Classic Cocktails: Whisky – March 29th, 2016

Classic Cocktails: Whisky
Shawn Young
March 29th, 2016

What a delight that I get to do yet another cocktail class!? And one featuring one of my preferred spirits no less! I was charged with the task of picking a range of whiskies and matching cocktails that cover the gamut! Now, since I’m still learning this fine art, I enlisted the help of local cocktail nut (and bar manager of Brasserie Kensington) Amanda Gomez to help in making the cocktails and giving a little history and education. Then I asked the Peasant Cheese Shop to make up some tasty boards full of meat and charcuteries for us to snack on. So, with Amanda covering the cocktails and myself the whiskies, we deconstructed three classic cocktails! Here’s what we tasted.

Exclusive blend 1991 by the Creative Whisky Company: This outstanding valued blend consists of 80% malt and 20% grain and aged to 21 years old. It sports aromas of green apples, with hints of buts and honey, along with flavours of toffee, white chocolate, and more nuts. It’s an easy drinking whisky with a healthy age and a modest price. ($112.99)

Blood and Sand: The first cocktail of the night was the freshest and brightest of the bunch. The blood and sand was supposedly named after a 1922 bull fighting movie of the same name and is a citrusy sweet cocktail with a balanced bitterness and a mild alcohol bite. It’s one of the few cocktails to feature Scottish whisky and is perfect for the summer!

- 1oz Scottish Whisky
- 1oz Orange juice (blood orange if possible)
- 3/4oz Cherry heering (substitute cherry brandy in a pinch)
- 3/4oz Sweet vermouth

Combine and shake over ice, strain into glass with zest and a twist.

Pikesville Straight Rye: This is a brilliant high proof straight rye that has just recently hit Alberta shelves. Originally made in the 1890′s, it was halted during prohibition only to be resurrected by the Heaven Hills distilling company. It’s mildly smoky and sweet on the nose, with clove, caraway and dough, followed by rye bread, more clove and baking spice on the palate. ($87.99)

Sazerac: The classic southern cocktail! This one is all about the aromas. Herb and liquorice aromas, along with the rye spice, the bitters, the orange, all come together to make something that’s very hard to just sip. A slight variation on this was made with the use of Pimento bitters as opposed to Peychaud’s bitters (frowned upon by many, but sometimes you just have to improvise!)

- 3oz Rye
- 3/4oz simple syrup (substitute with dissolved brown sugar for taste)
- Dash bitters

combine ingredients and stir with ice. Strain into a chilled glass that was rinsed with absinthe(or Herbsaint if unavailable), and garnish with orange peel.

Michter’s Small Batch Bourbon: Mitcher’s has been making a rather large push into markets over the past couple of years, and I for one am pretty happy about it! Their bourbon is one of the best in its price range, and just full of rich sweetness and oaky spice, with vanilla and mild smoky notes. ($79.99)

Boulevardier: Similar to the Negroni, the Boulevardier replaces the gin with bourbon or rye. The sweetness and complexity of the bourbon plays heavily in the overall richness of the cocktail, and plays a little nicer with the bitterness than does the gin. My own variant on this was the addition of Black cloud -locally made- blackberry and blueberry bitters.

They all sound delicious right? Well they were. It was a super tasty night, and our guests had to somehow pick a favourite whisk(e)y and cocktail. The favourite whiskey was Michter’s Small Batch, and it was a bit of a sweeping win! The favourite cocktail, on the other hand, was a tie between the Blood and Sand and the Sazerac. Now, MY favourite cocktail of the night was the Boulevardier, so can I use my power of veto to claim that as the winner? No? Ok, fine, but I encourage you to try each of them because they were all pretty great. If you happen to need any further details on how we prepared the drinks, please come on in and ask. I’m the one with no hair on top, but a bunch on my face.

Cheers!

Shawn

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