Bourbon Feed

Unsung Cocktail Heroes -- Bitters, Vermouth, and Liqueurs

Reading about unsung cocktail heroes is good, but why read when you can listen?  Eric Kozlik, the CEO of Modern Bar Cart, interviewed me for his podcast.  It was a great experience. Here's our conversation about bitters, vermouth, and liqueurs (it's episode #8).        

Modern Bar Cart podcast 2Eric has interviewed a lot of really interesting people about some great cocktail subjects, so I encourage you to listen to the other episodes. I've learned a lot by listening to them. You probably will, too.  The podcast is a wonderful example of connecting over cocktails.  Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den and I met Eric at the Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans, and we reconnected at an event in Washington, D.C. earlier this year.

Our podcast episode (you can listen below) covers a lot of topics such as how James Bond disrupted the Martini, and what I would order if I could drink with my late grandfathers. We also discussed general cocktail categories such as amari (bitter liqueurs), and specific cocktails like the Manhattan, the Ward 8, and the Derby.

If you listen to the episode, keep this in mind -- I wasn't kidding.  I have walked alone through the yard of a maximum security federal prison.  No, I was not incarcerated. Want to the hear the story? Buy me a good cocktail.


Six Shot Fluidity -- The Revolver

RevolverLet's get one thing out of the way -- this excellent cocktail does not consist of six shots.  A drink that large would drop you like the business end of a real revolver.  The Revolver contains almost two shots of booze. Jon Santer created it in San Francisco, which is where the fictional Detective "Dirty Harry" Callahan used a .44 Magnum revolver to take down criminals.

2 ounces bourbon
.5 ounces Kahlua or coffee liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters (I used Embitterment)

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the steady bang bang rhythm of firing a you know what, and strain into a chilled glass.

The Revolver is a little sweet, even if you use a slightly spicier bourbon like Bulleit.  Of course, don't make the mistake of conflating sweetness with weakness (that's a general rule in life in my opinion).  Some people think a drink that is sweet or a "girly" color has to be weak.  Those people are wrong.  

My musical preferences run the gamut, but rock n' roll generally is my favorite.  Keeping that in mind, I suggest the following as musical accompaniment to the Revolver --   specific tunes from Aerosmith (Janie's Got a Gun) or Lynyrd Skynyrd (Saturday Night Special), anything by .38 Special, or what is arguably Pat Benatar's most popular song (Hit Me With Your Best Shot).

Now that you're interested in a Revolver, I will channel Dirty Harry Callahan and ask one question -- do you feel lucky, punk?


A Smashing Success With Booze -- The Intense Smashed Julep

It's the time of year when many Americans briefly focus on horse racing.  And what cocktail is associated with the Kentucky Derby, the most famous race?  That's right -- the Mint Julep.  There's certainly nothing wrong with having a Mint Julep or two, but winners don't always stay with the pack. Break from the pack and try an Intense Smashed Julep.  

Intense Smashed Julep2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce Barrow's Intense ginger liqueur
1/4 lime cut into small pieces
4-5 mint leaves

Muddle the mint and lime at the bottom of the shaker, add ice and the other ingredients, shake like you're thundering down the homestretch, and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.  Mint garnish optional.

There's no super simple syrup in the Intense Smashed Julep.  The Barrow's Intense (disclosure -- I am a very small investor) brings some sweetness and a noticeable ginger taste to the drink.  The Intense Smashed Julep is a mashup (smashup?) of the traditional Mint Julep, the Whiskey Smash, and the Intense Ginger Mint Julep.  If it isn't sweet enough for you, go ahead and add a little super simple syrup.       

Describing a cocktail as a smashed julep is sort of redundant.  Technically speaking a smash is a class of cocktails and a julep (the word derives from an old Persian word for rose water) is a subset of a smash.  As I understand it, a julep contains a spirit, sweetener, herb, and ice, and a smash contains all of those things and fruit.  In other words, all smashes are juleps, but not all juleps are smashes.  

But enough of this horsing around with cocktail semantics.  Have fun, get Intense, and get smashed. 


To E Or Not To E -- Spelling Whisky/Whiskey

Whisky or whiskey?  Which spelling is correct?  Both.  In honor of International Whisk(e)y Day, I figured I would clear up this issue.  Spelling the word is a matter of geography.  It generally corresponds to where one distills the spirit.  Thanks to Jeff Cioletti and his wonderful book The Year of Drinking Adventurously for this concise summary:

Whisk(e)yWhisky -- Scotland, Japan, Canada
Whiskey -- United States of America, Ireland

Let's move from spelling to etymology (a fancy term for a word's origin).  What does whisk(e)y mean? It comes from an Irish Gaelic or Scottish word that means "water of life."

Celebrate International Whisk(e)y Day by incorporating the spirit into a cocktail, whether it's a classic such as a Manhattan or Whiskey Sour, an underrated drink such as a Derby or Fireside Chat, or an original creation such as a Cancer Killer #1 or Whiskey Queen. Cheers!


The Whiskey Queen

Who is the Whiskey Queen?  My lovely wife, aka Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den, aka the Den's operations chief, taste tester, and social media consultant.  The tradition of kicking the new year off with a new original creation continues.  My wife is a Whiskey Woman, Bourbon Babe, and Scotch Siren (I definitely would see superhero films with those characters).  She is particularly fond of bourbon and Scotch, so the Whiskey Queen incorporates both of them.

Whiskey Queen1.5 ounces bourbon (Willett is fit for a queen)
.75 ounces blended Scotch (Monkey Shoulder is regal)
.75 ounces Benedictine DOM
2 dashes Bittered Sling peach bitters or other peach bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with a true queen's combination of badass power and majestic grace, and strain into a chilled glass.

Use your favorite bourbon, but stay away from ones that are more than 100 proof.  The Whiskey Queen should be strong, not lethal.  Similarly, using a blended Scotch instead of a single malt Scotch will reduce the odds of the cocktail going the way of Anne Boleyn. As with a Royal Blood, don't use a smoky Scotch in a Whiskey Queen. I used Benedictine DOM because, like the peach bitters, it is a component of the Royalist.  Don't let the herbal sweetness fool you -- Benedictine's alcohol content makes it almost as strong as bourbon or Scotch.  You can (and should) get peach bitters online, and Bittered Slling makes the best product.

Whether your taste runs towards queens of the Elizabeth II variety or the Freddie Mercury variety (get it?), the Whiskey Queen is a tribute to the queen or king in your life.

Celebrate their Majesty!


Bombs Away -- The Brown Bomber

Brown bomber 1The drink is not explosive or dangerous, unless you have too many of them.  It is a tribute to Joe Louis, the late American heavyweight boxer.  Known as the Brown Bomber, Louis was the reigning champion for 140 consecutive months in the 1930s and 1940s, and he had 23 knockouts in 27 title fights.  Talk about staggering numbers (literally, if you were in the ring with him).  Jim Meehan at PDT in New York City created the Brown Bomber, and this is my variation.

2 ounces bourbon or rye
.75 ounces dry vermouth
.5 ounces Averna or Campari

Brown Bomber 2Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with the deliberation of of a boxer dismantling their opponent, and strain into a chilled glass.  Lemon twist garnish optional.

Most versions of the Brown Bomber call for bourbon or rye, Lillet Blanc (a French aperitif), and Suze (a Swiss gentian root liqueur).  I substituted dry vermouth for the Lillet Blanc, and Averna or Campari for the Suze because I like those liquors much more than I like Suze.

The Brown Bomber isn't far removed from a Boulevardier in that both cocktails have a whiskey, vermouth, and an amaro.  Similarly, the combination of whiskey and dry vermouth is reminiscent of a Scofflaw. If you want a boxing relating spirit that's sweeter but just as strong, try my pugilecello

The Brown Bomber isn't sweet. But like its namesake, it is powerful and classy.


How About Them Apples -- The American Apple

Apples, whiskey, and cinnamon.  Any of those flavors can evoke the autumn season.  Combine them into a drink, and you'll fall (pun intended) for the result. You don't hear the phrase "how about them apples" much anymore (to my non-American readers -- the expression means "what do you think about that?"), but as Matt Damon shows in this scene from Good Will Hunting, sometimes it really hits the right note.

The American Apple is my variation on a recipe I saw on the barnonedrinks.com website.

American Apple for Laird's1.5 ounces bourbon
.75 ounces apple brandy or applejack (Laird's makes both)
Juice from 1/8 lemon
.5 ounces super simple syrup
2 dashes cinnamon

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with Will's swagger, and strain into a chilled glass. Apple slice and/or nutmeg garnish optional.

Apple brandy is similar to, but not the same as, applejack. All you have to do is compare apples to apples.  Like a Diamondback, you can use either spirit in an American Apple. If you prefer apple brandy try a cocktail such as a Widow's Kiss, and if you prefer applejack try a cocktail such as a Jersey Girl. Bourbon is legally an American spirit, but if you don't have any, rye works well.

So how about them apples?


A Drink For A Stud -- The Man O' War

Man_o'_War_statueThat's stud as in a horse, not as in a man.  Man o' War was one of the greatest horses in American racing history. Before he was put out to stud, Man o' War captured the public's attention as he won 20 races .... out of 21.  That's one hell of a winning percentage. This month is National Bourbon Month, so this bourbon based cocktail is timely.

2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce Cointreau
.5 ounces sweet vermouth (I like Carpano Antica)
Juice from 1/4 lemon

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the dominating power of Man o' War thundering down the stretch in one of his many victories in 1919 and 1920, and strain into a chilled glass.

Man o' WarIn honor of Man o' War I recommend you use bourbon from Kentucky, which was his home and is the epicenter of American horse racing.  Even though bourbon doesn't have to be from Kentucky (see this post about American Exceptionalism in alcohol), it would be appropriate in this instance.

There are other cocktails in the Den with ties to horse racing, e.g. the Mint Julep and the Derby.  The Derby is highly similar to the Man o' War, except the former uses lime juice and the latter uses lemon juice. Incidentally, the original Man o' War  recipe generically calls for orange curacao or triple sec.  Cointreau is a personal favorite.  Use whatever orange liqueur you prefer, just keep in mind that the resulting cocktail could be really sweet.

So whether you're a stud, you think you're a stud, or you admire a stud, have a Man o' War!


Sweet And Sour (not chicken) -- The Bourbon Triple Sour

The words "sweet and sour" make you think of chicken, right?  But the Den isn't about chicken.  Any protein mentioned in the Den is in a cocktail (click the Protein link on the right).  "Sweet and sour" also applies to a well balanced cocktail such as the Bourbon Triple Sour.  Thanks to a post on the Reddit site and imgur.com for introducing me to this cocktail, the recipe for which I slightly adapted.

Bourbon Triple Sour1.5 ounces bourbon (you know I like Bulleit or Willett)
1 ounce Cointreau
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 ounce super simple syrup

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the frenzy of a chicken running away from a sharp knife, and strain into a chilled glass.

The Bourbon Triple Sour is a variation on the classically sharp Whiskey Sour.  Just as a Midnight Train is a Whiskey Sour with Averna, this version of the Bourbon Triple Sour is a Whiskey Sour with Cointreau.  The original recipe calls for "triple sec" (an appellation for an orange liqueur), and I'm a big fan of Cointreau.  It's the Cointreau, super simple syrup, and possibly the bourbon you use, that makes this cocktail a little sweet.   Incidentally, the original recipe calls for equal proportions of bourbon, triple sec, and lemon juice.

Try a Bourbon Triple Sour. Don't chicken out.


A Cocktail With Counsel -- The Attorney Client Privilege

Everyone hates attorneys, unless they are one (like me) or need one (unlike me, but maybe you?).  The attorney client privilege with its confidentiality is a key part of the legal system.  Thanks to Imbibe magazine for introducing me to what it labels the Attorney Privilege.  The person who named this cocktail is not in the legal profession, as it is the attorney client privilege, not the attorney privilege.

Attorney Client Privilege
2 ounces bourbon
.5 ounces orgeat syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the measured rhythm of an attorney explaining just how screwed you might be, and strain into a chilled glass.

Pairing bourbon with orgeat syrup, which you're more likely to find in tiki drinks such as the Mai Tai, seems unusual.  Nonetheless, the two complement each other quite well.

Here's some free legal advice: remember the numbers five and 11.  Five as in the Fifth Amendment -- the right against self-incrimination. 11 as in the 11th Commandment -- thou shalt not get caught (just kidding, that one is not in the Old Testament). Of course, this is NOT real legal advice.

Now here's some free drinking advice: have an Attorney Client Privilege. Consider it our not so confidential communication.