Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Let's Talk Liquor: Bourbon And Rye Enter Our Liquor Cabinet, But We Need More Advice

Woodberry Kitchen's "Deadwood" cocktail with Rittenhouse rye
Has anyone ever told you that scotch tastes like dirt?

I drank scotch for almost 20 years.  I learned to drink on cheap beer and Cuba libres, and I got adult by adding bottled beer and the scotch loved by my grandfather and father.  Scotch is easy.  You can drink with the boss.  You can impress your friends.

But drinking scotch is hard . . . because it tastes like dirt.  Smoky.  Peaty.  I tasted the flavors that aficionados love, but I admitted at some point this year that they taste awful to me.  So my friend asked if I liked bourbon.  Bourbon?  I thought that was harsher than scotch.  It turns out that it's sweet.  Sweet!

This started as a summer of bourbon.  DonkeyKong introduced me to Buffalo Trace bourbon at Kloby's Smokehouse, which does bourbon, beer and barbecue.  Then Woodberry Kitchen taught me about rye.  Specifically, it was a wonderful "Deadwood" cocktail with "honeyed rye," a smoky tea, peaches, a sage leaf and other magic.

Rye w/dinner of
potatoes, tomatoes and eggs
Now, I'm trying to recreate the experience at home.  I have shopped around.  Buffalo Trace from Roundabout Liquor in Laurel.  Rittenhouse rye at Perfect Pour in Elkridge -- a giant store that can really offer variety.  Then a special mixer -- ginger shrub -- at i.m. Wine in Fulton.  Shrub is a non-alcoholic vinegar, and i.m. Wine sells an entire line from Shrub & Co. 

So far, it's good fun.  I'd recommend either Rittenhouse or Buffalo Trace.  Just a glass and an ice cube make a great drink.  But I'd love some advice -- about cocktails and about other options.  What liquor stores have something special?  What restaurants serve cocktails on the Woodberry theme?  What cocktail recipes could you recommend?


Peter said...

Try some muddled mint, lemonade and a splash of ginger ale, shaken and served over ice.


P90 Noir said...

Welcome to the world of Bourbon. If you like Trace, Eagle Rare is even better (it's Trace with a few more years on it).

And you should try the Boulevardier -

"This cocktail is the Negroni's long-lost, whiskey-based cousin. It was named after a 1920s magazine for expats living in Paris that was run by socialite Erskine Gwynne."

1 serving
• Ice
• 1 1/2 ounces bourbon
• 1 ounce sweet vermouth
• 1 ounce Campari
• Twist of lemon peel, for garnish

kevlar51 said...

I normally recommend Buffalo Trace, so you beat me there. For a good value (if you're a Costco member) the Kirkland Signature bourbon is quite good (I think it might be a Jim Beam product). I really recommend any of the Kirkland-labeled liquor, but you have to go to the new DC Costco or Delaware to get it.

I'm still a scotch man myself though. There are a lot more variety and subtleties to scotch than bourbon--akin to wine. But then again, I like peaty.

JB said...

I am with you, not a big fan of scotch, but a big fan of bourbon and whiskey. I like Buffalo Trace and one of my favorite bourbons now is Angel's Envy. I have not been able to find it around here yet though. Also a fan of Basil Hayden.

Two favorite cocktails are Old Fashioned and Manhattan considered to be two of the classic 6 cocktails. A lot of bars do not know how to make an old fashioned correctly, but most cannot screw up a Manhattan which is similar to the Boulevardier, minus the Campari.

Regardless, experiment. I do and love the complexity and differences in flavor. Happy drinking.

Unknown said...

Basil Hayden. Makers. Knob Creek. Oh and Bulleit Bourbon

Anonymous said...

Bulleit rye is by far my favorite.

I can't stand buffalo trace.

Mike said...

My current favorite cocktail is from Wit & Wisdom in the Baltimore 4 Seasons:

1/2 oz. Fever-Tree soda water
1/2 oz. Smoked Maple Syrup
1/4 oz. Fernet Branca
4 dashes barrel-aged bitters
Orange peel
2 oz. Jim Beam bourbon or your choice

Pour all ingredients on the rocks in a lowball glass, stir. Squeeze orange peel over drink, then garnish.

Jehan Alvani said...

Now you're talking my language. I'm a big Old Fashioned fan; I drink them almost exclusively all winter (despite Bourbon being more of a "summer" drink).

Here's the best part, in my opinion. The drink changes as you drink it. As the ice melts and as you get toward the bottom of the glass, the Bourbon mellows and the sugar and citrus come forward. It's awesome.


½ tsp sugar (I like unrefined granulated sugar)

Citrus fruit

Bourbon (I use Bulleit)

water (liquid and frozen)

bitters (Peychards if I’m using grapefruit, The Bitter Truth if I’m using orange)

Put the sugar in the bottom of the glass. Put a splash of water on top of it (seriously, just a splash. Just enough to submerge the sugar), and stir (muddle, if you can), just to make a coarse simple syrup. Drop in a few ice cubes (I use four from my ice maker). Pour approx 2 oz bourbon over the ice, and three dashes of bitters. Use a peeler to get a nice 1“ wide, 2–3” long piece of zest from your fruit; fold it in half and rub the sides together to release the oils in the zest, then drop it right in the drink. Swirl the whole mess together, and drink up.

Unknown said...

Welcome to the club! The great thing about bourbon is that there almost as many bourbons as there is scotch. Don't limit yourself to just Buffalo Trace. Maker's Mark is my house bourbon for mixing and I have four or five others that I keep for sipping. Explore. There even starting to be micro-distillery bourbons being produced. An awesome time to be a bourbon drinker!

At one point Buffalo Trace was making the Costco bourbon. But that was several years ago. That does tell you about the quality of the bourbon that they put their label on. I've never had a bad bottle.

Looking for a weekend away? Louisville and the bourbon trail isn't that far. Take some time and tour the distilleries. It's an awesome experience.

P90 Noir said...

Yes, the Bourbon Trail is great.

I was born in Louisville and I still have lots of family there. BT has become our official final rest stop on trips there. They even offer a root beer tasting for kids.

K8teebug said...

My husband and I just got into Bourbon and Irish Whiskey this year too! So far, our favorite is Woodford Reserve. Buffalo Trace is okay, but it lacks the depth of flavor that we like. We are also fans of all the stuff High West makes. For a nice Irish Whiskey, try Red Breast.

For an old fashioned, we use Woodford and make it the way chris McMillian tells us to. This series of videos from New Orleans famous bartender is fantastic.

K8teebug said...

Also, it's a shame we have no "real" cocktail bars in Howard County. We have to go to Rye in B'more, Jackie's Sidebar in Silver Spring, or Founding Farmers in Rockville to get a proper cocktail. (or passenger in DC). We need a good cocktail bar here.

john_galt said...

The ryes by High West are really interesting. A bit on the expensive side, but well worth it. As K8teebug said, however, there is no restaurant in Howard County that knows how to make a proper cocktail. They slaughter classics like the Manhattan and the Old-Fashioned and have too many flavored "tinis" in their menu. The bar at the Four Seasons Baltimore and Cinghiale are good places to get a drink

Matt Boyle said...

Two points

Pre-Prohibition there was a "Maryland Whiskey" which was rye. No one in the state makes rye anymore but there just over of the border in purcellville VA there is Catoctin creek distisling Making there round-stone rye which is defintly worth a try i think IM wine carries it. Its less then two hours to the distillery and if you help them bottle one morning they will feed you and give you tasting.

If you are in Fulton and want purchase liquer your best bet is to go just one exist in to MoCo and go to their county liquer store(by the giant at 198) for some reason it has insanely low prices Buffalo Trace now 18.49. They higher end you go the bigger discount not really sure why but no one can come close to there prices.

Anonymous said...

If you'd like to branch out a bit, I highly recommend George Dickel No. 12. It's a Tennessee style sipping whiskey. Great with just one small ice cube and some water.

Richard said...

Try a cocktail called a "Riff." I actually got it off of the Shrub & Co. website.
1.5 oz bourbon
.75 oz Fernet Branca
.75 oz Spicy Ginger Shrub
.5 oz fresh lemon juice

Add the ingredients to a shaker over ice. Shake well and serve in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with lemon peel.