Sazerac Milk Punch

I was getting a bit low on the previous Milk Punch, so it seemed like it was time for another batch.  Hmmm…  What if I use some of the same ingredients typically found in a Sazerac?

Sazerac Milk Punch

Ingredients:

750ml Old Overholt Rye
750ml Wild Turkey Rye
375ml Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
7 Lemons
1 1/2 cups water
3 cups Sugar Florida Crystals Natural Sugar
1 Puerh Tea Disk
1 Quart Straus Farm Whole Milk
Absinthe

Method:

Steeping Peels

Combine the spirits in a container large enough to hold them and a little extra. Peel and juice 5 of the lemons. Add juice and peels to spirits and let stand for 2 days.

Puerh Tea

Steep tea in hot water for 5 mins and add sugar. Stir to dissolve. Strain out tea leaves and cool.

Milk Solids

Strain Peels out of booze mixture. Add tea syrup to booze. Squeeze juice from remaining lemons and add to mixture. Heat milk to 145 degrees and add too mixture. Let stand for 30 minutes undisturbed.

Milk Solids

Filter through cheesecloth, removing curdled milk solids.

Absinthe

Add absinthe until you can just begin to taste it.

Sazerac Milk Punch

Bottle in clean resealable containers and chill until you are ready to serve.  Makes about 3 liters. To serve, pour over ice and top with 1 part soda to 2 parts punch.

Mrs. Flannestad remarked, “If you meant to make this taste boozy, you have succeeded.”  Not sure if it really tastes much like a Sazerac, but it does taste like a delicious Rye Whiskey Milk Punch. I was going to bring this along to tonight’s Savoy Cocktail Book event, but clearly that would be very, very wrong with the new paradigm being enforced by the California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control.

Are My Favorite Bartenders Going to be Sent to Jail?”

ABC Crackdown on Infused Liquors

Your Favorite Cocktail Could Get A Bartender Fined

State warns Bay Area bars not to infuse drinks

Illegal Infusions: The Word Gets Out

And the best commentary I’ve seen so far, from Dinah and Joe over at Bibulo.us: Echoes of Prohibition. Well, Joe is an actual Lawyer…

So let me get this straight, Sangria is illegal!!??  Don’t tell the Spanish!  Any pre-prepared Punch forbidden?  Jerry Thomas turns over in his grave and David Wondrich gets incrementally grayer!  Any house made liqueur, tincture, or bitters is now verboten!?  I’m so glad that vile commercial products made with corn syrup, artificial flavoring and artificial color are just fine and I can’t make an infusion with actual fruit!!!

Basically any alcoholic mixture not mixed a la minute or involving an alcoholic ingredient not purchased through the distribution chain is against the rules?

Time to join the punch making, spirits infusing, speakeasy underground!

Sazerac Cocktail (Old Potrero Ryes)

Sazerac Cocktail 27 out of 28.

I have challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me. Hopefully, if I can get my act together we’ll have some video.

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Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (5ml Rich Simple Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (a couple dashes Peychaud’s Bitters)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (2 oz Old Potrero Rye)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with Absinthe (Sirene Absinthe Verte). Squeeze lemon peel over glass and drop in (or discard).

I live in San Francisco and Anchor Distilling makes three Rye Whiskies. How could I not track them down and make Sazeracs with them?

‘If, as they say, God spanked the town
For being over frisky,
Why did He burn the churches down
And save Hotaling’s whiskey?’

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Actually, I already had the Hotaling’s  in the bar, so it wasn’t quite so awful on my pocket book as it might have been.

What can we glean about these different Whiskies from their labels?

Old Potrero 18th Century Century Style Spirit: Barrel Strength, 62.3% Alc/vol.  A pot-distilled spirit produced from 100% rye malt mash & aged 2 years 1 month in new uncharred oak barrels.

Old Potrero Single Malt Straight Rye Whiskey: 45% Alc/vol.  Pot distilled and aged in new charred oak barrels.

Old Potrero Single Malt Hotaling’s Whiskey:  50% Alc/vol.  Pot distilled and aged eleven years in American Oak barrels.

In case you didn’t know, the Anchor Brewery and distilling facility is located in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.  That’s where the name, “Old Potrero” comes from.

All three whiskies are “Single Malt” whiskies.  This means they are produced from a single type of grain, in this case Rye Malt Mash, and all the spirits in the bottle are manufactured at the same facility.

You will note that even though all three Anchor Whiskies are made from 100% Rye Malt Mash, only one of them is called, “Straight Rye Whiskey”.

The basic requirements for American Straight Rye Whiskey are:

1) they be made from at least 51% Rye Mash.

2) That they are not distilled to more than 160 Proof.

3) That they be aged in new charred American oak barrels.

4) The Whiskey must not be put into the barrels at more than 125 Proof.

5) That they be aged for at least 2 years.

Anchor falls astray of the “Straight Rye Whiskey” label due mostly to their barrel choices.

The 18th Century Style Spirit cannot be called “Straight Rye Whiskey” because it is aged in “new uncharred” oak barrels.  I also kind of wonder how they can have a 2 year old barrel proof spirit at 124.6 Proof, if it went into the barrels at 125.  I think the angel’s share loss of alcohol might be more than that.  But then, cough, Buffalo Trace’s George T. Stagg “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey” is bottled at 142 Proof, so there is absolutely no way it could have been barreled at 125 proof!

The Hotaling’s Whiskey cannot be called “Straight Rye Whiskey” because it is aged in a mixture of used, charred, and uncharred barrels.

Anchor Sazerac #1: Old Potrero 18th Century Style Spirit (10-RW-ARM-3-1)

Damn, if there isn’t a familial resemblance here to the Genevieve Sazerac!  To be honest this was my favorite of the bunch.  There is tons of malt and grain character and a lot, lot of flavor.  If this is the sort of Rye Whiskey people were drinking the 18th and 19th Century, I guess I was born out of time.

Anchor Sazerac #2: Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey (10-SRW-ARM-G)

Lots more oak barrel flavor here, cherries and caramel, this tastes like you would expect a real straight rye Sazerac to taste.  OK, maybe a little burlier.  A similar Sazerac to the Hudson Rye Whiskey Sazerac.

Anchor Sazerac #3: Old Potrero Hotaling’s Whiskey (MCMVI-MMVI)

This was the 2006 bottling of the Hotaling’s Whiskey, released in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Great San Francisco Quake and fire.  It was also the first batch of whiskey distilled at Anchor, and aged for 11 years before its release.  Anchor releases another barrel of this whiskey every year.  I am unclear if it is truly limited, or if they are supplementing by aging other later distilled Rye.  I remain ambivalent about the 2006 Hotaling’s.  I keep hoping it will grow on me, but it doesn’t.  It’s good, but for some reason almost reminds me more of Cognac than whiskey.  It is quite light in character, yet at the same time exhibits little malt flavor or body.  Not my favorite Sazerac.  For what it is worth, I have tried other year’s releases of the Hotaling’s and enjoyed them quite a bit more.  2008, I’m remembering, was a particularly tasty year.  Must have been a sweet barrel.

So yeah, if I were to pick a winner, a Sazerac that stood out here, it would have to be the 18th Century Style Spirit.  If you’ve been staring at that bottle, wondering why you bought it when it is definitely not a sipping Whiskey, give it a try in a Sazerac.  Think of it as stretching your money!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Fat Tuesday, 2010

Fat Tuesday at Chez Flannestad.

Soaking Beans

Beans and aromatics.

Cajun Triumvirate

Cajun Triumvirate.

Sangre de Toro

Rancho Gordo Sangre de Toro Beans.

Roux

Flour into hot oil.

Roux

About half way there.

Saute Veggies

Veggies into the cooked roux.

Cornbread

A nice skillet corn bread.

Fixins

Bar prepared.  How many drinks can you think of with these ingredients?

Choose Your Own Rye

Choose your own spirit for the Sazerac!

Gumbo

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo with Okra.

Beans & Greens

Beans with Collard Greens.

Anita MADE a fantastic King Cake.

I am slightly disturbed by this photo.  OK, I may not have been thorough in removing all the bouquet garni from the beans.

Guests included the lawyer, the ice cream maker, IT Manager/Musician, the artist/DJ, and the blogger/photographer/tech couple.  I dunno, sign of the times that just about everyone has a “slash” in their life’s work, but doesn’t quite have the same ring as, “Butcher, Baker, and Candlestick Maker.”

Our new acquaintance, the ice cream maker, and I have been working on Sazerac Ice Cream.  We’re up to Iteration 4 now, and while still a work in progress, this one was the best so far.  It is tough to get enough of the Whiskey flavor and still have the ice cream freeze.  We served the Sazerac Ice Cream with Anita’s King Cake.  Mrs. Flannestad got the Baby!  Guess that means she’s making the cake next time!

Organic Sazerac Cocktail (Gather)

Sazerac Cocktail 25 out of 28.

I have challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me. Hopefully, if I can get my act together we’ll have some video.

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Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (Florida Crystals Organic Sugar Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (Organic Blood Orange and Hibiscus “tincture”)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (Espirito Organic California Brandy)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled, add 1 dash Absinthe (Anise, fennel, and wormwood tincture) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

I first heard read the words of Mr. Alex Smith on the forum pages of the Chanticleer Society.  At the time he was working at the Thirsty Bear and it sounded like he was doing some interesting things.  I sent him a, “Hey there!” note and suggested that it would be fun to stop by. Some time went by. Of course I didn’t make it to Thirsty Bear before he had departed that venue.

Alex’s BIO: i was born into a rich family, given up for adoption and eventually adopted into a poor family. this unfortunate turn of events pretty much set the tone for the rest of my life. for someone who sees suffering and disappointment as much an everyday part of life as air or water, i seem to manage just fine. i usually wake up happy and go to sleep happy; it’s just the time in between that tends to get to me.

i was diagnosed as an idiot savant at an early age, managed to complete high school despite my extracurricular interests and fell in love with alcohol soon thereafter. i started to use cocktails as an outlet for my artistic creation a few years ago, channeling my frustrations through the sieve of my mental affliction.

currently, i find myself managing Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco and tending bar at Gather in Berkeley. my dog has cancer, my mother is insane & i am deeply in love with a talented & beautiful young woman who pretty much doesn’t want me in her life. some people sing the blues… i make cocktails.

then i drink ‘em.

my contribution to Erik’s great Sazerac project of 2010 is an all-organic/biodynamic version. 2 oz of Espirito biodynamic brandy, few dashes of blood orange tincture, . 25 oz organic simple syrup (1:1) and a rinse of “absinthe” tincture. finished with a squeeze of lemon zest which was then tossed away.

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Recently, I heard he was working at a new organic and sustainable restaurant in Berkeley called “Gather” and also Smuggler’s Cove here in San Francisco. The schedule worked out better for us to meet at Gather this time around.

What the? All organic? How? Where? Let’s take a look at some of the “about” information from Gather:

Transparency. Got a question about where something came from or why it’s in a dish? Ask the host for a copy of “The Source Book”— an index that traces the lifecycle of every ingredient served at Gather. From spices and oils to animals and vegetables, we’ve researched how it got to us and where it went along the way. Same goes for the materials used in our restaurant. Every ingredient, material, and action we put forth has been thoughtfully considered.

Wow! How do you start a bar program at a place like this? I have almost no idea where most of the ingredients in 90% of the spirits I work with come from. Talking to Alex, they have chosen to use exclusively organic spirits and liqueurs for the bar. But wait, is there an organic vermouth? Nope. Orange Liqueur? Nope. Green Chartreuse? Nope. Whiskey? Nope. Ack! The basic staples of drink mixing, which we all take for granted, and they have access to none of them. Ouch! What they don’t have, they are trying to come up with. Hardcore.  Kind of reminds me of all the old bar manuals I have read, where they include instructions for making just about anything, including the “Spirits”.

Well, fortunately, there are organic sugar, organic California Brandy, and organic flavoring tinctures. So it was sort of an Orangey Sazerac. Ballpark, anyway, and quite tasty.

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And, uh, damn it! I didn’t take a picture of the Sazerac!  Exactly another reason I need Mrs. Flannestad’s help in these endeavors.  Get caught up in chatting and/or drinking and forget to document the drink I am there to try.

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I did, however, remember to take a picture of the “Pegu Club” Tina made for me using Cap Rock Gin, Organic Orange Liqueur, organic Lime juice, and flavoring “tinctures”.  Nicely refreshing and tasty!  I also tried the vegan “charcuterie” which I quite enjoyed.  Looking forward to getting back to Gather again, to see more of what they are up to with the other things on the menu.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Sazerac Cocktail (Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup)

Sazerac Cocktail 24 out of 28.

I have challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me. Hopefully, if I can get my act together we’ll have some video.

Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup vs. 1-1 Organic Cane Sugar Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters.
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with 1 dash Absinthe (Duplais Blanche) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

One of my goals was to blind taste a Sazerac made with Gum Syrup vs. one made with regular Simple Syrup.  I woulda also like to have had a rich simple syrup and a muddled sugar cube in the mix, but what are you gonna do?

So what better to do, than to stop by when my coworker Jennifer Colliau, the proprietress of Small Hand Foods, was working at Heaven’s Dog for a little Gomme Geekery. It is true, I have featured Jennifer before, but that was so long ago, does it really count?

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Gum Syrup, aka gomme, is made by including Gum Arabic along with the sugar in the solution used to sweeten drinks. Gum Arabic is produced on certain types of Acacia trees, mostly in Africa. It is essentially air dried tree sap and contains a lot of weird complex organic compounds like Polysaccharides and Glycoproteins. It is used in industrial food manufacture as a stabilizer and source of viscosity.

I’ve always floated the idea that Gum Syrup was originally used to imitate the viscosity of highly concentrated sugar syrups.  That at some point including X amount of Gum Arabic was cheaper than using X amount of Sugar. Sort of makes sense, especially when you consider that before granulated, refined sugar was available, how much work you had to go through to get sugar.  It had to be cut from a loaf or augered out of a barrel.  Then ground or dissolved and clarified.  A lot of work to get a clear-ish simple syrup.

Or Gum Syrup was solely used to increase the viscosity of sugar solutions and the drinks they were used to sweeten.

Gum Arabic is a pain in the ass to dissolve, and currently is far, far more expensive than sugar, so it seems like a lot of work to go through, just for a fairly subtle aesthetic change to the cocktails it is used in.

One interesting characteristic of Gum Arabic is that it blooms in high proof alcohol solutions, and turns the solution cloudy.  It can be a bit unattractive if you are making an old fashioned with Gum Syrup and Barrel Proof Whiskey. Sorta looks like Coffee or Tea with Milk.

An even cooler thing about it if you continue adding water to the solution, once it is below a certain point, the “bloom” disappears again.

Jennifer also mentioned that she had read that Gum Syrup was sometimes used to check the proof of spirits, though I am not exactly sure at what dilution level the bloom disappears.

That’s a Dash of Absinthe, 1/4 ounce of Gum, 1 oz of Thomas Handy Barrel Proof Rye, Chilled Water, and a couple dashes of Peychaud’s. Kind of a lazy person’s Sazerac, really, and quite tasty.  Ha! Now that I think about it, the above is the closest I’ve come to what Antoine Peychaud may have been serving at his Pharmacy: Bitters, Water, Sugar, and Spirits.  The original “Cocktail”.

Jennifer and I have talked often about what drinks we think are best when using Gum Syrup. To me, the delicate viscosity is often lost when using it in a shaken drink, so I prefer to use it in drinks like Old-Fashioneds and Sazeracs.

Other people really like it in shaken citrus drinks. Jennifer mentioned that Ryan at Beretta really loves to use it in traditional Daiquiris. We use her Pineapple Gum in our very popular Gin Fizz Tropical and Pisco Apricot Tropical drinks at Heaven’s Dog.

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She made the two drinks, had me turn around, and scrambled them up.

Could I tell the difference?

Well, I could tell they were different, and I made an educated guess which was which. Fortunately, I was right! Whew. The viscosity was a difficult thing to quantify.  As I tasted the Sazeracs, it seemed like the bigger difference was in the taste impact. The flavors in the Sazerac sweetened with Gum Syrup seemed to be married more happily together than those in the one sweetened simply with simple syrup.

If you’re curious about Small Hand Foods’ Syrups, they can be purchased in the San Francisco area at Plump Jack Wine Stores, K&L Wines, and Cask.  Outside of the Bay Area, I have it on good authority that Cocktail Kingdom will soon be carrying them.

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This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Sazerac Cocktail (Bulleit Bourbon)

Sazerac Cocktail 23 out of 28.

I have challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me. Hopefully, if I can get my act together we’ll have some video.

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Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (5ml Rich Simple Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (a couple dashes Peychaud’s Bitters)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (2 oz Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with Absinthe (Sirene Absinthe Verte) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

Everyone always sez that it’s a mistake to make a Sazerac with Bourbon.  However, depending on your location, sometimes it can be hard to find Rye Whiskey.

The differentiation between Straight Bourbon and Straight Rye sometimes is a matter of a few percentages in the mash.  Straight Bourbon must be made with 51% Corn and Straight Rye must be made with 51% Rye.  Thus, a Bourbon made with a heavy percentage of Rye Mash and the minimum amount of Corn, can be pretty similar to most Ryes, which are typically made with close to the minimum amount of Rye.

A couple Bourbons which are typically bandied about as having a heavy percentage of Rye are Bulleit and Basil Hayden’s.  As I seem to have acquired a couple bottles of Bulleit via my participation in various online blogging groups, and, well Basil Hayden’s is kind of expensive, Bulleit it is.

Heresy, though it may be, this isn’t a bad Sazerac at all.  It’s a little richer than it would be with most Rye, but all the same, it is well within the Sazerac margin of error.  Enough Rye spice to do the job, and fortunately none of the richness of a Wheated Bourbons.  In fact, if I were to make a recommendation, that would be it. Stay away from wheated Bourbons in Sazeracs.  Some of my best friends are Wheated Bourbons, but stick with Old-Fashioneds if that is all you have on hand, they just don’t make good Sazeracs.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Sazerac Cocktail (range)

Sazerac Cocktail 22 out of 28.

I have challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me. Hopefully, if I can get my act together we’ll have some video.

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Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar.
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters.
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (Sazerac 18 Rye Whiskey)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled, add l dash Absinthe and squeeze lemon peel on top.

It used to make me really nervous when I would have to serve other bartenders. Feeling like, you know, they were judging me, or I would fail horribly and let them down.

Then one Savoy Night at Alembic, Brooke Arthur hijacked the bar for her birthday party. Wall to wall bartenders. Strangely, no one made fun of me.

At that point, I kind of realized that bartenders are good to serve because they know what you are going through. They are usually sympathetic and supportive.

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Anyway, Brooke is an awesome bartender, who has been super supportive of my little adventures in bartending.  You can usually find her at the Mission District restaurant range. After Absinthe Bar and Brasserie opened, there was a bit of a delay before other restaurants began to realize the value of spending some effort on a cocktail program. Range was among the second wave of restaurants to learn from Absinthe’s example and put some “ooomph” into their cocktail program. Also, the food is very tasty.

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Stopping by range for a Sazerac, Brooke chose to make it with the Sazerac 18 Rye Whiskey (2006, I believe). Like Brian at Jardiniere, she went through the whole old fashioned sugar muddling procedure. It’s interesting, I guess what I find with the muddled sugar Sazeracs, is that really very little of the sugar dissolves, making them very lightly sweetened versions of the drink. This actually works quite well when you want to feature a high end Whiskey, like the Sazerac 18.

Anyway, here’s a good Black and White Photo of Brooke. Wish I’d taken it, but sadly, I did not.  When I asked what classic or original cocktail she is currently obsessing over, she said The Brooklyn, which is usually made as follows:

Brooklyn Cocktail

1 Dash Amer Picon (1/2 barspoon Torani Amer)
1 Dash Maraschino (1/2 barspoon Luxardo Maraschino)
2/3 Canadian Club Whisky (1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey)
1/3 French Vermouth (3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth)

Shake (stir, please) well and strain into cocktail glass.

I have to admit, I find the Brooklyn a bit odd. I can’t think of many other Dry, Aromatic Cocktails made with Brown Spirits. It seems profoundly out of sync with the usual tendency towards sweet, rich, aromatic brown drinks, but in a good way.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Sazerac Cocktail (Alberta Premium 25 Year)

Sazerac Cocktail 20 out of 28.

I have challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me. Hopefully, if I can get my act together we’ll have some video.

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Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (5ml Rich Simple Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (a couple dashes Peychaud’s Bitters)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (2 oz Alberta Premium 25 Year Canadian Rye Whisky)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with Absinthe (Sirene Absinthe Verte) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

As Canadian Club is given as an option, I suppose I have to make at least one Sazerac with Canadian Whisky.

While due to some bizarre relic of prohibition slang Canadian Whisky is sometimes referred to as “Rye”, very little Canadian Whisky actually contains enough Rye to be considered a “Rye Whiskey” by American legal standards. Most of what I’ve read suggests that the blend of grains is closer to American Bourbon. Mostly corn, with some Barley and a little Rye. But the method of manufacture is closer to that of Blended Scotch Whiskey than it is to American Bourbon. Portions of strongly flavored whiskies are blended together with other more highly distilled whiskies, resulting in a milder, less rough, easy drinking spirit. The resulting Whisky Blend can also be colored with caramel coloring and/or flavored with certain allowed agents.

Some of these Canadian Whiskies are good, and some just are not. The worst taste immediately and apparently of highly distilled alcohol and the flavor chemist’s laboratory.

My favorites so far are the 40 Creek Whiskies and this Alberta Premium 25 Year. Interestingly, the Alberta Whiskies (Alberta Premium, Alberta Springs, and Alberta Premium 25 Year) are some of the few Whiskies in the world made from 100% Rye distillate. However, they are all still blended whiskies.

Is this any good?

Damn straight, it is! While not as rough and tumble as most American Rye, this Canadian Whiskey is a fine, fine product, if a bit delicately flavored. I’d advise you, should you be lucky enough to have a bottle, to go easy on the sweeteners, bitters, and Absinthe, allowing what character the Whiskey brings to the party to come to the fore.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Sazerac Cocktail (Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye)

Sazerac Cocktail 20 out of 28.

I have challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me. Hopefully, if I can get my act together we’ll have some video.

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Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (10ml Rich Simple Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (a couple dashes Peychaud’s Bitters)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (2 oz Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, H1889)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with Absinthe (Sirene Absinthe Verte) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

Found this rye whiskey at Star Liquor in Madison, Wisconsin a few years ago.  About 15 years ago, when Mrs. Flannestad and I lived in Madison, Star Liquor was our neighborhood store.  I lived near it for a good 8 years and probably was in at least once a week from 1985 through 1993.  They were always helpful, especially during my periods of enthusiasm for this or that wine or beer.

Funnily, the last time we were in, we were vacationing in Wisconsin.  We hadn’t probably been in to the store for a good 10 years.  When they saw us, they recognized us immediately and asked us how things were going, as if we’d never left.  We had to kind of explain slowly that we’d moved to California about 10 years before, believe it or not.  We went on to buy a bunch of beer and spirits.

Since then, the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye has been sitting in the basement waiting for an occasion special enough to open it.

This is a big, sweet burly Rye, with a long, dry finish.  My guess is, if you were given it in a blind tasting with a mixed bunch of Bourbons and Ryes, you would put it in the group with the Bourbons.  Thus it doesn’t make a super fantastic Sazerac, at least in my mind.  In fact, mixing it with anything other than a touch of water is a bit of a waste of this great American Whiskey.  While I like mixing with them, there are very few Ryes I really consider sipping whiskeys, but this is definitely one of them.  If you see a bottle, do not hesitate to purchase.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Sazerac Cocktail (High West Rendezvous Rye)

Sazerac Cocktail 19 out of 28.

I have challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me. Hopefully, if I can get my act together we’ll have some video.

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Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (10ml Rich Simple Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (a couple dashes Peychaud’s Bitters)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (2 oz High West Rendezvous Rye)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with Absinthe (Greenway Distiller’s Absinthe Superior) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

Reading curmudgeonly posts recently from Chuck Cowdery (Potemkin Craft Distilleries), I discovered there is a bit of controversy regarding High West Rendezvous Rye.  Some take issue with the fact that High West sort of implies that they make their Ryes, when in fact they simply buy already distilled Ryes and blend them.  OK, they use the word “craft” on their website, as in, “small batch mountain crafted spirits”.  You have to dig a bit deeper to discover, “While High West’s own Rocky Mountain Whiskies age, we are fortunate to offer some beautiful and very unique whiskies we found that no one else was willing to sell.”  Cowdery questions whether they are ever planning on releasing their own Whiskies, as really they could have released a 4 year old rye by now.

Does it matter all that much?

A number of independent bottlers of Scotch solely buy and blend spirits, why should American whiskey manufacturers not be allowed to do the same, as long as the whiskies are tasty and they don’t mis-represent themselves?

And the Rendezvous Rye is quite tasty.  An interesting blend they claim is made up of two whiskies: a 6 year old made from 95% rye and a 16 year old made from 80% rye.  It reminds me most of the Michter’s US*1 Straight Rye, clean and relatively lightly flavored.

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As always, sharing Sazeracs is more fun than drinking them by yourself!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.