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.
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.
- 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.