Archive for the ‘Boston’ Category

Review: Bully Boy American Straight Whiskey

The first of the Bully Boy aged spirits. FINALLY.

Now I get to take you to whiskey school. You might learn something.
Plus, how awesome does “whiskey school” sound?



So. Bully Boy’s American Straight Whiskey. It’s a small-batch craft whiskey coming out of Boston by (very tall) distillers Will and Dave Willis. This one has been aging for about two years and change, and is an entirely different recipe from their White Wheat Whiskey. Dark blue label this time, and a taller, longer-necked bottle in contrast to their stubbier apothecary-like containers for the regular lineup. Instantly you know this is a different type of product, though the Bully Boy logo is just as recognizable in white rather than black ink. Let’s break down the name: American Straight Whiskey. It’s produced in America (well, Massachusetts, which can be very un-American at times YES I’M TALKING ABOUT YOUR RESTRICTIVE LIQUOR LAWS AND LACK OF HAPPY HOUR). Here’s the fun part… it’s a Straight Whiskey. There’s a number of important regulations that go with this designation, so you know what you’re getting. Like the term “bottled-in-bond,” it’s a guarantee from the government.

review-BBASW_label1) It has to be made from cereal grain.
The Bully Boys are using a mash bill that’s roughly 45% corn, 45% rye, and 10% barley. Somewhere in there.

2) Coming off of the still, you can’t exceed 80% abv/ 160 proof, and can’t exceed 62.5% abv/ 125 proof going into the barrel for aging.

3) Must be aged for at least two years in charred new American Oak barrels. Check.

4) No additives (like caramel coloring). Check.

5) Once it’s done aging, you can filter it (this one is not chill filtered) and dilute it down to no less than 40% abv/ 80 proof. We’re at 84 proof here, so no problem there.

6) IF you wanted to call a whiskey a “straight bourbon” (like Makers Mark) or a “straight rye” (like Bulleit Rye), you need 51% of the predominant cereal grain in the mash bill (51% corn for bourbon or 51% rye for rye). Bully Boy is split pretty evenly on the corn/rye line, so it’s neither a bourbon, nor a rye by definition. It’s simply a straight whiskey.

There you go. Lesson over.

Back in November I drove down to Boston to attend the official launch party of Bully Boy ASW at the Blue Room in Kendall Square. Will and Dave were both there boozing and schmoozing, and I was mistaken for (and narrowly missed meeting in person) Will Gordon, a like-minded writer and imbiber of various intoxicating beverages. The event was a blast, and I got my first taste of the ASW. Very tasty. The BBoys were also gracious enough to donate a bottle (Batch 1, Bottle 211) for an official SquirrelFarts review, so let’s get to it.


Though there were two cocktail options at the launch party, I went for a sample served neat – whiskey in glass. No water, no ice. We’ll start the almost the same way here, but with a few drops of water added.

review-BBASW_neatNose: Caramel. Lots of caramel. Sweet. A slight cinnamon/nutmeg spice. Vanilla. Fruit. Cherry, plum and even fig. Dark syrup, like maple syrup without the maple. There’s a heat from the alcohol that singes a touch… don’t inhale TOO deeply.

Taste: Bitter, with a spicy snap right from the start. There’s a rounded sweetness that helps in the middle, and a nice wash of boozy heat that leaves the gums tingling. A dry oaky finish, and snappy rye spice overall. It leaves your mouth a bit parched and thirsty for more.

My initial reaction at the party was that it nosed like a bourbon, but tasted like a rye. That’s the story I’m sticking with here. It’s kind of both styles in one whiskey with the corn sweet and the bitter rye spice. Given the mash bill, that makes sense.

I really like it.
Shocking, I know.
I’m not as big a fan of the White Whiskey (the Belgian-like banana/ clove throws me off a bit) but this is MUCH more to my liking. It really is a good split of bourbon versus rye all in the same spirit. I need a cocktail that will work equally well with both styles. This calls for a MANHATTAN.

Like I need an excuse for a Manhattan.

review-BBASW_manhattanBully Boy ASW Manhattan
Nothing fancy here, no tricks. Just a normal Manhattan. I like mine at 2:1

– 3 oz Bully Boy ASW
– 1.5 oz sweet vermouth
– 2 dashes Angostura bitters

For the love of Bacchus STIR IT. All spirit here, no need for shaking. Serve in a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

This is my normal Manhattan recipe to give the BB ASW a fair trial. I like mine at a reasonable 2:1 ratio, with a homemade cocktail cherry. I’m sticking to Angostura here so the whiskey isn’t competing with the other ingredients.

Nose: Rounded and smooth. It’s almost got an herbal touch, like oregano. Yeah, I know that’s really strange, but whatevs. My bar, my blog. I think what does it is the mixture of fruity/winey vermouth and the spicy/sweet whiskey, with the Angostura butting in its cinnamon bark tinctures. There’s an almost savory quality as a result, redolent of marinara sauce. Is my nose misfiring? Is that a thing? The whiskey character IS there, but it’s taken on a much more subdued, languished savory sensation.

Taste: We’re back to normal in the flavor. Once again, the drink starts off with a nice bitter snap, followed by a sweet corn just before the dark grape syrup of the vermouth comes in. The finish is dry, spicy, and warming, and it’s hard to separate the contributions of the Angostura from the rye spice.

I rather like it, but it’s different from many other whiskies. That herbal aroma is really freaking me out, but the taste is right where it should be.

I just had to try this one again. There was such an odd aroma profile that I went back and made another Manhattan, this time eliminating such variables as my (past prime?) cocktail cherry, and with a fresh bottle of vermouth. Just in case. This time we’re going with a scotch tasting glass (dome-shaped rocks glass, not a Glencairn) to funnel those aromas down and see what the results are.

Nose: Much more normal from what I’d expect in a Manhattan, but STILL verging on the herbal spice. Craziness. It’s much more subdued than in the original test, and there are wider sensations of rye spice, cinnamon, syrupy grape, dry wood and/or sawdust, and yet, Italian spices. Oregano, basil. It’s not a BAD thing, just very unusual. Somebody in here (corn, barley, vermouth, Angostura… I’m looking at YOU rye) is fooling around. Weird, but neat.

Taste: As before, the taste is much more in line with a normal Manhattan. Dry spicy start, quick rounded sweetness before a warm wave of alcohol; grapey syrup gives way to a crisp arid finish, with a rye bitter mingled into the Angostura dark bark spice. Not as sweet as a bourbon, not as spicy as a rye, but somewhere in between. Lovely.

Overall I’d lean towards using this one in spirit-forward mixes due to its unique nature. It’s not quite bourbon, it’s not quite rye, but it’s very tasty. It’s got the best of both going on, and would make a fantastic Old Fashioned. Try it neat to see the duality of the mash bill before you mix it into other concoctions. Sure, I’m biased towards Bully Boy, but they keep making good products. Go snag this one. Here’s where you can find it (pdf).

For our Bully Boy rum review click here: Bully Boy Rum
For our Bully Boy vodka review click here: Bully Boy Vodka
For our Bully Boy white whiskey review click here: Bully Boy White Whiskey
For our visit to the Bully Boy distillery click here: Bully Boy Distillery

Squirrel Farts is now accepting solicited product reviews! Send me a bottle and I’ll take a pretty picture and talk it up in the amusing tangential manner you’ve come to expect. Beer, spirits, mixers, whatever. Contact here for details. Note: I will mention that the review was solicited, hell, I’ll even brag about it. Free booze? Damn right. But The Man says I have to say I got it for freebies. I’m excited about free stuff, so whatever. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ll like it, or that I’ll give it a good review. But chances are if you read this blog, then we’ll get along. Put it to the test: send me your booze!

Review: Mayflower 5th Anniversary DIPA

Remember how I used to write this blog thing?
Yeah, me too.
I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, which was unexpected, but not entirely unproductive. Lots of content built up, so expect some new posts.

In the meantime, Mayflower.

Since posting this review and trekking to Plymouth, I discovered that there IS still some of this beer left. As of 5/18, Pioppi’s in Plymouth still had several bombers on the shelf (minus the one we snagged.)


This one I’ve been meaning to get to for awhile. The Lady Friend and I took a trip down to Mayflower Brewery in Plymouth earlier in the year to snag a bottle of their limited bottling: the Mayflower 5th Anniversary Ale, a double IPA clocking in at 8.2%. I wanted it. Badly. Loin-achingly. But there weren’t many bottles left, and we couldn’t get down to Ply-town for a few weekends. Calamity! Fortunately, a friend of mine at the brewery, Sarah, (Hi Sarah! Well, say hello! Oh, quit hiding… wave to the internetz peoplez! OH NOW COME ON. That gesture was just plain rude. Fine. I’ll have to post that picture where you wanted me to put Vin Diesel’s face on you.)


Exhibit A.

That escalated quickly.

mayflower-lobsterAnyway, Sarah – who really is awesome – snagged me a bottle and hid it until we got down there. They had also just changed over to their Spring Hop seasonal, which is mighty tasty, so naturally we stayed for a round of sampling. It’s never too hard to convince us to stay for a sample or ten, especially when the seasonals have just switched over. Om nom nom Spring Hop.

Since then, the anniversary brew has been unintentionally aging in my beer fridge. I didn’t mean to, but it just sort of happened. I wanted to save it and savor it rather than pound it down and move on to the next beer. But now, I’m getting back the blogging, and leading off with this tasty brew. Coincidence? Not entirely. Mayflower is hosting their annual Open House (open brewery?) this weekend, May 18th from 11a-4p. $10 a head at the door gets you free beer, good fun, sporadic brewery tours (I may have led a semi-sober tour for my friends last year), music and food. Details here. For the Lady Friend and I, this will be our third consecutive open house, and we’re even trekking down from the frozen tundra of Maine, so you know it’s a good time. It also serves as the release party for their summer seasonal, the Summer Rye Ale.

Details again:
Saturday, May 18th, 11am – 4pm
Mayflower Brewery
12 Resnik Road, Plymouth, MA

Anyway. Let’s get to the tasting.



Nose: Ooooh hoppy. But you knew that was coming. Fresh, clean, open hops. Slightly syrupy. Citrus orange and lemon, with a darker pine spruce. Almost sugary, like maple sugar candy but without the maple. So, just sugar candy then? Yeah, I guess. Whatever, I’ve been drinking. What’s your excuse? Rich malty back gluing the works together. Very promising.

review-mayflower5thDIPAbeerTaste: Smooth, easy carbonic. Orange citrus sweetness with a blue spruce sour. Not that it’s sour, but it’s not a sharp, stinging bitter snap. More like a counterpoint to the lighter aspects of the hop. Rounded overall… not as dry as an East Coast, but not as sweet as a West Coast, though I’d say that this is probably the most West Coast style I’ve tasted from Mayflower. The malt syrup oozes in the background like a lazy meandering stream in no particular hurry. While the hop boats on top shoot the rapids from sweet to tart to round bitter, the malt mud on the bottom lies undisturbed, providing a foundation for the rest of the flavors to float on. The smoothness of the carbonic is also lovely; a creamy mouthfeel closer to a nitrogenated sensation rather than big brassy bubbles of bitter stings. Butterflies, not bees.

To be fair, I let this one age a bit in my beer fridge. In theory, this could account for a mellower hop presence and even a smoother carbonation, though that is not as likely without a leak in the cap.

Here’s what the Lady Friend had to say:
review-mayflower5thDIPAdetailNose: “I smell that yummy tree fruit. I also think it smells a little malty. I wonder if that would have been different if we smelled it when it was fresh. Almost has a little apple juice – I think that’s the malt.”

Taste:It’s good. [How profound.]
“It’s very good. [How very profound.]
“It’s got some sharp bitter hop taste, still get some of that tree fruit. It’s very good. Still a little malty, but it’s well-balanced. And that’s it.”

You heard the lady. It’s good. It’s very good.
Actually, I quite agree.

Squirrel Farts is now accepting solicited product reviews! Send me a bottle and I’ll take a pretty picture and talk it up in the amusing tangential manner you’ve come to expect. Beer, spirits, mixers, whatever. Contact here for details. Note: I will mention that the review was solicited, hell, I’ll even brag about it. Free booze? Damn right. But The Man says I have to say I got it for freebies. I’m excited about free stuff, so whatever. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ll like it, or that I’ll give it a good review. But chances are if you read this blog, then we’ll get along. Put it to the test: send me your booze!

Review: Why BLATANT beer is awesome and you should buy some.

I certainly hope you’ve heard of Blatant Beer by now.

If not, prepare for a trip to the liquor store.

BLATANT! Brewery is the ale-producing offspring of brewer/owner Matthew Steinberg, Massachusetts brewing legend. He’s been involved with breweries such as Offshore Ale, Harpoon, Rapscallion, and helped Drew Brousseau with his startup brewery, Mayflower. He left Mayflower in 2010, and decided to finally start his own brewery, though as a contract brewer without his own facilities. He’s since brewed at Just Beer in Westport, and Paper City in Holyoke. Steinberg sees nothing wrong with the stigma of contract brewing (brewing your own beer in someone else’s brewery, or even having them brew it FOR you with your recipe) but strongly advocates growing the local beer community. He and I actually seem to share a lot of similar views when it comes to beer, and Honest Pint has a GREAT interview with him here. But I want to talk about the beer.

Last summer I bought myself a bomber of a boldly graphic-ed local IPA called Blatant and was blown away. It was a true American-style IPA, combining the best of East Coast dry bitterness and West Coast sweetness. Absolutely incredible. So I gushed about it to anyone who would listen, and may have called the brewer “a magnificent bastard” on Twitter after downing 22oz of his 6.5% abv hoppy wonderfulness. He actually responded, and after some bantering and an exchange of emails, I finally got to meet up with the man himself, Matthew Steinberg. He had a couple tastings scheduled in Cambridge, and suggested that I stop by. So I did.

This is a man who knows his beer. And is excited about it. Very. In fact, he’ll talk your ear off about beer, which is kind of awesome. During our chat, in between sample pours to curious shoppers, he described his beer as being “a brand without branding appeal.” He wants the beer itself to be the important part, rather than the label. Curious, as I find the simple graphic very eye-catching and appealing. He was pouring samples of his two beers: the aforementioned IPA (which was in such short supply at the time due to wild demand he had to score some bombers from a friend’s stash) and his Session Ale.


A session ale is a low(er) alcohol beer designed to be tasty, yet, well, sessionable. Depending on who you ask, a session beer has no more than 4/ 4.5/ 5% abv, so in theory you could drink many of them in a session without getting smashed. After the arms-race of insanely hopped high-alcohol double/Imperial/triple ales coming from the West Coast the past several years, the pendulum is swinging in the other direction: session ales, a notable local example being Chris Lohring’s Notch Brewing, with no beer over 4.5% abv. Among brewers, it’s said that a true test of a brewer is to make a flavorful yet low alcohol beer, as it takes more attention to detail and craft. Blatant took the challenge, and Steinberg was kind enough to give me a bottle to sample (and a pint glass!).

Well, it’s got a lovely amber glow, and a nice thick head that dissapates slowly. The nose is certainly hoppy, but very pleasing. It smells like an IPA or strong pale ale, with sweet spruce pine, a darker, resinous sap, and a slight undercurrent of overripe tree fruit. There’s a touch of cereal grain in there, like the first whiff of a fresh box of Cheerios, but it’s blown away by the hoppy delightfulness. Let’s have a taste.

Oh wow.

Let’s have another taste.

Ok. I can type now. It’s certainly a flavorful beer. The malt is MUCH more apparent in the flavor, with a nice barley cereal flavor and a good dose of toastiness, though not to the level of a brown ale or stout. Toasted not roasted. A little bit of metallic sharpness, again from the malt, and some hop bitterness in there, dry and powdery, like a good East Coast style, which itself borrows from English style ales. It’s very reminiscent of Mayflower’s Pale Ale, with a bitter dry hop and solid malt back. This is maltier, however, though not in a caramel-syrupy-sweet-mess, but rather clean and breakfast-like. Good solid grain. Liquid bread. It starts hoppy, moves to the lovely grain in the mids, and finishes with a mix of both. Smooth, incredibly tasty, and still under 4% abv.

It’s pretty amazing. You don’t get beers like this from amateurs, and Steinberg is one of the Massachusetts pros, having worked in the brewing industry for the past 15 or so years. It’s hard to believe this brew clocks in at 3.8%… the flavor would have you thinking it’s at least 5% abv. A fantastic session ale. The IPA blew my socks off, but the session ale shows what a true crafted beer is. I wouldn’t waste time with a low-alcohol beer if it weren’t phenomenal. Go get some.

Squirrel Farts is now accepting solicited product reviews! Send me a bottle and I’ll take a pretty picture and talk it up in the amusing tangential manner you’ve come to expect. Beer, spirits, mixers, whatever. Contact here for details. Note: I will mention that the review was solicited, hell, I’ll even brag about it. Free booze? Damn right. But The Man says I have to say I got it for freebies. I’m excited about free stuff, so whatever. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ll like it, or that I’ll give it a good review. But chances are if you read this blog, then we’ll get along. Put it to the test: send me your booze!

Review: GTD Wire Works American Gin

One of the benefits of being a drink blogger, is that you occasionally get some free samples sent your way. In fact, that was the whole reason I started this blog; I saw other bloggers getting stuff to review, and I got jealous. Then I decided since I was doing all this drinking anyway, I may as well write about it too. Turns out, if you do a decent job writing about it, you too can get some booze! So, on my visit to Grand Ten Distilling in South Boston, after being blown away by their gin, Wire Works, I hoped that Spencer and Matt were kind enough to toss a sample my way so I could tell everyone how awesome it is. And they did, because they rule.

Now, you might be thinking “Well, SquirrelFarts is a biased jerkface. Of course he’ll say it’s awesome, if they gave him some for free.” Well, yes and no. I don’t have to be objective, because I’m a blogger, not a reporter (and let’s face it, reporters and the “news” aren’t exactly objective these days). But I try to be objective because I love booze, and want you to love it too. So I won’t tell you something is awesome when it’s not.

Trust me on this one: Wire Works is awesome.

Fire makes it awesomer.

Now here comes the reasoning. Gin is not my drink of choice. I’ll happily slurp a Manhattan, but shudder at a Martini. I’ve grown quite accustomed to Negronis, and a Tom Collins on a hot summer morning, but gin in generally isn’t what I first think of for a cocktail. My opinions changed somewhat when I discovered Rehorst Premium Milwaukee Gin from Great Lakes Distillery. Theirs is an “American” style gin, which means they ease off on the juniper/pine taste and let some of the other botanicals shine through. It’s a much easier style to jump into for a non gin-drinker, and I thought it was fantastic.

Grand Ten’s Wire Works is also branded as an American gin. While tasting at the distillery, I was given samples of Beefeater London Dry and Tanqueray along with my Wire Works sample. The two British offerings were big one-two punches of juniper and alcohol, while the Wire Works was MUCH smoother. I was amazed. It was right up there with Rehorst as a gin even I could enjoy.

So here’s the vitals: it’s an American gin, which means not too much juniper. There aren’t any ingredients that are terribly unique (Rehorst, for example, uses Wisconsin ginseng and sweet basil in their botanicals) but an interesting addition is the use of cranberries, not for flavor, but for mouthfeel. The acidity of the cranberries gives it a smoother coating effect in your mouth, though not overly cloying like syrup. It’s 45% abv/ 90 proof, though you’d never guess from the taste. Again, those big London Drys are all juniper and booze in their attack, even if they’re lower proof. The Wire Works name comes from the history of the distillery building, which was formerly the South Boston Iron Company, and the spectacle of the wire being produced with showers of sparks and molten metal was quite a tourist attraction back in the day. GTD prefers to brand their spirits uniquely, each having a purpose behind the name, rather than just “we’re GrandTen, and here’s our gin.”

The label isn’t too boastful with the fact that it’s from Boston, but it is mentioned on the front, along with all those exciting craft spirit terms. “Small Batch” and “Distilled from Grain” are on there, and “Handcrafted in Copper,” reinforced by the metallic copper stripe and accents on the label itself, a beautiful touch from a print nerd point of view. The paper bottle seal depicts a spool of wire on the top, and the back label tells a short blurb of the gin’s history, and it’s intended audience. Overall, it’s an elegant, old-timey stylized label that fits very nicely with the past they’re connecting to.

But you don’t care what it looks like. You want to know how it tastes. Ok, fine.

Tasted neat, at room temperature, which today happens to be like 80. Ugh.

Nose: I’ve had a taste poured while I wrote the preceding paragraphs, and keep catching wafts of sweet pine. It’s not an overwhelming sensation of Pine-Sol, as I’d get from a big London Dry, but rather sweet and smooth. A more focused sniff does get the juniper pine in the nostrils, but very smooth, very refined, and a bit spicier. There’s certainly citrus in there, and a light selection of spices, though I’d be buggered to tell you exactly what they are. There’s almost a bark in there, though not quite cinnamon. Just the fact that I can notice other aromas other than the juniper makes this much more appealing to me. There’s a touch of heat from the alcohol, but again, but more subdued than it’s counterparts from across the Pond. The key words here are sweet and smooth.

Taste: Initial sensation of warmth, but not too much of a burn. Sweet, sprucy pine, spicy but not TOO piney, then lemon. There are some darker spices in there that swirl beneath the citrus, and the mouth-coating effect helps ease the alcohol burn, which is still milder than expected. It finishes with a dry sensation, but not in an alcoholic way, rather… what’s the opposite of thirst-quenching? It literally dries your mouth, and makes you thirsty for more. Again, the pine flavor lingers, though it’s a different sort of pine, spruce versus fir, dry and powdery, not sickly and fake. Christmas in a quiet New England town, rather than Times Square.
For a second taste, I dripped a few drops of cold water into the spirit, just to see if it would open up a bit more. The aroma certainly sprang forward with renewed fervor, a mixture of fresh dark evergreen and penny-candy sweetness. The citrus leapt to the forefront in the taste, though the pine was quick to follow. An even milder burn, and a strange tongue-tingling sensation, almost numbing the mouth in a pleasing way. It really does stick in your mouth, though again, not like syrup, but rather like a very small man has carefully painted the inside of your maw with it. See also, Burt Dow.

The Lady Friend had been dying for me to crack the bottle after the photography was done. She took a whiff of the sample I poured and said “Smells like juniper.” Well, yes, that’s sort of the point. It is gin after all. As she continued to sniff, she did pick up on a sweetness underneath. “Honey? Vanilla?” I then brought over a bottle of Bombay London Dry to compare aromas, which is much more of a juniper bomb than the Wire Works. She tasted the GTD bottling, and didn’t even make her customary “gin face” of furrowed brow, wrinkled nose and grimaced pout. “A world of difference from the Bombay. It still had the juniper, but with sweet notes that made it a lot more palatable.”

So, naturally, we’ve got to try this one in a cocktail. Luckily, I found this posted on GrandTen’s Facebook wall: “We sponsored the Karma Loop party last night at their HQ near the park. Lots of happy customers. The custom Wire Works Old Fashioned we were making was flying off the table.” Sounds good to me.

The Wire Works Old Fashioned
Courtesy of GrandTen Distilling. More GTD drink recipes here.

– 2 oz Wire Works American Gin
– 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
– 1/2 oz simple syrup
– Dash of bitters (Used Fee Bros Orange)

Shake and serve on ice. I went with an Old Fashioned glass. Naturally.

The nose is very smooth and with subtle gin aromas. Light juniper with a lime citrus, much as can be expected. The taste is also… quite smooth. Nice gin piney sensation with lime tart, then gives way to the orange notes and a dry semi-bitter finish. Very nice. This is a new contender for a late summer afternoon porch drink, the new G&T. Refreshing and tasty. A big London Dry would overwhelm the sweetened lime juice, but with this milder American gin, it’s quite lovely.

The Lady Friend tried a sip and proclaimed it “Pretty good. I feel like the gin/juniper taste is dulled down in this. Maybe the lime tart and simple syrup… I like it. Very well-balanced, not too far on the gin side, not too sweet, not too tart. It’s basically a Daiquiri but with gin.”

So. Go get some Wire Works. Seriously. It’s my new go-to gin. You can find it at these places if you live in Boston. If you don’t, it’s worth the trip to grab some. Do it.

Squirrel Farts is now accepting solicited product reviews! Send me a bottle and I’ll take a pretty picture and talk it up in the amusing tangential manner you’ve come to expect. Beer, spirits, mixers, whatever. Contact here for details. Note: I will mention that the review was solicited, hell, I’ll even brag about it. Free booze? Damn right. But The Man says I have to say I got it for freebies. I’m excited about free stuff, so whatever. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ll like it, or that I’ll give it a good review. But chances are if you read this blog, then we’ll get along. Put it to the test: send me your booze!

Rule 37: The Flying Tigre Coctel

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.

It’s been a hectic week. And like six thousand degrees out.

Lord, beer me strength.

But for now, a cocktail will do just fine. The Lady Friend tracked this one down. I’ve been working with a limited liquor palette due to a relocation of my bar and other worldly posessions, so like last week’s post, I’ve had to make do with the Bacardi Light/White instead of something infinitely tastier. So, the Lady Friend, being wikid smaht, went to the Bacardi website and found this week’s recipe. Here’s the history of the drink, taken from that site:

“Here’s our adaptation of a recipe featured in the 1949 edition of Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts. The originator is unknown, but the recipe is said to have been created in Cuba in 1942. Which explains the, erm, unusual spelling. The Flying Tigers were the US air squadron assigned to help the Chinese defend Rangoon during the darkest days of WWII. Despite being outnumbered by the Japanese, they held out for months and their bravery became the stuff of legend. Strangely enough, despite their name, the Flying Tigers were famous for the cartoon shark faces that they had painted onto the noses of their planes. Oh well, tigers, sharks… whatever works, right?”
Courtesy of Bacardi

The Flying Tigre Coctel
They had some silly measurements on the Bacardi site, so I’ve paraphrased it for easier mixing.

– 1 1/2 oz Bacardi white rum
– 1 oz Bombay Sapphire gin (we had Bombay London Dry)
– 1/4 oz simple syrup
– 1/4 oz grenadine
– 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Mix it up, shake it up, pour it out. They suggest an orange zest garnish, but the picture on their website has a lime wedge. We opted to leave the garnish out entirely.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Bacardi owns the Bombay Sapphire brand. Hence, their specific ingredient list.

It’s got an interesting smell. The gin is there, and there’s a sweetness, but also that Angostura spice. It almost smells like ginger. The Lady Friend mixed this one while I was laying down the worded groundwork, and I happened to catch her dashing in the bitters a little heavy-handededly. But I like bitters, so that’s not the end of the world. This is a decently boozy tipple, and the Angostura should add some flavor in there.

The taste starts off with a sweetness, but quickly goes towards the antiseptic burn of the Bacardi. Angostura is the predominent taste here, again because a bit more than necessary went into it. However, without the bitters, there really wouldn’t be much left to this one. At least, not with this brand of rum. Some good blackstrap would transform this drink. The gin really seems to get lost. I’m not getting much of it at all, aside from contributing to a touch of juniper pine on the finish. But it’s very subtle. With another sip, there IS a bit of gin in the overall flavor, but again, it’s slight. There is some juniper on the burp, which is a very effective way to taste the spirit. As with last week’s Boston Sidecar, the Bacardi white/light rum is non-existent flavor-wise, despite their proclamations of “Superior” branded rum.

As for the Lady Friend, she said that the “smell is initially gin, but I can pick up the pomegranate [grenadine].”
The taste was “initially, not too bad. I definitely get that gin, and Bacardi burn in the back. The first sip is smooth and sweet in the front, but gets that Bacardi burn in the back and the gin pineyness. It’s about what I expected, I guess. I think this could be drastically improved with better ingredients, like Bully Boy rum and GTD gin.

By jove, I think she’s starting to get it. Better ingredients equals better cocktails.

Rule 37: The Boston Sidecar

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.

This week’s Rule 37 tipple is a twist on a classic, though has become a classic itself.

The Boston Sidecar is a normal Sidecar with rum in it. It’s that simple. But what does rum have to do with Boston? Back in the day, (like, Colonial days), Boston was a rum town. It was the spirit of choice for the Colonies, due to the Triangle Trade. The the cranky pants Brits decided to tax everything, and ruined the whole deal. That’s when the Colonist looked around and said “Screw that. We’ll just make booze out of crops instead of sugar cane.” It became the turning point for whiskey, specifically rye, to take over as the drink of choice for America.

The Lady Friend suggested this recipe, and the one she found called for lemon or lime juice. A Sidecar is equal parts brandy (or cognac), triple sec, and lemon juice. Well, that’s one way of making it. Other versions call for up to eight or even ten parts brandy to the other ingredients, but I think they’re way too boozy (though Wondrich’s version isn’t too out of control). It’s just brandy with a little flavoring at that point, like a dry Martini. I prefer the “French School” of equal parts. Anyway, our discussion dealt with which citrus juice we should use. A normal Sidecar uses lemon, and the general rule is that lemon pairs well with brown spirits (brandy, whiskey) whereas lime goes with clear spirits (gin, tequila, vodka, light rum). Since the Boston Sidecar uses a full shot of white rum, she made her version using lime juice, pairing it with the rum as in a Daiquiri. I made mine with lemon, and we compared the two.

The Boston Sidecar

– 1 1/2 oz rum (white or aged)
– 1/2 oz brandy or cognac (used brandy)
– 1/2 oz triple sec
– 1/2 oz lemon or lime juice

Shake the ingredients. Shake-ah shake-ah shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. I garnished my lemon version with a lemon spiral. I’d suggest using a lime wheel for the lime juice version. Float either on the surface of the drink. You can also opt for a sugared rim, though I tend to avoid it.

Lemon Version
The nose is certainly lemony (the garnish comes into play here) but with elements of light rum, dark brandy, and astringent triple sec. Time for a taste.

Taste: Well, it’s slightly mouth-puckering. There’s a lemon tart and boozy quality to it that dries the mouth. I usually get that effect with drinks that contain triple-sec. The brandy adds an interesting note, but the rest of the drink reminds me how accustomed to big-flavored rums I’ve gotten. I went with Bacardi on this one, because my beloved Bully Boy rum is so flavorful that it tends to overwhelm cocktails with sugary goodness. It’s tasty, but the use of Bacardi in this one allows some other flavors through. While I wouldn’t call this a dry drink, there is a dry quality to it, due to the astringent Bacardi and triple sec. The only flavors I can really pick up on are the lemon, brandy, and a hint of orange. In other recipes, they call for an aged or golden rum, which would certainly have more flavor than the Bacardi light/white used here. Do yourself a favor: use a rum with flavor. Hey, that’s a good slogan! PATENT PENDING.

Lime Version (Not pictured: that’s another shot of the lemon version to the left)
Nose: Whoa. Way different. Lots of lime tart. It smells like a beefed-up Daiquiri, with the orange essence of triple sec coming out a lot more, and the brandy adding a dark element once again.

Taste: Again, there’s a dry quality to the drink, but the lime adds MUCH more flavor here. Since the Bacardi seems to be doing nothing but adding booze, the lime really takes over and mingles quite well with the triple sec, as in a Margarita. The pairing of rum and lime is a classic for a reason. The brandy here adds a dark warmth to the drink, which leads me to believe that adding a touch of it to a regular Daiquiri would be a fine idea. I hate to concede defeat, but it seems the Lady Friend’s version is the way to go with this one.

The Lady Friend says that her lime version is much more tart whereas the lemon is a bit more sweet. I’m not sure it’s sweetness, but rather a less flavorful citrus. She thinks the brandy comes through more on the lemon version, which I agree with, but I’d trade that hint of brandy for the flavor of the lime tart. I think this drink could be really complex and amazing, but it’s pretty mediocre with Bacardi. Use something tasty instead.

Rule 37: The Calypso Campari Orange

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.

So, this one is KIND OF an original. Not really. I didn’t make it up, but it does have a bit of a personal twist to it. I got an email from my friend Leelz, who sends me these things from time to time, with some drink suggestions. There were some interesting beertails (a term I personally abhor, but can’t think of a better alternative), one of which involved Campari and orange juice. So let’s give it a go.

The Calypso Campari Orange
This is the pint version.

– 1 oz Campari
– 1 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
– Top with IPA of your choice

Um. Yeah. Pretty easy. Equal parts Campari and orange (a regular Campari Orange is 1 part Campari, 2 parts orange juice over ice) and dump it in a pint glass. Top with an IPA of your choosing.

The article was geared towards spicing up canned beers for a party setting, so the directions are slightly looser. They suggest taking a “hearty sip” out of your canned IPA to make room for the mixer. I decided to make the mildly classier pint glass version, using a single-hop homebrew IPA that the Irish Lad and I concocted. This one used solely Calypso hops, hence the name. His Amarillo-hopped version turned out to be tastier than my Calypso choice, but it was as fun experiment, and now I’m left with multiple bombers to drink or give away. I’m sure this beer has peaked by now, but let’s give it a go anyway.

In the nose, I certainly smell orange juice, and the Campari comes through, but the IPA isn’t making much of an aroma impact. There’s a bit of a wet grass smell to it, fresh and clean, like a damp lawn getting mowed. A very mild moldiness lurkes underneath, though I’m blaming that on the homebrew being a month or five past its prime.

Yikes. Here we go.

Ok. Um. It’s attacking my tongue. It’s zippy and tangy. That would be the Campari. It’s the dominant flavor in this concoction. Campari bittersweet all up front. There’s some maltiness in the background, but it’s pretty overwhelmed by the Italian. I’m going to need a second attempt to see if I can break through the resistance at Salerno.

Taste two: Zing! On the tongue. Campari again. The orange is in there (even got some pulp into the mix, yargh) and that malt does shine through a bit more. But not enough.

Upon tasting the homebrew on it’s own, it was determined that it’s certainly fallen off. It’s not bad, but there’s a sour note that wasn’t there before. Past prime, but still ok. Just not the hoppy wonder it once was. Maybe I should have used the lone Dogfish 60 Minute IPA lurking in my fridge after all.

So, I think the recipe is solid, but the beer let me down on this one. That said, if you’re going to use a full ounce each of Campari and orange, make it a BIG, bold IPA to stand up to the bittersweet amaro. It’s meant to add a bit of flavor complexity to an IPA and liven things up, but with this one it just dominated. I’d like to try it again, halving the amounts of Campari and orange, to see if I can get a better balance. Play with this one if you like… there’s a great drink in there somewhere. A magical combination of the right IPA and the correct addition of Campari. If you find it, let me know.

The Bully Boy Speakeasy

So, last Friday night I went to Bully Boy’s speakeasy party.

It was pretty sweet.

Let me explain.

A couple months ago, the Bully Boys started dropping hints on Facebook and Twitter that they were going to throw an exclusive bash to celebrate their one year anniversary of the distillery. Old-timey garbed dudes started showing up at local bars, and posters appeared around town, each with a QR code to scan, which took you to a website. From there you registered, and got a secret entry password to the secret location (which wasn’t revealed until a week before the party), in the style of old speakeasies. I still have no idea what my password actually was, since the audio file kinda slurred the last word. Black gull? Black gulp? Black colt? Not a clue. Something like that. So I planned to equally slur the last word to gain entry.

Finally, the location was revealed: the Waterworks Museum out in Chestnut Hill. It’s located on the reservoir, and was the original municipal water pump station for the City of Boston until the 1970s, when the source was switched over to the gigantoid Quabbin Reservoir out in Central MA. The Lady Friend and I arranged a logistical puzzle (she was coming from Seaport in the city, whereas I was coming from work, then into the city on the T) and met up on the green line, carefully avoiding the horror of the B train through Boston University. Seriously, it stops every 30 feet out there. Ridiculous. After snagging a C train to the Reservoir stop (they were running shuttle buses after Reservoir, so we totally lucked out on that one) we had a brief stroll around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir itself, and over to the museum. Entrance was gained via the side door, and in we went. They actually never even asked for the password.

I bet it’s haunted.

Just inside the door, we ran into co-Bully Boy Will Willis, and chatted for a bit before continuing farther in to the museum. Holy snotrockets. This place was HUGE. Three story-high machinery lit with accent lights towered above, while the DJ pumped out remixes of classic Prohibition-era ditties (before switching over to some sweet Ace of Base). Several bars were set up throughout the machine room, and we sidled up to one to get a few drinks. I led off with a Mojito (pre-mixed, but Mojitos are a pain to make) and the Lady Friend went with the Rough Rider, the whiskey cocktail. After our traditional Bully Boy cheer “BULLY!” We took in the small details while sipping our drinks: the cigarette candle holders (real cigs… I checked), Bully Boy branded coasters, match books and empty liquor bottles as flower vases, all arranged on wooden casks. The Bully Boy logo projected brightly onto the machine room floor, and the guests, some decked-out in Prohibition-era attire, meandered in to clutch highball glasses and stare at the mechanisms looming above.

And jamming out to some sweet tunes. I did indeed see The Sign. And it opened up my eyes.

Our next round of drinks worked out quite nicely as the Rule 37 for the week:

The Commodore

– 2 oz Bully Boy White Rum (our pour was at least double that, but I’m the last to complain about a heavy-handed bartender)
– Top with Night Shift Brewing Trifecta (Belgian-style pale ale)
– Garnish with lemon wedge

Um. Pour a whole bunch of rum into a pint glass and top with the Night Shift. Plop a lemon wedge in there and drink it.

Whoa. It was certainly boozy. Trifecta is a 7% abv beer to begin with, so there’s a decent amount of punch in this pint. Yes, it’s more of a beertail than proper cocktail, but this totally still counts. Nosed with a strange mixture of sugary blackstrap rum and a Belgian-y sweet & sour aroma. The Bully Boy certainly overpowers the brew, but it’s still in there with a faint cry of “I’m not dead yet!” The taste? My notes read “oh that’s strange.” A Belgian fruity and sour note, offset by the sugar of the rum. There’s certainly a boozy astringency as well, and an almost grapey sour quality to the Belgian. I’d have to try the beer straight to get a better idea of it, but the two did get along quite well.

As we slurped our Commodores, the OTHER Bully Boy, Dave, came over and chatted with us for a bit. As we were talking, Michael O’Mara, co-founder and brewer of Night Shift, walked up, fresh from delivering kegs at the American Craft Beer Festival, and we were introduced. His altered suggestion for the drink was a shot of Bully Boy rum, topped with the Trifecta and lemon wedge, but served in the skinny highball glass over ice. It probably would have been a more manageable alcohol content, and a better blend of flavors, but I was satisfied with my big ol’ pint o’ booze.

The Lady Friend and I stayed a bit longer, exploring the museum, tasting more cocktails and having some snacks. We headed out as the party got REALLY crowded, and made our way back to the T, complete with Indiana Jones-style lawn sprinkler evasion maneuvers. While waiting for the God-forsaken T train way out in the wasteland of Cleveland Circle, we observed a pointy kitty (large rat) shuffling and snuffling along the rails. The Lady Friend, unperturbed by our new acquaintance from the Order Rodentia, and perhaps feeling a bit cocktail-laden, insisted on sitting on a junction box clearly marked “Wet Paint.” Luckily for her, it had dried by that point leaving khakis unblemished for the trip home. Bully!

GrandTen Distilling

Holy crap.

There’s ANOTHER craft distillery IN Boston.


I had no idea.

I stumbled on an article on that described a new distillery in South Boston called GrandTen. An email was immediately sent, and in a short amount of time I received a reply from co-owner Matthew Nuernberger, who graciously invited me in for a visit.

Here we go.

Yes, there’s a distillery in there.

GrandTen Distilling is located on Dorchester (Dot) Ave. in between the Andrew and Broadway T stops. It’s easily walkable from each. However, the entrance itself a bit tricky to find. There’s the tan “Addison Wellesly” building at 383, but it’s all small offices inside. Next door, at 371, there’s a series of green buildings, but that’s too far. GrandTen is actually located BETWEEN those two buildings, down a driveway and hidden in the shadows of the overhanging building. Did you miss it? Yeah, me too. Several times. It does give it a slight speakeasy feel, where you only gain entrance by knowing where the door is before you go. Once entering (look for the banner hanging overhead) I knew it was the right place when a copper pot still winked at me from across the room. I was just glad to get out of the rather warm and odoriferous waft of industrialized Dot Ave.

That’s more like it.

The distillery is located in a historic Boston building, which was once the home of the South Boston Iron Company, an iron foundry established in the early 1800s by metallurgist Cyrus Alger. Back then, the building sat on South Bay, which has since been filled in, and was one of the premiere foundries of the day. The first gun ever rifled in America was produced at the foundry, and they continued to provide munitions and arms to the US Government through the War of 1812. When steel became the metal of choice, the foundry switched to producing wire, and the spectacle of sparks and molten metal became a must-see tourist attraction for Boston.

Inside it smelled like the bran/molasses treats my mom bakes for her horse critters. It reeked of molasses. Which meant that there was rum being born. I met Matt, and he showed me around their setup while co-owner Spencer McMinn busied himself by trying to infuse hickory smoke flavor into a jug of vodka. More on that later. GTD runs a 50 gallon pot still, currently electric. It’s an “eau-de-vie” still with a larger dome with more copper surface area (copper is essential in distilling; it neutralizes some of the byproducts) and allowing more flavors through the distillation process. Their column is quite a bit shorter than others I’ve seen, though again, this means less separation and more flavors in the final spirit. They’ve had it for 16 months, but it’s only been operational since November of 2011. As with Bully Boy and Ryan & Wood, GTD had to wait for months and months while their distillery plans were approved, equipment was acquired and installed, though mostly it was all zoning and licensing nonsense. Since GTD falls under stricter Boston zoning (whereas Bully Boy had some leeway with their industrialized Newmarket location) they waited two months just for their first rejection, and another three months for the appeal. It takes a long time to convince the government that you’re a legitimate business making a real product, especially when booze is involved.

The starting point for all the GTD products is neutral grain spirit that they purchase, meaning that they do not mash and ferment their own grains, but begin with a odorless and tasteless spirit. From there, it’s distilled with botanicals for their gin, or infused with peppers and smoke for their vodka. The rum is open fermented from molasses and uses a process called “stripping,” which means the spirit is essentially distilled twice to give it the characteristics and flavors they’re looking for. The neutral grain spirit, or “eau-de-vie” (“water-of-life”) method saves time and resources for a small distillery by giving them a base spirit to begin crafting their products from, rather than mashing and fermenting wheat, corn, barley or other grains. Currently, their neutral grain spirit is sourced from New York. It sounds like the sort of thing that might draw some criticism, like using malt extract in place of milling your own barley in the brewing world, but I have no problem with it. The end products are fantastic, so why not save a step?

GTD has several end products from their eau-de-vie method, but only one, Wire Works Gin, is currently available, in the mid-$30 range. It’s been on select shelves since April, and is making its way into various local cocktail bars. They’re working on Fire Puncher Vodka, a chipotle- and hickory smoke-infused spirit, and molasses-based Medford Rum, though this will only be sold as an aged product. They’re also playing with a few liqueurs, and there’s an applejack aging in the barrel room. Yum.

So. Time for a tasting. First up was their flagship product, Wire Works American Gin, named for the foundry’s industrial past and sporting a beautiful copper-inked label. The GTD boys wanted to make an American-style gin, not a Plymouth or London Dry, which are more of an alcohol-juniper assault. Typically the alcohol heat and overwhelming juniper flavors punch you in the mouth, but GTD wanted something else. The American-style gin is smoother, rounder, and more complex than their British brethren. Great Lakes Distilling Rehorst Premium Milwaukee Gin springs to mind as a good example of the American style, sweeter and smoother, with some more unique flavors. Ryan & Wood also makes a smooth, citrus-forward gin that I was impressed with.

The GTD boys poured a splash of their offering into a red plastic party cup, and also served up some samples of Beefeater London Dry and Tanqueray for comparison. Sure enough, the Brits were hot on the nose with a big slice of pine, and tasted the same. Wire Works nosed sweet and smooth. The pine/juniper essence is there, but very balanced and tempered. It was a much lighter aroma than the sickly perfumed London styles. The taste? My notes read “WOW. TASTY!” There’s pine, but with a sweetness, different from an Old Tom or genever. There’s almost some mint or spruce in there, and leaves a very pleasant tingle on the tongue, rather than the usual hot alcohol burn. It has an excellent mouthfeel, smooth but without being too coating. This is due to a somewhat unique (for gin) ingredient: cranberries. Spencer, a PhD-level chemist by the way, explained that the cranberries were used for their acidity, which creates a smoother mouthfeel. None of the cranberry flavors make it through the distillation, but that semi-gloss mouthfeel is great. As I’ve said before, gin is not my favorite spirit. I’m getting there, but it’s a slow process. I think Wire Works is my new favorite, even better than the Rehorst. It’s that good. Amazing.

Next, I tasted a test batch of their Fire Puncher Vodka, whose namesake, South Boston firefighter Tommy Maguire, attacked flames with such vigor that it was said he punched the fire with his bare fists. Fire Puncher is a flavored, infused vodka, so don’t expect a neutral spirit here. GTD has no interest in making flavorless spirits. Their goal with this one is to make it taste like a campfire, infusing hickory smoke, and two kinds of Chipotle peppers. On the nose, it smells like Mexican food: spicy, but with a smooth sweetness underneath. The taste starts with a smooth green pepper flavor, which moves to a bitter campfire smokiness in the middle. The pepper’s spice kicks in, and lingers throughout the finish. It’s a spirit that stays with you, but that’s not a bad thing. Though this test batch was a bit spicier than they wanted, I thought it was EXCELLENT. There’s so much flavor going on that you don’t notice the 90 proof alcohol, yet it’s not TOO hot and spicy, but rather an almost savory medium hot pepper. This one is going to make a FANTASTIC mixer, though would likely be a great sipper over rocks.

As a special offering, there was a taste of almond cordial that was still in the test phases. At 80 proof, it’s made from an almond distillate aged for 4 weeks on toasted oak spirals. This is no sugary amaretto or orgeat syrup: it’s the real deal. Pure almond flavors without all the sugar syrup. It noses with a nutty pasta quality and some slight alcoholic heat. The taste is, well, almondy. Mmmmm. Slightly syrupy, but there’s no indication of the 80 proof booze. It would also be excellent over ice, or as a sweetener in cocktails. Perfect, as Spencer described their products as being “very cocktail driven.” These guys know what they’re doing.

Finally, there was a taste of their Medford Rum coming straight off of the still. It was all at once sugary, molasses, and wonderful. Very much akin to Bully Boy’s White Rum, though GTD will be selling only an aged version. A lot of New England distilleries are going the way of blackstrap molasses rums, such as Turkey Shore’s Ipswich Rum, another craft distiller on my list to visit. There’s a rich history of these rums in the area, as rum was the spirit of Colonial America, until the Brits imposed taxes and the drink of choice shifted to whiskey. Medford Rum is named for the original Medford Rum, which dates back to the early days of Massachusetts. GTD’s version, right off the still, was incredibly flavorful, and should be phenomenal once it’s aged.

GTD is purposefully naming each of their spirits and delving a bit more into a back story for each one, rather than pushing their distillery as an overall brand offering a gin, a vodka, a rum, etc. It’s an interesting approach, and they believe the spirits should stand on their own, appealing to a wider audience. You don’t necessarily go looking for GTD gin, but when you see Wire Works on the shelf with the big London gins, it’ll be quite a bit more distinctive and unique.

Public tours and tastings will begin sometime later this summer, once their retail and tasting area is constructed. Matt described it as basically being a second business within the distillery, so they’ll need some time to get it up and running. And built. They’re doing the construction by themselves (there was freshly-laid tile when I visited), but it should be a great attraction once completed.

In case you were wondering about the name, as I was, yes there’s a story there too. Matt and Spencer’s grandfather (they’re cousins… did I not mention that?) was a hardworking guy who enjoyed his cocktails, especially gin. Family gatherings were rousing affairs where the booze flowed freely. Since he had nine grandchildren, they decided to name their distillery GrandTen, as they think he would look upon the business as his “tenth” grandchild, and love the gin it produced. I think it’s a great namesake, and with the quality spirits they’re making, GrandTen should make the old man proud. Keep an eye out for these guys and buy their booze.

Rule 37: The Waldorf

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.

Well, after a busy week, I was left scrambling for a Rule 37 on Friday night. Dale DeGroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail happened to be lying nearby, and as my tried-and-true standby recipe book, it didn’t let me down. If I’m not careful, I might wind up documenting the entire book. It’s not my fault! It’s full of great drinks. This week’s tipple might not have been the most unusual concoction, but it was still mighty tasty.

The Waldorf

– 2 oz rye or bourbon whiskey (Rittenhouse Rye)
– 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
– 1/4 oz Ricard (Pernod)
– 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Swirl the Ricard, or Pernod, or whatever anise flavored concoction you plan to use (I’m sure real absinthe would do just fine as well) in the mixing glass. I say swirl, but it works better to tilt the glass at an angle, and rotate/turn, which rolls the liquid around. The goat is to simply coat the inside of the mixing glass with the anise liqueur. This differs from other recipes I’ve seen, like a Sazerac, where you coat the drinking glass. Here, you’re only coating the mixing glass. Add ice, and pour in the other ingredients. STIR, strain, and serve in a chilled cocktail glass. No garnish specified, but I’d likely add a nice cocktail cherry, as with a Manhattan.

So, yeah. It’s basically a Manhattan with a Ricard rinse. Don’t discount that too much; it makes a big difference.

I was feeling fancy, and falling behind the Lady Friend in the drink count, so I jazzed up the recipe with my treasured 100 proof Rittenhouse Rye. I had seriously considered using the Old Crow Reserve bourbon, which came highly recommended from Drinking the Bottom Shelf writer Will Gordon, and he’s dead on. It’s stupidly inexpensive, and stupidly tasty. $13 bourbon shouldn’t be that good. I’ve come to enjoy it enough to hoard and stockpile reserve supplies, and recently acquired a large surplus which should keep me happy for a reasonable length of time, if I don’t quaff it in an unreasonable manner. Which can happen. Frequently. However, the Rittenhouse is one of my all-time favorites. Big, bold, 100 proof and spicy rye, versus a sweet sweet bourbon. It also gives me a good benchmark, since I’m quite familiar with how a Rittenhouse Manhattan should taste.

Nose: Spicy rye bite, with a touch of vermouth sweetness. The anise of the Pernod shoves its way through, full of licorice and shenanigans. The Angostura adds its dark spice, and between the rye and Pernod, there’s a weird little aroma dance going on. It almost smells Christmasy.

Taste: Cool, then suddenly warm. Not hot, but warm. The rye spice is tempered by the vermouth, and strangely offset by the anise flavors. Rinsing the glass made a HUGE difference. Angostura is there, laughing in the background, cheerful and cinnamon spice. It’s almost as if the hot rye and cool anise are magnetic opposites, and they have a little battle for control of the taste buds. It’s the tastiness of a Manhattan, but with a new player to the game. The Pernod engages in a tug-of-war with even the power of the Rittenhouse. I wanted to put “Rittenhouse Powerhouse” but it was just too much.

The Lady Friend declared “Yup. Pernod.” upon smelling it, then furrowed her brow as she took a sip.
“I taste the Rittenhouse up front, which is tasty, then Pernod in back. Rittenhouse comes back. It’s good. It was a good little sip. It’s interesting.” She usually can’t stand my high-proof rye Manhattans, so this one was tamed down enough for her to taste, though there’s still plenty of flavor. It is indeed an interesting palate experiment, and a great twist for a Manhattan lover. Try one.

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