fbpx
Created by potrace 1.12, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2015

We're just loading our login box for you, hang on!

Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Old Fashioned Cocktail

Cocktail of the Week: The Improved Whiskey Cocktail

What’s better than a Whiskey Cocktail? A Fancy Whiskey Cocktail. And better than that? Why, the Improved Whiskey Cocktail, of course. It’s an Old Fashioned but slightly better.  Back in…

What’s better than a Whiskey Cocktail? A Fancy Whiskey Cocktail. And better than that? Why, the Improved Whiskey Cocktail, of course. It’s an Old Fashioned but slightly better. 

Back in the good old days, a cocktail was a specific type of drink rather than a generic term for an iced mixed drink. The Cocktail Book from 1900 lists pages of drinks called ‘cocktails’ that are variations on the spirit (or wine) plus bitters, sugar and ice theme. But you can also see new drinks creeping in involving vermouth like the Manhattan and early versions of the Martini. Therefore, in the book, an old timey Whiskey Cocktail is called a Whiskey Cocktail Old-Fashioned to differentiate it. There’s also something called a ‘Fancy’ version made with maraschino liqueur as a sweetener. So fancy!

The Old Fashioned may have been old fashioned but doesn’t mean that it stopped evolving in 1845. It’s an endlessly versatile drink, which is why bartenders love coming up with new versions of it. Jerry Thomas, of the Eldorado Hotel in San Francisco, is usually credited with the invention of the Fancy Old Fashioned. Though more likely it was something that was around at the time and he was the first person to write it down in his Bartenders Guide: How to Mix all Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks (1887). There’s that word again, fancy.

Adding maraschino liqueur to a drink that was often garnished with a bittersweet cherry is not such a leap. It’s just a twist on a classic. But Thomas’s next step was more extreme: to turn a ‘Fancy’ into an ‘Improved’, he added absinthe taking the Old Fashioned dangerously into Sazerac territory. For the many who loathe aniseed this is not so much improved as ruined. 

Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Looks fancy. Sorry, I mean improved

Even as an aniseed lover, I will concede that a little goes a long way, so rather than add a teaspoon as with most recipes, you can add a few drops as a wash to the glass and shake it out before adding the rest of the ingredients. I’m using Ricard instead of absinthe as it’s what I’ve got in the house. It provides just a background note of aniseed. If you’re using proper absinthe which is drier instead of pastis then you might want to add more sugar. Then it’s a question of which whiskey to use. Well, it’s got to be American. Thomas would probably have used a rye but I’ve chosen a classic all-rounder bourbon, Woodford Reserve. It’s a really complex, well-balanced drop made, unusually for Kentucky, in a pot still. I’m serving it on the rocks but you could stir it over ice and serve it straight up. Oh and don’t forget the bitters. I’m using a mixture of Angostura and just a drop of orange which really lifts the whole thing.

Right, let’s improve a whiskey cocktail!

60cl Woodford Reserve bourbon
1 tablespoon Luxardo maraschino liqueur
1 tablespoon sugar syrup
1 tsp Ricard pastis (or absinthe)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dash Fee Brothers orange bitters

Add a teaspoon of pastis to an Old Fashioned glass, swirl it around and then shake it out. Add lots of ice cubes, all the other ingredients and give it a good stir. Express a piece of orange over the top and then serve. 

No Comments on Cocktail of the Week: The Improved Whiskey Cocktail

New Arrival of the Week: Boondocks 11 Year Old Cask Strength whiskey

This week we’re highlighting an American whiskey that’s very close to a bourbon in style but with one crucial difference, created by former Woodford Reserve supremo Dave Scheurich. Whisky distillers…

This week we’re highlighting an American whiskey that’s very close to a bourbon in style but with one crucial difference, created by former Woodford Reserve supremo Dave Scheurich.

Whisky distillers are like master criminals, no, not in terms of morals, well, some of them are, but that’s another story. What they have in common is that both announce their retirements, only to be lured out by one final job. Think of Jim McEwan who retired from Bruichladdich in 2015 only to be made an offer he couldn’t refuse by the Hunter Laing mob when they were setting up a new distillery on Islay, Ardnahoe

Then there’s Dave Scheurich, who retired from Brown-Forman in 2010 after over 21 years at the bourbon giant.  He was instrumental in setting up the Woodford Reserve brand and making it one of the most admired whiskeys in America. Before that he had stints with Wild Turkey, and 14 years man and boy at Seagram, the now-defunct Canadian giant who dominated the international spirits business before collapsing in 2000. In 2012 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by Whiskey Advocate magazine. After that sort of career, most of us would be happy to take up fishing and long-winded anecdotes, but not Scheurich.

In 2016, it was announced that he had teamed up with the Royal Wine Company (a New York-based business that specialises in kosher wine) to create a new American whiskey brand, Boondocks. The name is inspired by a slightly-pejorative word used by fancy city types for the countryside. What we might call it ‘the back of beyond’. 

The aim was to create fine American whiskeys that were a bit different from the bourbon norm. Despite its corn-heavy mash bill (80% corn with the rest rye and malted barley), our New Arrival can’t be called bourbon because it’s not put in new oak casks. Instead like much Scotch, it’s aged in used casks. It’s also significantly older than most American whiskeys, which to be sold as such in the EU only have to be three years old (and can be much younger in the home market). This is also bottled at cask strength, 63.5% ABV, something that will appeal to aficionados. There’s also a 47.5% ABV version as well as an 8 year old bourbon.

With a name like Boondocks, you’d probably imagine it’s made in a tiny distillery in the woods, miles from the nearest town of any size, that hasn’t changed much since prohibition was repealed and staffed mainly by men called Jedediah. Sadly, nothing so romantic as the brand doesn’t have its own distillery and buys in its whiskey. Nothing wrong with that, lots of brands in whiskey, especially in the US and Ireland, don’t make their own spirit, it’s just not such a good story.

Still what matters most is what’s in the glass. And it’s good, really good, with a depth of flavour you don’t often find in American whiskeys. Previous releases have won awards like a Gold Medal at the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition 2016 and Best of Category in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2016. It’s a great sipper either with a splash of water, with ice or I can’t think of a better whiskey for an Old Fashioned. Drink it slowly, let the ice dilute the high strength and see how it changes.

Tasting note from the Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Strong coffee with just a splash of milk, rich cherry sweetness and a subtly floral hint.

Palate: Toasted almonds and spicy rye, underneath layers of brown sugar and cookie dough.

Finish: Lingering buttery corn and stem ginger.

Boondocks Cask Strength 11 Year Old American Whiskey is available from Master of Malt.

 

No Comments on New Arrival of the Week: Boondocks 11 Year Old Cask Strength whiskey

Cocktails in cans are not to be sniffed at

From canned G&Ts to bottled Negronis, It’s never been easier to buy a portable bar-quality drink on the hop. We explore how pre-mixed cocktails turned premium – and share a selection…

From canned G&Ts to bottled Negronis, It’s never been easier to buy a portable bar-quality drink on the hop. We explore how pre-mixed cocktails turned premium – and share a selection of our favourite ready-to-go tipples…

Whether they’re released by established distilleries, bottled by entrepreneurial bartenders, or engineered by savvy start-ups, today’s ready-to-drink (RTD) serves tend to favour high quality, often ‘natural’ ingredients, all wrapped up in slick, Instagrammable packaging. All being said, we’ve come a long way since the likes of WKD Blue and Smirnoff Ice reigned supreme.

Historically, the pre-mixed arena has been “dominated by big spirit brands, for whom it made sense to produce cheap ‘spirit and mixer’-type RTD’s to ensure their product could be consumed more easily on the go,” explains Harry Farnham, co-founder of Bloody Drinks. This meant convenience was important, but quality less so, he says, which created a race to the bottom in terms of price.

“This is now changing, and for lots of reasons,” Farnham continues. “One of the most obvious is the knock-on effect of the explosion of ultra-premium craft beer in cans. With their craft credentials, complex taste and striking designs, they’ve proved that discerning consumers will spend a lot of money on a canned drink.”

Ready to drink Negroni Sbagliato? Don’t mind if do

While today’s RTDs may be a far cry from the sickly-sweet, E number-addled alcopops of the 2000s, there’s an element of nostalgia behind our penchant for portable tipples, says Steph DiCamillo, global advocacy manager at Atom Brands“The age bracket of people who are driving the growth grew up with RTDs seen as a teenager’s drink – overly sweet and immature,” she says. “The new RTDs are quite different in terms of complexity, aesthetic and sugar content. Yet, they give just enough nostalgia to the drinkers to get them intrigued in the first place.”

Thankfully, the artificial colours and fake flavours once associated with RTD’s – particularly those of the bottled variety – have been left in the past, driven by demand for craft cocktails beyond the traditional bar setting. We may not be drinking them in a bar, but we want the same experience, says Deano Moncrieffe, co-owner of east London bar Hacha“Consumers want a cocktail that is familiar in name but uniquely hand-crafted with a point of difference, much like our bottled Mirror Margarita,” he explains. It’s crystal clear, he explains, but tastes like a classic Margarita – “with all the flavours you would normally associate with that cocktail”. 

The RTD market also presents an opportunity for distillers to present their signature serve as they envisage it. With canned serves increasingly dominating shelf space in the RTD sphere, distilleries across the country are going all-out to capture the essence of their signature serve and double down on the latest drinks trends. As such, nailing the flavour profile has wider implications. 

It’s a Margarita but colourless, how is that possible?

“We have the ability to include more natural ingredients and interesting flavours,” says Victoria Miller, on-trade and prestige sales manager at Scotland’s Eden Mill, which is currently developing and expanding its RTD range – the latest addition being non-alcoholic Eden Nil. “The correct, or ‘perfect’ serve is important, particularly in a new category such as this,” Miller adds.

Pre-mixed can also be hive for experimentation, with a shift towards more innovative flavours and profiles, says James Law, co-owner of Longflint Drinks Company. But it has its limits. “The G&T rules the roost for good reason; unlike many cocktails it’s a straight spirits and mixer offering and that makes it perfect for the format,” he continues. “It’s really hard to capture the magic of an Espresso Martini or Mojito in a can.”

So, what do we want from our pre-mixed cocktails? First of all, complexity, says DiCamillo. “It isn’t enough to have just a peach flavoured RTD – it’s white peach with a hint of basil. There is demand for a name recognised spirit, but it seems to be the flavour cues on the label people are initially intrigued by.” We’re also keen on lower sugar, drier-style drinks more akin to a beer. “People want to be able to sip all afternoon, not have just one,” she continues. “This also speaks to the ABV, with a trend towards slightly lower 4-5%, so they can be sessionable.” 

Design-wise, many labels are “bright, loud, and graphic”, inspired by the craft beer market, says DiCamillo, though she forecasts “increasingly sleek minimalist styles emerging in the next few years”. Finally, there’s the price. “The RTD has to be competitive with craft beer. Once you creep into the price of a cocktail in a bar, it is hard to justify the value,” she says. “One exception to this would be the use of high-end ingredients like truffle and extra aged spirits.”

That Boutique-y Gin Company, funky packaging

The biggest challenge for any canned drinks brand, says Farnham, is demonstrating that canned does not equal compromise – and “with a product as complex as a Bloody Mary, that’s all the more important. The dream for people is to crack open a can, pour over ice and for it to match what you would be served in a bar,” he says. “In reality, it’s only by canning our blend of premium ingredients that this becomes possible, while keeping it fresh enough to be enjoyed instantly, anytime you want it,” he says.

The convenience factor associated with the burgeoning RTD category – “meeting the demand for people wanting faster ‘speed of serve’ when it comes to drinking” says Joe Sanders, UK director at bottled cocktail company ELY – has echoed across the industry. “Kegged cocktails are becoming really popular with bars wanting to serve the likes of Espresso Martinis as fast as possible without compromising on quality,” he says. “We have developed our own Nitro system which delivers a quality consistency – foamed top of the cocktail – every time.” 

Looking ahead, Law predicts the next RTD trend will be “all about sugar – or lack of it,” he says. “The hard seltzer category has exploded in the US, but will it work this side of the pond? I think it will, but with a slightly different approach – I’m not sure you can just shoehorn in the language, design and flavour styles and expect it to work off the bat. It’s an unusual category but one that’s looking more and more important.”

And DiCamillo agrees. “I think healthy-no and low beverages will tie into the RTD cocktails,” she says. “Terms like low-sugar, low ABV, and natural flavourings will pop up – they’re already being littered across cocktail bars. I expect ‘CBD-infused’, ‘vitamin-enriched’, and similar ideas will start to be incorporated into RTDs in the near future. “

Below, we’ve picked out four pre-mixed drinks for your perusing pleasure. For more options, check out the entire selection here.

That Boutique-y Gin Company Yuzu Gin Collins
Starward Old Fashioned
Sipsmith Gin & Tonic
Tinkture Negroni Classico 

 

No Comments on Cocktails in cans are not to be sniffed at

New Arrival of the Week: Michter’s US*1 Sour Mash Toasted Barrel Finish

This week we’re drinking a Kentucky whiskey with an unusual twist, it’s been aged in barrels that are toasted rather than charred! What’s all that about? Michter’s whiskey has something…

This week we’re drinking a Kentucky whiskey with an unusual twist, it’s been aged in barrels that are toasted rather than charred! What’s all that about?

Michter’s whiskey has something of a convoluted history. It was originally founded in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania in 1753 by John Shenk who began distilling rye. He was a Mennonite, a religious sect like the Amish, think beards without moustaches, putting up wooden houses quickly and strictly no motor cars. Especially in 1753.

This was pre-independence when the 13 original colonies of British America were still part of the mother country. During the War of Independence, George Washington is said to have purchased Shenk’s whiskey for his troops to keep their morale up. It seems to have worked as the rebellious colonists won the war and thus the United States of America was born.

Shenk’s distillery was bought by Abraham Bomberger in the 1860s and became known as Bomberger’s. Then in the 1950s, the name was changed again by the distillery’s then owner Lou Forman by combining the names of his sons Michael and Peter: ta da, Michter’s!  Pennsylvania was once famous for its rye whiskey but by the 1980s rye as a category was dying and the venerable old distillery closed in 1989. It’s now a National Historic Landmark but sadly in a state of severe dilapidation. Ominously, according to Wikipedia: “The distillery closed in 1989 and may have since been demolished.” 

Happily the brand was revived by a company called Chatham Imports. There’s been some legal argie bargie over the name Bomberger’s since but we won’t go into that now.  The Michter’s magic now happens at the Fort Nelson distillery (see image in header) in the heart of bourbon country Louisville, Kentucky under the watchful eyes of master distillery Dan McKee and head of maturation Andrea Wilson. Last year it opened a visitor centre on the famous Whiskey Row. 

The standard rye whiskey is a benchmark, particularly popular with bartenders, while there are all kinds of bourbons and whiskeys produced too. Which brings us on to this week’s New Arrival. Because of its unusual grain bill, it can’t be categorised as either a rye or a bourbon (which would have to be at least 51% rye or corn respectively.) In the sour mash process a portion of the last ferment is added to the next to get things going rather like with sourdough bread, only better because you end up with whiskey. This is produced as with the standard Sour Mash but then it undergoes secondary maturation in, according to Michter’s: “a second custom made barrel. This second barrel is assembled from 18-month air-dried wood and then toasted but not charred.” It’s bottled at a nice punchy 43% ABV and only produced in limited quantities. You’ll probably want to sip this neat to appreciate those fancy casks but you can also channel your inner Mennonite with an Old Fashioned

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Golden Grahams, orange peel, soft oaky smoke and a hint of menthol.

Palate: Honey on toast, salted butter, vanilla pod earthiness and white pepper heat.

Finish: Cinnamon, floral grains and another waft of smoke.

Michter’s US*1 Sour Mash Toasted Barrel Finish is now available from Master of Malt.

 

No Comments on New Arrival of the Week: Michter’s US*1 Sour Mash Toasted Barrel Finish

Cocktail of the Week: the Sherry Cobbler

This week we’re going way back, we’re talking old school, with a drink that makes an Old Fashioned look positively modern: it’s the Sherry Cobbler! Earlier this month, Nate Brown…

This week we’re going way back, we’re talking old school, with a drink that makes an Old Fashioned look positively modern: it’s the Sherry Cobbler!

Earlier this month, Nate Brown told us that sherry was a bartender’s secret weapon, adding complexity and seasoning to cocktails. But what about if you use sherry as the main ingredient? Before the word cocktail was even invented, people on both sides of the Atlantic were making mixed drinks out of fortified wine.

Such drinks would have been familiar to Shakespeare. Falstaff calls for a sort of sherry cocktail in The Merry Wives of Windsor: “Go fetch me a quart of sack (sherry); put a toast in’t.” The Elizabethans would have drunk much of their sherry laced with sugar, spices and, er, toast. It was a good way of disguising the poor quality of the wine. They would also have served these drinks hot to create a sort of mulled sherry.

What the Americans brought to the party was ice. The Cobbler unites a traditional English way of serving sherry with the American love of cold drinks. It’s just sherry with sugar and served with crushed ice and fruit. Long before freezers were invented, Americans would harvest huge blocks of ice in the winter months from the Great Lakes and keep it in special insulated chests so they could have cold drinks throughout the winter. An article in 1838 from a New York newspaper said that an ice box “is now considered as much an article of necessity as a carpet or dining table.”

Charles Dickens picked up the taste for chilled drinks on his American reading tours. He liked the Sherry Cobbler so much that in his novel Martin Chuzzlewit, the eponymous hero refers to it as a “wonderful invention.” Dickens didn’t just limit himself to Cobblers. Apparently, on the gruelling 1867 tour of America, he took most of his nutrition from sherry flips: made with a mixture of sherry, eggs, sugar and nutmeg.

sherry cobbler

Sherry cobbler, don’t forget the garnish

While the Flip requires a bit of skill, the Cobbler could not be simpler. If you don’t have an ice crusher, just bash some ice cubes in a bag with a rolling pin. I would recommend using a reasonable quality amontillado sherry, you want that nutty taste to come through, though don’t use anything too pricey. The González Byass Viña AB Amontillado Seco fits the bill perfectly. You could also use an oloroso, or a sweetened sherry like Harvey’s Bristol Cream in which case cut back on the sugar. But you don’t have to limit yourself to sherry: there are all kinds of other cobbles: Champagne, Port, claret and even Sauternes. Finally don’t stint on the garnish: orange and lemon slices are essential, as is mint, but you could also sling in a strawberry or maraschino cherry. Think of the Cobbler as a distant ancestor of Pimm’s. It’s the perfect drink for a hot lazy summer’s day. 

150 ml González Byass Viña AB
2 teaspoons of sugar syrup
Dash of Angostura Orange Bitters
Orange and lemon slices
Mint to garnish 

In a highball glass (or you can use a Hurricane, Sling or Old Fashioned glass), add the sherry and the sugar syrup. Stir and taste, you might want to add more sweetness. Fill up with crushed ice, add a dash of bitters and stir. Garnish with a lemon and an orange slice, and a sprig of mint.

No Comments on Cocktail of the Week: the Sherry Cobbler

The Old Fashioned: The original cocktail

With Old Fashioned Week (1 – 10 November) on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to take a closer look at a cocktail so good that they named a glass…

With Old Fashioned Week (1 – 10 November) on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to take a closer look at a cocktail so good that they named a glass after it.

After years when it was thought, well, a bit old fashioned, the Old Fashioned is now decidedly hip. A week devoted to its pleasures was started in 2015 by two Frenchmen, Michael Landart from Maria Loca bar in Paris, and Cyrille Hugon, founder of Paris Rumfest. The first year there were 50 participating bars, all in France; this November they are expecting over 1000 participants on every continent. So to get you in the mood, find a comfy chair, pour yourself a drink (recipe at the end), and we will take a journey back in time…

No Comments on The Old Fashioned: The original cocktail

Toast the royal wedding! We reimagine the Royal Family as cocktails

Charge your glasses and ready your bunting, folks – the royal wedding is officially upon us! To mark the occasion in the only way we know how, we’ve reimagined 10…

Charge your glasses and ready your bunting, folks – the royal wedding is officially upon us! To mark the occasion in the only way we know how, we’ve reimagined 10 of the royal family as cocktail serves. Enjoy!

For anyone who hasn’t been paying attention (and apologies if you’ve been hiding from it all), tomorrow Prince Harry, sixth in line to the British throne, and Meghan Markle, actor and activist, will wed at Windsor Castle in what promises to be one of the most quintessentially British shindigs of the entire year.

No Comments on Toast the royal wedding! We reimagine the Royal Family as cocktails

Mixing spoons at the ready! Our guide to crafting a cracking Old Fashioned

Whether you’re an accomplished at-home bartender or tend to leave it to the professionals, we’re sure you’ll agree the Old Fashioned is a no-nonsense cocktail staple. Coinciding with Old Fashioned…

Whether you’re an accomplished at-home bartender or tend to leave it to the professionals, we’re sure you’ll agree the Old Fashioned is a no-nonsense cocktail staple. Coinciding with Old Fashioned Week, running from 2 November, here’s our take on how to perfect the historic serve…

Of all the classic cocktails, the Old Fashioned is as classic as they come; a serve entrenched in the very beginnings of cocktail history. The first written recipe record of spirit, sugar and bitters dates back to 1802, with the world’s first celebrity bartender, Jerry Thomas, proclaiming it the ‘Whiskey Cocktail’ in 1862. A little over 30 years later, Manhattan bartender George J. Kappeler lists that tried and trusted trio of ingredients as a Brandy Old Fashioned in his book Modern American Drinks, coining the term on paper.

It’s now officially the best-selling classic cocktail in the world – its recent resurgence is often attributed to Mad Men’s Don Draper, who swaggers through the sixties with a tumbler in-hand – and also, unofficially, the most contentious. Sugar cube or simple syrup? Lemon or orange garnish? One big chunk of ice, or a cluster of smaller cubes? How many times should it be stirred? Bourbon, rye, or another spirit altogether? I started making it three hours ago, and it’s still not ready? Good lord, are you muddling cherries? It goes on.

No Comments on Mixing spoons at the ready! Our guide to crafting a cracking Old Fashioned

New 50cl Cocktails from The Handmade Cocktail Company!

The Handmade Cocktail Company‘s range of Pre-Bottled Cocktails has had a bit of a shake-up! From today, the entire 2015 selection will be available in 50cl bottles alongside the award-winning…

50cl Handmade Cocktail Company 2015

The Handmade Cocktail Company‘s range of Pre-Bottled Cocktails has had a bit of a shake-up! From today, the entire 2015 selection will be available in 50cl bottles alongside the award-winning 70cl editions that were first launched over four years ago.

As well as updated recipes, there’s also a brand new addition for 2015 – another graduate from the Experimental Series: The Boulevardier! Do you enjoy a delicious Negroni? How about a classic Manhattan? Well if you answered yes to either or both of those questions then you’ll love The Boulevardier, made with top quality bourbon with a very high rye content, a blend of sweet vermouths and classic bitter apéritif. That said, if you like a Negroni or Manhattan, they’re available from The Handmade Cocktail Company too!

No Comments on New 50cl Cocktails from The Handmade Cocktail Company!

Master of Cocktails – Salted Caramel Old-Fashioned

Right then, cocktail fans. For this week’s #MasterofCocktails, we’re going to be making a Salted Caramel Old-Fashioned recipe. Yum yum. If you’re planning on making along with this week’s #MasterofCocktails,…

Master of Cocktails Salted Caramel Old Fashioned

Right then, cocktail fans. For this week’s #MasterofCocktails, we’re going to be making a Salted Caramel Old-Fashioned recipe. Yum yum.

If you’re planning on making along with this week’s #MasterofCocktails, you’re going to need to do a bit of prep a day or so in advance. This includes making the Salted Caramel, dissolving the sugar and salt (as well as fat-washing the whisky), filtering it and adding the bitters.

This will leave you with very little left to do when the time comes to actually serve your Salted Caramel Old-Fashioned, which is quite handy indeed.

No Comments on Master of Cocktails – Salted Caramel Old-Fashioned

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search