Ever had a whiskey you just knew you had to put into a cocktail? That's how I felt about Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey when I tried it. We'd gone into the Village Anchor for an anniversary dinner and got there early enough to have a few cocktails and talk to the bar manager. He let us try a sip of Skrewball. All I could think of was getting that in a cocktail that made me think of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Now, this isn't my final draft of the cocktail. I still need to figure out a way to get the grape jelly taste in there without using actual jelly, but this was a damn good cocktail. Not pretentious, not anything you'd find in a fancy place, but it's a fun front-porch on a warm night kinda cocktail. You can thank me later.
Pb & J
1 oz bourbon
1 oz Skrewball peanut butter whiskey
1 T grape jelly at room temperature
1 dash of black walnut bitters
Place ingredients in a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake. Strain into a rocks glass filled with large cubes of ice. Garnish with a strawberry or just a swipe of grape jelly on the rim. Enjoy.
One of my favorite things to do is just create a riff on an Old Fashioned on the fly. I'm a big fan of porters and stouts and I love that deep, bitter coffee taste - it almost tastes ashy. But I had a request to make an old fashioned with an orange flair. So I added some vanilla coffee syrup I'd found out at a farmer's market. This is one of my top five cocktails I've ever put together. It's simple, balanced and intriguing.
2 oz New Riff rye
0.5 Solera blood orange liqueur
0.5 German vanilla coffee syrup
1 dropper coffee pecan bitters
Garnish - cherry and orange twist
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until well-chilled and pour into a rocks glass filled with large ice cubes. Garnish with a cherry, and/or twist. Cheers!
I finally broke down and bought a bottle of Ancho Reyes. I have been sipping on wonderful cocktails with this ingredient for over a year and I needed to add it to my collection. My very first attempt turned out to be a keeper. The heat and spice of Ancho Reyes paired with bourbon and chocolate bitters in a magical way.
Xocoatl Old Fashioned
1.5 oz Old Forester Rye
0.75 Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey
0,5 Ancho Reyes
1 dash chocolate bitters
2 dashes smoked chili bitters
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir until well-chilled, Strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with your favorite old fashioned accoutrement.
Enjoy the heat and smoke!
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!
The Bourbon Women and Bourbon Brotherhood invited me to put together a presentation “A Cocktail for All Palates” for their She Sips He Sips blind tasting event. Of course, what better cocktail to use than the old fashioned! It’s a simple cocktail with three components, spirits, sugar and bitters, but hundreds (if not thousands) of variations are possible. I came up with three cocktails, one traditional, but bold, another sweet and a third nutty.
For the Bold Old (above), I kept close to a traditional old fashioned recipe, but I wanted to add a few things to it to make it a little more aggressive. I started with a high proof spirit, and at 110 proof, Pikesville Rye definitely fits the bill. It’s a well-rounded, complex rye, and one with a great mouth-feel.
I wanted to build the cocktail around it but make it a little more upfront. Specifically, I wanted to use hot or spicy bitters. I found the perfect match in Hella Bitters Smoked Chili bitters. As soon as I taste-tested these bitters, I knew they were going to be a perfect match for the Pikesville Rye whiskey. Instead of competing with the complexity and flavors in the rye, they build on it. The smoke adds a little more of the barrel into the cocktail. It’s a smoke that reminds me of how it smells on the cooperage floor near the barrel-charring stations. It’s got smoke, but not an overwhelming amount.
In addition to the smoke, the bitters also bring some heat to the cocktail. In the way that cayenne is used in Mexican hot chocolate, the bitters increase the heat on the mouthfeel and extend the finish without adding a lot of flavor other than smoke to the cocktail, leaving the whiskey as the star.
For the sugar, I used a demerara syrup with a 1:1 ratio of water to demerara or turbinado/raw sugar. I wanted a sweetness that had a little caramel in its flavor, but not one that would overwhelm the drink as a whole. Demarara fit the bill.
To finish the drink we’ll look to a freshly charred cinnamon stick. The heat activates the cinnamon oils in the stick and the char on the stick accentuates the smoke in the bitters, tying the drink together.
The Bold Old
2 oz Pikesville Rye
½ oz demerara syrup
3-4 dashes Hella Bitters Smoked Chili Bitters
Garnish: Charred cinnamon stick
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a charred cinnamon stick.
For the second old fashioned, I wanted a cocktail that had nutty flavors that would match well with a bourbon. I started with Larceny bourbon, a much lower proof than Pikesville, but one that would blend well with the nutty flavors I was thinking of. For the syrup, we’re adding a home-made pecan syrup that is amazing on pancakes and waffles when not being used in a cocktail. To increase the nutty flavors, I’ve added a little Rivulet Pecan Liqueur, one of my favorite nut liqueurs.
For the bitters, to match the nutty theme, I wanted to add Fee Brothers Black Walnut bitters. The bitters bring a lovely punch to the drink, but do tend to make it a little dark. To brighten up the cocktail I added just a little of Barkeep Apple Bitters. Just a dash helped bring the cocktail back into balance.
1 ½ oz Larceny
½ oz Rivulet pecan liqueur
½ oz pecan syrup*
2 dashes Fee Brothers Black Walnut bitters
1 dash Barkeep Organic Apple bitters
Garnish: Toasted Pecan
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a toasted pecan or three.
*Pecan Syrup: Heat 1 cup water, add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup chopped toasted pecans. Steep for 30 min to an hour. Run through a blender, then strain through a metal sieve and coffee filter/cheesecloth.
For the third old fashioned (above) I wanted to step away from the higher proof, aggressive Bold Old and the nutty flavor of the Nutter OF to a cocktail that was sweet and easy to drink. We started with Elijah Craig Small Batch and matched it with Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur. The Domaine de Canton is sweet but has that little burn of the ginger to it, matching well with the Elijah Craig.
We have the bourbon and some ginger liqueur, but I wanted a sugar in the drink that would fit well with both of those. The answer was a honey syrup. Made with a 1:1 ratio, the syrup is a perfect complement of the flavors that taste so good in honeyed ginger tea or a hot toddy made with a slice of ginger. For the bitters, I wanted to emphasize the ginger bitters, and decided to go with Hella Bitters Ginger Bitters. They have a great ginger burn and stand out against the sweetness of the honey syrup. For the garnish, what could be better than a little piece of candied ginger? And when you’re finished with the drink, you get a little bourbon-soaked piece of ginger to nibble on.
And the name, well, who’s the most famous ginger I know?
1 ½ oz Elijah Craig Small Batch
½ oz Domaine de Canton Ginger liqueur
½ oz honey syrup
3-4 dashes Hella Bitters Ginger Bitters
Garnish: slice of candied ginger
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a small slice of candied ginger.
Heather Wibbels is a whiskey enthusiast (Executive Bourbon Steward, no less) with a passion for cocktails. She loves researching cocktails, making cocktails and drinking cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location. For more information about her favorite whiskey group, head over to Bourbon Women and join the women's whiskey revolution!