|America’s Ten Best Beer Towns: The Non-Fiction List||ICE Leader: Agents Prohibited From Enforcing Two Most Fundamental Sections of U.S. Immigration Law|
While we’re talking about good drinks…
This piece on bourbon, part of the Taste of Texas series over at the Longhorn sports blog Burnt Orange Nation, is a great introduction to bourbon. And make sure to read the comments section, too; lots of good info and lively debate in there, too.
Bourbon. The classic American spirit. What used to conjure images of uneducated, backwoods yokels has risen dramatically in the world of whisk(e)y recently. One needs only to step into your local liquor store to see just how popular this spirit has become. In fact, there are so many choices coming out of the state of Kentucky now that it, quite honestly, can be a bit overwhelming. I think it’s safe to say that most of you like bourbon, but may not necessarily have a deep understanding of the spirit of this spirit. How is bourbon made? What variations are available? How does it differ from other whisk(e)ys? We hope that this crash course helps answer these questions and more, and after reading you’ll be able to walk into the store and make your bourbon selection with confidence. Against that backdrop, let’s dive right in.
I’ve gone through an evolution of sorts since I was a young man when it comes to my distilled spirit of choice. Back in my 20′s I was a gin drinker. Gin tonics gave way to gin gimlets, which of course eventually gave way to very dry martinis.
It wasn’t until I started bartending at a south American discoteca in Houston when I was about 28 (where, incidentally, I met the future Mrs. Cooper) that I acquired a taste for blended scotch whiskey. The owner of this club, a crazy little guy from Ecuador, allowed the staff (bartenders and waiters) have a few drinks once the band started up after the dinner service — as long as you were drinking scotch from the “employee” bottle of Johnny Walker Black. So I quickly acquired a taste for blended scotch whiskey. The Dimple Pinch was my bottle of choice, though if you were to offer me a couple fingers pour of Johnny Walker Blue label, I certainly wouldn’t refuse your kindness.
Sometime well into my 30′s a good friend introduced me to the wonders of Powers Gold Label Irish whiskey. And for about the next 4-5 years, my standard order at the bar was “Powers, two ice cubes.”
And then when I turned 40, that same good friend, who was now a member of the distinguished Bourbon Council over at Dell, started to introduce me to some damned-fine American bourbons, such as Rowan’s Creek. And I think I’ve finally settled into the perfect spirit for me. A fine, small-batch American distilled bourbon, served neat or with an ice cube at most makes for a perfect night cap. Having a few drinks with my buddies? I’m likely to order up a Jack Daniels (rocks with a splash of 7 up).
Some of my favorite bourbon seem to have a relatively high rye count on the mash bill, so I’ve started exploring some straight rye whiskeys lately, and have discovered an unadulterated love of a classic Manhattan, which has become my “go to” drink when I feel like having a cocktail when I get home in the evening. And, if I do say so myself, I believe I have mixed the perfect Manhattan on more than one occasion.
My favorite recipe, after playing around with numerous Rye/Vermouth/Bitters brands and ratios (see here for a great taste-test comparison of 18 different French vermouths):
- 2 oz Bulliet Rye Whiskey (there are better Ryes out there, but this one is pretty damned good, a great value, and easily found at most liquor stores)
- 1 oz Dolin Rouge vermouth (I sometimes prefer the deeper, richer flavor of the Punt e Mes vermouth, but find the Dolin’s sharpness to compliment the Rye much better).
- 2 dashes bitters – any traditional bitters, such as Angostura, works just fine. Just make sure to not put in 3 dashes. A little too much bitters is way too much bitters.
Pour the above ingredients over ice in a stainless steel shaker and shake gently for a few seconds. Pour into a chilled glass, and garnish with a Luxardo Gourmet Maraschino Cherry. Yes, Luxardo cherries are pricey. But you’ll never want those cheap, tasteless neon-red bar maraschino’s again.
NOTE: My post from 2007 on How to Make the Perfect Margarita
Anyway…I bookmarked this post from the guys at Burnt Orange Nation a few months ago, intending to blog about it then, but am just now getting around to it.
So, what’s your cocktail/spirit of choice?