the top of a little hand-blown Murano glass from Venice to release the secrets held deeply within.

This is truly delicious stuff.  Now go grab yourself a bottle and share it with your friends!  You don’t even have to tell them how much you (didn’t) spend.

Cooler Weather=Four Roses+Cock ‘n Bull Ginger Beer (for Foodista)

Cooler Weather=Four Roses+Cock n’Bull Ginger Beer

October 8, 2012

Cock ‘n Bull Ginger Beer is one of those flavors that just won’t leave my mind.  There are many ginger beers on the market today. Some of them good, some great and some truly amazing.  I’ve found that the Cock ‘n Bull is a spicier ginger beer than most and it has a core of real ginger root.

There has been a resurgence for classic cocktails made with ginger beer, a nostalgic experience.  Perhaps this is because drinkers enjoy the more robust flavors of ginger beer in combination with diverse liquors.  I like mine not only with Rum in the classic ‘Dark ‘n Stormy’ but also the smoky and spicy notes of Bourbon Whiskey mixed with ginger beer.

The Cock ‘n Bull Ginger Beer has a venerable history that dates back long before many of the current day products were even thought of.

Jack Morgan was the owner of the restaurant in Los Angeles in the 1940’s by the name of the Cock ‘n Bull.  He was the inventor of the historic drink named the Moscow Mule- which is no more than vodka and his namesake extra spicy, ginger beer.

Fast forward to current day.  The Cock ‘n Bull Ginger Beer is now available in multiple markets around the country.  Cocktailians from all over are discovering the extreme ease when mixing Cockt ‘n Bull with liquors as diverse as dark Rum, Scotch, Cognac, Irish Whiskey, and of course Bourbon!

I love Bourbon Whiskey mixed with Ginger Beer.  Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon is one of my favorite go/to’s for Bourbon that is heading for the cocktail shaker.   The first thing I taste when sipping Four Roses straight is the sweet vanilla enrobed in cayenne pepper, tempered by lightly smoked peaches.  There is definitely stone fruit in every sip of the Small Batch version.

Mixed with the Cock n’ Bull Ginger Beer, the Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon adds dimension and character to every cocktail.  I prefer my Roses and Ginger in a tall glass.  And in keeping with my cocktailian persuits, I like to twist it up a bit.  Keep it fresh and different.

Bitter End Bitters makes one such cocktail augmentation that I feel would just rock in this Bourbon/Ginger Beer cocktail.  It is called the Mexican Mole Bitters.  Laced with hot chilies, bittersweet chocolate and Southwestern herbs, each scant drop adds a hidden element that will fully reveal itself when combined with the other ingredients in the cocktail.

And in keeping with my cocktailian intellect, I’ve frozen these Bitter End Mexican Mole’ Bitters into ice cubes made with water from my Mavea “Inspired Water” Pitcher.  The water is inspired because of a proprietary formula to strip out the harmful elements of ordinary tap water and turn it (inspire) into a crisp, luscious glass of water.

The same holds true for ice.  Ice made with water from my Mavea freezes almost crystal clear!

I’ve been adding different cocktail bitters into my ice.  When the ice melts, the cocktail bitters become melded into the cocktail, augmenting the flavor and deepening it during the melting process.

While some cocktail chefs are experimenting with liquid nitrogen, I’m using a much less expensive method of freezing.  Ice is my method, frozen for a couple of hours in the freezer.

Laced with the Bitter End Bitters- the drink becomes something otherworldly.

And that’s why I make cocktails.  To deepen my customer’s sense of taste.  Each taste is a living laboratory in each sip.

Four Roses Small Batch and Cock ‘n Bull Ginger Beer

(Tall Drink)

Make ice using Bitter End Mexican Mole’ Bitters (4 drops per cube) with water from a Mavea “Inspired Water” pitcher.

Freeze overnight or until absolutely firm

Add three “inspired water” ice cubes to a tall glass

Add 2 Oz. Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

Add Cock ‘n Bull Ginger Beer to top

Add a bit of fresh lime juice and a hunk of lime

Scrape some fresh nutmeg over the top (essential!)

Serve to an appreciative customer!

Danger level 3 out of 5..

If you want a stronger drink, then just add more Bourbon!

 

About me:

Warren Bobrow is the Food and Drink Editor of the 501c3 non profit Wild Table on Wild River Review located in Princeton, New Jersey.

He is one of 12 journalists world-wide, and the only one from the USA to participate in the Fête de la Gastronomie– the weekend of September 22nd. 2012 in Burgundy.

He attended Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in 2011/2012.

Warren presented freestyle mixology at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Portland, Oregon. (2012)

Warren judged the Iron Mixology competition at the Charleston Wine and Food Festival (2012)

Warren has published over four hundred articles on everything from cocktail mixology to restaurant reviews to travel articles- globally.

You may also find him on the web at: http://www.cocktailwhisperer.com

Are you a Carnivore? I am.

October 9, 2012
I’ll admit it.  I’m a carnivore.  There is nothing I like more than tucking into a slab of dry-aged PRIME Beef.  My favorite way of cooking dry aged beef is very simple. Let the steak come to room temperature to relax the muscle.  Rub the steak with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.Grill over hard-wood charcoal, preferably homemade.  Homemade charcoal you say?  Yes.  I make my own from wood that I age and cut by hand.  It’s easy.  If you don’t have access to a few dozen fallen trees you can always buy a bag of “natural” charcoal at your local Whole Foods market.

It’s very important, in fact essential NEVER to buy that charcoal that has lighter fluid cooked into it.  Why?  Because no matter how long you burn the infused charcoal, it will always taste like gasoline.

When I’m paying top dollar from my local German butcher (Hoeffner’s in Morristown, NJ) I want to make sure that my dry-aged beef tastes like beef!

Not like lighter fluid.

Starting a charcoal grill is simple.  I’ve never owned a gas grill and wouldn’t know what to do with one if I did.

A fine choice is the medium sized Weber Kettle Grill.

I can control the heat for cooking by burning the coals on one side of the grill and using the natural convection from the curved lid to “circular” cook whatever I desire.  The heat works wonders and infuses your food is a bath of luscious wood smoke.

You can even add grapevines, cherry or apple wood to the fire to add flavor.

Plus the natural flavor of hard-wood charcoal is far more pleasurable in my opinion than the flavor of gas.  Just my opinion after years of cooking over wood.

Bourbon Distilleries often sell the charcoal that lines the insides of their barrels.  I recently received a bag of Rye Whiskey infused charcoal from a distillery in Pennsylvania named Dad’s Hat.  I placed the Rye Whiskey charcoal just off the heat so that the aromatics of the Whiskey combined with the burning wood, throwing off a Rye laced smoke.  On a rack of beef ribs, the aromatics were most beguiling.  You can duplicate this at home.  There are no secrets here!  Ok, maybe one secret.  When the charred meat comes off the grill, let it rest on a wooden cutting board for about three to five minutes.  Why?  If you cut into it hot off the grill, all the succulent juices will drain out, leaving you with a tough piece of meat.

This is my secret and one that I’m sure Chef Symon will concur with as well.

Imagine my delight when I learned that Michael Symon, the 2009 James Beard Award winning chef was coming to the Short Hills Williams-Sonoma store!

Finally, someone who gets it when teaching the careful preparation of meat!

Yes, he is a carnivore– like myself.  I’m sure we’ll have much in common.  As a former grill-dog in the restaurant business, I can talk charred meat all day long!

Michael Symon, the author of the upcoming book named Carnivore is coming to sign his newest cookbook in our local Williams-Sonoma store.

Anyone who exemplifies the art of cooking meat will be charmed by his eloquent style and abundant passion.

Although Michael will not be doing a cooking demo during this book signing, he will fill the room with his infectious wit.

From what I hear, he disarms even his toughest critics!

I cannot wait to meet him in person and you will too.

 

See you in Short Hills!

Here’s the event information:

Williams-Sonoma Short Hills (Upper Level)

Mall At Short Hills
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 5:00pm
1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills, NJ, 07078
(973) 467-3641

Here’s more information about Michael:
Co-host on The Chew, an Iron Chef and host of Cooking Channel’s Symon Suppers, chef Michael Symon wows even the toughest food critics, while making audiences smile with his contagious laugh.

Carnivore, Symon’s second cookbook, will be out this October and feature recipes crafted for meat-lovers.

http://bit.ly/SO4sdO

I’m hoping if you are in the New York/New Jersey- Metro area, you’ll come out for this introduction to a true Star Chef, Michael Symon.

Here is a simple cocktail that I invented to go with grilled beef.

 

The Brick Pollitt Cocktail  Makes one really tangy/spicy cocktail perfect for aged PRIME Beef

Ingredients:

Dad’s Hat Rye Whiskey

Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Three Chilies

Bitter End Memphis Barbecue Bitters

Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water

Ice made from your Mavea “Inspired Water” Pitcher infused with the Bitter End Memphis BBQ Bitters

Preparation:

One day prior to making your cocktails, freeze a tray of ice using your Mavea Pitcher “Inspired Water” and drop four drops of the Bitter End Memphis BBQ Bitters into each opening of the ice cube tray, freeze overnight

To a Boston Shaker (cocktail shaker) add some regular ice

Add 2 oz. Dad’s Hat Rye Whiskey (or your choice of Rye)

Add 2 Tablespoons Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Three Chilies

Stir well to chill, do not shake this cocktail!

Add a couple of the Bitter End Bitters infused Mavea Water- ice cubes to a short rocks glass

Pour the Rye and Royal Rose Simple Syrup mixture over the top of your infused ice and then add a splash of the Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water for a bit of fizz

Sip to a perfectly cooked steak and your hungry demeanor!

 

Best Chef: Great Lakes, presented by James Beard Foundation 2009  Winner: Michael Symon

James Beard Foundation

About me:

Warren Bobrow is the Food and Drink Editor of the 501c3 non profit Wild Table on Wild River Review located in Princeton, New Jersey.

He is one of 12 journalists world-wide, and the only one from the USA to participate in the Fête de la Gastronomie– the weekend of September 22nd. 2012 in Paris and Burgundy.

He attended Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, the Boston Cocktail Summit and the Manhattan Cocktail Classic.

Warren presented freestyle mixology at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Portland, Oregon. (2012)

Warren judged the Iron Mixology competition at the Charleston Wine and Food Festival (2012)

Warren has published over four hundred articles on everything from cocktail mixology to restaurant reviews to travel articles- globally.

You may also find him on the web at: http://www.cocktailwhisperer.com

 

What does Blat Mean in Catalonian By: Warren Bobrow (cocktail whisperer)

 

Blat means wheat in Catalonian.  But to me, Blat means flavor.   It also means damned good wheat Vodka.

But what makes this Vodka better than the others on the market?

I’m not sure- but through a proprietary method of distillation, Blat Vodka reads, right on the label and certified by the US Government that it is pure. Chemically speaking there are zero impurities in this Vodka.  No impurities according to the owners of the company, equals no hangovers.

That seems to be a pretty broad ranging statement, but independent US Government Laboratories have certified on every bottle that.. well, here it is directly from the label:

We Guarantee, as a result of proprietary process, that this bottle was filled from has produced Vodka with Non-Detected Impurities.  The analysis has been carried out by the most accurate USA independent laboratory certified by the TTB.  The results have shown that typical traces of 1-Butanol, Active Amyl Alcohol, Isoamyl Alcohol, Isobutanol, Methanol, N-Propanol, or Acetaldehyde, EB Ethyl Acetate, were all non-detected.

So what are they saying?   “Achieving extraordinary purity without sacrificing the best traditional taste through a completely unique proprietary process.  Reaches where others cannot reach.”

But what does this Vodka taste like?

A dream.

A dream?  Yes.  A dream of aromatics.  I detect rosemary, citrus and white flowers.  This Vodka is pure and clean and it mixes with citrus in a most friendly manner.

This is a most friendly Vodka.

Just like the owners of the company.  They are as approachable as your own family.

There is something about this Vodka that allows it to marry well with citrus fruits. But not your typical Vodka and Orange juice type drinks.  I’m speaking of grilled citrus, like blood oranges, muddled with freshly snipped garden herbs like rosemary and fresh mint.

A whiff of the sea is in every sip.

They use a special type of water for the blending their Vodka.  Let’s just say that the recipe is a closely guarded secret.  I’d like to “spill the secret” but alas, even the wife of one of the owners does not know the formulary.

They say you won’t get a hangover by drinking Blat.  I’m not sure I’d like to test this theory, but it makes sense.

Take out the impurities and take away the chances of one of those behind the eyes is pure pain hangovers.

I’ve traveled to the region of Spain that this Vodka is named for.  Catalonia.  The region is rich with a very specific terroir.  Wheat is grown here and Blat Vodka is (in my opinion) the closest thing Vodka comes to Pappy Van Winkle.  If they create their cache’, it should be for the purity of the flavors in each sip.

This is Vodka that doesn’t stand in the way of getting your work done.  (my quote!)

So, I played around with my bottle of Blat this afternoon.  But as simplicity is my guide, I took the path less followed.  Bitters became my GPS in this experiment.

I call this little cocktail the Black Hat.  Named for a circa 1800’s top hat I own.  The last time I wore this top hat (many years ago) I became particularly wrecked on your basic Vodka on the Rocks.  Now, many years later, I still own this venerable top hat, but alas, it is too small for my head.

I think it makes a great prop though.  And the inspiration for this cocktail is the remembrance of the last time that I drank Vodka on ice. I’m quite sure that Vodka was not as pure as Blat.

The Black Hat Cocktail (Serves one or two, depending on how wrecked you want to be, but remember, no hangover!)

Ingredients for the Black Hat Cocktail:

Blat Vodka from Spain

Bitters, Old Men- Isaan Another Level Bitters (Comprised of Burdock, Lemongrass, Ginger, Kaffir Lime Leaf, Yuzu Peel, Birds eye chili, Fish Sauce and Sweet Soy)

Ice

Preparation:

Into a short cocktail glass add one or two large cubes of ice.  I used a large silicone cube form from Williams-Sonoma

Add 2 Shots of Blat Vodka (Wheated, just like Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon!)

Add exactly five drops of the Bitters, Old Men Bitters

Stir with a long piece of lemongrass, but crush the end first with the flat side of a chef’s knife to release the aromatics

I also created another cocktail based on strong Mexican Coffee with the unmistakable aromatics of Mexican Chocolate and smoke from one of the unmistakable Del Maguay Mezcals.

This salubrious drink- I named the Oaxaca Express.  It uses a couple of hits of the Mexican Mole’ Bitters from The Bitter End

This cocktail is also simplicity in motion.  Use the same proportions as the Black Hat, but substitute the Bitter End Mexican Mole Bitters for the Bitters, Old Men Bitters

Instead of five drops of bitters, use only three drops of the Mexican Mole’ Bitters.

Add 1/2 shot of strong coffee to the vodka and then the Bitter End Bitters and a good splash of Agave Syrup for a sweeter finish

Add a large cube of ice

Finally, add 1/2 shot of Petuga from Del Maguey

Add the Mezcal directly over the top

Serve immediately to your friend and then make another for yourself to show your good manners!

Thank you Fabiola for being so kind to me.

 

What is it about Rum and Bitters? By: Warren Bobrow (Cocktail Whisperer)

What is it about Rum and Bitters?

May 1, 2012

I’m quite fond of white rum.  It’s got the stuffing to stand up to mixers and to cocktail bitters.  A couple weeks ago I received a sample bottle from the R. St. Barth’ Rhum company.  I told them I’d like to try their product and if I liked it, I would write something about it.  The same holds true for all the spirits I receive as samples.  If I like it, we can see the results, if not, well, I’ll leave that to you.

Sitting in front of me is a medium glass.  I’ve added a couple of coconut water ice cubes and some drops of a couple of bitters- most divergent in styles.  The Bitters, Old Men, Macadamia Bitters and the Bitter End Thai Bitters to be exact.  And yes, I received them as samples as well.

But as simplicity is my guide, I wanted to taste this Rhum before I did any cocktail augmentation.  That means, taste the Rhum, right into my glass.  Then- experiment a bit.

The St. Barth Rhum is stylistically more akin to the Rhum Agricole of the island of Martinique.  Now there are some that will disagree with me- and that’s fine.

This is a gorgeous Rhum Agricole.  Smacking of fresh sugar cane and white flowers, the slight salty bitterness guides me to adding some augmentation.

Truly nothing is needed but time in the glass and fresh citrus fruit.  Maybe a splash of Cane Sugar Syrup?

No, it doesn’t taste like Martinique, what it tastes like is Guadeloupe Rum.. That is what it is!  Sure it says St. Barths’s on the label, and that’s where the company is from.

I think real estate is too valuable on St. Barth’s for growing cane.  Having spent a few weeks on St. Barth’s, it’s a magnificent place, brimming with French tourists in various stages of undress.

A harbor filled with mega-yachts, moored stern in, the European way.  It’s a veritable Rhum fueled holiday!

The town of Gustavia is filled with the wealthy and the super-wealthy.  You come here to soak up the sun and dream away the afternoons!

St. Barth’s has long been a clearing port for fine Rhum from the surrounding islands.  You can get anything there virtually tax-free as long as it says RUM on the label.

I learned about the truly high end Rhums of Martinique while enjoying a “Cheeseburger” in paradise and washing it down with a Rhum Punch.  Each restaurant on St. Barth’s makes their own version of the Rhum Punch.  Usually it is Rhum Agricole, with infused herbs, fruits, spices and syrups.

The St. Barth’s Rhum Agricole would make the perfect base as a Rhum Punch.  But I digress.

Today’s cocktail is ever so simple and delicious!

The Grilled Rhum Slingback

Ingredients:

Rhum St. Barth

Grilled orange rounds (about 3 per drink)

Fresh Lime cut into 8th’s

Coconut Water Ice

Bitter End Thai Bitters

Bitters, Old Men Macadamia Bitters

Freshly picked Kentucky Colonel Mint

Seltzer

Preparation:

Freeze Coconut water into ice cube trays

Chill short cocktail glasses with regular ice and water- let sit then pour out when glasses are very cold

Muddle the grilled orange rounds with the mint and the limes in a cocktail shaker

Add 2 Shots per person of the Rhum St. Barth to a cocktail shaker with the grilled orange/lime/mint muddle

Add the bitters, three drops of the Bitter End Thai, then 5 drops of the Bitters, Old Men-Macadamia Bitters

Stir to chill and combine well

Pour out water and ice from your short cocktail glasses

Add a couple of coconut water ice cubes

Strain the Rhum Agricole St. Barth’s mixture over the coconut water ice cubes

Garnish with an un-grilled orange slice and splash with seltzer to finish

So what is it about Rhum and Bitters.  Are they a marriage of like-minds?  I think so.  Depending on the variety and scope of your bitters of course.

I want you to experiment with flavor! That’s what brings you deeper into your cocktails.

 

Close your eyes and dream of Eden Rock.

On Whisk(e)y: Tasting Tullibardine Aged Oak Edition + Balblair 1991 from OKRA Magazine

WARREN BOBROW grew up on a biodynamic farm in Morristown, New Jersey. He is a reluctant cocktail/wine writer and a former trained chef/saucier.

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There was a time in recent memory that I would walk into a liquor store and look wistfully at the selections of rum, vodka, gin and bourbon.  I would walk right past the Scotch whisky as if it were something from another lifetime.  My memories of Scotch whisky come at a high price for me.  Unfortunately, when I attended private school, Scotch was just about the only thing that we drank.  I remember a particularly blurry evening when an overly enthusiastic parent of a party-thrower was meting out veritable coffee mugs filled to over-flowing with the fruits of his investments.  This gentleman who is now gone, invested heavily in Scotch whisky casks.  At the end of the 30-year period there was the option to either sell the casks at a huge profit, or drink them.  He preferred the latter and shared them willingly.

In college I didn’t enjoy Scotch.  My college roommate often had in lean times a bottle of Johnny Walker Red, and in flush times, a bottle of the Black.  I suppose that I just didn’t get it about Scotch.  Single malt included.  The flavors were lost on me.  I made no effort to enjoy it again until less than a year ago.

Since my passion is rum and, of course, bourbon writing- I thought why not branch out a bit.  Find some way to learn about Scotch by asking for and receiving gorgeous samples from the distilleries.  And so I did.  And my bar grew and grew with exotic offerings from distilleries around the globe.

Sitting in front of me right now are two such bottles.  They were given as samples, thank you very much.

As I have said previously, if I do not like a spirit, I will not write about it.  These expressions caught my mind’s eye, my sense of taste and in turn opened my palate.

The Tullibardine Aged Oak Edition says right on the label, “Best Procurable”.  That statement of quality did not taint my first impression of this spirit.  I should have imagined a statement about the casks before reading the ad copy.  The small words fine, rare, smooth & mellow are more important to me.  They express exactly what my first taste said.  A sip is creamy and lush all at once.  The mouth-feel is creamed corn baked into a pudding on the finish.  The start is a touch of oak, a bit of cane sugar

(Do they use bourbon casks?)

Midway through swallowing this very small dram I discover the taste of peat, but not too much.   There is a burn, but again, it’s metered and it doesn’t overpower the nose.  The alcohol level is a fine 46% by volume, not too much, yet not 80 proof.  After drinking a few of the raw cask expressions from Blackadder a few months back I’ve looked at anything less than 120 proof as “not too much”.

Turning the back of the bottle, I see that, indeed, they used bourbon casks.  The company uses casks that date back to 2003 and the youngest casks are five years old.  They detect citrus in the mouth, yet I detect caramel corn, grilled peaches, German eiswine and charred hoe-cakes made with charred grain instead of corn.  This is an elegant slurp and I beg that you seek out a bottle.  Tullibardine is not like the Scotch I’ve tried recently- it is much more American in approach. This must be from the bourbon oak.  I think it will appeal to a drinker, like myself who is still learning how to enjoy Scotch whiskey.

Balblair 1991

The Balblair is like a history lesson.  There comes a time when every imbiber seeks out the very best expression of the spirits that they can afford.  The Balblair from 1991 will not disappoint.  I’m gazing, no, peering into a dram of this whisky as if it was a veritable swimming pool of honey.  The aroma fills the room.  Freshly cut citrus, honey, heather, tarragon and bubbling spring water is the first thing I sense.  This is a gorgeous dram of history.  I suspect that each year of this liquid gold is different- as different as the grains taste from fog to fog, year to year.  The earth gives off a fragrance that is immediately recognizable on the first sip.

There is smoke, yes, but it dissipates very quickly upon swallowing.  The alcohol level is a bit less than that of the Tullibardine, but it actually tastes a bit hotter on the finish.  The oak – used bourbon oak – the same.

I’ve gone on record to say that I love rum-aged in Scotch whisky cask so maybe I’m learning to love Scotch whisky aged in bourbon cask?  I think so!

There is freshly made whole grain pancake batter in the nose and a finish of the outdoors, saline, lively and crisp.  I’d say this was a single malt whisky for the spring and summer months.  It’s lightweight and it makes you thirsty for more.  Plus, the relatively low alcohol level will not wreck you completely if you choose to take a glass or two as an aperitif!

I don’t recommend ice in this dram, just sprinkle a bit of branch or spring water over the top.  Sure, you can keep a bottle down in the wine cellar.  I enjoy drinking my Scotch from 45 to 56 degrees.  As it gets warmer, it changes and I like that change.  This is an extremely easy to drink Scotch Whiskey.  The first flavors are of freshly cut citrus fruits, toasty vanilla sugar that’s been muddled with cinnamon sticks- there’s some brown butter in there along with some grade B maple syrup.

My friend Hunter Stagg gave me some simple syrup made from Lemon Thyme the other day.  The mid-notes of the Balblair is pure lemon thyme and simple syrup.  I’m impressed to the range of flavors in each sip.  I must recommend sprinkling some spring water over the top of your dram.  It will release the emotions in every sip.

If you have a sprig of mint, or lemon thyme, slap it against your hand, sniff it deeply and have a sip of your dram.

It’s a lovely way to spend the afternoon.  Sitting and sipping fine whisky.

Canadian Goose in the Window Cocktail

 

 

Royal Rose Syrup sent me a little package under the cover of darkness a couple days ago. This new flavor is strawberry and fennel. Immediately I started to shiver. Strawberries plucked fresh from the field, glistening with the morning dew and fennel grasping at the air and reaching for the sky. They have my attention immediately.

So please from my twisted “Cocktail Whisperer” sensibility, allow me to introduce the Canadian Goose in the Window Cocktail. What kind of name is that? Well, all day the geese have been circling outside in the wind without landing. They swoop by the window momentarily blotting out the light. They are huge and out of control.

Maybe they got into something and it made them crazy? Who knows.

The basis of this drink is a strawberry and the herb driven element- a burst of fennel twisted around a simple syrup made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup.

But what should follow? In this case all I can think about is White Rum from Atlantico. Their Platino Rum or Ron Artesanal is just gorgeous stuff. If you can find a bottle it is a thing of rare beauty. Combined with the sweetness from tiny plump strawberries and tied together by strands of fennel, this is a dream cocktail if you are thirsty. Crushed ice makes it a slushy and bitters from a recent discover called Bitters, Old Men completes the picture. I chose their Smoke Gets in Your Bitters, so named for the ingredients that include Lapsang Souchong tea and the essences of Prickly Pear…

Exotic meets exotic in a firing squad on your palate of sweet to savory to gorgeous.

If you have more than two of them, watch out!

Get a car service. Don’t drive. I warn you.

Canadian Goose in the Window Cocktail
Ingredients:
4 Shots of Platino Ron Artesanal (Rum)
Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Strawberry and Fennel ( Soon to be released… I hope!)
Freshly Squeezed lime and lemon juices
Grilled Strawberries or ones roasted in a cast iron pan until just charred
Fennel for garnish

Preparation:
Muddle a couple of grilled strawberries with the fennel
Add Simple Syrup or Simple Syrup of Strawberry and Fennel plus the muddled strawberries.. it’s up to you how intense you want this drink
Add 4 shots of the white Rum (Platino)
Shake and strain into a tall cocktail glass filled with crushed ice
Garnish with Fennel and a tall colorful straw

Drip a few drops of the Bitters, Old Men Smoke Gets in Your Bitters over the top and sip carefully

This recipe makes one cocktail of blinding strength or several smaller ones with lesser capacity for blindness!

Vodka Without Hangovers? Say it isn’t so?

Say it isn’t so?

 

Perfectly pure Vodka? What a claim. Can your spirit make that same claim? Well there it is. Right on the label. Certified by the United States Government. NO IMPURITIES in this Vodka.
Now, I’m not usually a Vodka drinker. Far from it. I mean, if someone pours me a Vodka and grilled muddled grapefruit, I’m certainly going to drink it.
There used to be a bar near South Station in Boston named the Blue Sands. It’s gone now, along with most of the patrons, young and old. I suppose they met their demise through drinking rock-gut Vodka mixed with grapefruit juice. 80 cents for a small juice glass. You could get absolutely wrecked for about five bucks.
Drinking Blat on the other hand… the uber-elegant Vodka imported from Spain is not the same thing. This is contemplative Vodka. Vodka with flavor all its own. You wouldn’t want to cover up the intriguing aromatics of fresh herbs and citrus zest with uncertain mixers.
I received a bottle last night and immediately set to testing the theory- not for the lack of a hangover, but to unleash the flavors hidden within this crystal clear spirit.
What makes this Vodka so unique? I’m not sure- but I would say, seek out a bottle. And don’t cover up the aromatics too much.
Don’t be afraid to drink it on the rocks, or with a twist. Perhaps you’d like to mix it simply like this?

The Door Opener Cocktail
2 Blood Oranges, sliced into rounds and then seared until crunchy on the flesh
2 Shots of Blat Vodka from Spain
A few shakes of Angostura Bitters
A squeeze of Milagro Agave Syrup

Muddle a couple of the Blood Orange rounds in a cocktail shaker
Add a some ice
Add the Blat Vodka
Add the Bitters
Squeeze a bit of Milagro Agave into the mix
Shake and strain into a shallow coupe’ glass
Enjoy!

Whip your Bellini into Shape! by: Cocktail Whisperer, Warren Bobrow

Whip your Bellini into Shape!

Like many of the great liquid legends of cocktail artistry, the greatest drinks seem to have the largest legends behind each pensive sip.  None hold as much mystique and intrigue as the Bellini.  I love the Bellini for what it is not.  It is not sugary sweet.  It is not trendy.  It is not difficult to make.  What a Bellini is and what it has become- is history in the glass.  I’m holding a bottle of Powell & Mahoney Peach Bellini cocktail mixer in my hands and I seek greater inspiration from the whiff of tiny white peaches and the “not too sweet” finish of “summer in a glass.”

This is very sophisticated juice- worthy of the finest sparkling wines or mixers.  To say that summer is only as far away as a bottle of Powell & Mahoney is not too far of a stretch.  You cannot physically force summer upon the outside world, but inside your cocktail glass it can be summer any time you open a bottle and mix a drink.

The original history of the Bellini has been told and re-told over the decades.  Venice, Italy- the famed “Harry’s Bar” and freshly picked white peaches, gently pureed and then strained with a touch of pure cane sugar makes the best cocktail.  What I do know about the Bellini is that a proper Bellini must be prepared with the best possible ingredients.  The Peach Bellini mix that I hope you have a chance to try is exceptionally refreshing in a glass, served plain as well as with a bit of freshly drawn seltzer.  You can make a brilliant Bellini with the sparkling wine of your choice- or any of a multitude of other ingredients.

The classic preparation includes Prosecco but yours might be something else entirely.  The hit of dry fizz to the savory sweetness of creamy, white peaches can be described simply as, memorable and essential!

My parents took me to Italy when I was in my early teen years.  They did not forbid me to taste alcoholic beverages- quite the opposite in fact, there was always wine on our table at home and more wine when traveling in Europe.  Our trip to Venice was one of the highpoints of my childhood.  We took a water-taxi to the famed glass factories of Murano where many of my cocktail glasses were crafted.  I do believe and my mind’s eye recalls many unique flavors on that trip so many decades ago.

I remember it was brutally hot on this summer trip to Venice.  The glass factories are not air-conditioned and my young thirst was only compounded by the lack of water or even wine as I recall.

To blow glass, vast amounts of fire is necessary, hence the furnaces glowing nearly white hot.  Images and feelings such as these never left my mind, watching glass blown by talented artisans in a time honored method has reverberated in my memory since those days.

It’s no coincidence that the vessels that hold my cocktails are hand-blown, some from Italy, others from crafts-people trained in Italy.

There is a certain polished elegance to real Murano glass that cannot be duplicated any place else in the world.

The glass galleries of Venice are located in vast palazzio that echo with history.  Millions of dollars of glass sculptures sit next to more humble reminders of the glass-blower’s craft.  The hushed elegance of these living museums is further exemplified by the serving of Bellini cocktails, many served in glasses blown just for this purpose.  You don’t have to drink a Bellini in a Murano hand blown glass, but it wouldn’t hurt!  As I mentioned it was one of those days in Venice that the air stood nearly still and the humidity rose off the canals in vast sheets of penetrating, rippling heat.  My parents were served tall (hand-blown) glasses of peach nectar with fizzy Prosecco poured over the top.

Of course I held my hand out for one to sate my young thirst.  I can picture the sweet, yet tangy flavor of white peaches, the staccato of the Prosecco and the glass emptying itself down my throat in one fell swoop.

“Yes please, may I have another?”

With this quality product, made in “Micro-Batches” by Powell & Mahoney, you too may duplicate the utter dream-state of being in Venice.  If it’s not summer where you are, turn up the heat in your home and find yourself a glass that befits a drink of the highest quality.  And try not to duplicate the seven deadly sins, unless you want to!

In my most twisted fashion, I’ve created a cocktail that befits the classic flavors and memories of Venice, and those of Carnival, when the city is masked in intrigue and passion.

This cocktail is firmly based on the classic history of white peach nectar and Prosecco, but in keeping with my twisted sensibility I’ve taken the path less followed and twisted things up quite a bit.

You may find after several, if you have any clothes left on they will be gone soon, hence the name the Seven Deadly Sins. ( Sette Peccati Capitali)

Ingredients for several clothing and mind liberators hence the name Sette Peccati Capitali:

1 shot glass of Tenneyson Absinthe

1 shot glass of Aviation Gin from House Spirits

1 shot glass of Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur

4 shot glasses of Prosecco or any dry sparkling wine (It need not be Champagne, just light and refreshing)

3-4 shots of Powell & Mahoney Micro-Batch All Natural Cocktail Mixer

Bitter End Curry Bitters

1 cup Grilled Orange Juice (Slice oranges into rounds, grill over fire or sear in a pan then juice)

Preparation:

In a cocktail shaker, fill 1/4 with ice

Add liqueurs except for the sparkling wine

Add Powell & Mahoney Peach Bellini Mixer

Add a couple of ice cubes to each glass

Shake and strain into champagne glasses or long cocktail glasses

Add exactly three drops of the Bitter End Curry Bitters to each glass

Add the grilled orange juice, about 1 shot per drink

Add a couple of splashes of Prosecco to the glasses that contain the liqueurs, the peach Bellini nectar and the Bitter End Curry Bitters

Fully experience this cocktail by having several!

(I won’t be held responsible for your actions!)

http://www.cocktailwhisperer.com

http://www.wildriverreview.com/wildtable

Photograph by Warren Bobrow with the Leica M8/Summicron F2 50mm

Kilbeggan (The Oldest Operating Distillery in the World!)

Kilbeggan (The World’s Oldest Distillery)

April 4, 2012

Is the world’s oldest distillery in Scotland?  If you said yes, then you are incorrect.  The oldest operating distillery is in Ireland.

I’m quite fond of Irish Whiskey.  You may note that Irish Whiskey is not spelled Whisky like in Scotland.  Irish Whiskey has the addition of the E at the end in a fashion similar to the way Whiskey is spelled in the United States.

Why?  I believe through my research that the extra E is meant to discuss a higher quality spirit that those without the E. This was a historic reasoning that had something to do with quality of a specific spirit. I don’t care to discuss the personal history, you can do that yourself.  This history pit country against country.  It was certainly not inclusive.

Oh, they spell Whisky without the E in Scotland.  Whatever.  I think that the exclusion or inclusion of the letter E is confusing to the consumer.  But like any interesting puzzle the historical reasoning is out there on the web.

Onward…

Back in the late 80’s I had chance to travel to Ireland for the first time.  This lush country, with gorgeous,1000 shades of deep green vistas set against limitless skies. This is where passionate crafts-people, embrace the ancient methods of distillation.  The distillation arts in Ireland harkens back to a time when living off the land actually meant something.

I was fortunate to stay in Dublin- a young, raucous city filled with vivid splashes of color and light set against dark skies and brooding classical architecture.  It’s a magical place- well geared to intellectuals and also thirsty entrepreneurs.  There are authors and artists from all over the world that make their way to Dublin to study, to drink and to make history.  You can go into dozens of bars, listen to traditional music and meet poets, dreamers and best of all, drinkers.

The pubs are filled with lads and lassies who come to seek solace in a fine pint of dark and a glass of uisce beatha or water of life.  The pubs of Dublin and her denizens make this city go round and round.

I tasted Irish Whiskey for the first time at the historic horseshoe bar at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin.  I was immediately hooked on the friendly, yet potent sweet water.

Ireland has amazing farmland well suited for growing grain.  The soil in Ireland is rich in many of the nutrients necessary to grow grains. Grain just happens to make excellent many alcoholic finished products.

You have a thirsty country, much rain- generally miserable weather in the winter… Made even more lovely with a finished product made from fermented grain.

With grain comes distillation- and with distillation comes Whiskey.  Irish Whiskey, is a unique product.  It tastes like no other Whiskey in my opinion and it helps me dream.  Dream you say?  Drinking Irish Whiskey for me- unlocks a liquid history of searching for round-towers and seeking lovely wool sweaters woven in specific ways to identify the wearer.  Irish Whiskey is part of the deeper social thread but is easily enjoyable in a lovely Irish Coffee.

I have the ingredients, but it’s just 8:53 in the morning.  Not a good time to start drinking when a man has writing to do!

Ireland is no stranger to the craft of distillation as witnessed by Kilbeggan.  Their handsome bottle reads 1757.  No, this is not a misprint. 1757 is when the distillery was established.  And 1757 means that this spirit is from the world’s oldest operating distillery.  Not surprising to me. Kilbeggan is a new brand to the United States although by the bottle not so new to the world!  Kilbeggan uses a 180 year old pot still.  I believe a pot still gives great character to a spirit.  There has to be something said to the distillation vessel.  It must contain memories of some sort.  It’s not just cold metal.  It has a soul.

But does this make the spirit within the handsome bottle good?  I think so.  Please let me tell you about my thoughts.

Open the tall narrow bottle, classically finished in dark lettering over a pale yellow label.  There is a hint of maroon and gold highlighting some important facts about the distillery.  Several places on the bottle the numbers 1757 appear.  The distillery is quite proud of their lineage and heritage.

Open the top and pour a healthy portion into a glass that resonates with you.  From very moment that the magical liquid hits the glass I can smell the aroma of honey and hand-scythed grains.  There is a bit of smoke way off in the finish, but nothing like drinking Scotch.

The beginning of the mouth-feel is peppery fire from the 80 proof spirit.  The aroma of Kilbeggan is haunting and centering in the room.  I want to have a taste.  It’s soft, creamy in the mouth and quite beguiling on the top of my palate.  Flavors of toasted nuts, fleur de sel, caramel and Irish Soda Bread (with extra raisins) predominate.

Add to this a healthy slathering of creamy yellow Irish butter, still warm over the toasted Soda Bread.  This tiny slurp of Ireland just goes on and on with a multi-minute finish.

This is very sophisticated stuff.  I’m especially enjoying the aroma in the room.  Bacon fat, maple syrup and hot tea.  Yum!

As a food writer I love to give the literary connections to flavors I’ve tasted in my childhood.  This directional ability seems to translate well to the world of spirits writing.

As a cook, I find it interesting, to identify many of the flavor profiles that are available in spirits.  Sure they all have brooding alcohol, that’s the point!  People drink for pleasure.  It tastes good and some even have a kick!

Flavor has everything to do with it.

Irish Whiskey is Irish history in every sip.  For me to taste creamy butter melting over a thick slice of freshly toasted Soda Bread is to encourage you to find a bottle of Kilbeggan.

 

Two Cocktails For Kilbeggan

1. The Sheep in the Road cocktail- meaning that group of sheep don’t appear to be getting out of the road!

Makes two rather lovely cocktails

Ingredients:

6 Oz. Irish Breakfast Tea- chilled

4 Shots Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

Local Honey Simple Syrup (1:1 ratio of Honey to water, heat, then cool. refrigerate)

Preparation:

To a cocktail shaker add the Kilbeggan and the Irish Breakfast Tea

Add 4 Tablespoons of the Honey Simple Syrup

Garnish with a lemon round and a sprig of mint

 

2. The Cow in the Road Cocktail- meaning, there is a cow in the road up there, watch out!

Makes two cocktails of bewildering strength from the use of warming liquids, you won’t taste the alcohol, so please be careful.

Ingredients:

Freshly Whipped Cream flavored with Kilbeggan

Hot Chocolate (your choice)

4 Shots of Kilbeggan

Sugar to taste

Preparation:

Make your hot chocolate and add to pre-heated mugs

Add the Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

Sip and when the cow jumps over that wall, know that there is a pub just up the way.  Someone will come to the pub and tell you to move your car!

 

Straight

2 Shots of Kilbeggan

Glass (preferably clean)

no ice

a bit of cool water

 

PreparationMoisten your brow with the water, drink the Whiskey and have another

 

 

http://www.cocktailwhisperer.com

http://www.wildriverreview.com/wildtable