Tennessee is all around me these days, I heard Arrested Development's late '90s big hit on the radio today and close oyster loving friends have just moved to Nashville. So I better start drinking some Tennessee whiskey, huh?
Also with perfect timing, Nick Demjen of Origin Spirits brought in an impressive lineup from Prichard's Distillery in Kelso, Tennessee. The family has been distilling since 1822, with the recent distillery being built in 1997.
Prichard's Tennessee Whiskey represents a traditional, original style using mostly white corn with a solid backbone of rye. 80 proof and aged 3-5 years in small 15 gallon new American oak barrels, to me, this makes the whiskey more complex and less sweet than Jack Daniel's which ages in 53 gallon barrels. Speaking of Jack, the distillery notes: "When Jack Daniel made whiskey during the Civil War, he used a pot still not unlike our own. He also used white corn according to the mash bill posted on the wall in his original office."
Prichard's Rye is my favorite, 86 proof, 95% rye with the remaining percentage of malt to give a round, slight sweetness. The spice of the rye is pleasantly magnified by 3-5 year aging in new oak barrels. While I prefer it alone with a large ice cube, it can be delicious in cocktails. Try it in a Red Hook variation: 1.5 oz Prichard's Rye, .75oz Punt e Mes (or other Sweet Vermouth) and .25 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur. Stir ingredients and strain into a cocktail glass. Bittersweet and spicy, dark fruit, perfect for after diner on a fall evening.
The flagship is their Double Barrel Bourbon. Most Bourbon is barreled in large 53 gallon barrels at 125 proof. How does it get down to 80 proof? Water and evaporation. What makes Prichard's so unique is they get it to 95 proof and then re-barrel in smaller 15 gallon barrels. Intense caramel, spice, vanilla and overall richness result. This is delicious as a sipping whiskey, perhaps with one or two ice cubes.
Finally a big (and delicious) surprise, Double Chocolate Bourbon. From Nick's notes:
The product is a result of a joint effort between the Prichard’s Distillery (Kelso, TN) and the Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Co. (Nashville, TN).
A byproduct of the chocolate making process is literally hundreds of pounds of crushed pieces of a cocoa bean hull, or “nibs” as they are referred to by the chocolate maker. Nibs are used to infuse the chocolate flavor into what it is initially our Double Barreled Bourbon product. The flavors come from the natural oils that are still present in the broken shells. The whiskey that is infused has already been “double barreled” for ultimate smoothness and bourbon flavor. The resulting product is a marriage of two flavors that complement one another. The chocolate taste is not overwhelming. The chocolate is picked up more in the nosing of the product and then on the back and sides of the tongue in tasting.
The French sometimes get teased by Americans. I'm not really sure why, I absolutely love the food, art, architecture, wine, and did I say wine? They also have centuries distilling, the pinnacle being in Cognac and Armagnac.
Not coincidentally, two young Frenchmen, Jean-Francois Daniel and Alexandre Koiransky, who worked for the very well regarded Pierre Ferrand Cognac house, have started something new. FAIR. Spirits, evolved from being tired of the "business" aspects of distilling and sales; they each had a desire for more. This led to backpacking trips around the world, where a bigger picture clearly emerged: something is wrong with the growing world-wide wealth imbalance.
In Boliva, the solution was Quinoa. As the popularity of the grain has grown in recent years, many farmers were losing not only their land to big corporations, but also much of their cultural heritage. What could Jean-Francois and Alexandre also do with grain in a fair and revitalizing way? You guessed it, ship it back to their stills in Cognac and make arguably the most popular spirit, vodka.
They work directly with co-op farmers in a new supply chain: farmer to producer. This seems obvious, but the normal reality is a myriad of middle men. We have all heard of Fair Trade coffee and tea, now let's put spirits in the mix. FAIR. is Fair Trade certified, fair wages and fair pricing directly to farmers.
Beside the vodka, they source coffee from Mexico, resulting in a concentrated, vicious coffee liqueur called FAIR. Café. Thousands of miles away, the Himalayan mountain elevation provides the Goji berry from Tibet- and a terrifically mixable FAIR. Goji liqueur- bittersweet and tart.
FAIR.'s local ambassador is Martin Dupont, who kindly sat down with me yesterday and gave me a thorough overview of the company. Like the founders, he left a desk job in Paris and added to his international background by spending a year in Buenos Aires. Martin emphasizes that they have tried to be "doers not talkers," with supreme focus on the three products on the market.
"FAIR. is not an airport brand, we are savoir faire and terroir."
Very French, and very fair.
Look for FAIR. cocktails next time you're out; Martin tirelessly helped by highlighting some top bartenders and what they're doing with FAIR. around town. To Martin, Jean-Francois, and Alexandre- Santé!
Espionage by Kevin Martin, Eastern Standard
FAIR. Quinoa Vodka 1.75oz, Yellow Chartreuse .75oz, Amaro montenegro .5 oz,
Cynar .5 oz, orange and lemon zest
Bizou by Bill Codman, Minibar
FAIR. Goji berry liquor 1oz, Passion fruit juice 1oz, Aperol .5oz, Champagne float
Fair Play by Mike Batliner, Petit Robert Central
Bulliet Rye 2 oz, Fernet Branca 1 oz, FAIR. Café liquor 1 oz, orange bitters
Fair Shake by Meagan Taylor, Christopher's
FAIR. Quinoa Vodka 2 oz, Ginger liqueur .5 oz, lemon juice .5 oz,
house-made honey-clove syrup .5 oz
Today’s cocktail culture consistently revolves around the turn of the century and earlier, right up to prohibition. True, cocktails were not as spectacular after repeal, but in the later 30’s just before the war one could not find a party without Gin Martinis flowing, and what better to pour them from a beautiful, gleaming shaker? Machine-age design was at its peak before World War II (during materials were all used for the war effort), and the shinier and sleeker the better. Everyone at a party was drinking the same thing, so making a large batch made sense both for ease and display. Watch a Thin Man movie sometime to get the idea.
My favorite company is Chase Brass and Copper Co. founded in 1876 in Waterbury, CT and still to this day makes brass rods in Ohio. Its heyday was pre-war when famed architects like Frank Llyod Wright were commissioned to make home design pieces, and of course the cocktail shakers were the most iconic.
The best part is while some of the rare pieces get expensive, you can still get good examples at flea markets, antique shops, Ebay, and Etsy without breaking the bank. Be sure to look for the Centuar archer symbol on the bottom of each piece to know it’s the real deal.
2 oz Gin
1 oz Dry Vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lemon or orange peel.
3 oz Gin
.25 oz Dry Vermouth
Shake (Nick Charles-Thin Man movies did!) ingredients with ice
and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with one pitted (no pimento) Spanish olive.
I can count the days of summer remaining on one hand, so I'm going to keep pretending. Rob Macey at Area Four in Kendall Square decided to barrel age a perfect summer spirit- Cachaca, the Brazilian sugar-cane based, rum-like distillate. Rob happened to get a hold of a used Bourbon barrel from Hudson Valley and let the spirit sit inside for a month. By itself, even a high quality one like the Ypioca he uses is a bit rough and tumble; it benefits considerably from the process. Softer, it shows spice and vanilla from the wood.
His late summer sipper is the Ay Caramba:
1.5oz Ypioca Barrel aged Cachaca
.75oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
.5oz Luxardo Triplum (orange liqueur)
.25oz fresh lime juice
The result is a citrus (even creamcicle like?) honeyed cooler, perfect as I sat with Emma (Trina's Starlite Lounge) and chatted with Michele working the floor and Rob graciously behind the bar. It was almost like a weekend in July- I somehow even convinced pastry chef Katie Kimble to stay for a few, even though she'd been working since 5:30am.
Get it while it lasts, Rob thinks maybe only until a couple weeks into October. But that's after Summer is officially over, so maybe more than an illusion, we really can keep it going.
The English based Whisky Magazine sponsors Whisky Live, a tasting and educational event to sell out crowds on five continents. This year, we are lucky to be included for the first time in Boston. Over 100 whiskies to try, food, entertainment and cocktails by the likes of Augusto Lino (Upstairs on the Square), Chad Arnholt (Citizen), Noon Inthasuwan (Moksa), Tyler Wang (No.9) and LUPEC. Because you're reading this please use code "Boston" when you check out for an additional 10% off.
Bols Genever, is a Dutch original. It took the English to create the lighter style that most people are familiar with and anglicize the word to gin. While it has been called the grandfather, flavor profile think of gin’s beefier older brother that all the girls have a crush on. It’s made from a triple distillate of grain, corn, wheat and rye; the juniper is there too, but it seems more like a whisky.
Last night, at Hawthorne, I was able to try Jackson Cannon’s hand picked single barrel of Bols Genever which is “the first single barrel to be individually selected at the Bols distillery in Amsterdam.” The difference? The single barrel wood aging was more noticeable as a spice component, which enhanced the cocktails Bob McCoy and Nicole Lebedevich were making.
My favorite was the Dutch Oven, a tongue in cheek take on an old fashioned:
Bols Genever, sugar, water, Reagan’s and Pechaud bitters, St. George Absinthe. Delicious, spicy and refreshing all at the same time- Proost!
She saved my life.
Let’s back up a little; I went to the bank the other day and when I returned to my 2000 Tundra pickup it wouldn’t start. Dead, zilch, nada. The thing is I just replaced the alternator, but I’m afraid the starter is bad too- the pain of an old truck.
Anyway, who breaks down across from Five Horses Tavern in Davis Square? Me apparently, and boy, am I lucky. Rachel Greenberg, behind the bar, met me with a sympathetic smile and suggestion for a delicious beer. Clearly I needed one. After a great burger and a tow truck I felt pretty normal again, no easy feat.
At that moment Rachel was, by far, the best bartender in town; this shift drink is for her.
Frisky Whiskey (Five Horses Tavern version)
1.5 oz Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon
.75 oz Aperol
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz simple syrup
Shake all ingredients and strain over fresh ice.
Top with Malbec, garnish with an orange wedge.
Notes from Five Horses:
This drink brings in whiskey lovers who may be looking for a nice refreshing summer alternative. When drinking this cocktail you will immediately taste the Malbec float, followed by a refreshing orange citrus finish. The juxtaposition of flavors balances very well to quench ones thirst on a warm late summer day.
When in Davis, stop by, have this refreshing Sangria alternative and say hello to Rachel, Dylan and crew. You don't even need to have car trouble; although it worked for me.
No doubt about it, the cocktail revolution is officially here. Boston veteran barmen Alexei Beratis and Jamie Walsh have established the first Boston Cocktail Summit, now a mere month away. If you haven't been to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans or The Manhattan Cocktail Classic in New York- this is your chance, locally. October 4th-6th, the city will be alive with cocktail culture, luminaries, seminars, special events and parties. Visit the website for more info.
I'm certain one can find numerous suggestions for end of Summer intricate cocktails to celebrate the long weekend. However, for me, Labor Day is time for a Boilermaker, a shot and a beer; the classic worker’s drink.
Its origins are a little murky, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers website recalls:
Perhaps the origin of the drink's name comes in some way from Richard Trevithick, an inventive Cornish blacksmith who was an early experimenter with steam-propelled vehicles. In 1801, on Christmas night in the Cornwall village of Cambourne, he set out to test his latest invention, a steam-propelled road vehicle.
Trevithick's vehicle succeeded in climbing the hill into the village carrying the inventor and some of his friends. When they reached a pub at the top of the hill, they parked the vehicle in a shed and went inside to celebrate their success in holiday season style.
As the celebration continued, everyone forgot about the fire in the vehicle's boiler. It continued to burn until the water ran dry. When the party was over, they discovered that the wooden structural members had caught fire and the vehicle was reduced to a mass of tangled scrap.
Certainly, this was not the first time in history that there has been a drunken mishap, or a good lesson: do not drink and drive. A great story, but I like the idea that the term was first used to refer to the craftsmen who built and maintained steam locomotives in 1834, and it followed that a drink of choice became their namesake.
In the small town of Keene Valley, NY, in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, is where I’m having a Boilermaker. A shot of Jim Beam and a Long Trail Ale; now that’s real mixology.