Monday, July 25, 2011

Under The Cherry Moon

2 oz Bourbon - Buffalo Trace
1 oz Sour Cherry Syrup - D'Arbo

1 oz Lime Juice - Fresh (one average lime)

Add bourbon, lime juice, and cherry syrup to a cocktail shaker with crushed ice.  Shake vigorously and strain into your favorite glass.  Twist some lime and rub the rim of the glass...and of course, enjoy!

A friend recently asked me about options for making a simple, "easy to enjoy" bourbon cocktail. It got me thinking, and somehow this was the result.  I may be biased, but I think this is one of the best "easy" bourbon drinks I've ever had.  Each ingredient is identifiable, with its own clear voice, while serving to build a brilliant chord.  The lime brightens the bourbon and tames the alcohol.  The cherry carries the vanilla and oak of the bourbon, while sweetening up the lime.  The bourbon brings a little warmth and earthly grounding to the nose and tongue.  It's a dangerously good roshambo of a cocktail.

I usually try a new recipe with a couple different bourbons, but the Buffalo Trace works well, and I only had time for one drink.  I'll probably try again with the last of my french-oaked Bulleit just to see how the balance holds up with a very different bourbon, but I'd guess just about any bourbon would taste good in this drink.

And while I normally prefer to make my own syrups for cocktails (more on this topic soon), the Sour Cherry from D'Arbo is outstanding.  Not sure where the wife bought it, or for how much, but the internets have heard of it, so there's no excuse for you not to buy some.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Uncle Steve

3 oz Bourbon - Bulleit Bourbon
1 1/2 oz Lemon Juice - Fresh

1 1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice - Fresh
1/2 oz Orgeat - Small Hand Foods

Add bourbon, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, and orgeat to a cocktail shaker with crushed ice.  Shake vigorously and strain into a highball or double old fashioned glass.

This drink is named in honor of my uncle Steve Jobs.  He loves it.  It's a very gentle introduction to bourbon cocktails.  The overall effect is not unlike a true Mai Tai (please no pineapple or grenadine!).  The Bulleit has a relatively high rye content, giving it a spicy smooth finish.  The grapefruit adds some floral notes and breadth to the citrus flavor.  And the orgeat adds sweetness, great smooth mouthfeel, and nutty complexity, which plays well with the bourbon.

As an even gentler option, you could try topping off the glass with a plain seltzer (about 1 1/2 oz) and giving it a gentle stir.  And what the hell, add a grapefruit twist.

A note on orgeat:
Please don't use that Torani syrup.  Maybe it's ok to doctor up your mocha, or in some cookie dough, but in a fine mixed drink you want to use an actual orgeat.  The difference is like Kraft slices vs a fine Double Gloucester.  Yes, the Small Hand Foods Orgeat is very expensive.  But it is top notch, and it's local to me.  And of course, for that rare occasion when The Baron wants a drink made with that other brown liquor, a good orgeat is required for a Mai Tai. 

I've read about Trader Tiki's Orgeat which is less expensive, but haven't yet tried it.  If you have, please let me know what you think.

No, Steve Jobs in not my uncle.  And as far as I know he has never tried an Uncle Steve.  I don't know if he drinks anything other than bottled water.  If you are Steve Jobs: please try this drink and let me know what you think.  I hope it cures whatever ails ya.

[EDIT] I don't have words to express how sad Steve's passing makes me.  Everyone that knows me knows how much reverence I had for Steve.  And I'm somewhat confused by the number of visitors that are arriving at this page having searched for "Steve + Jobs + cocktail".  Hopefully no one thinks this was written to somehow deride him.  If anything, I regret the drink not being worthy as a tribute to the man.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Bourbon Go-Kart - Or, the not quite a sidecar

2 oz Bourbon - Woodford Reserve recommended
1 oz Orange Curaçao - DeKuyper, or similarly inexpensive
1 oz Fresh lemon juice

Add bourbon, orange curaçao, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker with crushed ice.  Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled standard cocktail glass.

While extremely similar to a bourbon sidecar, this differs in the proportion of ingredients.  Specifically, the goal of the go-kart is to excel past the cheap orange liqueur (a common problem in many homes and bars), and let the bourbon shine with the lemon juice.  There's a reason so many classic cocktails pair bourbon with lemon...the lemon oils elevate the vanilla of the bourbon while the acid brightens and counters the alcohol bite.

As for bourbon selection, Woodford Reserve is a great choice for its strong vanilla nose.  It's also a quality bourbon for it's price range.  I've tried this cocktail with Baker's 7 year, and while it was good, my current bottle of Baker's leans to the oak and leather side, with noticeably less vanilla in the nose.  Not bad, but the Woodford is the better match for this drink.

And as you may have noticed, unlike most sidecar recipes, I called for crushed ice...I personally think the slight looseness added by using crushed ice helps to keep this a very light and refreshing drink.  Definitely at the top of my warm weather cocktail list.

Enjoy!  And let me know what you think.

The American Spirit


Sit on that for a minute.  It's a word that means so much to so few, and almost nothing to most.  A drink of the the older, the aged, the down right elderly.  A leftover from an era lost, gulped, and long forgotten.  A fierce brown appendix of the drinking world.

But those old Kentucky stills are busy these days, making some of the best bourbon the world has ever seen.  So I hope to introduce some of you to the joys of sipping, mixing, and even baking with bourbon.  And maybe along the way we'll all learn some history, some science, and a little something about ourselves.

A little about me:
I'm an Information Systems Architect by day (and often by night).  I was born and raised in a small farm town turned suburb named Carlisle, outside Boston, MA.  After a couple of degrees, road trips, and some floundering, I now live with my lovely wife in the San Francisco bay area.  In addition to swilling bourbon, I'm a craft beer lover and homebrewer, a musician, and a motorcyclist.  Yes, some of those interests work together, others do not.