Magic Monk’s Eventual Dream Punch by: Warren Bobrow-Cocktail Whisperer

Pardon my fuzzy photography from my ancient iPhone- I had to capture this picture with the camera I had on hand.  This drink came together after a particularly unpleasant day yesterday.  My day started with two deeply placed cavities being drilled out- at the dentist.

Please don’t get me wrong, he is most gentle and very kind- no barbarians here!

My mouth was not happy and after a few hours of discomfort I was able to get to work writing and dreaming.

My mind sometimes wanders to cocktails for reasons other than purely creative expressions of my inner self.  Yesterday, it drifted towards alcohol to kill that dull pain of the experience.

I waited until the early evening to let my mind wander.  Waiting for the magic to take place.

A fire graced the dining room fireplace- warming against my back. I was eagerly awaiting that flood of inspiration from using great ingredients to create new flavors.

They lend their secrets through creativity.

The cast iron pan heated to smoking in the kitchen.  I had some tiny Florida Blood Oranges in a bowl for snacking, then, inspiration struck.  What if I segmented the oranges into sections, then seared them in the cast iron pan, smoking nicely in the background?   Certainly would change their flavor.  Deepen it somehow.  Make it sensual- a seared blood orange juice for a cocktail or a punch?  Absolutely.

But what liquor to go with this.  I’m sure cognac would work, but I didn’t want to go down that road from a flavor perspective.  I needed something with deep mystery.  What liquor evokes mystery more than Absinthe?   Nothing except maybe Chartreuse VEP?  Having several bottles of Absinthe and one of the VEP  in the liquor cabinet didn’t hurt.

Carefully I drew open the ancient wooden box that contained the VEP.  The wax covered top and hand numbered bottle looking like something from an alchemist’s lair.  The bottle of Absinthe that I chose was Tenneyson.  The company hails from Texas, yet the magic captured in the bottle is distilled in France.  Is there a connection here?  I’m not sure.

With the blood oranges popping up and down on the sizzling hot cast iron pan, I realized that they were attaining that crunchy covering that only can happen with high heat.   Removing them from the pan I set them aside to cool.  Then I juiced them by hand through a cocktail sieve.

I chilled this really cool mid-century modern glass down with some ice and water, but I didn’t want this drink to be cold.  My teeth were pretty sensitive at this point.

Combining a bit of Chartreuse with Absinthe takes real fortitude.  The Chartreuse VEP is 108 proof.  Not for the meek.  Tenneyson Absinthe, rolling in at 106 proof is at first sniff, pure Gin.  I don’t know how they do it, other than the specific Terroir of the herbs in their unique recipe.  This Absinthe is contemplative, yes- but when combined with Chartreuse VEP and charred blood orange juice- something magical takes place.

It is a punch beyond dreams- a simple drink really.  Made with passion!  You need to include two other ingredients that may have to be ordered directly from their source.  Bitter End Moroccan Bitters and Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Tamarind to acheive my flavor profile.  Or you can skip them and use the bitters on hand and a sugar cane simple syrup.

 

Magic Monk’s Eventual Dream Punch (Makes two or more… Just lovely cocktails)

Ingredients:

3 Shots Tenneyson Absinthe or your choice of Absinthe

1 Shot Chartreuse VEP

6 shots of grilled blood orange juice

A few slices of (ungrilled) blood orange for garnish

Bitter End Moroccan Bitters

Royal Rose Tamarind Syrup

Seltzer Water

Preparation:

Sear blood orange segments in a cast iron or stainless steel pan until nicely browned on both sides, set aside to cool, then juice through cocktail sieve

Combine Absinthe and Chartreuse VEP in a cocktail mixing vessel of your choice.

Add seared blood orange Juice slowly while mixing with a stainless steel cocktail mixer.  Be gentle. Watch the louche’ take place in the glass. Contemplate the creamy, gin and citrus scented aromas that rise up from within.

Add a medicine dropper of the Bitter End Moroccan Bitters.

Add a splash or two of the Royal Rose Tamarind Syrup.

Give another gentle stir.

Pour into one of your most favored glasses… Have a connection to your glass that you will pour the drink into- make it memorable and share this elegant little punch with someone who appreciates FLAVOR!

Top with a bit of seltzer water, and garnish with a slice of blood orange.  Sip, then dream into your Absinthe colored mystery!

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!

What Does Blat Mean in Catalonian?

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.

 

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

The Last Pirate Ship (Rhuby from Art in the Age)

I created this original recipe for Art in the Age out of Philadelphia.  My friend Steven Grasse is the lead protagonist of this Public Relations, Marketing, Advertising and Brand Re-invigoration firm.  It’s hard to put a finger on what they do best.  I just like what they do!

 

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Philadelphia – August 30, 2011

Bid Farewell to Summer with The Last Pirate Ship

Make a Cocktail with Art in the Age’s Rhuby

the last pirate ship cocktail recipe!

Art in the Age’s Root and Snap liqueurs created quite the buzz. Now, the collective is causing another stir with its much-anticipated spirit Rhuby, made of rhubarb, pink peppercorn, petitgrain, and other organic ingredients, based on a Revolutionary era recipe.

According to legend, Benjamin Franklin and botanist John Bartram tinkered with brewing rhubarb tea back in 1771. The boozy variation is now on shelves, just in time for a late-summer libation created by modern-day mixologist Warren Bobrow.

The Last Pirate Ship
Serves one

Ingredients
2 oz. Rhuby
1 oz. fresh lime juice
4-5 strawberries
Fleur de sel
1 sprig of thyme

1. Combine ice, Rhuby, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker.

2. Toast strawberries in a cast iron pan.

3. Muddle strawberries and add to cocktail shaker.

4. Shake and strain into a rocks glass, sprinkle with fleur de sel, and garnish with a thyme sprig.

Available at most Fine Wine & Good Spirits shops; online at finewineandgoodspirits.com. For more information on Rhuby, go to artintheage.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Foodista: Five New Drinks

5 New Drinks: Low Country Style-influenced by the Belmont-surreal

March 14, 2012

There is an easy going congeniality in Charleston, South Carolina.

I lived in Charleston during the 1980’s, started a fresh pasta business, attended Johnson/Wales- cooked and bartended at the Primrose House and Tavern- then left after Hurricane Hugo crashed the party.

I never returned.  There were many ghosts that I had to deal with intermixed with feelings about the this town, like no other that I’ve ever lived.  My dreams of Charleston from the past have haunted me for years.

Photo: Warren Bobrow - Leica M8

 

It’s that kind of place.

Photo: Warren Bobrow - Leica M8

 

From the dripping Spanish Moss to the whisper soft voices of the way people speak down in Charleston, I’ve felt like it was a part of me for longer than I can imagine.

Photo: Warren Bobrow - Leica M8

 

I drove non-stop from Morristown to Charleston.  Food and fuel the only real stops.

This gracious lady of the New South, is as elegant as ever. She has been recreated with pleasure as her first name.

Photo: Warren Bobrow - Leica M8

All ravages of Hurricane Hugo have been erased like the rapid progression of the Kudzu vine across the Low Country landscape.  Erasing the past in a swath of green.

I discovered a city that had grown up, yet still retains her “village by the sea” appeal and candor.

There is serious food here now and serious drink.

Photo: Warren Bobrow - Leica DLux-4

The chefs are filled with a passion for local, fresh, terroir and the brilliant flavor of the ocean.  There is something about the nature of the pluff mud, tidal flats that makes the water alive with possibilities.

Photo: Warren Bobrow - Leica DLux-4

In a former life I lived in Portland, Maine.  Portland was similar in my imagination to Charleston from a perspective of friendly to really great seafood.  It’s just freezing there!  Too cold for me!

Oysters in South Carolina taste like no where else in the world.  They are just about ravishing with a crisp glass of Rum!  While in Charleston I was fortunate to snag a mini-bottle of Striped Pig Rum.  This is the real thing. I would drink it with a splash of Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water and a slice of Meyer Lemon.  Maybe a splash of Sweet Iced Tea- but that would cover up the sublime freshness of Striped Pig.  This rum is redolent with the flavor of the place.  It’s creamy-has a lovely finish of cane juice to heat to spice.  I’m tasting it straight from the mini-bottle.  No mixer but air.

This is fabulous Rum.  I simply cannot wait to enjoy another cocktail with Todd Weiss, the owner of the Striped Pig distillery.  The Gin Joint was, as you said… World class.  There’s just something about cocktails down here.  Maybe it’s the air, soft and laced with salt.

Here is Todd’s Twitter address:  @Dstilld

Photo: Warren Bobrow - iPhone (ancient technology)

 

Oyster Skiff Cocktail

Ingredients:

Striped Pig Rum

Tenneyson Absinthe

Perrier Sparkling Water

Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Autumn Plums

Arizona Bitters Lab “Figgy Pudding” Bitters

Preparation:

2 Shots of Striped Pig to a shaker filled 1/2 with ice

1/2 Shot Tenneyson Absinthe

4 Tablespoons of Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Autumn Plum

1 Medicine Dropper full of the Figgy Pudding

Shake and strain into a tall glass with some ice made from Coconut water

 

 

 

Charleston is a place of all kinds of possibilities. They embrace their history and catapult into the future.  It’s like a living museum.

The Belmont Lounge is located on a part of King Street that one would not venture to in the 1980’s.  Visually I remember a mostly bombed out area, nearly void of soul and life.

You would not want to walk there during the day and at night, well, I never did.

I lived on Charlotte Street and spent Hurricane Hugo in a kitchen house at #29.  It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever experienced.

Now upper King Street is buzzing with activity.  I must admit that the first time I ventured above Calhoun Street, I was a bit concerned for safety.  No more.  The Charleston PD don’t just drive the streets, they walk them, bike them and make sure the area is very well observed.  I’m impressed.

I wandered in off the street to find a cocktail lounge worthy of New York or even Barcelona.  The groove was apparent in the lighting and the screening of “The Big Sleep” in glorious Black and White on the wall.  The lighting, low and sensuous- the music not overwhelming.  People spend more time talking than using their smart phones. They interact with the extremely congenial bar staff who genuinely have the knack and gift of gab.  There is an Italian machine meant for slicing Salumi and a very high quality espresso machine for turning out perfect Irish coffee, topped by a thick mantle of cream.  The bartenders are shorn in crisp white shirts with skinny ties.  A bright red B for Belmont graces the bottom the tie.

Even the cocktail napkins are emblazoned with the B.  Nice touch.  I wanted one, but thought it better to ask first.  (I didn’t take one)

The salumi is brilliant, the cured pork redolent of fat and smoke, a perfect panini of melted tomato and mozzerella cheese delights!  Too much food!  Pickled vegetables abound, was that pickled okra?  I really must be showing my Yankee inclinations now!

Yes, judging by the bar, I felt right at home.

I met Joey Ryan at the bar. He has an easy-going style and friendly demeanor that is instructional and kind.

He invented a cocktail known as the Off-Duty Bartender.  My friend Federico Cuco down in Argentina would be proud of this drink because of the use of Cynar.

I’m reproduced it here with my complements:

Absinthe Rinse  (add Absinthe to a glass with ice and water, then pour out.. preferably into my mouth)

2 oz 100 proof Rye I prefer Rittenhouse
3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Fernet Branca
3/4 Punt e Mes

Stir ingredients in mixing glass while rocks glass is chilling with Absinthe rinse.

Strain ingredients in chilled glass after discarding ice.  add large rock, and top with orange bitters.

Joey Ryan
The Belmont Lounge
511 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403
843.743.3880

Joey, Hat’s off to you and the Belmont.  I could spend much time in your care.

 

 

Yesterday I was contemplating Pimms Cup.  The addition of lemonade is particularly inviting.   I added to the mix by the inclusion of Absinthe.  Somehow the very mention of Absinthe makes me think of two places.  New Orleans and Charleston.  Two very European cities firmly grounded in the United States.

Woolworth’s Lunch Counter Surprise

Ingredients:

Pimms

Lucid Absinthe

Fresh Lemonade

Sweet Ice Tea

Freshly made seltzer

Preparation:

Add 2 Shots of Pimms to the fresh Lemonade and Sweet Iced Tea

Add 1 Shot of Lucid Absinthe

Top with freshly drawn seltzer

Garnish with a home cured cherry (essential!)

Swing on the porch swing to make the pain go away

 

 

Pluff Mud Cocktail

Ingredients:

Snap (USDA Certified Ginger Snap Liquor)

Knob Creek Single Barrel Bourbon

Bitter End Mexican Mole’ Bitters

Hot Chocolate

Preparation:

Make a nice cup of Hot Chocolate

Add 2 Shots of Snap

Add 1 Shot of Knob Creek

Add 3 drops of the Bitter End Bitters

Makes two rather lovely cocktails perfect for a cool night or dessert

 

 

 

Sullivan’s Island Smash

2 Shots of Striped Pig White Rum

1 Shot Cane Syrup

1 Shot Freshly squeezed orange juice

4 ozs. Coconut water (sweetened)

Coconut Water Ice

Preparation:

To a cocktail shaker, fill 1/3 with regular ice

Add liquors

Add juice

Add Coconut Water

Shake and strain into small rocks glasses with Coconut Water ice cubes

Smash the Coconut Water cubes in a towel for maximum extraction of flavor!

Garnish with fresh mint and freshly scraped nutmeg- ESSENTIAL!!!

 

All Photography by Warren Bobrow with Leica M8, 50mm Summicron F2

Pre-1960 Bourbon tasting notes

Tasting Notes: Pre-1960 Bourbon

  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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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.

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3 Responses to “Tasting Notes: Pre-1960 Bourbon”

  1. prufrock

    October 28, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    What a great find! I love having a window into the past, in any way that I can. And to have that connection to your granddad is a sweet thing indeed. I was able to get a cache of a grandparent’s booze about twenty five years ago, too. Cognac, B&B, some Scotch…. and I was excited to compare them to contemporaries. But they were pretty much the same; I didn’t know at the time that spirits stop aging once they are bottled, so I was all worked up for a big taste explosion! But, alas… that 8 year-old whisky that had been bottled in 1958 was still just an 8 year-old whisky. It did have a bit of funkiness, but not necessarily in a good way.

    Still, the thrill of opening something that had last been opened by someone long dead held a thrill for me, and I enjoyed sharing their liquor. During the Republican Convention in 2008, a very old bar in St Paul reopened for the week. The owners’ family had been keeping the place pretty much as it had been since the 40s forever, though it hadn’t been open since… maybe the 70s? 80s? Anyway, they brought ought some Old Forester and Ancient Age and others and were selling them at low prices. It was cool to see the old labels– nostalgia for a guy who started tending bar back in the 70s. But the whiskey was pretty bad. It wasn’t bonded, just normal proof, and they might had been spouted for God only knows how long. Still– it was really cool.

    I did read somewhere that Tequila and Mezcal actually do change in the bottle, though I guess it is just a mellowing rather than added complexity. Not my cuppa tea, though.

  2. HahlerGirl

    August 1, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    What a swell bourbon rememberance. You certainly saved an important liquor legacy and did your “Old Grandad” proud. Thank you to sharing!

  3. Cocktail Cloister

    July 24, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Liquid ghosts indeed. What a pleasure, Warren. Thanks for sharing!