Have you ever wanted to deconstruct the complex flavor of bourbon? It’s surprisingly easy. I asked William Rogers, Living Room General Manager at the W Hotel in Austin, for his expertise. This deconstruction is easy to pull off at home: First, take a shot of moonshine whiskey. Then eat a slice of apple. Follow that with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Lastly, munch on some caramel candied pecans. Sip the shot, and then eat each food component, in the order listed, to enjoy all the profiles of a true bourbon.
Maker’s Mark, of course, is a dear old friend, but if you can find it, give Garrison Brothers Bourbon a try. Made in Hye, Texas, this new bourbon caught my attention because of the name and also surprised me with its full flavor. There are literally hundreds of brands of bourbons to taste and one way to do this is to take advantage of a few bourbon bars around town that feature bourbon flights. Trifecta on 3rd Street has more than 99 bourbons available, along with a flight menu and a create- your-own flight. This is a great date night opportunity to try something new.
If bourbon isn’t for you, there are many other flavors that this season has to offer. After the summer’s relentless, record- breaking heat, I’m thrilled to see temperatures finally drop in the fall. As much as I love making cocktails, when it gets tolerable enough to sit outside in the evening, I like to enjoy seasonal, local brews.
At parties and in bars, some of us stick with the old, faithful beer choices that usually end in the word “light.” With so many local beers to choose from, this is the perfect time of year to broaden your beer enjoyment and have a beer-tasting party. You don’t have to be a beer aficionado to get outside your comfort zone. Just call up the posse, pick a house, and get to gettin’. Instead of people bringing the old standbys, have each person bring a six-pack of new-to-you brews that are available at many of our favorite stores. Some stores even let you build your own six-pack (awesome idea!). Also, if you have a friend who makes his own beer, definitely invite him! I’ve got a wonderful beer nerd in my life who loves to share his homemade batches. This is a fun way to talk about flavors, likes and dislikes and to get to know your friends’ taste buds (much less your own!) Sounds like a party!
Many people tell me that they feel intimidated in the bar and/or a liquor store. Keep it simple and keep it yummy. You don’t have to be a bartender to whip up a great cocktail, but you do need the right tools. A jigger and shaker tins are your friends. Invest in them. After that, all you need is a wonder- ful recipe to impress your friends and/or that special someone. Since apple harvest is September through November, get the stove ready, ‘cause we’ve got a super-yummy recipe.
So send out the invites, break out the glasses, and gather your friends and loved ones. Sit outside and enjoy the season. Whether you prefer beer or liquor, don’t be afraid to change it up a bit and explore all of the flavors and spices that the fall season has to offer! And who knows–you may discover a new favorite along the way that you can revisit next year. Cheers!
• In 1964, Congress passed a resolution naming bourbon as a distinctive product of America
• Legally, bourbon must be made from at least 51 percent corn.
• The mash is usually a combination of three different grain types.
• It must be aged in new charred-oak barrels for at least two years.
(Courtesy of W Hotel Austin Libationist Joe Thompson)
In a saucepan, heat one stick of butter. Once the butter is browned, add a gallon of apple cider and one 16-oz. can of pumpkin pie filling. Stir these together until a consistent texture develops. Add ten cinnamon sticks, a cup of whole allspice, a half cup of star anise, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for another ten minutes. Once cool, prepare the cocktail.
In a Boston shaker, combine 2 oz. of Maker’s Mark Bourbon with 4 oz. of the cider mixture, two dashes of Fee Brothers Old Fashion Bitters, and one egg white. Shake vigorously with one ice cube until good and frothy. Continue to shake with a full tin of ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a nutmeg zest and two more dashes of bitters.
MULLED APPLE CIDER
1 cup apple cider (or apple juice)
1 tsp. agave nectar (Honey may be substi- tuted)
A dash of bitters
One cinnamon stick
A pinch of ground allspice
1 lemon twist
Heat the ingredients in a saucepan until warm and strain into a warm mug. If you’ve got friends coming over, go ahead and multiply the recipe, but place it towards the back of the stove or in a small slow cooker, while keeping the rum to the side and add- ing it when you’re ready to drink. (This is also a nice thing for the ones who don’t drink.)
If you want to be super fancy-pants, slice a green or red apple into thin-ish slices and dust them lightly with a bit of brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Broil the slices in the oven for about a half minute. This is a quick and delicious way to garnish the cider.
PUMPKIN SPICE MARTINI
1 1⁄2 oz. vanilla vodka
1⁄2 oz. Pinnacle whipped cream vodka 1⁄2 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream
1⁄2 oz. pumpkin spice liqueur
1 tsp. vodka whipped cream*
*Regular whipped cream works, as well.
Combine the liquid ingredients into a shaker with ice (big ice cubes are best). Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a teaspoon of vodka whipped cream sprinkled with just a touch of cinna- mon and nutmeg. Serve with a small number of roasted pumpkin seeds to balance the experience.