John Dandy

John DandyBourbon goes with many things, but apples, cinnamon and chocolate top my pairings list.   For the bourbon in this cocktail, I used Ranger Creek’s .36 Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey which gently nips but doesn’t bite.  It brings the flavors of vanilla, cinnamon and a touch of oak.  If you choose a different bourbon, I suggest something that isn’t overly smooth.  I used Bigallet China-China Amer as a modifier.  Alone, this liqueur tastes of bitter orange, citrus, and cherries with an earthy, root touch similar to cola, (think bourbon and coke).  I added the bitters for complexity and to introduce chocolate, additional cinnamon and a bit of dried fruit from the fig bitters.


John Dandy

The nose of this Manhattan-esque cocktail is bright orange, fruit, vanilla and cinnamon.  The initial flavors are apple, vanilla with a touch of oak, followed by chocolate, dried fruit and a bit of spice.  The earthy tone comes late and the finish is fruit, spice, cinnamon and vanilla.  As noted below, don’t get this cocktail too sweet.John Dandy2

  • 1 oz. Bourbon
  • 1 oz. Laird’s Applejack
  • 1/4 oz. Bigallet China-China Amer
  • 1-2 dashes 2:1 Demerara simple syrup – depending on the sweetness of your maraschino cherries
  • 1 dash Fees Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
  • 1 dash Brooklyn Hemispherical Black Mission Fig Bitters
  • Orange peel for garnish
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish
  1. Chill a coup or other stemmed cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine all of the ingredients except the garnishes in a mixing glass with ice
  3. Stir to chill and strain into chilled glass
  4. Express orange peel and discard
  5. Add cherry

Cheers!


 




MxMo Manhattan

We have two offerings for this Month’s Mixology Monday, “I’ll take Manhattan!”  This one, from our fearless MxMo leader, Frederic of the CocktailVirgin blog, challenges us to revisit the classic cocktail.

Mixology Monday

Mixology Monday

Our first submission is the Manhattan 2.0 – a “Modern” version of the Manhattan with the added nuance of Sherry.  For the second, we jump ahead to an article we are preparing to publish on barrel aging cocktails at home.

 Manhattan 2.0

Manhattan Sherry Inhanced

For the the bourbon in this cocktail, we tried Basil Hayden and Belle Mead.  Both were excellent.  The bourbon brings flavors of maple, tobacco, smoke and vanilla.  This blends well with the rich, earthy Carpano Antica’s tastes of herbs, spice and slight bitterness.  Tasting this without knowing the ingredients, one could easily miss the sherry.  It intermingles with the Italian Vermouth, smoothing the bitterness and adding to the richness.  Here is the recipe:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz.  Carpano Antica
  • 1/4 oz. Sherry
  • 1/8 tsp. Grand Marnier
  • 1 dash Angostura Orange  Bitters
  • Garnish: Luxardo Maraschino Cherries and an orange peel
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Add the ingredients, except the garnish, to a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill
  3. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass
  4. Add the cherries, (or place them on a pick), and express the orange peel over the drink and discard.

Sherry Cask Aged ManhattanManhattan Barrel Aged Inhanced

This cocktail comes from our look into barrel aging cocktails at home, which we will publish soon.  We started with a new charred white oak, 1 liter cask, which was then seasoned by aging Lustau East India Solera Sherry for 4 weeks.  As an aside, the Sherry came out very nice and is great in the Manhattan 2.0!  The barrel was then used to age the cocktail.  The small cask allows a larger surface to liquid ratio than will a bigger barrel.  The larger the barrel, the longer will be the aging time.

Barrel aging a Manhattan is awesome!  The charred oak adds an expected slight oakiness and smoke flavor while the Sherry brings the slightest touch of sweetness.  The overall effect is a richness and depth of flavors that are melded together in a way that you’re not going to achieve any other way.Sherry Aged Cask

Here is the recipe for a 1 liter barrel:

For the Barrel:
  • 1 new, 1 liter charred oak barrel with stand which has been filled with water for 24 hours
  • 1 bottle Lustau East India Solera Sherry
  1. Drain and rinse the barrel
  2. Secure the tap
  3. Fill the barrel with the Sherry and seal the bung.
  4. Place the barrel on its stand and set aside on a water proof shallow container, such as a plastic container lid
  5. Turn the barrel 1/4 turn each week
  6. After 4 weeks, drain the sherry through a fine mesh strainer and store, refrigerated, in its original bottle.
  7. Rinse the barrel and refill immediately with a cocktail – do not allow the barrel to dry out.
For the Manhattan: Manhattan Barrel Aged 3
  • 20 oz. Bourbon
  • 10 oz. Carpano Antica Italian Vermouth
  • 1 3/4 tsp Grand Marnier
  • 1 3/4 tsp Regans Orange Bitters
  1. Rinse the sherry aged barrel with water
  2. Combine all ingredients in a 1 qt. pitcher
  3. Carefully pour ingredients into the cask
  4. Set the cocktail filled cask on a plastic lid or other flat, liquid proof surface (the barrel will leak).
  5. Turn the barrel 1/4 turn each week
  6. Taste the cocktail at least weekly until you think it’s ready – about 4 weeks
  7. When the cocktail is ready, carefully pour it from the barrel through a fine mesh strainer into a 1 quart pitcher.
  8. Decant into a seal-able glass bottle
  9. Store your cocktail at room temperature.
To serve:Barrel Aged Manhattan 4
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Pour 2 1/4 oz. Sherry Cask Aged Manhattan into a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill
  3. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass
  4. Garnish with premium maraschino cherries and an orange peel

Not ready to commit to a barrel?  You can approximate the same aged cocktail effect using a small bottle and a charred barrel stave, available here.4058_Barware_Mixers-_Bottle_Aged_Cocktail_Kit_large  It will lack the richness and depth of flavor of barrel aging, but it will be close.

The bottle holds 12 oz.  The recipe is then:

  • 7 oz. Bourbon
  • 3 1/2 oz. Carpano Antica Italian Vermouth
  • 1/2 tsp Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 tsp Regans Orange Bitters
  1. Combine the ingredients in the bottle and add the barrel stave
  2. Swirl it everyday
  3. It will probable be ready in 2 weeks

Cheers!




Manhattan 2.0

For the the bourbon in this cocktail, we tried Basil Hayden and Belle Mead.  Both were excellent.  The bourbon brings flavors of maple, tobacco, smoke and vanilla.  This blends well with the rich, earthy Carpano Antica’s tastes of herbs, spice and slight bitterness.  Tasting this without knowing the ingredients, one could easily miss the sherry.  It intermingles with the Italian Vermouth, smoothing the bitterness and adding to the richness.  Here is the recipe:

Manhattan 2.0

Manhattan 2.0

  • 1 1/2 oz. Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz.  Carpano Antica
  • 1/4 oz. Sherry
  • 1/8 tsp. Grand Marnier
  • 1 dash Angostura Orange  Bitters
  • Garnish: Luxardo Maraschino Cherries and an orange peel
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Add the ingredients, except the garnish, to a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill
  3. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass
  4. Add the cherries, (or place them on a pick), and express the orange peel over the drink and discard.

Cheers!


 




Belle Meade Bourbon

We had a magnificent time at the Cured – Belle Meade Bourbon Paired Dinner this past week in San Antonio.   A meal at Cured Charcuterie is always a treat and this 5 course pairing was no exception. Visiting with Andy Nelson of Green Briar Distillery and hearing about the resurrection of his family’s legacy was fascinating. (You can find the complete story on their web site here). The cocktails, featuring their Belle Meade Bourbon, Sherry Cask Finished Bourbon and Tennessee White Whiskey, were excellent and complimented the, as usual, superb food.

Well, this set me to creating some libations with Green Briar Distillery‘s most excellent Bourbon.  At Cured, they served a sour and a bourbon/amaro cocktail.  The “Chas Sour” contained their Sherry Cask Finished Bourbon, cardamom syrup and lemon juice.  The bourbon/amaro, the “Old No. 5″, used Belle Meade Bourbon, Averna and bitters.  I guessed at and came up with my version of the “Old No. 5.  However, I decided to also make a bourbon sour and a Manhattan both using Belle Meade Bourbon.

Belle Meade TastingFirst, lets talk about Belle Meade Bourbon.  I tasted this neat, both at the Paired Dinner and home.  Let me start by saying that the Nelson brothers have a winner out of the gate!  Belle Meade bourbon is worth drinking neat, on the rocks or in cocktails.  Full disclosure note: I am partial to high rye bourbons which includes Belle Meade.  That being said, here are my tasting notes:

  • Nose: Maple syrup and caramel with grapefruit
  • Taste: Rye spice with caramel, smoke and tobacco with vanilla
  • Finish: Smooth.  Several reviewers report that it has a short finish but I disagree.  It is a smooth, long finish with distinct cherry and spice.  If you “chew” it, you up the spice.

Old No 5

Old No. 5

So, on with the drinks.  Here is my version of the Old No. 5:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Belle Meade Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz. Averna
  • 1 dash Fee Brothers Barrel Aged Bitters
  • Orange peel for garnish
  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled
  2. Strain into a chilled coup
  3. Express the orange peel over the drink and float

Belle Meade Manhattan

Belle Meade Manhattan

Belle Meade Manhattan

This bourbon has legs, so I went straight to a 2:1 bourbon:vermouth ratio.  You can go with more vermouth, but I like the flavors of the Belle Meade and prefer that the vermouth complements and not over powers.  I used Angostura for the bitters and Grand Marnier for the sweetener.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Belle Meade Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth
  • 1 dash Grand Marnier
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • Orange peel and maraschino cherry for garnish
  1. Add everything but the garnish to a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill
  2. Strain into a chilled coup
  3. Express the orange peel and float then drop the cherry into the drink.

Belle Meade Sour

I like my whiskey sours 1:1 bourbon and lemon sour.  For the lemon sour, I prefer 2:1 lemon to simple syrup.  I also like the mouth feel of egg white.

Belle Meade Sour

  • 1 1/2 oz. Belle Meade Bourbon
  • 1 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. Simple syrup
  • 1 large egg white (can use 3 Tbl. pasteurized egg whites but it will not be the same)
  1. Add all ingredients, in order to a shaker and shake for 30 sec without ice to emulsify the egg white.
  2. Add 3 regular sized ice cubes plus on large cube (1 1/2 – 2 inches)* to the shaker and shake to chill 10 – 15 sec.
  3. Double strain into a chilled coup and serve

* using a large ice cube creates a silky finish that complements the egg white.  You can omit this and use regular ice but you should get a large ice cube tray!

So there are three drinks using Belle Meade Bourbon.  I will soon be posting cocktails using Green Briar Distillery‘s Tennessee White Whiskey.

Cheers!

 

 




In Search of the Perfectly Balanced Manhattan

This came out of my recent exploration of the venerable Manhattan.  The combination of whiskey and vermouth has not been my personal favorite.  A few weeks ago, we attended a dinner where the chef paired each course with a specific libation.  He included an excellent  Manhattan with a small batch bourbon and an Italian Vermouth.  Inspired by this, I have determinedly pursued the perfectly balanced Manhattan.

“Well,” one may ask, “what makes any drink ‘perfect’?” 

ManhattanThe answer is, of course, the one for whom the drink is made.  Recipes for the Manhattan from the turn of the 20th Century, call for vermouth in a much higher ratio than those from the last 20 years.  In fact, the vermouth in the Manhattan suffered the same fate as vermouth in the Martini – it practically vanished.

The Manhattan is a simple, yet complex drink.  Some time back, I noted Gary Regan’s discussion of the Manhattan in his book The Joy of Mixology.  He points out that the ratio of whiskey to vermouth varies with the chosen ingredients.  Anywhere from 2:1 – 2:1/2 whiskey to vermouth.  The stronger the flavors of the whiskey, the more vermouth it can handle.  The goal is to construct a cocktail that balances the sweet spice of the base whiskey with the complexity of the vermouth.

With that goal in mind, creating your “perfectly balanced” Manhattan will require premium ingredients and some trial and error.  In other words, purchase your favorite bourbon or rye along with a good sweet vermouth and start mixing and tasting!  I suggest that you start with a whiskey that you enjoy straight.  I also suggest that you spring for a couple of different sweet vermouth’s, maybe a French and an Italian.

Manhattan Al

Our Butler Al serves a wonderful Manhattan!

Start building your drink with a high whiskey:vermouth ratio – say 2:1/2 or even 2:1/4.  Chill with ice in a mixing glass and taste from a shot glass.  You can then add a little more vermouth as you taste.  When your ratio is getting close, start thinking about what bitters you would try and any sweetener the drink might need.  To try bitters, taste the bitters on your finger followed by a sip from your shot glass.  You can do the same with the sweetener.

When you think you are close, stir up a fresh drink and strain into a cocktail glass.  What does your nose tell you?  What is the first thing you taste with the first sip?  What garnish will enhance these?  The classic is a brandied cherry and possibly a citrus peel.  Here I used Grand Marnier as the sweetener and brandied cherries for the garnish.  I did not think that either orange or lemon oils added much.

carpano anticaFor the vermouth I chose Carpano Antica, a sweet Italian.  I found this quote concerning Carpano Antica from the Wine Enthusiast dated 2011:  “This dark, mysterious vermouth is rich, complex and layered, boasting aromas of mint and other herbs, plums and figs, reminiscent of Madeira. The rich flavors are hard to pin down: cocoa, red wine, almonds, bitter marmalade, hints of spice and toffee all play across the palate, finishing with a bracing bitter edge. This delectable sweet vermouth would shine in a Manhattan.”  I think that sums up the Carpano Antica!

So, here are my recipes:

Irish ManhattanIrish Manhattan

While rye and bourbon are the classics in the Manhattan, I don’t see any reason not to try an Irish Whiskey.  Specifically the Tullamore Dew 10 year old Single Malt.  As I’ve noted before, the Tullamore Dew has the earthy, grassy flavors of Irish whiskey with the flavors of fruit, (apricot, pineapple, raisin) and wood.  Just the depth of flavors that blend with vermouth.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Tullamore Dew 10 year old Single Malt Irish WhiskeyTullamore Dew
  • 3/4 oz. Sweet Italian Vermouth
  • 1 dash Grand Marnier (1/8 tsp)
  • 1 – 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
  • brandied cherries for garnish
  1.  Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water.
  2. Stir to combine all ingredients, sans cherries, in a mixing glass with ice.
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the cherries

Bourbon Manhattan

RussellsFor the bourbon Manhattan, I used Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old.  This is a bit of a lighter bourbon, but still has the sweet and spicy notes you expect from a quality aged bourbon.  Note that in addition to using a higher ratio of vermouth, the recipe includes more Grand Marnier.

  • 2 oz. Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon
  • 1 1/2 oz. Italian Vermouth (sweet)
  • 1 tsp Grand Marnier
  • 1 – 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
  • brandied cherries for garnish
  1.  Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water.
  2. Stir to combine all ingredients, sans cherries, in a mixing glass with ice.
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the cherries

Rye Manhattan

Sazerac-Rye-Black2-1-290x290Sazerac is my rye whiskey of choice.  Made at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, it is spicy and sweet with flavors of orange peels, pepper and allspice.  It blends very well with the Italian Vermouth.  Note that this is the same recipe as the Irish Manhattan, just substituting the Irish Whiskey for the rye.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Sazerac Rye Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. Italian Vermouth (sweet)
  • 1 dash Grand Marnier (1/8 tsp)
  • 1 – 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
  • brandied cherries for garnish
  1.  Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water.
  2. Stir to combine all ingredients, sans cherries, in a mixing glass with ice.
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the cherries

When your guest asks for a Manhattan, he or she is probably expecting a drink that is long on the bourbon or rye and very short on the vermouth.  It will be up to you to introduce them to your version of the perfectly balanced Manhattan!

Cheers!

 

 




The Manhattan

Sazerac is my rye whiskey of choice.  Made at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, it is spicy and sweet with flavors of orange peels, pepper and allspice.  It blends very well with the Italian Vermouth.  Note that this is the same recipe as the Irish Manhattan, just substituting the Irish Whiskey for the rye.

  • Sazerac-Rye-Black2-1-290x2901 ½ oz. rye whiskey
  • ½ oz. sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice
  3. Strain into chilled glass
  4. Garnish with a cherry



Tequila Manhattan

Definitely not a chocolate martini, this is a southwestern makeover of the Manhattan.

  • Tequila Manhattan 22 oz. Milagro Añejo Tequila
  • 1 oz. Lillet Rouge
  • bar spoon (1/8 oz.) of agave nectar
  • dash chocolate bitters
  • Orange zest
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice
  3. Strain into chilled glass
  4. Garnish with a wide orange zest



Gary’s Redo Classic Manhattan

I don’t particularly dislike Manhattans, but vermouth with bourbon or rye have never been my favorite.  While I was playing with Lillet, I thought I’d try it in a Manhattan.  Well, here it is:IMAG0391

  • 2 ozs. Good aged bourbon such as Basil Hayden
  • 1 oz. Lillet Rouge
  • 1 dash Regans Orange Bitters
  • 1 Dash Fees Brothers’ Aromatic Bitters
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with