What's cooler than a great cocktail? A cocktail that changes as you drink it! We cook with heat, but we make cocktails with ice. Ice melts, and if you use flavorings in your ice you create a cocktail that evolves as it sits and the ice melts.
In the previous post I mentioned that Peggy Noe Stevens, bourbon goddess, first female master taster and founder of the Bourbon Women invited Bourbon Women to her house for an evening of Noe Boundaries focused on bourbon, entertaining and women in the field. I created two cocktails for the evening, the first a summer crowd-pleaser for bourbon and non-bourbon drinkers alike (the Berry Fine).
For this drink, I wanted to keep to a classic, but make something that could be easily assembled for a large number of guests, in keeping with the entertaining theme. Sazeracs, an old and classic drink, fit the bill, and by creating an ice cube with everything except the whiskey, you can place once in a glass, add your rye and be on the way to an amazing cocktail.
A traditional sazerac has a bit of absinthe (usually in the form of a rinsed glass), rye whiskey, sugar and Peychaud's bitters. For this recipe, I put the bitters and the simple syrup into the ice cube with a garnish of an anise seed. I call this one Darwin's Sazerac since it becomes more sweet and bitter as the ice cube melts into the rye whiskey.
Sazerac Ice Cubes
To make 12 in a cupcake tin
6 oz simple syrup
36 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
12 oz water
Combine ingredients in a measuring cup, stir well, and pour a little more than 1.5 ounces in each cupcake bowl. If you choose to put a garnish in with it, lemon peel and star anise are both great for Sazeracs. Freeze at least 24 hours. To remove from the tin, place the tin in a shallow dish of warm (not hot) water and check every 20 to 30 seconds to see if they are loose enough to remove. Store in the freezer until needed.
1 Sazerac Ice Cube
2 oz chilled Michter’s rye
Spritz of absinthe
Spritz a rocks glass with a couple sprays of absinthe in an atomizer. Drop in one Sazerac ice cube. Add 2 ounces of chilled Michter’s rye. Garnish with a lemon twist. Let the ice melt slowly and enjoy the evolution. (Chilling the rye helps extend the amount of time the cocktail evolves.)
And finally, at the end, when it's melted, it's pure joy!
Peggy Noe Stevens, the first female master taster in the bourbon industry and founder of the Bourbon Women, put together a special dinner for the Bourbon Women Siposium and asked yours truly to create a couple of cocktails for the gathering.
The theme of the gathering was "Noe Boundaries" and Peggy wanted to highlight bourbon and entertaining. Bourbon women love to entertain and share their love of the whiskey spirits, so I wanted to create two different cocktails. One that would be approachable for non-bourbon drinkers and one that whiskey lovers would enjoy.
For the first one, I wanted to create a cocktail that wasn't too difficult to put together, but one that was beautiful when served. I love the summer flavor of blackberries and wanted to pair that with the aromatics of basil, which is getting to the end of its growing season right now.
I put together a blackberry basil simple syrup, added some lovely Michter's bourbon (the sponsor of the dinner and one of my favorite distilleries ever), a little lemonade and topped it off with peach and black walnut bitters. Since we're doing this for a party, I've put together the cocktail recipe as a batch for 8 servings. This is not a strong drink, and isn't bourbon-forward, but it's an easy sipper and low enough in alcohol to be a session cocktail.
Berry Fine (Batched for 8)
1.5 cups of Michter’s bourbon
½ cup of blackberry simple syrup (add basil for aromatics)
16 dashes black walnut bitters (2 tsp)
24 dashes peach bitters (3 tsp)
½ to ¾ cup water
32 oz lemonade
Combine ingredients in a large pitcher, punch bowl or urn (at least 1.75 quarts or 54 ounces). Float large decorative ice cubes to keep it chilled and serve over ice. Garnish with fresh basil and fresh or frozen blackberries.
I'll talk about the second cocktail in the next post!
Blackberry-Basil Simple Syrup
1.5 cup sugar
3 cups frozen blackberries
2 sprigs of basil
1/4 cup water
Combine ingredients in a saucepan and cook until the blackberries until thawed, soft and very juicy. Simmer once it starts to boil for 10 minutes. Add the basil leaves and let the syrup cool for 20 minutes. Strain the blackberries out, pressing on them to get as much juice out of them as possible. Let cool and store in a bottle in the fridge for one to two weeks. If you add a bit of vodka to it you'll extend the shelf life considerably.
***** Save the strained out blackberries! Use them to top vanilla ice cream and it'll taste like you're eating blackberry cobbler! *****
Heather Wibbels is a cocktail enthusiast who spends her time thinking about cocktails, researching cocktails and making cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location.