Kommenter Kocktail Society: Important Bourbon Notes

Since there’s really no news of any sort to cover right now, other than Underball Swede-ing his own New England-based version of “Big Fan”, I wanted to cover some very important information about bourbon I ran across today.

A friend posted this article which contained a link to this helpful list regarding just where your bourbon/rye/American whiskey might be coming from. I knew of a few of these–that Black Maple Hill is blends of other barrels, that Jim Beam had a whole family of items, and that Buffalo Trace produces some of the best names around–but I was disappointed to find out that a recent new Oregon-based brand was just repackaged Indiana hooch. I’m quite happy, though, that Four Roses seems unblemished, as that’s one of my favorite series–I’ve found all of their levels to be well worth the money.

This is not to say that the source purely makes something better or worse–you like what you like, in the end–but I’m awfully suspicious of so many new bourbon labels suddenly coming out, and I’d rather know which ones may actually be doing something unique, rather than just slapping a label on something else and charging a premium for their marketing/story/clever name. I’m all about bang-for-the-buck when it comes to bourbon, and there’s a lot of value around $30, less at $50, and even less above that, so I want to make sure that if I splurge on something special, it’s going to be worth it.

In the end, there’s no wrong way to enjoy bourbon, I think. Drink what you want, how you want. With that in mind, here’s some recipes:

Old Fashioned (the old fashioned way)

  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 tsp 2:1 simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • one giant ice cube
  • 1 orange peel for garnish

Combine the syrup, bitters, and bourbon in a thing with regular ice cubes, and stirstirstirstir like you’re Tomlinson on a stationary bike. Strain over the giant ice cube (which should be resting comfortably in an old fashioned glass). Twist the peel over the surface of the cocktail, rub the glass rim with it, and drop it into the drink. (If you wanna be real fancy, twist the peel through a burning flame into the drink. OOOO SPARKS!) Some fussy people might tell you not to do this with your fancy brown liquids, but having done this with George T. Stagg, I say go for it. It’s a fine way to enjoy fine spirits.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Kick Ass Amaretto-Bourbon Sour

I won’t post the recipe here, only link to it, because, hey, it’s not like I’m going to improve on it. I’ll say this, though: he’s totally right about using cask-strength bourbon in it. Booker’s is good, but I’ve used some stronger Four Roses that I found and it’s lovely. Lazzaroni amaretto is well worth seeking out. If you just want a bourbon sour, just replace all the booze amounts with your favorite bourbon instead. If you want to get really fancy (like me) and you have a milk frother or something like it (like me), whip the eggs whites into a foam before adding them in and you’ll get a super smooth texture to the drink. It’s a great cocktail, and it’ll getcha drunk fast.

Reverse Manhattan

  • 1 part good rye
  • 2 parts really, really good sweet vermouth
  • (optional: dash of bitters, a tiny bit of syrup)

Throw every thing in a thing with ice and stir it the fuck up. Strain into a glass of your choice. Garnish with a damn cherry and an orange twist. This is a good lower-alcohol version of the manhattan that can really highlight the much better vermouths that are accessible these days (Carpano Antica, for one; Imbue or Ransom or Interrobang if you live in Portland [like me]; even Noilly Prat is a good choice). A good (and even strong) rye really brings it all together.

Just as long as you know where that rye came from.

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19 thoughts on “Kommenter Kocktail Society: Important Bourbon Notes

  1. That list of bourbon origins is fantastic. Buffalo Trace is my favorite among the affordable-to-normal-folk bourbons. I drink a lot less of it now, thanks to its $53 price tag here in Kangarooland (and for 700ml to add insult to injury).

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  2. So what are you guys drinking tonight? I am meeting a friend in Promise Keeper Country (i.e. Colorado Springs) for a beer near the Garden of the Gods . This place (http://www.trinitybrew.com/) and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are the only redeeming things about that town.

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    1. Probably this Deschutes/Hair of the Dog special bottle I found a couple of weeks ago to toast my successful and positive first week of work at my new job.

      I’ll also be doing laundry.

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  3. The same shit has happened to tequila. Celebrities have started putting their name on stuff just so it can sell. At least tequila has the whole name-protection thing that French wines do; meaning you can’t call it tequila if it wasn’t made in a certain part of México.

    Kentucky should really do the same thing with bourbon.

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    1. There are certain rules on what you can and can’t label in bourbon, but it’s probably not as regulated as it could be. I’ve been doing my homework when it comes to tequila (and mezcal) now because I’m looking to get a few good bottles in the near future. I know what I like for margaritas, but I’m looking for some good-at-the-price-point reposados to try out. If you have any favorites, I’d love to hear them.

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      1. Cazadores is known for providing the best value for the dollar. If you want to step it up a notch, Corzo is a little pricier (I think around $50) but that shit is smooth as fuck.

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      2. Awesome. As soon as I have some excess cash again, I’m totally going to go for it (and either some Del Maguey or Mezcal Vago mezcal) and make this:

        Oaxaca Old-Fashioned:
        1.5 oz reposado
        .5 oz mezcal
        1 tsp 2:1 agave simple syrup
        2 dashes Bittermans Xocolatl Mole bitters
        Ice
        wide swath of grapefruit peel (or lime)

        Make as above.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Colorado has some good small batch stuff. Stranahan’s is overrated, but Leopold Bros. is pretty good, although it is a bit sweet for my tastes. Breckenridge Distillery bourbon is my favorite, probably. All of those are made here.

    OSZ, have you had Rouge’s Dead Guy Whiskey yet? Is it any good?

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      1. Yeah, the price tag scared me off too. I finally found a bar that had it and gave it a try. I don’t regret it, just because I was so curious about it for so long, but I’m glad I didn’t get stuck with more than a glass.

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      2. Rogue definitely isn’t my favorite of the local options, even on beer. Dead Guy can be a decent go-to, but chances are there are better options on tap. Their food prices in their pubs aren’t the greatest either for the quality.

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    1. I haven’t tried their whiskey; for whatever reason, it’s never been high on my list of ones to try. I do like their standard dark rum for a good mix-in rum–it’s dark enough to be sweet and have good flavor, but not aged/dark enough to stand on its own. Not overly-anything, but much cleaner and a better flavor than the cheaper varieties. Good in a coke and with fresh lime and whatnot, but definitely not a sip-alone type.

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  5. Jefferson’s is barrel aged at sea for 3 years. I haven’t had the chance to taste it yet but I like the idea behind it.

    Wild Turkey makes a rye that is pretty stellar. It’s not ultra-rare but I don’t see it everywhere either.

    Old Overholt. Best. Bang. For. The. Buck.

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