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Friday Musings: The Whiskey Ginger gets a makeover

Friday Musings: The Whiskey Ginger gets a makeover

There are a number of drinks that I think we all order without giving very much thought to the ingredients that go into them. A vodka club is one, rum and coke is another, a gin and tonic makes 3, and then there’s the whiskey ginger. There’s nothing wrong with any of these drinks. To the contrary, they’re simple, reliable, and inexpensive, and we can ask for them without feeling foolish or pretentious. But can I just interject here and say that they may also be just a little bit… boring, maybe? And that they make us just a

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And this one’s for the whiskey lovers…

And this one’s for the whiskey lovers…

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The third and final cocktail in my lineup for this Friday’s event at Gorshin’s Trading Post in Haddonfield had to be a whiskey drink. After all, I’d already covered my other bases with a somewhat sour cocktail that features a vinegar shrub, and a decidedly sweet drink that is like a liquid candy cane. It would be terribly remiss of me not to show my whiskey fans some love with a holiday cocktail made just for them!

I knew that I wanted a riff on an Old-fashioned that had a flavor profile that immediately made me think of Christmas. That could be summed up in one word for me: Chai! I tried several different variations of a Chai simple syrup (all using different sweeteners) before I landed on the one that wanted to use. Regular white sugar didn’t have quite enough depth for me, and honey and agave seemed too syrupy, so I decided on turbinado sugar, also known as Sugar in the Raw. I had my sweetener; now I just needed to come up with the bitters part of the equation. I normally use just aromatic bitters in an Old-fashioned, but I knew that there would have to be more in this drink so I chose to add a dash of orange and a dash of cardamom to complement and enhance the chai spice flavors. That gave me exactly what I was looking for. I stuck with the traditional orange peel garnish and also added star anise. It’s one of the Chai spices and it’s always visually appealing in cocktail. With all that being said, when I actually tasted the drink it wasn’t quite right. It needed more snap, more of something that would take the spice flavor to the next level but not overwhelm the bourbon. After some trial and error, Ancho Reyes chili liqueur was the answer. It added just the thing that was missing, and when I tasted it again I knew I had the cocktail exactly where I wanted it to be!

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Holiday Spiced Old-fashioned

2 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
¾ oz Ancho Reyes chili liqueur
¼ oz Chai simple syrup*
1 dash aromatic bitters
1 dash cardamom bitters
1 dash orange bitters
Orange peel and star anise for garnishing

Combine all the ingredients except the garnishes in a mixing glass and fill 2/3 full with ice. Stir using a long-handled bar spoon until very cold (about 45 seconds). Strain using a julep strainer and pour into an old-fashioned glass, preferably over 1 large cube. Express the orange peel over the drink. Garnish and enjoy!

*To make the chai simple syrup steep 3 chai tea bags in 1/2 cup boiling water for 5 minutes. Add 1/3 cup turbinado sugar and stir until it dissolves. Let cool before using. The syrup will stay in the fridge for about a month.

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Friday Musings: A Tale of Two Whiskies

Friday Musings: A Tale of Two Whiskies

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” This is the line that begins Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and, unfortunately, it perfectly describes the way many people are feeling as they consider their future after Tuesday’s election. While it remains true that we have very little choice here but to move on and unify as a country, I’m of the mindset that we will all need some time to personally grieve a considerable loss. We’ve spent the last 8 years under the leadership of a man who possessed great vision and who conducted himself with tremendous grace and integrity. Those of us who have been working all along to create homes that are full of tolerance and acceptance, so that our children would grow up without bigotry or prejudice, found an ally and an example in the highest office in the land. We saw the Supreme Court legalize gay marriage and watched the first woman become a presidential candidate, two events that not very long ago were considered highly unlikely, if not impossible. We believed that our hearts and minds were expanding, and we allowed ourselves to consider the idea that we were finally becoming incapable of feeling hatred for a fellow human being. We were moving towards equality, even if we still had a long way to go. We were living under an umbrella of hope. And now, especially in light of what has happened in just the past two days, we are fearful of the possibility that we may move backwards again, that we may lose ground, and that all of our hard work may come undone. We face what could be a considerable fight ahead to maintain the progress we’ve made, to keep ourselves open and accepting, and to never allow hatred to find it’s way back into our words, our actions, or our hearts. So take the time you need to grieve. And then get ready to fight to hold onto the world that you believe in right now, the world that you know we’re capable of creating. Hold it close and hold it tight. Refuse to let it be taken from you.

I’d really like to end this post here because a cocktail recipe seems incredibly trivial after all that, but this is a cocktail blog and that’s what I’m supposed to be writing about. For today’s drink I chose something from a bar/nightclub in New York called EVR that has since closed. The reason why I chose this particular recipe is because it brings in a number of rather different ingredients that work together, but still remain assertive in their own surprising way. Jameson’s Irish whiskey and Laphroaig 10-year-old Scotch form the basis of the drink, with just a bit of Pimm’s No. 1 added in. Lime juice and agave nectar are combined together to make a sour mix and there’s a healthy amount of bitters thrown in as well. The recipe called for aromatic bitters, but I chose to go with DRAM black bitters because they have a darker, more complex flavor that I thought would work particularly well with the Scotch. The name was listed as EVR’s Whiskey Sour, but I thought we could do better than that. Let’s hope that we can all find a peaceful union again just like the different elements in this cocktail, without relinquishing the ideas of love, fairness, and equality we’ve come to embrace and expect over the last 8 years.twowhiskies2

A Tale of Two Whiskies (adapted from EVR’s Whiskey Sour)

For the Agave Sour Mix:
2 ounces fresh juice from about 2 limes
1 ounce agave nectar

For the cocktail:
1 1/2 ounces Jameson Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce Laphroaig single malt Scotch
1/4 ounce Pimm’s
1 ounce Agave Sour mix
3 dashes DRAM black bitters or any other aromatic bitters
Garnish: orange twist

Mix the lime juice and the agave nectar together to make the sour mix. Place all the other ingredients (including 1 oz of the sour mix ) in the bottom of a metal shaking tin. Add your 1 large cube and 2 small (or regular ice if you don’t have the larger format cubes) and shake for 15-20 seconds or until cold. Double strain using a Hawthorne strainer and a mesh strainer into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist. Enjoy.

Have a good weekend everyone.

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