As I’ve mentioned before, coming up with my own cocktails has a tendency to make me very introspective. I’m not entirely sure why this happens; it just seems to be part of the creative process for me. When I get introspective, I start thinking about books that I’ve read and the ways in which they’ve given me insight into my life. As I was making today’s cocktail, a book from this past summer called The Slippage by Ben Greenman popped into my head. I remember wondering what the title meant and whether or not it had anything to do with the idea of a slippery slope. According to Greenman, the answer is an emphatic no. He defines the idea of the slippage as that “moment when you start to lose your footing.” We can all relate to this, right? We’ve all had those instances in our lives, whether they were in relationships, or jobs, or situations where we knew exactly when we’d taken one step too far and suddenly the ground underneath us felt uncertain. Let’s hold that thought for a minute.
The main spirit in today’s cocktail is a single malt whiskey from Red Brick Distillery in Kensington, another one of the distilleries being featured during Philly Craft Spirits Week. Some of you may be familiar with the term “single malt” and may associate it with whisky made in Scotland, otherwise known as Scotch. You would be correct in thinking this, however the guidelines for how single malt whiskey is supposed to be made here in the U.S. are not the same and this results in a very different product. In both countries single malt whiskey must be made from at least 51% barley. Where the difference comes in is in how the final product is stored. Here in the U.S. aging must take place in charred new oak containers, whereas in Scotland the containers do not have to be new. This seemingly subtle difference completely changes the final result, and we end up with a whiskey that has the strong caramel and spice flavors and bit of a bite that come from new wood, as well as some definite chocolate undertones too. These chocolate notes seem to be universal to American single malts and they helped me to determine the direction in which I wanted to take this cocktail.
I’d recently seen a product called Dave’s Coffee Syrup at Gorshin Trading Post right here in Haddonfield and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to use it in a cocktail. I also knew that I wanted to include sweet vermouth because of how well it works with Scotch whisky in a Rob Roy. I chose Punt E Mes in particular because I needed a more bitter component to offset the sweetness of the syrup. Finally I added both chocolate and orange bitters and garnished it with an orange slice. The end result was truly something else. I don’t like to say that about cocktails I create, but I’m comfortable here because I think it has more to do with the ingredients in the drink rather than with the person creating it. You have the warm bite of Red Brick’s wonderful whiskey that pairs up with the bitter richness of the vermouth and the sweetness of the coffee syrup, all rounded out by the chocolate and the orange. I called this cocktail The Slippage because I knew it was one of those drinks that would go down very easily. One too many of these and we’d have no trouble understanding exactly what Ben Greenman was talking about!
2 oz Red Brick Distillery Single Malt Whiskey
1/2 oz Punt E Mes sweet vermouth
1/4 oz Dave’s Coffee Syrup*
1 dash chocolate bitters
1 dash orange bitters
1 orange peel twist for garnishing
Place all the ingredients except for the orange peel into a mixing glass and fill 2/3 full with ice. Stir with a long handled bar spoon until very cold (about 30 – 45 seconds). Strain using a julep strainer, and pour over 1 large cube into an old-fashioned glass. Twist the orange peel over the drink to express some of the oils and then rub it along the rim of the glass before dropping it in. Enjoy!
*If you’d like an even sweeter version of this drink, you can take this measurement up to a 1/2 oz.
Be sure to stop back tomorrow when J. Christine Lamb will be guest blogging for the Friday Musings post! Christine is the Beverage Manager and Special Events Coordinator for Charlie was a sinner in Philadelphia, and is an all-around awesome person. She created their amazing “Women in Love” cocktail featuring Bluecoat Gin, which is also a Philadelphia local spirit. “Women in Love” is one of Charlie’s best drinks and my absolute favorite!