Carnival of Chaos Cocktail uses Tuthilltown White Whiskey!

Carnival of Chaos Cocktail

Recipe courtesy of our friend Warren Bobrow

2 oz. Tuthilltown White Whiskey (The White Dog)
1-2 oz. unfiltered Apple Juice (fresh, if you can get it)
2 droppers of Bittercube Blackstrap Bitters
Maraschino cherries

Muddle Maraschino cherries in a shaker glass.
Add Bittercube Blackstrap bitters, then White Whiskey and apple juice
Add fresh ice and shake. Serve on the rocks in a short glass with a few slices of apple.

Cracker Jack Snap Cocktail- uses SNAP (USDA Certified Organic Snap Liquor-80 Proof!)

Not a sickly sweet cordial.  Nor a candy flavored slurp.. This is serious stuff!

Cracker Jack Snap Cocktail

Wow!!! Another wonderful recipe from our friend Warren Bobrow.

2 ginger snap cookies, crushed
Luxardo Cherries
4 oz. (a real kick) Tuthilltown NY Corn Whiskey
2 oz. Snap (USDA Certified Organic Ginger Snap liquor)
A few scant shakes of Fee Brothers Grapefruit Bitters
Splash of ginger beer, then another.

Muddle cherries and a few ginger snap cookies to a paste.
Add whiskey and Snap.
Shake in a few splashes of Fee Brothers Grapefruit Bitters.
Hit it with the ginger beer.
Shake and strain into a tall glass with plenty of rock ice.

Zombie Root Carousel (Work done for Tuthilltown Spirits)

Zombie Root Carousel

Recipe courtesy of Warren M. Bobrow  Editor & Food Journalist/ Photojournalist from www.wildriverreview.com/wildtable

In a cocktail shaker, mash several maraschino cherries to a pulp
2 oz. of Tuthilltown Manhattan Rye Whiskey
1 oz. Root USDA Certified Organic Liquor
Finish with a shake or two of Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters and some freshly scraped ginger root.

Add ice, top with Q-Ginger ale. Shake, strain and pour over fresh ice in a tall glass.

 

The Mount Washington Slushy. Originally published on Williams-Sonoma’s Blender Blog

A New Cocktail for Cool Fall Nights

The sun is setting a bit earlier now, and close friends are gathering outside for the last eating and drinking events of the season. We still have some evenings left under the stars before fall fully sets in.

Instead of drinking lightly scented, crisp white wines with our dinners, our palates are beginning to reset towards darker, more aromatic flavors. Alcohol levels in our cocktails are also a bit higher now with the cooler weather, sometimes for flavor and other times for the body-warming aspects of a carefully mixed drink.

The Mount Washington Slushy Cocktail is a creative example of a handheld fall warmer. It combines the earthy aromatics of maple syrup frozen into ice cubes, along with the peppery, spicy flavors of rye whiskey. Then in a nod to the classic Sazerac cocktail, there is a touch of the mysterious liquor absinthe.

The Mount Washington Slushy

Grade A maple syrup as needed

Spring water as needed

Regular ice cubes as needed

6 drops Angostura bitters combined with finely chopped orange zest to make your own “orange bitters”

A few scant drops of absinthe

2 shots rye whiskey or Canadian whiskey

Freshly cut orange rind

Homemade brandied cherries (recipe below) and/or fresh mint for serving

Put about 1 Tbs. Grade A maple syrup into each compartment in an ice cube tray, cover with spring water and place in the freezer to create “maple ice.” Do this the morning before preparing your cocktails to give the ice a chance to solidify.

To a cocktail shaker, add a few drops of maple syrup and a few cubes of regular ice. Add the bitters and absinthe to the shaker. Add the whiskey, then shake until frost appears on the outside of the shaker.

Rub the rim of a short tumbler glass or mint julep cup with a freshly cut orange rind. Gently squeeze the rind over a flame, then place in the glass, if desired.

Strain the liquors into the glass, add a few cubes of the maple ice and garnish with a homemade brandied cherry and/or fresh mint. Serves 1.

Homemade Brandied Cherries: Wash and pit a few pints of dark red cherries. Place the cherries in a sterilized jar and cover with applejack or an inexpensive brandy. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least a week or more.

What you will have after a few weeks of steeping are high-quality cocktail cherries — and they make great hostess gifts, too!

Work done for OKRA, the online magazine of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

 

WARREN BOBROW grew up on a biodynamic farm in Morristown, New Jersey. He is a reluctant cocktail/wine writer who just completed an entry for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America Ed., 2 on the topic of biodynamic and organic wine/spirits/food. He’s also a former trained chef/saucier.

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Photo Credit: travelingmcmahans; creative commons

My grandfather, a Yankee like myself, truly enjoyed Bottled in Bond, 100 Proof Bourbon Whiskey.  I didn’t know about his passion for Bourbon because he never drank it around me and he never ordered it in a restaurant. Usually he ordered an extra dry Dewers Rob Roy.  For many years I only thought he drank Scotch whisky. What I didn’t know at the time was that his true passion was Bourbon.

My grandfather owned his own company and one of the things that people would give him at Christmas time were some very special bottles of Bourbon.  These bottles remained hidden from me for many years.  After he died I learned from my grandmother that there were several nice looking (from a design perspective anyway) bottles of pre-1960 Bourbon in a hidden compartment of the bar.

She went on to tell me that she was going to pour out the contents (the historic Bourbon) and turn them into flower vases, because the bottles were so pretty.  I got over to her home as quickly as I could.  She showed me the hidden compartment in the bar.   Inside there were several bottles of Bourbon from the 1940’s to the late 1950s. These bottles of Bourbon had rested, in the dark, away from my youthful fingers since he placed them there and forgot about them.

These remaining bottles are a liquid history of the last of my grandfather’s Bourbon collection.

Photo: Warren Bobrow

Truth be told, as a “damned” Yankee, I know the true value of these ancient spirits.  Not as an investment in dollars, but as a flavor-driven window into my family’s past.  The bottles that I hold in my hand are a history of flavor.  This is a specific type of history that could never be duplicated today, primarily because the people who crafted the contents of these historic Bourbon bottles are now long gone.  The ingredients used today are similar, but the Whisky is different because each sip holds liquid ghosts belonging to the past.

Tasting notes:

Old Forester “Bottled in Bond” Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky.  100 proof. This bottle has been filled and stamped under the provisions of sections 5008 and 5243 of the Internal Revenue code.

Set into wood 1954. Bottled 1959.

A gentle, almost cedar nose gives way to candied orange peel, sweet jasmine flowers and caramelized pecan. The brooding heat burns the tongue.  With a texture almost as thick as maple syrup, the freshness and liveliness of this Bourbon hasn’t changed a bit since entering the bottle over fifty years ago.  Charred notes of Anson Mills stone ground grits stuck to the bottom of an ancient cast iron pan is the next thing tasted as I rolled a few precious drops around my mouth.  The soft, mineral finish goes on and on, revealing itself with another slow burn as if the bottom of the glass was aflame.  This Bourbon, when served with a bit of Kentucky Colonel mint from the garden, awakens ghosts from one’s grand-pappy’s generation.

Ancient Age.  Date uncertain due to the loss of the tax stamp, estimated somewhere between 1945-1950.  Space Age in design, this Mid-Century modern bottle is filled to just over a pint in liquid.  Marked straight Bourbon Whiskey.  The bottle reads: carefully distilled according to the finest old traditions. 86 proof.  Marked Full Six Years old. Distilled and bottled by Ancient Age Distillery Co., Frankfort Kentucky.

Warm aromas of sweetly delineated, hand-hewn oak- remind me immediately that Bourbon Whisky is not Scotch Whiskey or Tennessee sippin’ Whisky.  One reason for certain is the lack of smoke, peat and saline in the nose.  Normally, I find these flavors to be overpowering.  I suppose I just don’t understand Scotch.  The nose of this Bourbon Whisky resembles a liquid caramel candy.  A burst of fire from the nearly 90 proof alcohol makes itself known then a finish of fleur du sel and freshly cut herbs like thyme and tarragon.  This Bourbon, although “only” 86 proof, acts on the palate like one almost double the potency. In fact it resembles in many ways the potency and grip of some un-cut corn whiskies I’ve tasted recently.  Each slurp reveals sharply aromatic Asian spices with a razor sharp finish that exposes itself on the back of the tongue; with a nearly 2 minute long finish!  This Bourbon tastes nothing like the roughness of the neither 1952 Old Forester, nor does is resemble the overly oaked  “modern-style” of the 1955 Old Grand Dad. With a crumbled leaf of Kentucky Colonel spearmint this Bourbon really opens up, revealing its wood-driven flavors as a contender for a (very rare and expensive) mint julep.  This Bourbon has all the stuffing for a drink made with its primary ingredient over a half-century old!

Old Forester 1952. Bottled in Bond in 1957. Freshly baked charred- corn “hoe” cakes are smeared with melted, sweet strawberry butter. The first flavors take a bit to get used to.  Sweet is usually a flavor more akin to Canadian Whisky or Irish Whisky.  Freshly brewed sweet iced tea reveals itself- then flavors of caramel corn and cinnamon laced red-hot candy folded into a mug of boiling hot water, Asian spices and sugar cane lurk in the background.  The backbone of alcohol is a sudden wake up call to the throat.  It BURNS!  A glass of this Bourbon has amazing heat for spirit almost sixty years old!   The 1952 taste as lively a drink in the glass as a 2002 bottle of Knob Creek Bourbon!  It’s just amazing how little the alcoholic power has diminished over the past half century!

Old Grand Dad “Head of the Bourbon Family” 1955. Set into bottle 1959.  Part of a more modern and new style of Bourbon Whiskey, this is a roughly hewn, heavily oaked version of the classic drink.  It’s just amazing to me how much Bourbon has evolved during the late 1950’s.  The soft almost billowy quality of the Bourbon is ever-present, yet the finish is much sharper, but it lingers on the tongue for several minutes.  The 1959 bottling is more akin in many ways to Four Roses or Pappy Van Winkle with an almost lemon oil, citrus tinged mouth-feel.  The oils from the cask rise to the surface creating an illusion of a rainbow.  Each sip is laced with banana, vanilla bean, toasted corn bread, the char from well- seasoned cast iron pan and brook trout cooked in that pan with a handful of toasted hazelnuts thrown in at the finish.   An Amaretto-liqueur nose predominates.  The finish is like the first day of golden sunshine, streaming into the windows after a spring thunderstorm.  This is serious stuff and it deserves a drop or two of branch water to release its secrets.  The next flavors are like authentically seasoned Thai food served Thai spicy.  Flavor before heat is the mantra of this Bourbon.  A few sips signal the essential drink to take the edge off the afternoon or evening like none of your neighbors have ever imagined or enjoyed.

These bottles are a bit less than ½ full … As much as I want to share them with well- meaning friends, I know that once they’re gone, they can never be replaced.

I’ll be drinking small glasses from these bottles without any mixers from now on.  Well, maybe with a few drops of some sweet, local branch water flicked over the surface to connect these liquid history lessons with the flavor driven memories of the past.

Bourbon, Branch and a Splash of Southern Lore

WILD TABLE – Billy Reid:

Bourbon, Branch and a Splash of Southern Lore

by Warren Bobrow

Back in the eighties I bartended a bit, drank a fair amount of good bourbon in carefully learned, hand-crafted mint juleps, and cooked the line in a fine, white tablecloth restaurant near the historic waterfront area known as Ansonborough in Charleston, South Carolina.

That restaurant was named the Primerose House. Here at this very early proponent of locavore cooking I was introduced to the culture and mystique of the oft mentioned, never tasted branch water. After Hurricane Hugo set us all asunder in 1989, Charleston changed, but her charm, as a graceful Southern city has never faded.

Many moved on to other places and culinary careers, myself included. But the manners that I was taught in Charleston have stayed with me. I especially cite Martha Lou’s Kitchen for teaching me the value of listening under pressure in her non-air-conditioned kitchen. In the Soul Food restaurant she owns in Charleston, Martha Lou let me watch her cook. Once she trusted me after several months of my begging, she let me cook alongside her for a few lunches. Martha Lou also gave me another gift, the palate for all things hog, Southern culture and a glass of Bourbon Whiskey.

I was reading a food article in the New York Times by the noted Southern cultural raconteur named John T. Edge. He wrote a piece on All-American, Mexican Hot Dogs. His web presence begins with these words: “Eater, Writer, Educator.” As one of the founders of the Southern Foodways Alliance and a contributing columnist of the Oxford American Magazine, John T. Edge has a passion for bbq, clothing and fine Bourbon whiskey. I admire his pen and have learned much from his unforced, open ended- writing style. He has championed the work of Billy Reid, the 2001 CFDA Award winning clothing designer in his unique style of prose and Billy Reid in turn has created a carefully constructed shirt in honor of his friend John T. It sits amongst other bits and pieces of Southern vernacular clothing, not shouting, but gently calling out…put me on.  Wear me home.  This shirt is simply known as the John T.  The shirt has a nice muted check, is narrow in length and is made, like many of the pieces of Billy Reid’s clothing designs, in Italy. This is clothing is meant to complement an afternoon of tasting ancient bottles of Bourbon or working in the corporate canyons of NYC. Billy Reid is known to most Southerners as their native son-their home-spun answer to Ralph Lauren.

While reading John T. Edge’s writing on his web page, I noticed that it immediately references bacon, one of my passions. This piqued my interest in Edge and his alliance with his clothing designer friend, Billy Reid, both modern day cultural icons of the New South.

Reid’s clothing store in NYC is sandwiched between renovated former industrial buildings on a rag-tag cobblestone street in Lower Manhattan. Here in the basement of a former manufacturing space, the gracious interior elegant as a fine gentleman’s bar room and open to the street through large sun filled windows, was the perfect venue in which to taste a series of three, half-century old bottles of Kentucky Bourbon whiskey. I sat with some of the friendly and eager staff and we discussed at length the concept, unknown to most Yankees (of which I am one) of branch water. Branch water, I learned is a direct connection to the cultural and culinary definition of Southern drinking heritage. Webster’s Dictionary defines branch water as: “Pure natural water from a stream or brook; often distinguished from soda water.”

I’ve found from my very short time living in Charleston South Carolina, somewhere out there in the steamy ancient forests-thick with blood-sucking ticks, leeches and poisonous snakes, (they wear those thick leather leg chaps when walking in the woods for a reason)–lays a Valhalla or holy-grail in “Bourbon-speak.” A pristine spring bubbles up sweet water, pure as the dew that lights up in sunlight shining on the elegantly dripping strands of Spanish moss. Vanilla-tea-colored water rises from the depths-situated directly in front of the roots of the almost mythical in proportion, ancient Southern Live-Oak tree. The sweet water found here is known as branch. It is one of the defining elements of Bourbon understanding, the physical act of discovering for the first time…spring of water bursting from the ground, the essence of purity and grace, danced simply over a glass of the brown liquid. The next act in appreciation of the past is by making a perfect drink with that branch. This physical interaction of adding branch to Bourbon binds hundreds of years of Southern culture and drinking lore.

I offered to bring the employees at Billy Reid, a bottle of locally sourced branch.

Near where I live is the Morristown National Historical Park. There is an ancient artisanal well somewhere out there in the deep woods. (Historically, it was used by George Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War.) This source of branch, sweet and alive with minerals, is from the pure spring located at the foot of a long forgotten rotted oak. The sweet water bubbling up from the depths remains to this very day. Its secret location is just up in the woods from me apiece.

I know they’ll smile at Billy Reid because finding a previously undiscovered source of real branch water is a rare experience. It is my desire to put the bottle of this geographically specific Yankee Branch water into the hands of Billy Reid himself drawing a modern connection to his upbringing as a Son of the NEW South.

Some may say that they rue the day that a Southern cocktail would even allow the introduction of Yankee Branch water and call it a nip. I say create your own history by using what is available and that branch should speak clearly of the earth from which it arose.

It only takes a few drops of branch to liven a brown elixir in your great- grandfather’s unwashed crystal tumbler. An antique bottle of branch water may last a lifetime. Branch is not used casually; but the simple act of using the branch is a specific connection to Southern lore and Bourbon cocktails.

Branch water, when used correctly, is metered out in small portions, only use a small amount! Just what fits between your bare fingers. It was described to me on an ancient plantation somewhere east of the Cooper River, as gently snapping your branch water-moistened fingers together over the glass. There is a specific sound, one that was made by moving one’s fingers together. I would imagine snapping my fingers underwater to approximate the feeling. This pure liquid entering the glass, scattering over the top of the glistening- 55 year old Bourbon was in my experience, a physical bond to a bygone age.

This specific act of making a Bourbon and branch cocktail hasn’t changed much in several hundred years.

As we sipped our whiskey in the former basement industrial space-its original inhabitants long gone-standing over hand-hewn barn-wood floors, surrounded by the casual, unforced elegance of bespoke Southern gentility clothing we tasted our way through 3 unique bottles of Kentucky Bourbon dating from 1952 to 1959. The flavors unleashed from the long sealed bottles linger on in my mind.

The Historic Bourbon:

Old Forester 100 Proof/Bottled in Bond
Set into oak: Spring 1952-bottled fall 1957.
Warm treacle tinged molasses. Sun-dried walnut butter, melted then smeared on crunchy, fire-toasted cornmeal Hoecakes.
Exceptionally long finish with exotic Jungle Curry undertones. This liquor tastes as fresh as the day it was bottled. Bottle looks like a sputnik. Space Age stuff!

Old Forester 100 Proof/Bottled in Bond
Set into oak: Fall 1954-bottled fall 1959
Sweet tobacco cream and freshly dug peat. Caramelized yams in the mid-palate. Dry, country ham finish with a whiff of pit-roasted Hog Cracklins’ at the end. Bottle is modern in design and interesting looking, with the real surprise contained within, a history lesson of the way Bourbon used to taste before modern innovations changed the way Bourbon is made.      Crafted by artisans long gone.

Old Grand Dad 100 Proof/Bottled in Bond
Set into oak: Fall 1954-bottled fall 1958

Creamy, sweet vanilla fire gives way to a pecan brittle mid-palate. Long mouth filling finish with sharp hints of Southern blackberries and brown butter coated and roasted-hazelnuts dipped in crushed dark bittersweet chocolate pastilles.  Hints of those slushy mint juleps enjoyed in Charleston, South Carolina*with Booker’s Bourbon* under the piazza at the Primerose House.  This bottle looked like a Baccarat Crystal decanter.

All whiskeys served without ice in a unwashed glass with the sweet soulful drones of Greg Spradlin tearing it up on the stereo, serving as background music for our tasting and deeper conversations.

Root (USDA Certified Organic) and… Hot Chocolate.

ROOT Hot Chocolate from Wild River Review

 

Our new friends at the Wild River Review have recently discovered ROOT and have been experimenting with ROOT. This one’s perfect for the cold days that will soon be upon us.  Drink up and enjoy.


Hot Chocolate for a cold day

2 Ounces of Single Origin Hot Chocolate from Askinosie (or your choice)

2 shots Root-The USDA Certified Organic Neutral Spirits with North American Herbs and Pure Cane Sugar

1 shot Branca Menta Amaro (super intense mint liquor from Milano, Italy

freshly whipped cream

(there REALLY is no substitute for the real thing, throw out those cans of chemical fluff they call whipped cream)

Prepare a mug with boiling water to heat through and through.

Pour out the water, the mug should be really hot.

Add Branca Menta, then the Root liquor, then top with Hot Chocolate-finish with a large spoonful of freshly whipped cream.. scrape some fresh nutmeg over the top and reflect on your fine manners by offering your friend a cup.

….. sip and enjoy!

The Classic Mint Julep (from a Yankee)

The Hand-Crafted Mint Julep

by Warren Bobrow, Wild Table editor, food writer and cocktail whisperer

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Heat and humidity is what says “Charleston, South Carolina” in the summertime. The air, thick with the sour smell of decay from the confluence of the Cooper and the Ashley Rivers at low tide. Fort Sumpter just out of reach, where the Civil War started they say. The mood somehow becomes somber around town. People run amok for the smallest things. Heat and the unrelenting breezes will do that — it makes them crazy!

Muddle mint and sugar — be gentle … it’s not a test of physical strength.

I was working as a chef at the Primrose House and Tavern. Joann Yaeger, the owner and creative force behind the restaurant, would gather me up at the end of a particularly busy night at the restaurant, under the broad piazzas that signified the architectural history of this former mansion, to learn the art of the hand-crafted mint julep. Bourbon would be at the ready. Sterling silver julep cups, polished to a crisp shine waiting in the wings, along with ice to be crushed, sugar to be muddled and mint just picked from the garden.

Add rye whiskey, the mother’s milk of the julep.

The Hand-Crafted Mint Julep

  1. Muddle fresh mint leaves and ice together to make a soft paste.
  2. Add a bit of brown sugar (sugar in the raw works best) and continue to muddle, adding more ice, and a splash or two of the good bourbon your pappy told you would make a fine drink.
  3. Add a touch more bourbon, some ice, some sugar, some mint. Never use metal on silver. I’ll rue the day that I allow a cocktail silver cup to touch metal other than silver. It’s just not done! The cup should frost up nicely when finished.
  4. Top off with another splash of Rye Whiskey. Use about 2 to 3 shots total for this drink.
  5. Garnish with fresh mint.