Posts Tagged ‘bourbon’

The 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, May 6th. It’s the most exciting 2 minutes in racing…especially if you’ve got a great mint julep in your hand!

The Mint Julep is such a perfect, classic and historic bourbon drink, it seems silly to wait until Derby day to have one. Of course, as any aficionado of spirits will tell you, there are as many right ways as wrong ways of making one.

The first step in my Mint Julep is making the simple syrup. I use the standard ratio of 1 cup of clean, filtered water to 1 cup of sugar, but I use an organic product like Woodstock Farms Organic Pure Cane Sugar. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until just boiling. I’ve found that it needs to reach this stage for the sugar to really dissolve. As soon as it starts to boil, remove the saucepan from the heat, and throw in a handful of freshly picked mint leaves. Stir to make sure the mint gets in there, and then leave the saucepan to cool to room temperature. Once it’s at room temp, strain the simple syrup into a bottle with a tight sealing lid, and place in the refrigerator to cool. It will keep for about a week.

The next step is the tough part: the battle of the bourbons! The recent explosion of choices on the bourbon market has made it all but impossible for the average imbiber to know which bourbon is best for their tastes. My suggestion for this is to go to a trusted bartender and explain that you’re new to the bourbon world, and could you have the tiniest of tastes and sniffs of what he’s got at his bar. Chances are, you’ll get a sampling of some of the better known brands: Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, perhaps Buffalo Trace or Bulleit, and the standard Jim Beam. This is a very good start. If you have deeper pockets, go to the manager of a trusted higher end liquor store and explain that you’ve had all the rest, now what does he think is the best? This is how I came across a fabulous 17-year-old bottle of Eagle Rare, my choice for my Mint Julep, though incredibly difficult to find. So I settle for the 10-year-old Eagle Rare, which at $32.99, is the best bang-for-the-buck bourbon on the market right now.

Of course, hinting to wife and friends that “I’m trying new bourbons” around your birthday or the holidays inevitably gets you a few bottles as well!

Other ingredients for my perfect Mint Julep include crushed ice from clean, filtered water. Don’t even think of using tap water for any cocktail much less this one. Why ruin an expensive bottle of bourbon by going cheap on the ice? I make my own ice cubes, then put them in a canvas ice bag and bash them to the perfect crushed size.

And a Mint Julep needs a metal–not glass– Julep cup. Made of pewter or aluminum, it frosts on the outside as you stir your drink, keeping your beverage ice-cold on even the hottest of days. You simply need to have one to make the perfect Mint Julep.

 

So here’s my recipe…

 

 

3 oz. bourbon
1 oz. mint-infused simple syrup
crushed ice
Julep cup
Fresh mint for garnish

Crush the ice and pack it into the Julep cup, even letting it dome slightly over the top. Don’t worry…the alcohol will melt it.

I like to add 1.5 ounces of bourbon, then the ounce of simple syrup, then another 1.5 ounces of bourbon on top. Break off a few mint leaves from the stem and push into the ice. Using a long spoon, stir the drink well. A beautiful layer of frost will form on the outside of the cup. Add more ice, if necessary, and garnish with a sprig of mint.

 

As a kid, I used to read the side of a cereal box as I ate my breakfast. Nowadays, I tend to read the back label from my booze bottle as I take a sip.
There seems to be a lot of confusion about the spelling of whiskey and/or whisky, but the use of the letter “e” (or the lack thereof) is not random. Here’s the best explanation I’ve found…
whiskeywhisky
The spelling whisky (plural whiskies) is generally used for those distilled in Scotland , Wales , Canada , and Japan. Whiskey (with an e; plural whiskeys) is used for the spirits distilled in Ireland and in the United States. The BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) in 1968 specified “whisky” as the official U.S. spelling, but allowed labeling as “whiskey” in deference to tradition.  Most U.S. producers still use the “whiskey” spelling, though as you can see, Maker’s Mark chooses not to.
International law reserves the term “Scotch whisky” to those whiskies produced in Scotland. Scottish law specifies that the whisky must be aged for a minimum of three years, in oak casks. Whiskies produced in other countries in the Scotch style must use another name. Similar conventions exist for “Irish whiskey,” “Canadian whisky,” and “Bourbon whiskey.” In North America, as well as in Continental Europe, the abbreviated term “Scotch” is usually used for “Scotch Whisky.” In England, Scotland, and Wales, the term “whisky” almost always refers to “Scotch Whisky”, and the term “Scotch” is rarely used by itself.
And while we’re on the topic, what is bourbon?
Bourbon is a type of whiskey.
Today, ‘bourbon’ has a specific legal meaning that has little to do with its geographic origins. That definition, now federal law, has existed in its present form only since about the end of the 19th century. According to federal law, bourbon must be at least 51% corn, distilled at less than 160 proof, and aged for at least two years in new, charred oak barrels. (There are some other requirements, but those are the main ones.) Bourbon also must be made within the United States. In other words, a foreign product that meets all the other requirements still cannot be sold in the U.S. as bourbon.
Contrary to popular belief, there has never been a legal requirement that bourbon be made in Kentucky, which is why most Kentucky producers call their product “Kentucky Bourbon.” 
Still confused? My advice is to sit back with your favorite glass of whisky, whiskey or bourbon…and just enjoy. Cheers!

The 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby revs up this Saturday at 6:34PM Eastern, and unfortunately, I’ll be working! –Working a beer festival, but nonetheless working.

The Mint Julep is such a perfect, classic and historic bourbon drink, it seems silly to wait until Derby day to have one. Of course, as any aficionado of spirits will tell you, there are as many right ways as wrong ways of making one.

The first step in my Mint Julep is making the simple syrup. I use the standard ratio of 1 cup of clean, filtered water to 1 cup of sugar, but I use an organic product like Woodstock Farms Organic Pure Cane Sugar. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until just boiling. I’ve found that it needs to reach this stage for the unbleached sugar to really dissolve. As soon as it starts to boil, remove the saucepan from the heat, and throw in a handful of freshly picked mint leaves. (I have mint growing all over my yard.) Stir to make sure the mint gets in there, and then leave the saucepan to cool to room temperature. Once it’s at room temp, strain out the mint leaves and pour the simple syrup into a bottle with a tight sealing lid, placing it in the refrigerator to cool. It will keep for about a week.

The next step is the tough part: the battle of the bourbons! The recent explosion of choices on the bourbon market has made it all but impossible for the average imbiber to know which bourbon is best for their tastes. My suggestion for this is to go to a trusted bartender and explain that you’re new to the bourbon world, and could you have the tiniest of tastes and sniffs of what he’s got at his bar. Chances are, you’ll get a sampling of some of the better known brands: Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, perhaps Buffalo Trace or Bulleit, Basil Hayden, and the standard Jim Beam. This is a very good start. If you have deeper pockets, go to the manager of a trusted higher end liquor store and explain that you’ve had all the rest, now what does he think is the best? And of course, hinting to the wife and friends that “I’m trying new bourbons” around your birthday, Father’s Day, or the holidays inevitably gets you a few bottles as well! My personal favorites include Blanton’s, the now ridiculously overpriced Pappy Van Winkle, and a very reasonably priced ($32) Eagle Rare 10-year-old, my vote for best-bang-for-your-bourbon-buck.

A key ingredient for a perfect Mint Julep is crushed ice from clean, filtered water. Don’t even think of using tap water for any quality cocktail much less this one. Why ruin an expensive bottle of bourbon by going cheap on the ice? My home uses well water (no chlorine or flouride) and then my fridge filters the water before making ice, so I put the ice in a canvas ice bag and bash it to the perfect crushed size. (A thick Ziploc bag covered with a kitchen towel will work as well.) If you’ve got nasty city tap water and no filters installed, just buy a bag of good quality ice for this special occasion.

And a Mint Julep needs a metal–not glass– Julep cup. Made of pewter or aluminum, it frosts on the outside as you stir your drink, keeping your beverage ice-cold on even the hottest of days. You simply need to have one to make the perfect Mint Julep.

 

FullSizeRender

3 oz. bourbon (my go-to these days is Eagle Rare 10-year-old)
1 oz. mint-infused simple syrup
crushed ice
Julep cup
Fresh mint for garnish

Crush the ice and pack it into the Julep cup, letting it dome slightly over the top. Don’t worry…the alcohol will melt it.

I like to add a jigger of bourbon (1.5 oz.), then the shot of the mint-infused simple syrup (1 oz.), then another jigger of bourbon on top. Using a long spoon, stir the drink well. A beautiful layer of frost will form on the outside of the cup. Add more ice to replenish the dome and garnish with a sprig of mint.

FullSizeRender

The Kentucky Derby revs up this Saturday at 6:24PM Eastern, and I’ll be watching. Not because I’m a huge fan of the horses, but because it gives me an excuse to sip on Mint Juleps!

The Mint Julep is such a perfect, classic and historic bourbon drink, it seems silly to wait until Derby day to have one. Of course, as any aficionado of spirits will tell you, there are as many right ways as wrong ways of making one.

The first step in my Mint Julep is making the simple syrup. I use the standard ratio of 1 cup of clean, filtered water to 1 cup of sugar, but I use an organic product like Woodstock Farms Organic Pure Cane Sugar. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until just boiling. I’ve found that it needs to reach this stage for the unbleached sugar to really dissolve. As soon as it starts to boil, remove the saucepan from the heat, and throw in a handful of freshly picked mint leaves. Stir to make sure the mint gets in there, and then leave the saucepan to cool to room temperature. Once it’s at room temp, strain the simple syrup into a bottle with a tight sealing lid, and place in the refrigerator to cool. It will keep for about a week.

The next step is the tough part: the battle of the bourbons! The recent explosion of choices on the bourbon market has made it all but impossible for the average imbiber to know which bourbon is best for their tastes. My suggestion for this is to go to a trusted bartender and explain that you’re new to the bourbon world, and could you have the tiniest of tastes and sniffs of what he’s got at his bar. Chances are, you’ll get a sampling of some of the better known brands: Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, perhaps Buffalo Trace or Bulleit, and the standard Jim Beam. This is a very good start. If you have deeper pockets, go to the manager of a trusted higher end liquor store and explain that you’ve had all the rest, now what does he think is the best? And of course, hinting to wife and friends that “I’m trying new bourbons” around your birthday, Father’s Day, or the holidays inevitably gets you a few bottles as well!

A key ingredient for a perfect Mint Julep is crushed ice from clean, filtered water. Don’t even think of using tap water for any quality cocktail much less this one. Why ruin an expensive bottle of bourbon by going cheap on the ice? My fridge filters the water before making ice, so I put them in a canvas ice bag and bash them to the perfect crushed size.

And a Mint Julep needs a metal–not glass– Julep cup. Made of pewter or aluminum, it frosts on the outside as you stir your drink, keeping your beverage ice-cold on even the hottest of days. You simply need to have one to make the perfect Mint Julep.

So many choices...

From left to right: the now hard-to-find Eagle Rare 17-yr-old, Bulleit, Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, and the now impossible to find Pappy Van Winkle 15-yr-old.

 

ALZ MINT JULEP

 

3 oz. bourbon (my go-to these days is Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel)
1 oz. mint-infused simple syrup
crushed ice
Julep cup
Fresh mint for garnish

Crush the ice and pack it into the Julep cup, letting it dome slightly over the top. Don’t worry…the alcohol will melt it.

I like to add a jigger of bourbon (1.5 oz.), then the shot of simple syrup (1 oz.), then another jigger of bourbon on top. Break off a few mint leaves from the stem and push into the ice. Using a long spoon, stir the drink well. A beautiful layer of frost will form on the outside of the cup. Add more ice, if necessary, and garnish with a sprig of mint.

 

Since I’m busy tasting many bourbons these days, I’ve got some leftovers that may not make a great cocktail but would work great for a sauce. I had Maker’s Mark sitting around, so I came up with this sauce to use it up!

image

 Ingredients:

5 lbs St Louis style pork ribs

salt and pepper

 

For the sauce: 

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup bourbon

zest and juice of 1 lime

zest and juice of 1 lemon

zest and juice of 1 orange

2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I use Maille)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon chili oil

image

Season the ribs well with salt and pepper and cook in a smoker for 3 hours at 25o degrees, using hickory chips.

While ribs are smoking, combine sauce ingredients in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, then lower to medium heat and reduce the sauce by half until it thickens. Stir often, and don’t let the honey foam up and spill over the top.

Pre-heat oven at 250 degrees.

Remove ribs from the smoker and place in a sheet pan that is lined with aluminum foil, with enough foil to wrap around the ribs. Brush the ribs on all sides with the sauce, stacking no more than 2 sets of ribs on top of each other, and then wrap with foil.

Cook in the foil for 2 more hours, until tender.

 

 

 

 

The Mint Julep is such a perfect, classic and historic bourbon drink, it seems silly to wait until Derby day to have one. Of course, as any aficionado of spirits will tell you, there are as many right ways as wrong ways of making one. And I enjoy the taste of bourbon in my Manhattans so much that I don’t really get a craving for a Mint Julep as often as one might think.

The first step in my Mint Julep is making the simple syrup. I use the standard ratio of 1 cup of clean, filtered water to 1 cup of sugar, but I use an organic product like Woodstock Farms Organic Pure Cane Sugar. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until just boiling. I’ve found that it needs to reach this stage for the unbleached sugar to really dissolve. As soon as it starts to boil, remove the saucepan from the heat, and throw in a handful of freshly picked mint leaves. Stir to make sure the mint gets in there, and then leave the saucepan to cool to room temperature. Once it’s at room temp, strain the simple syrup into a bottle with a tight sealing lid, and place in the refrigerator to cool. It will keep for about a week.

The next step is the tough part: the battles of the bourbons! The recent explosion of choices on the bourbon market has made it all but impossible for the average imbiber to know which bourbon is best for their tastes. My suggestion for this is to go to a trusted bartender and explain that you’re new to the bourbon world, and could you have the tiniest of tastes and sniffs of what he’s got at his bar. Chances are, you’ll get a sampling of some of the better known brands: Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, perhaps Buffalo Trace or Bulleit, and the standard Jim Beam. This is a very good start. If you have deeper pockets, go to the manager of a trusted higher end liquor store and explain that you’ve had all the rest, now what does he think is the best? This is how I came across a fabulous 17-year-old bottle of Eagle Rare, my choice for my Mint Julep, though currently incredibly difficult to find. And of course, hinting to wife and friends that “I’m trying new bourbons” around your birthday or the holidays inevitably gets you a few bottles as well!

Other ingredients for my perfect Mint Julep include crushed ice from clean, filtered water. Don’t even think of using tap water for any cocktail much less this one. Why ruin an expensive bottle of bourbon by going cheap on the ice? I make my own ice cubes, then put them in a canvas ice bag and bash them to the perfect crushed size.

And a Mint Julep needs a metal–not glass– Julep cup. Made of pewter or aluminum, it frosts on the outside as you stir your drink, keeping your beverage ice-cold on even the hottest of days. You simply need to have one to make the perfect Mint Julep.

So many choices...

From left to right: the now hard-to-find Eagle Rare 17-yr-old, Bulleit, Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, and the now impossible to find Pappy Van Winkle 15-yr-old.

 

So here’s my recipe…

 

ALZ MINT JULEP

 

Ingredients:

3 oz bourbon (my go-to these days is Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel)

1 oz mint-infused simple syrup

crushed ice

Julep cup

Fresh mint for garnish

Crush the ice and pack it into the Julep cup, even letting it dome slightly over the top. Don’t worry…the alcohol will melt it.

I like to add 1 jigger of bourbon (1.5 oz), then the shot of simple syrup (1 oz), then another jigger of bourbon on top. Break off a few mint leaves from the stem and push into the ice. Using a long spoon, stir the drink well. A beautiful layer of frost will form on the outside of the cup. Add more ice, if necessary, and garnish with a sprig of mint.

 

As a kid, I used to read the side of a cereal box as I ate my breakfast. Nowadays, I tend to read the back label from my booze bottle as I take a sip.
There seems to be a lot of confusion about the spelling of whiskey and/or whisky, but the use of the letter “e” (or the lack thereof) is not random. Here’s the best explanation I’ve found…
whiskeywhisky
The spelling whisky (plural whiskies) is generally used for those distilled in Scotland , Wales , Canada , and Japan. Whiskey (with an e; plural whiskeys) is used for the spirits distilled in Ireland and in the United States as well. The BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) in 1968 specified “whisky” as the official U.S. spelling, but allowed labeling as “whiskey” in deference to tradition.  Most U.S. producers still use the “whiskey” spelling, though as you can see, Maker’s Mark chooses not to.
International law reserves the term “Scotch whisky” to those whiskies produced in Scotland. Scottish law specifies that the whisky must be aged for a minimum of three years, in oak casks. Whiskies produced in other countries in the Scotch style must use another name. Similar conventions exist for “Irish whiskey,” “Canadian whisky,” and “Bourbon whiskey.” In North America, as well as in Continental Europe, the abbreviated term “Scotch” is usually used for “Scotch Whisky.” In England, Scotland, and Wales, the term “whisky” almost always refers to “Scotch Whisky”, and the term “Scotch” is rarely used by itself.
And while we’re on the topic, what is bourbon?
Bourbon is a type of whiskey.
Today, ‘bourbon’ has a specific legal meaning that has little to do with its geographic origins.That definition, now federal law, has existed in its present form only since about the end of the 19th century. According to federal law, bourbon must be at least 51% corn, distilled at less than 160 proof, and aged for at least two years in new, charred oak barrels. (There are some other requirements, but those are the main ones.) Bourbon also must be made within the United States. In other words, a foreign product that meets all the other requirements still cannot be sold in the U.S. as bourbon.
Contrary to popular belief, there has never been a legal requirement that bourbon be made in Kentucky, which is why most Kentucky producers call their product “Kentucky Bourbon.” Today there are very few examples of non-Kentucky bourbon left: Virginia Gentleman, Bowman’s, and Woodstone Creek Straight Bourbon are a few.
Still confused? My advice is to sit back with your favorite glass of whisky, whiskey or bourbon…and just enjoy. Cheers!

The Mint Julep is such a perfect, classic and historic bourbon drink, I really don’t know why I wait until Derby day to have one. Of course, as any aficionado of spirits will tell you, there are as many right ways as wrong ways of making one, depending on who you talk to. This is true for any classic cocktail, from a Sazerac to a Manhattan.

The first step in my Mint Julep is making the simple syrup. I use the standard ration of 1 cup of clean, filtered water to 1 cup of sugar, but I use an organic product like Woodstock Farms Organic Pure Cane Sugar. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until just boiling. I’ve found that it needs to reach this stage for the unbleached sugar to really dissolve. As soon as it starts to boil, remove the saucepan from the heat, and throw in a handful of freshly picked mint leaves. Stir to make sure the mint gets in there, and then leave the saucepan to cool to room temperature. Once it’s at room temp, strain the simple syrup into a bottle with a tight sealing lid, and place in the refrigerator to cool. It will keep for about a week.

The next step is the tough part: the battles of the bourbons! The recent explosion of choices on the bourbon market has make it all but impossible for the average imbiber to know which bourbon is best for their tastes. My suggestion for this is to go to a trusted bartender and explain that you’re new to the bourbon world, and could you have the tiniest of tastes and sniffs of what he’s got at his bar. Chances are, you’ll get a sampling of some of the better known standards: Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, perhaps Buffalo Trace or Bulleit, and the standard Jim Beam. This is a very good start. If you have deeper pockets, go to the manager of a trusted higher end liquor store and explain that you’ve had all the rest, now what does he think is the best? This is how I came across a fabulous 17-year-old bottle of Eagle Rare, my choice for my Mint Julep. And of course, hinting to wife and friends that “I’m trying new bourbons” around your birthday or the holidays inevitably gets you a few bottles as well, like the very tasty 15-year-old high-alcohol Pappy Van Winkle, excellent for special sipping occasions (when you don’t have to operate heavy machinery for a while!)

Other ingredients for my perfect Mint Julep include crushed ice from clean, filtered water. Don’t even think of using tap water for any cocktail much less this one. Why ruin an expensive bottle of bourbon by going cheap on the ice? I make my own ice cubes, then put them in a canvas ice bag and bash them to the perfect crushed size.

And a Mint Julep needs a metal–not glass– Julep cup. Made of pewter or aluminum, it frosts on the outside as you stir your drink, keeping your beverage ice cold on even the hottest of days. You simply need to have one to make the perfect Mint Julep.

So many choices...

So many choices…

 

So here’s my recipe…

 

ALZ MINT JULEP

 

Ingredients:

3 oz bourbon

1 oz mint-infused simple syrup

crushed ice

Julep cup

Fresh mint for garnish

Crush the ice and pack it into the Julep cup, even letting it dome slightly over the top. Don’t worry…the alcohol will melt it.

I like to add 1 jigger of bourbon (1.5 oz), then the shot of simple syrup (1 oz), then another jigger of bourbon on top. Break off a few mint leaves from the stem and push into the ice. Using a long spoon, stir the drink well. A beautiful layer of frost will form on the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of mint.