Category Archives: Bourbon

Recipes for Jen’s Dish

For those who heard me on Jen’s Dish, and for those who did not, here are the recipes I talked about on her program.

Whiskey Rebellion

Drink #1 comes from Portland (OR) bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler.  Jeff volunteered this recipe when I asked for bourbon-based drinks involving maple syrup. I tried it at home and loved it. The best thing is, it perfectly bookends the Savoy drink that follows. Jeff demonstrates that you needn’t bury your ass in the past and you needn’t follow the modern trend of infused vodkas to make an excellent drink.

Whiskey Rebellion

  • 2 oz. pecan-infused bourbon (I used Wild Turkey 101)
  • 1/2 oz. maple syrup
  • 3/4 oz. fig jam
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 dashes of bitters

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Apple Jack Rabbit

The second cocktail is adapted from the Savoy Cocktail Book, by Harry Craddock. Craddock was an American disgusted by Prohibition; he grabbed the first boat out for England, and settled in to the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London.

These proportions are based on Erik Ellestad’s, at Underhill Lounge. Erik’s working his way through the Savoy book, and he’s having a great time with it. Erik found Harry’s proportions to be a little sweet, and I agree, so I’m going with Erik’s recipe.

The one thing to note is that Erik used the Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, which I can’t find in Rhode Island. I used Laird’s Applejack, which is a blend of apple brandy and neutral grain spirits. The Bonded Apple Brandy has nothing in it but the brandy. The blended, since it also has grain spirits, is less appley than the bonded. I’d rather have the bonded, but I’ll take the blended when I have to.

Apple Jack Rabbit

  • 1-1/2 oz. Laird’s Applejack
  • 1 oz. fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. maple syrup
  • Lemon twist, for garnish

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.

MxMo XXXVI Hits You Where It Hurts

Happy Mixology Monday, fellow tipplers! The theme this month is Hard Drinks for Hard Times, and the host is the hard man himself, Matthew Rowley. What Matt wants to know is, has the recession affected your drinking, and if so, how? Matt, himself, has already chimed in on this problem, with a story that begins with his own recent job loss.

I understand where he’s coming from.

Y’see, in the last few months, my own working life as a freelance copy editor has dried up to nothing. When Jen and I moved to Providence in April of last year, I was very busy. So busy, in fact, that I was turning projects away and supporting both of us, while Jen searched for work in her field. I was so busy, too, that I didn’t see any reason to seek out other work, or make contingency plans in case things fell apart.

Which, of course, is just what happened. Things fell apart, and at the moment, I’m not working at all.

Fortunately, Jen’s salary is enough to cover our living expenses, so that any money I might bring in goes toward savings, travel, spendier bottles of liquor and wine, and so on.

As my workload has dwindled, our drive to the bottom of the liquor industry’s pricing structure has quickened. We’ve been rocking the Evan Williams since before Dave Wondrich sung its praises in Esquire. (At about $22 for a 1.75-liter bottle, it’s almost stupid not to buy it.) I’m feeling especially lucky in that my personal favorite martini is based on Beefeater, which we can get in 1.75L form for about $30 around here.

We’ve even lately–it is like confessing a murder–brought in boxed wines for our everyday drinking, saving our bottled-wine budget for weekends and holidays.

But enough about this–two more comments, and I’ll move forward with a drink recipe.

What Does This Mean for A Dash of Bitters?

I’m happy to announce that this month marks the third anniversary of this blog, A Dash of Bitters. Despite our recent change of fortunes, I have every desire to push on to year four, and I have plans for the next year that will stun and amaze you! I’ll even ask you to help me out with ideas for my Big Project of 2009! More on that in a week or two.

Is Dietsch Going to Tales of the Cocktail?

Less happily, my current unemployment is forcing me to reconsider my commitment to attending�Tales of the Cocktail this year. This is not an easy decision, but unless my workload rises to at least part-time levels soon, there’s no way we can save the money in the short time between now and July. Further, Jen has a newborn niece and an 88-year-old grandmother; she’s never met her niece and hasn’t seen her grandmother in three years. I have a teenaged nephew I haven’t seen since he was a pre-teen nephew. Our travel priorities for 2009 are for family, I hope you’ll understand.

If things change, I’ll be happy to let everyone know that I or we will be in New Orleans this July, but at this moment, I can’t possibly see it happening.

Onward.

We’ve been living pretty high off the product samples lately, and they’ve really helped us eke our way through some otherwise-dry patches. I thought, for this MxMo, I’d put together a drink based almost entirely on product samples.

Main ingredient, Bulleit bourbon. I love this stuff. The mashbill is such that it apparently has the highest rye content of any bourbon on the market. I love rye, so perhaps that explains why I love Bulleit so much.

Next up, Cherry Heering, followed by B&B. A little Grand Marnier, some fruit juice, and a hit of bitters. Squirt on some charged water, and that’s your thing.

The bourbon, Cherry Heering, and B&B were all product samples. I had the Grand Marnier on hand, alongside bitters and citrus.

What we’ve got here is a Singapore Sling variant, of course. I call it the Recession Special Sling, after the hot dog specials at Gray’s Papaya in New York. We both loved it. Now, finally, the recipe:

Recession Special Sling, using whatever the fuck I had on hand already

2 oz. bourbon
1/2 oz. Cherry Heering
1/4 oz. B&B
1 oz. Grand Marnier
3 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake, strain into a Collins glass, and top with club soda or charged water.�

DSC07791
photograph by Jennifer Hess.

MxMo: New Horizons

Onward, young rangers, to a new horizon! Let us strike out across this great land to explore strange new territories, seek out new life and new ci…

Uh. Oops. Heh.

The theme of the January MxMo is Change. How appropriate, right? New horizons, new ideas, change. Our challenge, from the anonymous Scribe of A Mixed Dram, is appropriate–to simply “Try something new!

Huzzah!

My choice for this challenge features the bitter liqueur Ramazzotti, an Italian tonic that you can sip as an aperitif or a digestif, or even just mix into a cocktail. Now, I’ve had the Ramazzotti on hand for a long time. I bought it in Brooklyn, back before we moved to Rhode Island. My plan was to make a small batch of Jamie Boudreau’s Amer Picon replica. Well, I’ve had the bottle for nearly a year, haven’t made the Amer Picon, and have seen Ramazzotti in local liquor stores. So what’s the point of letting this bottle languish in a box for another year?

I grabbed a copy of Robert Hess’s new book, The Essential Bartenders Guide, at Borders last week. (This is a book that’s screaming, loudly, for an editor. A full review of the book is pending.) Among the recipes in Hess’s book is the Chaplin, a mix of bourbon, sherry, Ramazzotti, Cointreau, and orange bitters. That’s what I chose to mix up tonight. The Chaplin is a good drink, well balanced but on the tart side. It’s not bitter, by any means, but it’s nothing to serve to anyone with a sweet tooth. The nuttiness of the sherry really shines. (I’m starting to really love sherry in cocktails.)

Photograph by Jennifer Hess

Chaplin

  • 3/4 oz. bourbon whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. dry sherry
  • 3/4 oz. Ramazzotti
  • 1/8 oz. Cointreau
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • lemon twist, for garnish

Technique: Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.

MxMo in the Crescent City

Mixology Monday logoFor this month’s Mixology Monday, which has a New Orleans theme, I’m going with a couple of drinks, both inspired by panels that I attended at Tales of the Cocktail.

The first drink is the Sloppy Joe’s Mojito, inspired obliquely by the To Have and Have Another panel, on the drinking life of Ernest Hemingway. Whether Hemingway actually drank Mojitos appears to be in some dispute. The eminent Eric Felten argues persuasively that he probably did not, but it is clear that old Papa frequented the Havana bar that originated this version of the classic rum drink. He even apparently persuaded the proprietor of a Key West saloon to rip off the Havana original’s name. So, who knows?

Charles Baker, writing in The Gentleman’s Companion, describes the drink thus:

Put several lumps of ice into a 16 oz collins glass, toss in 1 tsp sugar or gomme, insinuate a spiral green lime peel about the ice, turn in 1-1/2 jiggers of Bacardi; white, or Gold Seal, and the strained juice of 1 small green lime–not a lemon. Stir once, fill with really good club soda and garnish with a bunch of fresh mint.

What I love about this variant is that a) it’s not too sweet, and b) it’s not too minty. I don’t feel like I’m chewing rum-spiked Doublemint gum.

The second drink comes straight from the Beefeater reception at Palace Cafe and also the Juniperlooza session. I had heard of this drink prior to Tales, but I had never tried it. It’s the Jasmine cocktail, devised by architect and booze writer Paul Harrington. It tastes remarkably like grapefruit juice even though it contains no grapefruit whatsoever. Honestly, this is one of those drinks that I often post where I’m sure the majority of my single-digit readership is thinking, “What! New to the Jasmine? He needs to crawl out from under Plymouth Rock or wherever the hell he lives and actually drink from time to time!”

No argument here, Skippy. I will say this, though. I’ve mixed a lot of cocktails at home, and I’ve had many others out. It’s a rare treat when something passes my lips and earns a spot in my regular drinks rotation. The Jasmine is right there. Jen and I both adore it. It tastes like an old-school cocktail, even though it’s not old enough to drive, let alone drink, and the ingredients are perfectly balanced. A new favorite.

Jasmine

  • 1-1/2 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz Cointreau
  • 1/4 oz Campari
  • lemon twist for garnish

Technique: Shake, strain, add garnish, sip, and smile.

Many thanks to Paulernum Clarke for hosting.

Photos by Jennifer Hess.

MxMo: Bourbon

Mixology Monday logoMany thanks to the guys at Scofflaw’s Den for hosting this month. This was a challenging MxMo. Aside from making Old Fashioneds, I don’t mix with bourbon much anymore; I just prefer the spicier qualities of rye.

But aside from blogging an Old Fashioned, I didn’t feel really inspired. Perhaps this is my own limited imagination speaking, but it’s hard for me to think of a bourbon cocktail that wouldn’t be better as a rye cocktail. Even my Old Fashioneds, these days, are sometimes rye, when I want that spicier backbone.

All of my pre-Prohibition cocktail books called for rye as the main ingredient in whiskey cocktails, which makes me wonder what pre-Prohibition mixologists thought of bourbon. A skim through Charles Baker, too, shows few whiskey cocktails, and what he does offer is mostly in the Julep family.

At this point, I started wondering what an anthropologist might make of all of this, but I had to stop caring because Mrs. Bitters was riding the 5:40 outta Boston, and I was running out of time to find a drink for cocktail hour.

I decided to go modern, so I grabbed Art of the Bar. Hollinger and Schwartz had a drink called The Battle of New Orleans, which they attributed to Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies’ Companion. Perfect! I thought. Tales is coming up, so I can talk about that. I can talk about New Orleans. I can reference the song of the same name, and since I have both Hollinger/Schwartz and Gaige, I can talk about both recipes.

But then I remembered that Paul Freakin’ Clarke had made this… exact… bloody… post 11 months ago. (Hey, at least I linked to YouTube. I don’t know whether Paul’s even heard of YouTube.)

Baaaack to Square One (not the vodka), and back to the first cocktail book I bought, Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology. When you see the name of the drink I chose, you’ll know that my timing was off, but I owed it to Mrs. B. to have something handy soon. I gave her the Preakness Cocktail, about a month late (sorry, Big Brown):

Preakness Cocktail

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • Benedictine to taste
  • Angostura bitters to taste
  • 1 lemon twist, for garnish

Technique: Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the garnish.

Whiskey, vermouth, and bitters. Hmm. Sounds like a Manhattan to me. The Benedictine is a nice extra touch. I used Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon and Carpano Antica for the chief ingredients, and about 1/4 ounce Benedictine per drink. Delicious. From the moment I touched Benedictine to whiskey, I knew I loved the combo. I always enjoy a chance to work with it.

Declare the pennies on your eyes

It’s not quite midnight anywhere in the States, folks. Are your taxes in? We had an accountant prepare ours this year, for the first time, and boy was that a load off!

In honor, I decided to prepare a special cocktail tonight … but not the one you’re thinking of. You’re probably expecting the Income Tax, of gin, two vermouths, orange juice, and bitters. Careful readers will remember that Jen’s allergic to orange juice, so that’s right out.

Next best? What else but the Scoff Law. I used CocktailDB’s ingredients, but Gary Regan’s proportions (his adaptation calls for grenadine, which I don’t currently have):

Scoff Law

  • 2 oz. bourbon or rye (I used Wild Turkey Bourbon 101; for some reason, I can’t find Rittenhouse rye anywhere right now)
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. green Chartreuse

Technique: Shake, strain, turn yourself about, etc.

On a personal note, I know I missed Mixology Monday this month. I feel rather stupid about it, and I apologize to hostess Anna. The fact is, I completely forgot. I have good reasons–we lost a much-beloved pet a couple of weeks ago, and we’re moving to Providence, R.I., next week. That aside, I enjoy MxMo, I haven’t missed many, and it gets me posting at least monthly.

I’ll probably be pretty quiet for a bit after the move, but I’m looking forward to exploring the liquor stores in the Providence area and possibly even reporting back on my finds. It may even give this blog a needed kick in the ass to get me posting regularly again.

Texas Jim

Mrs. Bitters and I had dinner last night at Hearth, in the East Village, and as we normally do, we started with cocktails. I got the Jim Hogg, named after an old-time Texas governor. Delicious, well-balanced drink. I don’t have proportions, but the ingredients are pecan-infused rye, sweet vermouth, and maple syrup. The spicy rye carries the drink, but the herbal notes from the vermouth marry well with the pecan. With sweet vermouth, you don’t need much added sweetener, and the bartender rightly keeps a light hand–the maple is present, but more as flavoring than as sweetener.

I don’t know where the pecan-infused rye came from, but I should note a couple of similar drinks that have graced local bars. A Holy Roller was on the menu for a time at Pegu Club–with pecan-infused bourbon and Demerara simple syrup, it appears to be the same drink that’s on the Death & Co. menu as the Buffalo Soldier. I might be wrong, but the mention of “Brian” in the eG post makes me think that both drinks are Brian Miller’s.

Because I enjoy the simplicity of an Old Fashioned, I love the idea of a drink that’s just whiskey and Demerara syrup. Pecan-infused whiskey might be worth playing with at home.

Double the fetish, double the fun

Don’t talk about it much here, since this ain’t the right venue, but another of my favorite hobbies is grilling and barbecuing. You can imagine, then, how happy I was to see these.

The scotch-barrel chips are unavailable here, but the Jack Daniels chips should do just as well. I’ll have to order some soon. I’ve been meaning to smoke a shoulder for pulled pork anyway.

MxMo 10: Festival!

MxMo FestiveIt’s Mixology Monday time again, this month hosted by Brenda at The Spirit World. Brenda chose the theme festive drinks for this iteration. Sounds great to me! Let’s get festive!

Homemade eggnogI chose a drink that I expect a few others will do this time as well: eggnog. And that’s okay, because it seems that just about everybody has a personal favorite recipe for eggnog, so I expect a lot of variation in ingredients and techniques.

And that’s okay, too, because I have a confession. I’m a nogn00b. Oh, I’ve had eggnog before, if you think that stuff you get at the grocery is eggnog. But I can’t recall ever having homemade nog, and this was my first attempt at making it from scratch. I’ll have fun reading what others have done and, I hope, picking up some tips on making a better nog.

(As an aside, there is a great New York State dairy, Ronnybrook Farm, that apparently makes a superb bottled eggnog. Although I’d love to try it at some point, I didn’t want to use their product for this MxMo entry. Where’s the challenge in that?)

So, on to the nog…
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MxMo: Mintology Monday

MxMo MintThe third MixMo challenge concerns mint (many thanks to Rick for hosting), which is lucky for me because it grows in abundance in our backyard garden. But I had to think for a while before deciding what to make. At first, I thought to perhaps do something with crème de menthe, but neither of us really likes it, so that was out.

I wanted to use the opportunity to try something new, or to vary an old recipe, rather than going boring and doing an unaltered stand-by such as a julep or a smash. But then Jen said, “Hey, didja think about doing an infusion?” (I’ve often talked about doing one but never gotten around to it.) With that good suggestion, I hit the ground running.

Backyard mintSo I headed out back and snipped off several mint leaves. I brought them inside, washed and dried them thoroughly, put them into a mason jar, and poured Very Old Barton bourbon over the leaves. I let it steep for three days, sampling it each evening, before finally removing the leaves. I used the minty VOB as the base for a simple, minty old-fashioned: bourbon, sugar, and bitters over ice, garnished with mint. It was nice, but not really that dissimilar from a julep.

Minty Old FashionedAs an unrelated “project,” I hit Google to find some good non-Negroni recipes that called for gin and Campari. I wanted a new (to us) recipe using Campari since although we both like Negronis, we wanted to try something different. In the midst of searching, I came across a Yelp.com review of a California restaurant called Cascal. The comments on the review included this intriguing quote:

Went here last night on a friends recommendation. Started with the La Gitana cocktail (gin, campari, mint, lemon and lime juice) which was good but awfully small for $8.

Those ingredients intrigued me, but I was on my own to determine proportions and preparation techniques. I hit up Google for more information but found nothing. If anyone’s encountered this drink before, please tell me. So one night last week, I experimented. I muddled mint leaves in a mixing glass with sugar and added equal parts gin and Campari, and a half-part each of lemon and lime juices (in other words, the combined citrus juices totaled one part–to balance the gin and Campari). The resulting cocktail was satisfying, but possibly too minty and sweet.

La GitanaSunday night, I tried again. This time, I kept the liquid proportions the same but I reduced the sugar and I didn’t muddle the mint. The mint still released its oils during shaking, thus flavoring the drink, but it was a subtler component of the cocktail. The result is a complex, well-balanced drink. What’s funny about it is that the Campari lays low while you sip, waiting until the finish to really kick your teeth.

La Gitana

  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • ½ oz. lemon juice
  • ½ oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar (I used turbinado)
  • 4 mint leaves

Shake all ingredients over ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. You can fine-strain to filter out the bits of mint leaves, or you can keep them in like I did and leave out a garnish. (I think they’re pretty, but they’re not to everyone’s tastes.)

This will sound strange, but I must confess to disliking the name “Gitana.” It’s the Spanish feminine form of “gypsy,” and it’s just a bit, I dunno, kitsch for my tastes, calling to mind gypsy stereotypes. But I don’t know when a drink becomes “yours” enough that you can rename it, so here I’ll just call it Gitana.