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Tag Archives: whiskey

Lincoln, NE – August 8, 2012

Another trip to the heartland (it’s pretty easy to see why Springsteen went to Nebraska to record “Nebraska”) and another opportunity to sample what Lincoln offers – which is a lot!

I had the evening by myself.  I’d walked by Dish on my earlier visits and decided to try it out this time.  I was there on a Wednesday night, and it was fairly quiet, which suited me as I pulled up a seat at the bar.

I was greeted by Teresa behind the bar and quickly learned that she had the cocktail mixing chops to go with the excellent selection of liquor and liqueurs behind the bar.  She made me a two speciality cocktails, with a Scapa single malt whiskey sandwiched in between, and all were excellent.

The first cocktail was their riff on a Manhattan that featured orange and allspice infused Maker’s Mark, just a splash of sweet vermouth and Agnostura bitters.  I had it on the rocks and enjoyed it.  Normally, I would consider infusing Maker’s with anything to be heresay, but this worked well.  Frankly, as I shared with Teresa, it was very similar in taste to a Twilight Lounge favorite, which is just to add a dash of orange bitters to rye whiskey on the rocks.

My second drink of the evening was the very straight forward Scapa with just a single ice cube.   I could almost taste the salt spray on my lips as I sipped this for the first time.  It wasn’t as smokey as I usually like in a single malt, but it was delightfully smooth with a hint of vanilla (which would have made the perfect after dinner scotch for me this night).  

 The last cocktail effort of the night was a blend of Hendrick gin and Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur with a bit of lemon.  I nice way to finish the evening.

The off menu dinner and dessert specials that she suggested were also spot on.  The shrimp and scallps were perfectly grilled and served with jasmine rice, spinach and a pepper pesto type creation.  The portion size was just right.  Dessert was an amazing homemade vanilla ice cream on top of a pecan chocolate brownie with rasberries, black cherries and an incredible Bailey’s Irish Cream sauce.  It was awesome!

I”m looking forward to my next trip to Lincoln — Thanks Teresa!

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Lincoln, NE – March 14, 2012

During my last trip to Lincoln I found several nice places that made up for my disappointment with Marz.  However, hands down, the best of the bunch is the Bourbon Theater.  I can assure you the next time and every time I’m in Lincoln I’ll be stopping by to see Luke Edson!

The Bourbon Theater is an interesting venue – a music club (the night I was there featured a DJ playing house, very loudly) along with an amazingingly well stocked bar and the very talented Luke Edson behind the bar.

For openers, I enjoyed that fact that Luke spent a few minutes chatting with me to find out what I like in a drink.  After our conversation he made me his twist on a Rob Roy.   Featuring Skye scotch along with Dubonnet, orange bitters and an orange twist, this was an amazing cocktail – and better than the original Rob Roy.  This wonderful smokey scotch with the orange flavors was very cohesive and well done. 

The next drink Luke made for me was the Mont Blanc, an original of his.  Here it is.

  Mont Blanc

  • 1-1/2 oz St. Remy brandy (or better)
  • 3/4 oz Bianco vermouth
  • 1/4 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 1/4 – 1/3 oz Averna

In my notes at the time I wrote “OMG amazing!”  It’s like a boozy dessert.  Vanilla notes, a hint of cherry and an almost creamy texture.  This is, without a doubt, one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. 

By the way, if you want to make this at home (and I will be!) you will need the use Bianco vermouth, not dry vermouth.  Bianco is a sweetened white vermouth and using dry will not yeild the same result at all!

Cheers!

Milwaukee, WI – March 7, 2012

So I’m sitting at the bar and I hear, in this low, almost whispering voice, “Nice pants.”  I look around and there’s no one within ear shot, so I shrug it off and take another sip of my drink.  But then I hear the voice again, “Great looking haircut.”  Again, I look around and nothing.  I try to shrug it off, but when a few minutes later the voice asks “Have you lost weight?” I call the bartender over.

“Brett, I keep hearing this voice saying things like “nice pants” and “great haircut”.  What gives, are you screwing with me?”

Brett looks me right in the eye and tells me, “It’s the peanuts, they’re complimentary.”

One of the nice things about Bryant’s (South 9th and Lapham, Milwaukee) is that you don’t have to worry about either random hours or complimentary nuts distracting your taste buds from the cocktails.  Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had occasion to stop by and enjoy these two outstanding creations by Emily.

First is the Glamour Shot, pictured above.  When Emily asked what I was in the mood for I quickly answered gin, but that I didn’t want something run of the mill or a classic.  So, out came the Plymouth gin, Domaine de Canton liqueur, Cynar liqueur, bar syrup and lemon juice.  An interesting combination I thought, between the ginger Canton and the bitter Cynar, with is derived from, among other things, artichoke.  The result was a terrific cocktail that leads with the ginger of the Canton then quickly follows with a slightly bitter bite.  The bar syrup and lemon juice round out the drink and give it balance so that it’s boozy, but in a mellow way.  An excellent offering from Emily.

The second drink is her Milwaukee Manhattan.  This drink was designed for a contest that Emily had entered (and, incidently, won) for the best variation on the classic Manhattan.  Featuring Bulliet rye whiskey with the usual sweet and dry vermouths (making this on perfect) and both Agnostura and Peychauds bitters, the twist is the addition of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur (which I love!).  Again, a very well constructed cocktail that tasted incredible.  The cherry from the Luxardo was out in front on this one, with the sweet vermouth, bitters and rye filling in behind it.  This is a complex cocktail, with layers of flavors to be discovered.  Again, kudos to Emily for a job well done.

Cheers!

Milwaukee, WI – February 16, 2012

As some of you know, I’m a fan of the Dinner Party Download podcast from NPR (and now a bona fide radio show).  If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should.  It’s lively, it’s entertaining and it helps prepare you for the weekend’s dinner party or other social events.  And, it has a weekly cocktail!

A while back (in October of 2010 to be exact) they ran a history bit regarding the great London Beer Flood of 1814.  It seems that a vat filled with 135,000 imperial gallons of beer gave way, causing more vats of beer to also collapse.  In the end over 320,000 imperial gallons of beer crashed out of the brewery and into the surrounding neighborhood, killing nine and destroying a number of homes and businesses (including several taverns).   

So where else to get a cocktail to remember the event than Milwaukee?  A call was made to Bryant’s looking for an appropriate cocktail, and bartender Katie Rose was up to the task, creating the “Last Call to Porter” for the show. 

Fast forward a year and a half, and, finally, I was at Bryant’s on an evening when Katie Rose was on duty.  I asked if she had what she needed to make me the Last Call to Porter, and, yes, she did!

  Last Call to Porter

  • 1 oz Knob Creek bourbon
  • 1/2 oz green Chartreuse
  • 1/2 oz Benedictine
  • Porter beer

Combine the bourbon, Chartreuse and Benedictine in a shaker with ice and shake hard.  Strain into a chilled coupe and top with your favorite porter.

A wonderful, woody flavor emerged and danced across my tongue.  The combination of the liqueurs and the porter leave an impression of Aperol, but the finish is much stronger and is a very nice mix of sweet and bitter.  A fantastic effort by Katie Rose!

As to how she came up with the ingredients, she makes it sound easy.  The Knob Creek is aged for nine years and thus represents the nine who died in the flood.  The Chartreuse and Benedictine were selected since beer was originally invented by monks (and these two liqueurs were as well).  And the porter – well, you shouldn’t have to ask.

So, the next time you stop by Bryant’s and Katie Rose is behind the bar ask for a Last Call to Porter.

Cheers!

Milwaukee, WI – February 14, 2012

Valentine’s Day and Gwen and I decided to try someplace new for dinner.  A quick flip through our entertainment guide and I found The Eatery on Farwell in Milwaukee’s Eastside neighborhood.  It turned out to be a great find!

As usual, before ordering dinner we had a cocktail.  I was pleased to see a number of original cocktails on the menu (and none of them incorrectly termed a martini!).  After perusing the list I settled on the Hot Dan.  I was eager to try it because it used Roaring Dan’s Maple Rum from local distiller Great Lakes Distillery.  I love to see local restaurants supporting local providers!  In addition to the rum, the Hot Dan is made with house made allspice, simple syrup, cloves, a squeeze of orange and hot water. 

My first impression was the maple from the rum with an added sweet component to the flavor.  There was a hint of citrus on the back end, thank you orange slice.  A nice drink to chase away the chill of a cold Valentine’s Day evening.  The farther I got into this drink, the more the allspice took over.  By the time I was done with the cocktail the allspice was a bit too powerful – I’d like to see a little less of that in the drink and either a bit more orange or perhaps even a dash of Agnostura bitters. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, the Hot Dan is a good cocktail.  Gwen had the KK Smash, another cocktail featuring a spirit for Great Lakes Distillery (Kinnickinnic Whiskey in this case) that is a twist on the whiskey sour.  It was delicious!

As for dinner – it was fantastic.  The Pig in a Pot was absolutely fantastic, with mushroom duxelle providing an absolutely wonderful base for the pork tenderloin.  The presentation, in a terra cotta flower pot, was terrific and the potato galette was a fantastic accompaniement.  The Braised Short Ribs were also excellent and the root vegetable mash that came with it was every bit as good as well.

The next time you find yourself hungry or thirsty and in the vicinity of Farwell Ave. in the Eastside, you can’t go wrong with The Eatery on Farwell!

Cheers!

The Twilight Lounge – February 3, 2012

Friday night was movie night around here and I had selected Patton to watch.  This definitely called for a cocktail, and I was in the mood for something new and different.  I also had a taste for St. Germain, so I went to their website to see what the had and found the Elder Fashion.  A twist on the Old Fashioned, and very straightforward to make, I decided to give it a whirl.

The original recipe called for rye whiskey, St. Germain and Angostura bitters, garnished with an orange slice.  I made the first one that way, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted – it was missing the orange/cherry components of the Old Fashioned.  So when I mixed up the second one I used orange bitters rather than Angostura.  That hit the spot!  I’ve always enjoyed the flavor of rye whiskey with orange bitters, and the St. Germain gave just the right level of sweet and that hint of elderflower.

  Elder Fashion

  • 3 oz Old Overholt rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz St. Germain
  • 1 dash orange bitters

In a rocks glass combine all the ingredients and stir.  Add 3-4 ice cubes or an ice ball, garnish with an orange twist and serve.

Much simpler to make than an Old Fashioned and just as tasty!  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Cheers!

Germantown, WI – December 18, 2011

Well, another 3 hours of watching the futility known as Cleveland Browns football.  The game started well enough with an opening touchdown drive that featured the bruising, no nonsense running of Petyon Hillis.  I actually felt like the Browns offense may have found a groove today between Hillis and his punishing running style and the athletic Seneca Wallace at quarterback getting the ball downfield to the Brown’s receivers. 

After that opening drive I decided to have a cocktail, and even though I want to feature gin over the next couple of weeks, I was inspired to have rye whiskey by watching Hillis.  Rye seems to match Peyton’s straight forward style of play.  Here’s what I came up with.

  Peyton Hillis

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/8 oz bar syrup
  • 1 dash of orange bitters
  • 1 lemon slice

In a rocks glass muddle the lemon slice with the bar syrup and bitters.  Add 5-6 ice cubes and the vermouth and rye and stir.  Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Mmm, I do always like the combination of orange bitters and rye, and I did again in this cocktail.  It is a takeoff on a traditional old fashioned, using lemon for a brighter taste than the orange in an old fashioned. 

Unfortunately, as I sipped my new cocktail creation I was again treated to the sight of the Browns unable to maintain their edge and losing yet again.  At least the cocktail was good!

Cheers!

Day 347, Cocktail 355

Yes, I’m still alive – although based on my 50th some of you may have thought I’d dropped dead!  Actually, what has happened is that I’ve started a new job that requires a fair amount of travel.  Last in particular was hectic, but on the other hand I will have the opportunity to try new cocktails while travelling, so all is well.  Now to the task at hand, getting caught up here.

A week ago Friday I was back to egg fizz cocktails, finishing up the exploration I had begun earlier that week.  The last cocktail of this side journey was inspired by the earlier reported Whiskey Fizz, but with addition of egg white.  Since the gin version of this cocktail in Degroff’s “The Craft of the Cocktail” is called the Silver Fizz, I decided to name this one the Golden Fizz.

  Golden Fizz

  • 1-1/2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz bar syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • lemon lime soda

Combine the bourbon, lemon juice, bar syrup and egg white in a shaker with ice.  Shake vigorously to combine and get a nice emulsion going with the egg white.  Strain into a chilled Delmonico glass and top with lemon lime soda.

Mmmm, this is good.  The extra body and creaminess from the egg really takes what was a Whiskey Fizz to a new level.  This drink is even pleasing to the eye with its white, foamy head.  You can also use any good bourbon or rye whiskey in this one.

Cheers!

Day 344, Cocktail 351

Well, I guess this serves me right.  I didn’t take any pictures of Tuesday’s cocktail, a whiskey fizz.  I did a quick online search for photos of whiskey fizz and I found some very nice ones, but just didn’t feel right using someone else’s photograph of the cocktail.  So I got cute and thought, “hey, I’ll find something sexy to use” and did a search for whiskey chicks.  Well, you can see how that turned out…

  Whiskey Fizz

  • 1-1/2 oz rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz bar syrup
  • lemon lime soda

Combine everything but the lemon lime soda in a shaker with ice cubes and shake to mix and chill.  Strain into a collins glass filled with ice cubes and top with lemon lime soda.  Garnish with a lemon wedge.

This recipe came from Dale Degroff’s “The Craft of the Cocktail”, and it is very good – it beats just a plain rye and 7-Up anyday.  The lemon adds a much fresher component to the recipe than you would otherwise get just using the soda.  I used Jim Beam rye in this one, but a good bourbon would work just as well.

Cheers!

Day 343, Cocktails 348, 349 & 350

Monday evening found me at Ivee’s On Main to watch the NCAA basketball final.  While the game may have been lackluster, the cocktails were not!  Recently Colleen Graham had posted the Fancy Whiskey in her cocktail blog.  I thought it looked like a pretty good drink.  Plus, it easily lent itself to doing a multiple versions and some serious tasting comparisons based on the type of whiskey used.  So, in the name of science and to be able to give you a complete report I embarked on a fancy whiskey journey.

First, the Fancy Whiskey recipe is:

  Fancy Whiskey

  • 2 oz whiskey(of your choice)
  • 1 oz bar syrup
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • dash Agnostura bitters

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Shake, shake, shake to combine and blend.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

So, the recipe is pretty straightforward.  Let’s see how things worked out as I tried different whiskies.  The first was made with Maker’s Mark bourbon.  It was good, with the flavor reminiscent of a Manhattan, except orange flavored.  While 1 oz of bar syrup sounds like a lot, it did not overly sweeten the drink.  The use of triple sec helped with this cause since it is not as sweet as Cointreau is.  The bitters also help to keep the sweetness in line.  All in all, a good drink.

For the second variant I moved to Scotch and had Davey make it with Dewar’s.  It was very similar in taste to the Maker’s Mark version with a smokey peat element from the Scotch.  Depending on your specific taste you could amp up the smokey component of this drink by using a stronger single malt such as Laphroaig.  Again, a very good cocktail that I wouldn’t hesitate to order or make in the future.

Finally, for version three I switched to Canadian whiskey, Canadian Club to be specific.  This version was the least memorable of the bunch, probably owing to Canadian whiskey’s mellow character, particularly when compared to bourbon and Scotch.  It was a good cocktail, but didn’t have the heft that the first two versions had.  Think of this as the Fancy Whiskey lite!

All in all, three good cocktails.  Maybe those boys from Butler should have tried one of these, it couldn’t have hurt there shooting!

Cheers!