Archive for the ‘Whiskey & Bourbon’ Category

Not Your Pappy’s Moonshine

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Last week I got a fun treat and joined Seattle’s LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of the Endangered Cocktail – love that!) group for a private tour of the Woodinville Whiskey Co. Talk about a perk to this blogging stuff!

Only open to the public for a few months, the Woodinville Whiskey Co. has been busy creating a boutique whiskey distillery not far from the Red Hook Brewery, Chateau St. Michelle Winery and many other booze-forward businesses in Woodinville. Owner Orlin Sorensen took about 20 or so LUPEC women through their facilities, let us peer into vats of boiling organic corn and rye mash, and gave us several samples to sip. While I was familiar with the basics of bourbon and whiskey, the tour went way beyond. I can’t do all of the information justice (a few bullet points are at the end), but tastings and tours are available to the public each week.

These barrels are in high demand by home and commercial brewers!

 While Boss Hogg pursued the Dukes of Hazzard for runnin’ moonshine, the distillery has accomodated us by launching Headlong White Dog Whiskey, an organic, unaged whiskey made with true bourbon mash but just out of the still…in other words, legal moonshine. Orlin described white dog as being to bourbon what white rum is to aged rum – rougher, sharper but still flavorful. Just for kicks, he used the white dog in a cocktail called the Green Trellis to demonstrate its mixability. You can pick up a bottle of Headlong at the distillery or at state liquor stores: How fun to tell guests at your next party that you are serving a form of moonshine!

Green Trellis (created by John Ueding at Trellis Restaurant in Kirkland)

3 slices of cucumber
10-12 mint leaves
1 ½ oz Headlong White Dog Whiskey
1 oz apple cider (they used non-alcoholic, but I think hard cider would also be tasty)
½ oz simple syrup

Muddle the cucumber and mint in a cocktail shaker, and then add ice and other ingredients. Shake well, strain and serve up in a chilled cocktail glass.

Orlin gave us a sneak peek, or rather sip, of their first batch of micro-barrel (5 to 7 gallons) aged bourbon. Very tasty. Plans are to release a new micro-batch of organic bourbon each quarter, so it will be interesting to see what more refined palates have to say about the releases.

Cutest cask ever (don't mention that to Dad).

Can’t wait to taste their results? The distillery is also selling its “Age Your Own Whiskey” kit, complete with a wee cask. The company says that the small cask size means the aging process is greatly accelerated, producing a properly aged whiskey in just 3-6 months. Too late for Mother’s Day, this kit could make a great Father’s Day gift for the whiskey lover in your family.

And although bourbon is clearly their passion, the distillery’s owners also produce an organic vodka to pay the bills while the bourbon ages. Most vodka is pretty tasteless, but the Peabody Jones Vodka tasted almost creamy, with hints of vanilla. A pleasant way to add interest to your vodka drinks.

In addition to the sipping and sampling, LUPEC also raised about $400 for the Red Cross’s tornado relief efforts – fitting given that the recent tornados have devastated areas around and in the South’s bourbon region. Cocktails and a cause, the perfect combo.

Bonus: Random Bourbon Factoids

  • Bourbon is America’s only native spirit and must contain at least 51% corn mash. But it does not have to be made in Bourbon County, Kentucky, to be called bourbon.
  • Bourbon barrels are made from new white oak by professional called coopers (at a cooperage, naturally).
  • The insides of the barrels are charred to distillery preference, depending on the flavor profile the distillery seeks.
  • After the barrels are used just once for bourbon, they are used by other distilleries for beer, Scotch or Irish whisky, rum and tequila.
  • The alcohol lost to absorption in the cask is called the angels’ share.
  • The Woodinville Whiskey Co. already has a long list of home beer brewers and commercial brewers waiting for those used bourbon barrels to free up!

Cheers, ICE

As always, check out my Glossary of Spirits page for alcohol
and mixer definitions and details.

 

No Flash Mardi Gras Drinks

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Time, it does slip by. But what better point to get back to bloggin’ than Mardi Gras?!? And since New Orleans is the mother of all Mardi Gras celebrations, it was natural to try a couple of the city’s classics – the Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz.

The Ramos Gin Fizz earns some beads

The Sazerac is a classic cocktail with some controversy. People, there are very precise methods and measurements to making this drink – many of them. A blogger/cocktail-author brawl could easily break out over the Sazerac’s “musts” and tweaks. In the end, I went with the following from The Gumbo Pages, a blog that purports, “in Louisiana … alcohol, butter, cream and big piles of fried seafood are still good for you.”

Sazerac

1/2 teaspoon absinthe, or Herbsaint
1 teaspoon of simple syrup (or 1 sugar cube)
4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters (essential)
1 small dash of Angostura bitters (extremely optional)
2 oz rye whiskey
Strip of lemon peel

For full instructions and some history, visit the site; it’s complicated. Here is my approach: Rinse (coat by running the absinthe around the inside of the glass) one cocktail glass with the absinthe and discard the remaining liquid. In a mixing glass, add the remaining ingredients and stir with ice until chilled. Strain mixture into the absinthe-rinsed glass, twist the lemon peel and serve.

On the whole, this drink didn’t work for me…too much like sipping whiskey neat for my taste. I did enjoy the Peychaud’s bitters (found at some area liquor stores), though.

Round Two

Ah, the Ramos Gin Fizz. I have tried many a tasty variation of this drink, but never the original. While the Sazerac is the Official Cocktail of New Orleans (and, hello, Kirkland City Council, what is our official cocktail?) the Ramos Gin Fizz is one of New Orlean’s most famous drinks. I used the version offered by Imbibe Magazine, but did appreciate The Gumbo Pages’ warning about the orange flower water:

“Be EXTREMELY careful when adding orange flower water to this drink! It can very easily overwhelm, making the drink taste like perfume. You want a light, flowery touch, so no more than 3 or 4 drops.”

So true. If you are picking up a bottle of orange flower water (I found mine at QFC near cocktail mixers on the top shelf) – and you should so you can make the best grenadine ever – get an eyedropper while you’re at it. There is nothing precise about the pour from this bottle.

Ramos Gin Fizz

1½ oz gin
½ oz simple syrup
½ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz fresh lime juice
1 fresh egg white
1 oz heavy cream (I had only half-and-half on hand)
3 drops orange flower water
1 oz club soda

+ 2 drops of vanilla extract (a variation)

Combine all ingredients except the club soda in a shaker with crushed ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled old fashioned glass. Add club soda and stir gently.

I didn’t have that dropper and poured too much orange flower water, but a late add of the vanilla extract helped temper the flowery taste. The Ramos Gin Fizz gets my Mardi Gras endorsement, no flashing required.

By the way, if you google “Cajun cocktail recipes,” you get far more hits for cocktail wieners than drinks. Interesting.

Cheers, ICE

PS, next week is St. Patrick’s Day and I suddenly have a craving for a McD’s Shamrock Shake. Or another green drink…

 

 

New Year’s Resolution: More Cocktails!

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

It’s time to untangle ourselves from the mania of Christmas and focus on the next big event: New Year’s Eve. That night will mark the first anniversary of my home cocktail craziness. Last NYE, armed with my new MixShakeStir cocktail book, I hit the liquor store with a shopping list of liquors culled from the tastiest sounding drinks… and returned to discover that I could really make only half of each drink (thanks a lot, Kirkland liquor store).

Fortunately, the year has been more fun than frustrating, and that deserves a toast. What’s the best beverage to raise high for that toast? You got it — champagne.

But let’s dress up that sparkling wine (because any will do – champagne, Prosecco, cava).  Here are a few recipes that add oomph without hassle.  As is the trouble with all recipes calling for wine or beer, unless a specific brand and year is listed, results may vary. Pop open your bottle and use the ratios below as a starting point and then tinker to preference. Oh, and use chilled ingredients.  All should be served in a champagne flute or coupe.

1. Although around just a few years now, the St. Germain Cocktail is nearly a classic. If you don’t have one of these beautiful St. Germain bottles, stop reading and hit the store!

St. Germain Cocktail

¾ oz St. Germain liqueur
2 oz sparkling wine
Slice of strawberry or a raspberry to garnish (optional)

2. This version of the classic Champagne Cocktail substitutes bourbon for brandy and omits the bitters.  My husband agreed that this would be a good drink for those who like bourbon but aren’t enthusiastic about champagne.  I did cut corners by using commercial vanilla syrup (commonly used in lattes) instead of making my own.

Bourbon Champagne Cocktail

 1 oz bourbon
½ oz vanilla syrup (I used DaVinci’s)
4 oz champagne
½ vanilla bean to garnish (optional)

3. Looking for another use for my Ty Ku (as featured here previously), I played around with recipes from other sites and came up with this:

NY Ty Ku

1 oz Ty Ku
1 oz Prosecco
¾ oz lemonade (I used Simply Lemonade)
Add agave or simple syrup sweetener if desired.

Shake Ty Ku and lemonade with ice, then strain into a flute glass. Add chilled Prosecco and stir gently. This is a light sipping drink.

Cheers to 2011!  ICE

Next: I’m going to take a blog-break for a few weeks to work on my cocktail resolutions. Stay tuned!

 

Pour This in Your Apple Cup

Monday, November 29th, 2010

This Saturday is the annual Apple Cup, Washington’s intra-state football showdown: WSU Cougars vs. UW Huskies. In our case, it is an intra-house battle, as I’m a Coug and hubby is a Dawg.  Mostly this is a skirmish to determine which of us gets to dress our kids for the day.

In addition to beer, a big game needs a cocktail, right? Lo and behold, I discovered this drink already called the Washington Apple. Perfect! And so easy even a Husky can make one.

Washington Apple

1 oz Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey
1 oz Sour Apple Pucker
½ oz cranberry juice
½ oz simple syrup (omit if not using 100% cranberry juice)
Splash of soda water (optional)

You can combine the liquids and shake with ice, or simply build in an ice-filled glass and stir well.

The lovely, red Washington Apple

Now, the trouble I have with recipes using cranberry juice is that they are usually not very specific. 100% cranberry juice or the actual fruit are not always available, while juice combinations (with added juices, sugar or even the dreaded high fructose corn syrup) are ubiquitous. But I draw most of my recipes from books and sites that preach the gospel of market-fresh ingredients – are they really using regular ol’ Ocean Spray? These are the questions that vex me.

In this case, I used 100% cranberry juice – which is soooo tart – and therefore compensated with the added simple syrup. If you prefer, make yours with a cranberry juice beverage, omit the syrup and fuggedaboutit.

I will say that with the pure cranberry juice, this drink was a lovely deep red…crimson, really (Go Cougs!).

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Oh, fine. Here’s a purple one, too. I fashioned this one for the UW Alpha Delta Phi Centennial banquet because my friend and organizer wanted a purple cocktail. After I got over the swearing and shaky hands, I came up with this:

Woof

1 oz citrus vodka
½ oz Cointreau
2 oz Trader Joe’s Pomegranate Blueberry Juice mix

Combine in a shaker filled with ice, and shake until well chilled. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass.

Oh, sorry. Was that too fast for you? Here it is again:

Woof

1 oz citrus vodka
½ oz Cointreau
2 oz Trader Joe’s Pomegranate Blueberry Juice mix

Combine in a shaker filled with ice, and shake until well chilled. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass.

Cheers, ICE