When it comes to brown liquors, it’s easy to feel like you’ve seen everything there is to see (and, frankly, a few things you never wanted to see—we’re looking at you, Fireball). One can become resigned. Depressed. In short, jaded.
A little while ago, while enjoying a weekend in Baltimore, we wrote up a guide to one of our favorite cities for Cool Hunting. Among the featured locales was Dylan’s Oyster Cellar— in the spirit of Summer Fridays, we encourage you to check out this pop-up before they pop-down in August. Click through to read the entire city guide here.
Last week, we got on the road (literally, and for a long damn time) to take a look around Music City. We stopped by several of the must-sees and still made time to dig around and find a few favorite spots of our own. Here’s our quick-and-dirty snapshot of a hell of a town.
A new year: whether rolling over into 2014 causes feelings of hope, uncertainty, trepidation, or even some amalgam of the three, chances are that New Years is a holiday that holds some weight with you. In honor of all the resolutions we’ve been hearing floating around, we’re doing something a little different today. Below you’ll find six tools to help you bring about the kind of change you wish to see in this time of new beginnings. Whatever your goal, we hope you reach it and then some. Happy 2k14, friends.
We get it— you’re a purist. You like your denim raw and your leather full-grain and natural. You don’t do mixers, and you turn your nose up at ice. Flavored liquors? Don’t even joke. But even you, hardened as you are, can’t help but raise one hopeful eyebrow—skeptical, but intrigued—at Knob Creek’s new Smoked Maple bourbon. Not a bourbon for those who don’t like bourbon, the smoked maple offers a hint of smokey sweetness to round out the Knob Creek we love so well. And with high ratings coming in from bourbonites far and wide, it does indeed seem that it may win over someone as tough as you. So sure, take it for a spin. But skip the ice. What’re you, going soft in your old age? Get it here.
Like most folks with a predilection toward the exquisitely handmade, we tend to lament (loudly, after a few drinks) the general lack of DIY know-how these days. Lucky for us, the folks at MAKE TRIBE are on a mission that just might shut us up (quite a feat). Their latest can’t-miss venture features two of our favorite things: leather goods and craft cocktails. Hang out at Readyluck Studios and sip cocktails from Baltimore area artisanal hotspot RYE next Thursday, September 19 while learning to make your own hand-bound leather notebooks. Put another way: get tipsy enough to complain about the state of handmade arts, while picking up the skills to prove yourself wrong. We know, we know— we can’t believe how cool it is, either. Get more info here.
It may be too darn hot for everyone’s favorite sport but, contrary to popular belief, it’s still not too hot for whiskey. Here’s a recipe for our new favorite summer cocktail— sure, it’s more pinky-purple than anything we’d normally advise you to drink, but don’t let that put you off. The fruity sweetness is cut by the refreshing basil and lemon, and the addition of seltzer makes it as adept at quenching thirst as for satisfying your whiskey itch. Now, if only you had a porch to go sit on…
Blueberry Basil Whiskey Smash
-6 blueberries, plus more for garnish
-2 sprigs basil, plus one more for garnish
-bourbon, rye or whiskey (we like Breuckelen’s)
-about 1 tbsp of simple syrup
Muddle blueberries and basil with half a lemon and the simple syrup in a shaker. Add whiskey and shake. Strain over ice, and top off with seltzer water. Garnish with additional berries and basil.
Folks, we’ve got a confession to make: we thought we loved rye. We’d tried just about every one we could get our hands on and enjoyed it all, and so we said without hesitation “we love rye”. But recently, something happened. We picked up some of Lincoln Henderson’s newest creation, the Angel’s Envy Rye Whiskey, aged in Caribbean rum casks. And then we realized something, something huge— we had been calling “love” what was really only “like”. We had mislabeled an affinity as an affection. Because this—this—is love. This rye stands out among the rest. The unusual rum cask aging brings a surprising sweetness to its finish, making it positively a delight to drink. Here’s to learning to fall in love again. Find where to buy it through Angel’s Envy’s site here.
Not to brag, but when it comes to the hard stuff, you know what you’re talking about. You know your whiskey from your whisky, your scotch from your “notch”. You’re comfortable tossing around terms like “sour mash” and “peaty”. Which is why these handsome rocks glasses by Vital are perfect for you. More importantly, though, they’re perfect for educating your less-knowledgeable drinking buddies about the differences between rye whiskey, scotch whiskey, bourbon, and the “everything else” category of just plain old whiskey. Snobbery? Not at all. Drinking has long been the forum for sharing (and debating) one’s areas of expertise. Knowledge is power. Get them here.
So, it’s cold out. Real cold. Pretty much too cold to make us want to do anything but make ourselves a nice drink and sit inside with a few friends, trying to forget how cold it is. The inevitable problem, it seemed, was stocking up enough booze to entertain our company forever (or, conversely, warm our bodies enough to make us impervious to the cold when the dreaded trek home can no longer be avoided). Then we saw these gorgeous custom 1 liter barrels from Tuthilltown Spirits. Immediately, visions of the secluded cabin in the woods with the party that never ends danced in our heads. We imagined aging our own bourbon, fussing over it like proud parents as we hauled it out at gatherings for the requisite “oohs” and “aahs” before diving in. Impractical? Maybe. Irresponsible? Perhaps. Awesome? Definitely. We may never go outside again. Get it here.
For whatever reason, January is traditionally the time of year when we re-ignite our burning love for the Bloody Mary. Maybe it’s something about the end of all those holidays that leads to us requiring the hair of the dog a bit more often, or maybe we’re just internalizing “The Winter of Mixed Drinks” by Frightened Rabbit more deeply than usual due to the weather…who knows. But sure enough, by this time we’ve exhausted our Bloody Mary options and are looking for something a bit more…unusual. So when we came across this recipe from the brilliant folks at A&B American Style Condiments, we sent up a silent prayer to the hangover gods. And then, we figured we’d share it with you guys.
The March Hare:
-Fresh ginger, peeled and grated
-A&B American Style Pepper Sauce
-Celery, for garnish
Add the fresh ginger to the carrot juice, letting sit so the flavors can mingle more deeply (if time allows). Add fresh lemon juice, as much A&B American Style Pepper Sauce as you fancy, and vodka. Garnish with celery and enjoy.
(Image and gospel of the March Hare lifted from here.)
We made the mistake of not sharing with you the cocktail we made at our last party— and we promised ourselves that this oversight wouldn’t happen again. With that oath in mind, we proudly present “The Long Hello”, a perfectly autumnal cocktail that we stumbled across online not too long ago and knew instantly that we needed to try for ourselves. We made it as a punch—and we’re not ashamed to admit that we’re now known in the neighborhood as “the folks that make the really strong punch”—so the quantities shown below should serve a crowd. Which shouldn’t be too hard to wrangle up, since word of how tasty this drink is tends to spread rather quickly. (Just ask our neighbors.)
The Long Hello
-1 3/4 c Apple Brandy
-1 c St. Germaine
-10 dashes bitters (Fee Brothers’ Whiskey Barrel-Aged recommended, but we used Peychaud’s in a pinch)
-1 bottle champagne
Mix all ingredients together in a large punch bowl that’s been chilled ahead of time. If you’re feeling fancy, freeze apple slices overnight and float in the punch for garnish.
With any luck, since it’s the 4th of July and all, you’re already a few drinks into celebrating. However, if some unfortunate thing has been keeping you from your patriotic duty thus far, allow us to make a suggestion in the form of the following recipe. It doesn’t really have a name, what with it being based off of a handful of bar specialties from around the city, but it’s most nearly a variation on a Black & Tan (which is why the image above has been lovingly hijacked from here). Regardless, we can all agree that it’s just so ideal for summer holidays like today—it’s refreshing and features fruit, but contains enough rye to weed out any appletini-types who may be lingering around. Real Americans drink rye.
-2 parts rye
-1 part apricot liqueur
-a handful of blackberries
-a splash of soda
-3 mint leaves, optional
Muddle the blackberries (and mint, if using it) with the apricot liqueur. Strain the mixture into a tall glass with ice. Add rye. Top off with soda, garnish with a whole blackberry or two. Argue about whether the resulting drink is red-ish or blue-ish, but eventually decide that it’s 4th-of-July appropriate no matter what.
Ever since you were little, people have been telling you how bad secrets are— your mom, your elementary school teacher, the local conspiracy theorist. But clearly none of those people had ever been to New York’s PDT. We’ll leave you to investigate that for yourself (after all, that’s half the fun), but we will strongly recommend that you pick up a copy of their absolutely gorgeous leather-bound cocktail handbook. It’d look stately on a bar cart or coffee table…but we wouldn’t blame you if you kept it filed away somewhere covert and told all your friends that you were making up the drinks as you go along. See? Secrets can be great. Get it here.