A friend of mine sent me this recipe for a cocktail called Remember the Maine. The linked article gives some background, so I suggest clicking through, but here’s the recipe:
Remember the Maine
1 1/2 oz. rye whiskey (Reitz uses Bulleit Rye)
3/4 oz. Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth
1/4 oz. Cherry Heering
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir over ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has been “rinsed” in absinthe.
It sounded fantastic, but the problem was that I’ve never had any Carpano Antica nor any Cherry Heering handy with which to make it. So after doing some quick research into these ingredients, I came up with some more common-place replacements that I figured would do the trick. While the end result is a quite different drink, I must say that it’s quite tasty. Here it is:
1 1/2 oz. rye
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth (a very common brand in my case)
1/4 oz. creme de cassis (a not-too-sweet variety, mine comes from a small winemaker in Burgundy)
1/4–1/2 tsp. Fernet Branca
1/4–1/2 tsp. orange liqueur (I used a homemade version, again, not too sweet, but Grand Marnier might be nice here)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
The Fernet Branca and orange liqueur are meant to beef up the profile of the every-day sweet vermouth to bring it closer to the alleged complexity of Carpano Antica, while the creme de cassis stands in for the Cherry Heering. The rest of the preparation (stirred over ice, absinthe) is the same.
I’ll be keeping my eye out for Carpano Antica and Cherry Heering for sure, but in the mean time, this variation is doing just fine.
I’ve gotten questions from many friends and co-workers about what bourbon they should buy for their friend/boyfriend/roommate for the holiday season. This is always a difficult thing to judge since some of the best wiskies don’t always make for the classiest gift, but on the other hand many of the gift-like bottles aren’t the most original or demonstrative of taste.
With that in mind, here’s my American Hooch 2008 Gift Guide to help you navigate your social relationships with a properly chosen bottle of alcohol.
The Mantle Piece Bourbon
This one is for that someone on your list who wants something to show off to folks stopping by over the holidays. Willett Family Pot Still Reserve is certainly a fine tasting bourbon, with notes of butterscotch, cherry-sweetness, and honey, but it is most impressive in its profile. Your receipient will not only be impressed with the pot still shaped bottle, but also the wonderfully gurgly noise it makes when you pour. I wrote about it here.
This one might be a little tougher to find, but it will make an immediate visual impression. It will also run you around $40.
You could just as easily call this the “Nathan forgot to stop by LeNell’s this weekend edition,” but I’ll go for the classy way to look at things. Thus, in honor of the upcoming American holiday on Thursday, I will be detailing the recipe for a hooch of my very own design: Pumpkin Pie liqueur.
I started making liqueurs almost two years ago when I got curious about limoncello and scoured dusty internet message boards and long-neglected websites reading every recipe I could find. I eventually settled on a combination of a few involving lemon zest, grain alcohol, simple syrup, and a good bit of time. What came of that process was an incredibly bright, incredibly lemony, and incredibly potent liqueur that would make you forget lemons ever had an easy-going image to them.
Since then, I’ve had a few more missteps, but I’ve also had a few successes – one of which was my Pumpkin Pie liqueur.
I didn’t choose this week’s tasting for its nominal similarities to the blog, but I’d be lying if I said it was completely unrelated. I first read about American Honey in Malt Advocate (I think?), but finally saw it in the corner liquor store a few days ago and decided to give it a try.
Last winter I started mixing honey with bourbon every now and then to great effect as a simple, enjoyable winter drink. I’d imagine AH does a fine job coming from such inspiration, but I’m worried that it will stray too far from the simple mixture of its roots.
– Made by Wild Turkey / Austin, Nichols
– 71 proof
The bottle is quite attractive: sleek, simple, and unadorned – yet it begins to approach the dangerous territory of chic vodkas. The major visual element is a silhouetted turkey on the rear of the bottle. Otherwise the design consisted of a clearly printed “American Honey” on the front along with a brief description.
Perhaps thankfully, a long-winded, tall-tale origin narrative isn’t expected of this product.
A careful whiff demonstrates that this is indeed bourbon – you can definitely smell the char and wet grass elements. It is definitely much softer and and lighter as one would expect.
On tasting, it opens strongly with honey then moves more into its bourbon elements of oak and hay. What takes me most off guard is the almost floral finish to it, odd. This is most certainly different from the mixtures I’ve whipped up at home.
I like this, but I’m not sure I’d buy it on a regular basis. It doesn’t offer much beyond what you might get by adding a bit of simple syrup to your bourbon. That said, there are some interesting qualities to it that go beyond a simple honey/bourbon concoction that might merit further exploration in the realm of cocktails.