A Bourbon Gal in Utah

cocktails, cookery & occasional domestic badassery

Archive for the tag “bourbon”

Repeal Day Bourbon Punch

During the crucial taste-testing process! Most cocktails started as punch recipes, so this can also be scaled down to make individual drinks with 0.5 oz shrub, 1.5 oz bourbon, and top with bubbly.

During the crucial taste-testing process! Most cocktails started as punch recipes, so this can also be scaled down to make individual drinks with 0.5 oz shrub, 1.5 oz bourbon, and top with bubbly.

A boozy punch for a crowd!

The key to making this very old school-style punch is making the oleo-saccharum, basically a process for releasing all of the goodness and zing of the lemon oils from the zest, which then gets made into a shrub to balance the fruit/acid/sugar. This is a technique of pre-Civil War era origins which I’ve messed with a bit (see sources below), popular with booze slingers from the Early American Republic through the early cocktail era. It’s a pain in the ass, for sure, to peel all those lemons, but get to work: it’s totally worth it after you’ve completed making the shrub base a couple of days later. I made this punch by request for my friends over at Sugar House Distillery for a private event they held to celebrate the release of their first bourbon whiskey. All grains sourced within 200 miles, then fermented, distilled, barreled and bottled in house! This recipe makes a quart of shrub concentrate, which when combined with three bottles bourbon and three bottles sparkling wine makes enough generous drinks for 40-60 people. Or a dozen of my friends. Collect erry’body’s keys upon arrival, just sayin’. This punch is some potent stuff!

Bourbon made in Utah! Who'd have thunk it? My buddy Jake from Sugar House Distilling and I are pretty dang excited!

Bourbon made in Utah! Who’d have thunk it? My buddy Jake from Sugar House Distillery and I are pretty dang excited!

Repeal Day Punch

1 quart lemon shrub*

3 bottles bourbon

3 bottles sparkling wine (err towards brut profile)

Combine well and serve over ice

 

*Shrub ingredients:

6 big juicy lemons

2 1/4 cups demerara sugar (divided use)

6 allspice berries (or 1/8 tsp. ground allspice)

½ of a whole nutmeg grated finely

6 whole cardamom seeds (or are they pods? whatever, the small green things)

4-5 whole white peppercorns

1″ of a cinnamon stick (more if you really like cinnamon)

To make the shrub:

Prepare an oleo-saccharum (oil-sugar) by completely removing zest (just the peels without any white parts – a swivel potato peeler is the perfect tool for this job!) of six large juicy lemons. In a big bowl, combine the lemon peels with 1 cup demerara or raw turbinado sugar. Stir to combine, smash peels a bit with the back of a wooden spoon to grind in the sugar. Lightly cover with plastic wrap, and move to a warm spot out of direct sunlight- this bowl’s gonna be living there for a while so get used to it! Reserve all those whole peeled lemons in the refrigerator; you’ll be needing them later. Every time you remember (every 3-4 hours or so), stir and smash the sugar and peels some more. Do this for at least 12 hours and up to two days. You’ll eventually have a nice pool of lemony oily, syrupy goodness in your bowl of curly lemon peels.

Image capture from my new friend Amanda (well, new IRL; we've been Instafriends for forever!) So many great folks out supporting the distillery.

Image capture from my new friend Amanda (well, new IRL; we’ve been Instafriends for forever!) So many great folks out supporting the distillery.

While that’s going, you can prepare the spice syrup. To a quart or other large heat-proof lidded jar, add 1 ½ cups demerara or raw turbinado sugar, bring 1 ¼ cups water to a boil, and pour hot water over the sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add up to another 1/4 more hot water to dissolve sugar, if needed. Add the following spices to this simple syrup: 6 allspice berries (or 1/8 tsp. ground allspice), ½ of a whole nutmeg grated finely, 6 whole cardamom seeds (or are they pods? whatever), 4-5 whole white peppercorns, and a 1″ piece of a cinnamon stick. Stir well to combine, then let sit until the syrup reaches room temperature. Remove the cinnamon stick (really, or the entire brew will taste only of cinnamon). Put a lid on that jar, and refrigerate until you’ve got your oleo-saccharum nice and runny.

When the oleo-saccharum is ready, juice the reserved 6 lemons over the lemon oil (it’s great if some pulp and pips end up in the bowl, no worries! You’ll be straining this, anyway). Stir well to combine. Add the spice syrup to the bowl with the lemony goodness. Stir well again, and let sit at room temp to meld for a few hours. Stir again, then strain through a sieve with a couple layers of cheesecloth to catch all the woody bits. Decant into another lidded jar (this should make about a 4 cups/1 quart of shrub, if it’s not quite 4 cups, add enough water to fill the quart jar) and refrigerate until ready for use, up to two weeks.

PUNCH! By David Wondrich. Put it on your booze geek reading list today!

PUNCH! By David Wondrich. Put it on your booze geek reading list today!

For booze geeks wanting to explore the delights of historic punch recipes, I highly recommend picking up a copy of David Wondrich’s treatise on the subject, “PUNCH: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl” (Penguin, 2010). Therein he discusses the roots and uses of various recipes for making oleo-saccharum and other alcoholically alchemical wonders. The Repeal Day Punch recipe I made is loosely based on Wondrich’s historic research on the Chatham Artillery Punch, and old Georgia recipe that featured bourbon, rum, brandy mixed with lemon oil and juice in horse buckets.

Full disclosure: the guys at Sugar House Distillery paid me to curate this punch recipe for them. Which I did gladly, since their booze kicks ass and they’re fantastic fellas. -abg

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Smashing Melons

Smashing Melons

Smashing Melons

This summery bourbon-based cocktail’s addition of coarse black sea salt from Hawaii (available online and at specialty stores) rounds out Aperol’s bitter notes and makes watermelon’s sweetness sing.

Smashing Melons

1/4 cup chopped watermelon with juice

½ tsp. sugar

3-4 large basil leaves

½ oz. fresh orange juice

black sea salt

½ oz Aperol

2 oz bourbon

To a cocktail shaker add watermelon, sugar, and basil leaves. Muddle thoroughly. Add two generous handfuls of ice, a big pinch of Hawaiian black sea salt, Aperol, and bourbon. Shake, shake, shake it like a Polaroid picture. Strain into a rocks glass filled with cracked ice. Garnish with a basil leaf and a watermelon wedge sprinkled with more black sea salt.

The story behind the drink….

Chris Panarelli at O.P. Rockwell, downtown Park City, shaking up a lovely Corpse Reviver #2.

Chris Panarelli at O.P. Rockwell, downtown Park City, shaking up a lovely Corpse Reviver #2.

Nothing screams summertime day drinking quite like a fruity cocktail. Especially one made with ubiquitous watermelon and a little hit of bodacious herbaceousness from basil or mint. I recently wrote a piece about using salt in cocktails for Devour Magazine (go check it out! I appreciate the clicks, friends!). I had the great pleasure of hitting some of my favorite SLC hot spots, Undercurrent Bar and Bodega to try what they’ve been mixing up with salt. And up on Main Street in Park City, that hip and moody joint, O.P. Rockwell, I tried a classic gin-forward Corpse Reviver No. 2 prepared brilliantly by barman Chris Panarelli. He graciously added a pinch of salt to the shaker at my request so we could try the original side-by-side with one made by salt to put our salty theories to the test. We liked ‘em both. Inspired by all of this salty sipping, I started working on some re-interpretations of summer favorites, including this kickass watermelon and bourbon cooler.

 

Peach & Basil Bourbon Smash

Peaches & Herb: A Peach-Basil Smash Cocktail

Peaches & Herb: A Peach-Basil Smash Cocktail

Another H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?) from a friend, “I’ve got a sh!tload of peaches.  What to do?”

Well, mix ’em with bourbon, of course!

Make a Peach and Bourbon Smash cocktail, perhaps we’ll call it Peaches & Herb? (Get it? #weareold) Celebrate the end of the week -or just getting through 4th grade homework- with this refreshing seasonal cocktail.

In a cocktail shaker muddle together:

1/2 very ripe peach

4-5 basil leaves

2 tsp honey or agave syrup

Add:

1.5 oz bourbon

0.5 oz Lillet Blanc

and a bunch o’ ice

Shake like crazy & strain into a pretty glass.  Garnish with a peach wedge and sprig of basil.

TGIF!

A Proper (and Improper) Mint Julep

Some people have fancy silver Julep cups passed down through many generations.  I have canning jars.

Some people have fancy silver Julep cups passed down through many generations. I have canning jars.

Towards the end of April I start getting all nostalgic about Kentucky Derby’s of my youth, singing (well, warbling) “My Old Kentucky Home,” and the weeks of debauchery Louisville celebrates leading up to the big day.  I’m getting misty eyed just thinking about it, but my friends here in Utah don’t quite get the appeal.  There’s a lot to love about my adopted mountain state, but a tradition of extended whiskey-soaked revelry is just not one of them.  And don’t y’all EVEN tell me Pioneer Day rallies the same hedonistic enthusiasm.  Just stop it.  Now.

Doesn't every 18 year old go through a phase when they want to be a great travel writer?  I read this the summer between high school and college and it blew my mind.  And gave me all sorts of ideas...

Doesn’t every 18 year old go through a phase when they want to be a great travel writer? I read this the summer between high school and college and it blew my mind. And gave me all sorts of ideas…

What’s Derby like?  Well, if you haven’t already, it’s a moral imperative you read Hunter S. Thompson’s 1970 essay, “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.”  It’s a marvel of sports reporting and travel journalism wrapped up in complete and utter sublime bullshit that stands the test of time more than forty years later.  And it’s Hunter S. Thompson drinking whiskey for three straight days.  See, nothing like Pioneer Day.

My secret to a fantastic Mint Julep?  Don’t kill your mint!  When I see someone grinding mint with a mortar into the bottom of a glass I just cringe.  It makes the mint bitter, and plus all of those little mint pieces invariably get stuck in your teeth and who wants that when you are wearing bright red lipstick and a fabulous hat?  A pert spank will do, instead, if you make minted simple syrup a day in advance.  You’ll love this stuff:  in addition to making superlative Juleps, minted syrup is perfect in Mojitos, iced tea, lemonade, and Arnold Palmers.

Minted Simple Syrup

In a big bowl or quart glass pyrex measure, add 2 cups boiling water to 2 cups granulated sugar.  Mix with a wooden spoon until sugar is completely dissolved.  Meanwhile, place 4-5 big sprigs of fresh mint in a quart-sized Mason or other lidded glass jar.  Once the sugar syrup is cool enough to touch comfortably with your fingers, pour over the mint.  Cool to room temperature, place the lid on the jar, and set in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight.  Remove mint leaves, and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Minted simple syrup.  Boozemongering at it's finest, my friends.  You will use this freakalicious syrup in everything!

Minted simple syrup. Boozemongering at it’s finest, my friends. You will use this freakalicious syrup in everything!

A Proper Mint Julep

2-3 sprigs fresh mint

2 oz. Kentucky Bourbon

2-3 oz. minted simple syrup

“Spank” a sprig of mint between your hands (as if you are clapping), place in the bottom of a chilled silver Julep cup.  Fill the cup to the rim with crushed ice.  Slowly pour over the ice at the same time 2 oz. Kentucky Bourbon and 2-3 oz. minted syrup.  Spank another mint sprig and add as a garnish.  Gently stir the cocktail with a long handled stirrer until combined.

*Julep purists look away now.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you! 

I love making Juleps with Rye whiskey, too.  It gives them a little more bite, and is a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the mint.

How pretty is that?!  The Strawberry Julep is perfect cocktail for a dinner by the grill, backyard bash, or lazy afternoon.

How pretty is that?! The Strawberry Julep is perfect cocktail for a dinner by the grill, backyard bash, or lazy afternoon.

An “Improper” Strawberry Julep

I made this cocktail for my girlfriends who complained that a traditional julep was too strong.  Meaning, they don’t like the taste of bourbon.  Sigh.  Convinced that I could make a bourbon-based cocktail they’d like, I threw this baby together.  Now everybody’s happy.

2 sprigs fresh mint

2 very ripe strawberries (plus an additional one for garnish)

1 ½ oz. bourbon

2 oz. minted simple syrup

Splash of club soda

In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle two small very ripe strawberries until they are smooshy.  Add bourbon and mint syrup, one sprig of mint, and 2-3 cubes of ice.  Shake about 5-6 seconds.  Strain cocktail into a highball glass or Mason jar filled with ice.  Garnish with a sprig of “spanked” mint, a strawberry sliced almost in half to perch on the rim of your glass, and a splash of club soda if desired.

BOOZEMONGERING: Infused Bacon Whiskey

METHOD:  INFUSED BACON WHISKEY (makes 1 quart)

In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, cook 1/2 lb. applewood-smoked bacon until most fat is rendered and bacon is crispy but not burnt.  Try a peppered bacon if you like a snappy flavor.  It’s your infusion, own it baby!

Add bacon drippings to a 1 quart Mason jar (or other wide-mouthed jar with a tight-sealing lid).  Add a strip or two of bacon to the jar, if desired, and reserve the rest of your bacon for another use, like eating right there over the kitchen sink.  Let drippings cool to room temperature before you add your booze.

Add enough Rye Whiskey or Bourbon to fill the jar and cover the bacon (just shy of  4 cups = 32 oz.)

Top shelf pick:  High West Distillery Bou-Rye

Middle shelf:  Bulleit Frontier Rye Whiskey

It’ll do just fine: Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon

I don’t recommend using Scotch or Irish Whiskey for this infusion – the flavors don’t meld well with the smokiness of the bacon and that’s a waste of good booze.

Let this jar sit at room temperature for a day or two, gently swirling the contents every 12 hours or so.  Just before filtering, place the jar in the freezer for about an hour – this will help consolidate the solids.  Filter your booze through a double-layer of cheesecloth, then again through an unbleached coffee filter.  This what my filtering system looks like:

filtering_baconbourbon

Decant into a clean quart jar or scrupulously clean recycled booze bottle.  If well-filtered, this savory concoction will keep at room temperature for 6 months.  In addition to making delicious toddies, smoked bacon whiskey is lovely over an ice cube or two at your next football tailgating party.   Think about it:  Booze.  Bacon.  High impact sporting events.  Perfect.

Nightcap: Smoked Bacon Whiskey Hot Toddy

You’ve shoveled out the drive for the sixth time in four days, and the snow isn’t stopping any time soon.  What makes this Sisyphean task bearable?   Whiskey, of course.   Warm, sweet, spicy, bacon-infused whiskey would be even better, now wouldn’t it?

Perhaps you don’t think you want ??????????????????????????bacon in your hot toddy, but you do.  You really, really do.  In fact, you need a little extra protein with your booze for fortification after copious amounts of snow removal work, my friend.  Forget those insipid honey-lemon concoctions you’ve slurped at overpriced ski resort bars.  Embrace a beverage that warms me to my little red toenails every time, guaranteed.  Savory, rich, voluptuous, and did I mention the bacony goodness?  Layered with hints of cayenne, maple syrup, cinnamon, and orange, it’s almost as good as having your own mountain man on call to shovel out the city snowplow-created blockade at the end of the driveway.   Especially if said mountain man looks like a young Robert Redford.  Remember Jeremiah Johnson?  Bacon.  Redford.  Bourbon.  Mmmm.  Redford doesn’t do it for ya?  How about Jake Gyllenhaal.  Better?  Okay, now repeat.  Mmmmm.

Of course, you can make this toddy using regular rye whiskey or bourbon whisky if you haven’t made your own smoked bacon bourbon yet (recipe: http://wp.me/p3807T-r).   You’ve got that little jar of bacon grease in the back of the fridge – and I know you do! – so melt ¼ teaspoon or so directly into your toddy mug in the microwave for 8-9 seconds before mixing it well into the rest of your ingredients.

I’m making this hot toddy for my hubby, The Macallan, tonight.  My mountain man deserves some protein and sugar in his booze after digging out the compacted snowbank at the end of our driveway.   I may have rammed my truck over it instead of digging the driveway out when I came back with the kids after school this afternoon.  Oops.

SMOKED BACON WHISKEY HOT TODDY

In an 8 oz. mug, muddle together using a cinnamon stick:

1 ½ oz. smoked bacon rye whiskey or bourbon (recipe, below)

1 Tbs. fresh orange juice

2 tsp. real maple syrup

A pinch each of:

cayenne pepper

smoked paprika

sea salt (omit salt if your bacon is really salty)

Pour enough very hot (not boiling) water to fill the mug

Flame an orange zest and drop it and the cinnamon stick into your mug.

Now find a comfy chair, sit back, and watch the snowflakes fly.

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