Serendipity: Holiday Spirit
Provided to KLAFFS exclusively by Serendipity magazine
Bourbon’s a perfect cold-weather cocktail maker or sipping liquor. Drink it neat or whip up one of these four simple mixed drinks for Thanksgiving or your next dinner party.
In the mixology world, summer is associated with clear spirits, like gin and vodka, but by the time fall rolls around, people start leaning towards darker spirits—the most popular, perhaps, being bourbon. “There is an inherent warming feeling about whiskey, and especially American whiskey, like bourbon,” says master bartender Adam Patrick Kindilien of The Loft Martini Lounge in South Norwalk, CT. “There’s an inherent spiciness but also a touch of sweetness. There’s vanilla, clove, pepper, nutmeg and a host of flavors that work so well with the cold New England weather.” Here are the five things Kindilien says should be in any bourbon primer:
Real bourbon is always “Made in America”
In general, “whiskey” refers to a grain distillate that retains the flavor of that grain, explains Kindilien. Whiskeys like scotch (made in Scotland) adhere to specifications set to their country of origin. In this case, bourbon conforms to U.S. law and can’t be made outside of the 50 states, must be at least 51 percent comprised of corn and aged in a charred oak barrel that hasn’t been used before. If it’s labeled as “straight” bourbon, it’s been aged for more than two years. If it’s labeled as “blended” bourbon, it can be aged for as little as three months and can have added coloring and flavoring but will be at least 51 percent straight bourbon.
Old Weller Antique 107 and Elijah Craig
Old Grand-Dad 114 Proof, Evan Williams and Wild Turkey Rare Breed
It’s winter in a glass
Most bourbon has notes of caramel, vanilla, orange and winter spice, says Kindilien. “Almost all of bourbon’s flavor comes from the new charred oak barrels that it’s aged in. Almost none comes from the distillate itself.”
You can drink it your way
If you’re an experienced bourbon drinker or prefer your hard alcohol neat, you may want to simply try different varieties. “The drinker can then choose to add either room temperature water, or ice until they enjoy the flavor,” says Kindilien. However, if you’re sampling the spirit for the first time and maybe aren’t someone who generally drinks alcohol straight, you may want it mixed with something. “In this case, I’d suggest moving into cocktail territory,” says Kindilien.
It’s surprisingly versatile
Vodka may be the most universal mixer in the cocktail world, but bourbon is suited to a variety of sips, both stirred and shaken. The best way to figure out how you like to drink bourbon or find your next favorite cocktail is to try them out, at home or with a knowledgeable bartender. “I’m looking to know if the customer wants a spirit-forward cocktail or a lighter, more refreshing, citrus-based drink. And then we move forward from there,” says Kindilien.
Money doesn’t necessarily buy a better bourbon
With wine, paying a premium usually (although not always) buys you a better bottle of vino, and Kindilien says the same holds true with scotch, tequila and even rum—but not bourbon. “I sincerely believe that if you’re paying more than $50 for a bottle of bourbon, you are wasting your money,” says Kindilien. Even at a bar, spending more than around $20 a shot “is pretty much ridiculous,” he says.
2 ounces bourbon
.75 ounces lemon juice
.75 ounces simple syrup
Shake with ice, then double strain into a chilled sours glass.
Garnish with a cherry and a lemon peel.
(created by Adam Patrick Kindilien)
2 ounces Elijah Craig bourbon
.25 ounces honey syrup (1-to-1 honey and water)
.25 ounces St. Elizabeth allspice dram
6 to 8 dashes Bar Keep apple bitters
3 dashes The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Own Decanter Bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir with ice, then strain over a large ice cube.
Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
1 ounce bourbon
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
Stir with ice, then strain into a chilled coupe.
Garnish with an orange peel.
2 ounces bourbon
.5 ounces 1-to-1 simple syrup
4 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir over ice.
Garnish with a cherry and an orange peel.
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