About abourbongal

Award-winning food writer, cocktail historian and recovering archaeologist Darby Doyle covers the gamut of Utah’s gastronomic and natural wonders for Devour magazine, cityhomeCOLLECTIVE.com, Park City Magazine, visitUtah.com (the Utah Office of Tourism), Dishing Park City, Vamoose outdoors mag, and is a frequent contributor for Salt Lake City Weekly newspaper. Her work has also appeared in Cheese Connoisseur magazine. She lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, two teenaged sons and a couple of goofy chocolate Labradors.

Oh! You Sexy Beets Dirty Martini – a hot & pink cocktail

Hot Pink Dirty Martinis. My kind of Valentine’s cocktail!

A Bourbon Gal in Utah

SexyBeetsDirtyMartini

Why I don’t dine out on Valentine’s Day, and you shouldn’t either.

I avoid dining out on Valentine’s Day.   With few exceptions, restaurants are packed with starry-eyed lovers ordering off of prix fixe menus with cloyingly sweet and often watery cocktail offerings, cheap champagne and the Cosmopolitan being the most egregious of these, in my book.  The servers and kitchen are overtaxed trying to run a fast turn-over service to a bunch of people who are too busy groping each other under the tablecloth to really enjoy the meal.

My  girlfriends Sangiovese and Saketini argue that Valentine’s Day could be considered the epitome of the asshat guy holiday – he can be a complete douche to his girlfriend/wife/partner all year, but shell out some bucks for awful milk chocolates and dinner out and he’s –at least temporarily- redeemed himself.  Why can’t a guy just be nice, generous and considerate all the…

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A Killer Vesper

A Killer Vesper

A Killer Vesper

Killer Vesper

To a bar glass filled with cracked ice add:

3 oz. gin

1 oz. vodka

0.5 oz. Lillet blanc.

Stir, stir, stir with a bar spoon for a full minute. Strain into a chilled martini or large coupe glass. Some people prefer a champagne flute. Whatever. Garnish with a long zest of ruby red grapefruit peel. Now, go kick some ass like James Bond.

I had an excellent Vesper recently at Provisions, a restaurant that opened a couple of months ago and for which I wrote a piece for my gig at cityhomeCOLLECTIVE. Their barman Giancarlo Farina makes his with a lovely lemon dust. I went for a long sexy twirl of grapefruit zest to bring out the citrusy backbone of the gin, and to punch up the floral notes of the Lillet.

The story behind my drink:

Y’all. I got so much shit done last week: wrote three articles, took and edited photos for two of ‘em, finished butchering and making three kinds of sausage from our recent waterfowl hunt, and removed all lingering remains of Christmas from the household [there are still lights outside—it’s not redneck until after January 31, right?—but that’s The Macallan’s territory of domestic upkeep. Not touching it, or I’ll end up mowing grass and running the sprinkler system this Spring]. Feeling pretty good about kickin’ ass and taking names, for real. Then, my editor at another gig gave the big thumbs down to a shitload of photos I’d done for a story [she loved the story, just not the photos. FML.], and I started feeling all “woe is meeeee,” and my self-esteem plummeted, and y’all know what I’m talking about, right? I was questioning my professional abilities and considered bankrupting myself to buy a truckload of camera equipment and editing software and all kinds of other random-ass tech to get back in the game.

And then my ever-practical hubby pointed out the obvious to me, “You can’t do everything well.” WTF? Of course I can! Damn it, no, and gah! I hate when he’s right. I really can’t. No one can do everything perfectly, at least if they’re being honest with themselves. Truth: I love writing and am usually pretty damn good at nailing a story. I make delicious eats for my family and friends, and can throw together a fan-freaking-tastic cocktail, if I do say so myself. I’m an A+ mom, much of the time, and a supportive friend. And, yeah, I’m a hack photographer for the most part; if the object is sitting still and I control the lighting—like for food or drinks—I’m competent. But I suck at taking photos in the big frame: people, landscapes, interior spaces, the big picture. I just can’t seem to make it click [heh heh]. Now, The Macallan may have been pushing the self-reflection so that we could afford a bigger truck instead of bigger camera lenses [not putting it past him], but he made his point, and I’m back on the “go me!” bandwagon after a couple of hours of mood swings. Yes, this whole manic freak-out bit happened in the space of an afternoon.

Not a Utah pour: full sized Vesper with 3 oz gin, 1 oz vodka, 1/2 oz Lillet, stirred with grapefruit zest garnish.

Not a Utah pour: full sized Vesper with 3 oz gin, 1 oz vodka, 1/2 oz Lillet, stirred with grapefruit zest garnish.

So, I mixed up a full version [that’d be NOT a Utah-regulated 1.5 oz pour] of the Ian Fleming classic, a Vesper, to celebrate the kick-assedness of my week and my little bout of mental health growth. I even mixed it up with booze brands I’ve gotten to know really well after writing about them: Beehive Distilling’s Jack Rabbit Gin, and Sugar House Distilling vodka.* After all James Bond occasionally ran away from a fight he couldn’t win. In the meantime, I’ll work on the photography skills and stick to my budget [of course I bought one new lens. Sheesh, I don’t have that much willpower]. Fewer lenses in my book means more cash for better booze. Screw the bigger truck.

*No, neither of these brands paid me to write about their products. I just really like their stuff.

Drinks by the Gallon: Manhattans and Prairie Punch

As part of my Cocktails 101 series over at the cityhomeCOLLECTIVE blog, I recently wrote a history/rant on that gorgeous hit of rye, The Manhattan. For this very tough and hard-hitting bit of research, I spent an afternoon chatting and drinking with bartender extraordinaire Amy Eldridge at the classic Salt Lake watering hole, Bar X. Somebody’s gotta do it. Quite a few folks have been asking me lately about drinks by the pitcher or punch bowl for a crowd over the holidays, so here are a couple of my standards: one is for Manhattans pre-made in the freezer, the other for a citrusyManhattans at Bar X punch that you need to plan about a day of lead time for to make the classic oleo saccharum (“oil sugar”). Both with whiskey, of course!

Manhattans by the Gallon This edition of “How to get your family shitfaced in large batches” courtesy of Amy Eldridge. Perfect for the holidays!

1) Take a very large freezer-safe pitcher or hefty gallon jug, and fill it with:

one bottle sweet vermouth

two bottles rye whiskey

and the equivalent of one bottle filtered water

2) Put upright in the freezer for at least a couple of hours or overnight [it won’t freeze because of all of the alcohol, but may get a little slushy].

3) Portion out cocktails directly into chilled glasses as needed, with a couple of dashes of bitters dropped into each glass first, and a cherry garnish to finish. Or, fill a pretty glass pitcher with the booze and one of those wicked cool ice insert thingies so your Manhattans stay icy cold without getting diluted. Let your guests serve themselves until you call them a cab and boot their ass to the curb. Cheers!

High West Prairie Punch

Prairie Punch: perfect with cheese and savory snacksFinca’s bar man Scott Gardner resurrects the concept of an artisanal punch in this recipe, harkening back to the time when every bar or local watering hole worth its salt had a proprietary and exclusive house punch.   The traditional oleo saccharum (“oil sugar”) preparation takes some lead-time to assemble, but is worth the effort to create a well-blended traditional punch. Here’s his recipe, which makes A LOT (good for a party of 20 or more guests):

1) At least two hours, or up to one day ahead, prepare oleo saccarum by gently muddling 8 oz. granulated sugar and the peels of 6 lemons.

2) After the sugar has turned to a syrup/paste consistency, add 6 oz. lemon juice, stir to combine, and let sit for an additional 30 minutes.

3) Strain out the lemon peels from the mixture and discard

4) In a large punch bowl (or two pitchers), combine:

  • lemon sugar
  • 1 bottle (apprx 25 oz.) High West American Prairie Reserve bourbon
  • 40 oz. cold water
  • ½ oz. angostura bitters
  • Just before serving, add ice to chill your punch
  • Float 8 oz. brut cava on top of the punch
  • Garnish with lemon wheels and a generous grating of fresh nutmeg
  • Note from A Bourbon Gal: Lovely served in shallow ‘coupe’ stemmed glasses

For more punch recipes made the old, old fashioned way [um, not with 7up and floating sherbet], check out David Wondrich’s history of the flowing bowl, Punch [Penguin 2010].

Beehive Bombshell

A million thanks to all y’all who took the time to vote for my cocktail the “Beehive Bombshell” over on the CocktailersAnonymous Instagram competition. Haven’t voted yet? Pretty please with cherries on top, go on over there, and pronto! Voting closes today and it’s a close one [though thanks in no small part to y’all, the Beehive Bombshell is ahead by a frog hair right now. Squeeee!]. It’s a riff on one of my favorite celebratory beverages, the festive French 75. I made this one using locally-produced Beehive Distilling Jack Rabbit Gin, and Utah-owned VIDA tequila añejo.

So. Good. It’s made even prettier [and tastier IMHO] by the kickass addition of Meyer lemon juice and sparkling rosé.

The Beehive Bombshell, as featured over on the Cocktailers Anonymous feed.

The Beehive Bombshell, as featured over on the Cocktailers Anonymous feed.

Beehive Bombshell

1.5 oz Beehive Jack Rabbit Gin

0.5 oz VIDA tequila añejo

1.25 teaspoons superfine sugar

0.5 oz Meyer lemon juice

Top with sparkling rosé [2-3 oz.]

In a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice, add all ingredients except for the wine. Shake briefly to combine, then strain into a champagne flute. Top slowly with sparkling rosé. Garnish with an extravagant lemon peel, of course! Oh la la.

For an extended history-slash-rant on my love of the French 75, check out this story I wrote last winter over at the cityhomeCOLLECTIVE blog: “There’s something about a champagne cocktail that cranks the flyin’ high freak-flag level of any event right up to 11 from the first toast, and the French 75 is arguably THE classic bubbly cocktail. Fair warning: it’s the kind of cocktail that sneaks up on you like a velvet sledgehammer. After a few of these, you’ll be stumbling into the next day wearing nothing but a tuxedo jacket and false eyelashes. That don’t belong to you.”

Filthy Farmgirl – a harvest hot toddy!

The Filthy Farmgirl

The Filthy Farmgirl

I don’t know about y’all, but harvest has been dragging out forever around here, with our first hard frost just coming on just this week. Seems like we usually have snow in Salt Lake valley well before Halloween, so this Autumn has been a warm one. Instead of being able to stagger out the fruit and vegetable canning, then the hunt processing, this year’s harvest hit me all at once. I’ve been butchering the two (two!) mule deer the guys brought in from this year’s hunt, and of course bringing in all the garden veggies before frost. I have loads of tomatoes I still need to sort to ripen, and a bumper crop of tomatillos and green ‘maters I should pickle, fry, and salsa-fy verde style.

Until I get all that done, I’m going to enjoy a nice warm toddy to celebrate fall in all its glory. Hope y’all do, too.

The Filthy Farmgirl

To a heavy 5-6 oz. mug, add:

2 oz. bourbon

1 heaping Tbs.. sorghum or molasses

juice of ½ lemon

a generous pinch of smoked sea salt (I used Durango smoked salt)

a dash of cayenne pepper

Stir with a cinnamon stick until the sorghum is completely combined into the other liquids. Slowly pour in 2 oz. of hot (not boiling) water, and stir again.

 

Enjoy with a good book, and look forward to getting a sustainable manicure in another few weeks – we’ve still got plenty of pickling and sausage-making ahead!

Hot Pocket

The Hot Pocket I just saw how gnarly that lime looks. Yeesh.

The Hot Pocket
I just saw how gnarly that lime looks. Yeesh.

This week’s H.O.A.G.Y. [Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?] comes from my college BFF Jalapeño Gimlet. She wrote to me via the ABG Facebook page:

“Hey bourbon gal! Help a gf out! Have a cocktail I wanna make…it’s called the hot christy and it has gin, cucumber, lime and habanero. Like a gin gimlet right? Do I infuse the gin? Can you help me???”

She then sent me a couple of pics of the drink and gave the very helpful info that she was drunk-ass from two of them. Which provided excellent context for figuring out proportions. Though, generally, my gal Jalapeño Gimlet gets pretty drunk off of two of anything. One of the many reasons I love her.

Jalapeño Gimlet and I doing a little wine tasting detour during our recent Epic Road Trip. Eleven am is a perfect time for wine tasting, right?

Jalapeño Gimlet and I doing a little wine tasting detour during our recent Epic Road Trip. Eleven am is a perfect time for wine tasting, right?

She ended up making our version, which she awesomely called the “Hot Pocket” for a friend’s Bon Voyage party and they were a big hit! Additionally, she said the aggressive cucumber muddling and shaking required was particularly helpful in working through the combined joy and frazzle of party hosting with a grin on her face, in spite of recent sad news. Ah, the zen of bartending. I recommended infusing the syrup, not the gin, since as we all know alcohol is a solvent and mixing spicy things like peppers [like we did to make Grilled Jalapeño-Pineapple Tequila a while back] takes some pretty careful monitoring. It’ll go from nicely kick-ass to sweaty eyeballs in a matter of hours.

“Hot Pocket” – A Habanero Gimlet

Rub the rim of a martini glass with lime wedge, dip rim into Redmond Real Salt or kosher salt

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the hell out of ½ cocktail [Persian] cucumber

Add a big handful of ice

Add 2 oz. gin [I like Beehive’s Jack Rabbit Gin for this]

Splash of St. Germaine liqueur

¾ oz. fresh squeezed lime juice

1 oz. habanero simple syrup*

Shake it like a Polaroid picture, then strain into the salt-rimmed martini glass.

Habanero Simple Syrup

Habanero Simple Syrup

*Habanero simple syrup: to a pint mason or other heat-proof lidded jar add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup boiling water. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved, then add 2 habanero chilies [cut in half to expose all those spicy innards]. Let cool to room temp, add lids, and refrigerate over night or for at least 12 hours. TASTE. The longer you leave in the habaneros, the spicier this syrup will be; I removed the habaneros after about 24 hours. It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

We’ll be using some of the leftover habanero syrup to make more drinks soon. Visit the ‘abourbongal’ Instagram feed to check out pics from some recent research sessions, including a fab twist on a Habanero Margarita. Yum.

Have your own H.O.A.G.Y. request? I love some R&D, y’all! Contact me via the A Bourbon Gal Facebook page, or email abourbongal@gmail.com

 

A Bourbon Gal at PechaKucha

Awesome PechaKucha poster designed by the uber talented Tim Ross Lee.

Awesome PechaKucha poster designed by the uber talented Tim Ross Lee.

PechaKucha [pronounced “peh-CHA-koo-cha”] night is a not-to-be missed experience, y’all! Think of a dozen or so creative folks, each given the opportunity to present 20 images. But each of those images gets automatically advanced every 20 seconds. Presenters have six minutes and forty seconds to talk about whatever they’re currently working on, passionate about, or find interesting. There are PechaKucha groups in major cities all over the world, so look it up wherever you are and get inspired!

The next SLC PechaKucha night is September 28th, and I’ll be presenting my own sassy spin on whiskey history. I’d love to see some friendly faces in the crowd, so follow the link below and reserve your spot(s)! The show sold out within a day of posting, but I heard from the event organizers they’ve started a waiting list for released tickets.  Follow the link here for more info.

Plum Loco

This week’s H.O.A.G.Y. (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?) comes from my new best girlfriend who has several 30+ year old fruit trees in the backyard of her Avenues home in our Salty City. Plums, pears, apples, and other fruity goodness for days, people. The boys and I went over a few days ago and harvested buckets full of her late-season plums, and she’s still swimmin’ in ’em.  I’m sending her some of my Plum Ginger Pink Peppercorn syrup–which is dead easy to make with even the squishiest of fruit you’ve got on hand– in thanks for sharing her bounty, and hope she’ll make this fab tequila cocktail with it, or perhaps an equally delish Plum Lucky (with gin) or Plum Crazy (with bourbon). It’s ALL good.

Plum Loco A tequila, plum & ginger glass of YUM

Plum Loco
A tequila, plum & ginger glass of YUM

 Plum Loco

1.5 oz (okay, more like 2) oz. tequila blanco

0.5 oz. Cointreau or triple sec

2 oz. Plum Ginger pink peppercorn syrup

splash of club soda

generous pinch of smoked sea salt

Fill a tall Collins glass with ice. To a bar glass filled with ice, add the tequila, Cointreau, and plum syrup. Stir with a bar spoon for a minute. Strain into the Collins glass. Add a splash of club soda floater. As with many sweet drinks, a good pinch of salt does wonders right on top; use plain kosher salt, or some wacky smoked sea salt you’ve been saving up. Get yourself a straw to slurp down all of that sweet, sweet goodness.

 

 

Beehive Distilling Launch Party

Super excited for my friends at Beehive Distilling, who are some stellar guys making delicious gin. I’ve been using their Jack Rabbit Gin in lots of summer cocktails, and it is some tasty booze. They’re celebrating their launch at a big par-tay this weekend at The State Room, with drinks and terrific music. It’s gonna be a blast! Hope to see y’all there, Salt Lake locals. Get yer tickets, herebeehive-launch-party

Hachi Hive

The Hachi Hive

The Hachi Hive

This week’s H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?) is a request by many friends for the “Hachi Hive” cocktail developed at Salt Lake City’s award-winning Takashi restaurant by manager Rich Romney and barman Jonny Bonner.  We were slurping ’em down during a recent photo shoot and interview I did about Utah’s Jack Rabbit Gin [made by SLC-based Beehive Distilling] for cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, and it was also featured at the distiller’s launch party this spring. It’s decidedly refreshing and delicious, y’all, and one of my new favorite drinks during this heat wave. The only downside is that Takashi’s bar uses fresh yuzu* juice in the cocktail, which can be difficult to source. I found yuzu juice at my favorite local Asian foods market, but it was $17.99 a bottle. Not a typo, friends. Holy Liquid Gold, Batman! A great substitution is plain old fresh lemon juice. It also calls for using a honey-sage syrup, which is dead easy to make at home–recipe, below– and I love it in other white booze-based cocktails.

It’s sweet, tart, and lively drink, and perfect for summer sippin’.  Distiller Chris Barlow said of this betty of a beverage, “it haunted my dreams.” Agreed, Chris. It’s some sublime shit.

HACHI HIVE 

To a tall bar glass filled with ice add:

2 oz. floral gin [I used Jack Rabbit Gin]

1 oz. Elderflower liqueur [such as St. Germain]

1 oz. honey-sage syrup

1 oz. yuzu [or lemon] juice

Takashi's bar

Takashi’s bar

Stir with a bar spoon until the glass is frosty [about one minute]. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice and add a spanked sage leaf for garnish.

To make honey-sage syrup:  This is perfect for that barely-filtered crusty honey your neighbor gave you from their hives that may or may not have a stray bee, bits of honeycomb, and a dog hair or two; you’ll be straining it yourself, anyway. At Takashi, they are using honey from their roof-top beehives [“hachi” = “bee” in Japanese] and I’m sure they are much more tidy about their filtering process than my neighborhood honey donors.  To one cup of honey in a pint Mason jar, add one cup boiling water. Stir until honey is dissolved evenly. Add 3-4 fresh clean sage leaves, and let sit at room temperature for a couple of hours to cool off [or overnight]. Strain through a fine mesh into a clean glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

*Yuzu is a very sour and seedy citrus fruit developed in Southeast Asia, although you can grow it in the US [see info about California sourcing, here]. It’s about the size of a tangerine, and folks use the pulp, rind, and juice for cooking and cocktails.