Prefer Bourbon or Whisky For Your Sour?

Simple…. Delicious…. Whisky Sour.

1 oz bourbon…. Why bourbon? Because it tastes better!

3 oz lemon/lime

Made the best way…with Bourbon

Garnish with whatever you like but traditionally it is with a lemon wedge and a maraschino cherry.

For National Whisky Sour Day, try these variations:

Boston Sour – same as above but shake with an egg white and ice.

Ward 8 – same as above but add orange juice and grenadine.

I’m not knocking the whisky. I’ve had a few sours in my day and loved them! Then, one kind bartender made one for me with Bourbon. I’ll never go back to whisky now!

As a quick reminder, whisky could be made from various grains such as wheat, rye, maize or barley and is aged in charred white oak barrels.

Elliot Stubb claims to have invented the Whisky sour in 1872.

Prince Edward County’s Finest Whisky

But let’s back up 2 years. In the weekly Waukesha, Wisconsin newspaper, Waukesha Plaindealer,  on Tuesday, January 4, 1870, there is an article written by Terence McGrant (Irish cousin to former President Ulysses S. Grant) who makes a reference to this cocktail: “Amen,” says the Methodist, as he ordered another whisky sour. (In the link above, 4th column from left, near the bottom).

Back it up even further, to 1862, when Jerry Thomas published The Bartender’s Guide. His Whisky Cocktail is strangely close to what we know as a whisky sour today. Enter “50” in the page number box to find it.

In the same fashion as the rum rations of the 17th Century, whisky would have substituted rum since it was more readily available. Otherwise, you had to wait for the rum to arrive. Surely, that wasn’t happening! To the rye, the juice from a lemon or lime would be added.

Since the real origins could be anywhere in the world, and since I couldn’t find any older concrete evidence other than Terence McGrant’s article, let’s go with Wisconsin!

Not too far from Waukesha is the city of festivals, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There’s always something going on. Today on Whisky Sour Day, there is a Mexican Fiesta running for the next 2 days. Don’t miss the tequila tasting. Ahem, a little off topic but worthwhile just the same.

Take your pick of distilleries scattered throughout Wisconsin, with 3 of them in Milwaukee, to include on your next visit. They’re on my list!

Find someone to concoct your whisky sour today or whip one up at home. It’s so easy. Check your freezer section for frozen concentrated limeade, even lemonade, and make a pitcher of it to share with friends. It’s Friday after all!

Experiment with the lemons and limes to find out how you like it best.

What’s your preference, whisky or bourbon?

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on August 25, 2017.

What your cocktail will look like shaken with an egg white.

 

 

 

National Bourbon Day

Bourbon Flight: Wild Turkey, Four Roses and Buffalo Trace

With my new love for bourbon (I can still taste my Mint Julep), I dove in to taste testing. On a Monday night, some bars remain closed, no doubt to recuperate from a crazy weekend.

I managed to find one southern establishment in Ottawa open to satisfy my curiosity for bourbon. Fat Boys Smokehouse. Food so authentic, a gentleman who shall remain nameless, from the south, swears it tasted like home. True story.

Unique to Fat Boy’s is their homemade bourbon, called Bacon Bourbon. It’s made with Jim Beam Black and their own concoction of bacon and other spices. So, if you LOVE bacon, all I have to say is 34 Murray Street. Tonight.

Unique Brand to Fat Boys Smokehouse

The bartender, Cat, is still learning the extensive ins and outs of bourbon but was able to offer plenty of information.

Collectively, through her and poking around in other places, here is what I’ve learned.

With its close relation to whiskey, bourbon is identified by law for its content. Yes, there are laws for how bourbon is made.

Rule #1

The mash (the grains used to distill) must contain at least 51% corn. The rest can be any combination of barley, rye, rice, oats or wheat.

Rule #2

For it to be called Bourbon, the mash has to be distilled at a maximum of 80% alcohol by volume (ABV) and transferred to a barrel when it has reached no more than 62.5% ABV. When it is bottled, it has to be at least 40% ABV.

The percentages drop due to evaporation. Alcohol evaporates at 172 degrees and water at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. If more water evaporates, you’ll have a higher proof. If more alcohol evaporates, the proof will be less. Think juice concentrate.

Rule #3

The real good news? No additives are allowed in Bourbon. Whatever naturally occurs, such as the tannins, is allowed.

Rule #4

Only a brand new charred oak barrel can be used for aging. Otherwise, it’s not bourbon. These barrels are moved to other distilleries, such as Scotland, for the aging of Scotch, or elsewhere in the US, to age whiskey.

Guarding the Aulde Dubliner

This law originates from tradition. Centuries ago, Kentucky distillers filled oak barrels with the spirit, sent it upriver on the Mississippi to the East Coast. By the time it arrived, it had aged sufficiently.

Since Kentucky had so many oak trees, it was more cost effective to just make new barrels instead of having the original ones returned.

Plus, as the Scots say, It has lost it’s virtue. The compounds, tannins, lactones, vanillin, and hemicellulose, are all released from the wood into the bourbon so the flavoring decreases for the next round.

Check out this fascinating video of how barrels are made in a modern day factory. Not a drop of glue is used! Non-factory versions of making oak barrels, also very interesting, can be seen in this video.

Bourbon can be made anywhere, and be called such, as long as these rules are followed.

It makes a lot of sense that Kentucky is a central region for the production of this liquor since one of its major leading field crops is corn. The Bluegrass State produces 95% of the world’s supply of bourbon! Other leading crops are tobacco, wheat and soybeans.

Single Barrel

When a batch of bourbon is specifically chosen to be bottled from one barrel, each batch will have a slightly different taste from the other. Whereas with Small Batch, the contents from many different barrels are blended together so the taste is more unified.

You get a better quality, in my opinion. I taste tested 3: Buffalo Trace, Four Roses Single Barrel and Wild Turkey. Four Roses had the smoother taste.

Drink it straight up and you get that firey tingle in your mouth. A few drops of water changes the taste instantly, smoothes it out. Thank you for the wonderful advice, Cat! (Fat Boys Bartender).

Straight Bourbon

This version is aged at least 2 years in the barrel. If it’s aged 4 years or less, the distillery is required to label the amount of time it spent in the barrel. Over 4 years, this requirement is not necessary. That’s why you won’t always see the age of the bourbon.

Kentucky Straight Bourbon can only be made in Kentucky, for obvious reasons but there are bourbon distilleries all over the world. Most of them are in the States and a select few elsewhere such as Ireland, Scotland, the UK and even one here in Ontario.

Distillery Founded 1795

According to Jim Beam‘s Fred “Booker” Noe, The Kentucky Hug happens when you get your first sip of bourbon. Your mouth comes alive and your esophagus heats up as it courses down your throat. He came up with this phrase and the Kentucky Chew. Which is basically how to taste test bourbon.

If your prefer off the beaten path places while you’re in Kentucky state, I’ve provided a few sweet ideas here.

Sour or Sweet Mash

If already distilled mash is put back into the fermentation, it is considered sour mash. Only fresh water and grains are used in the fermentation process of sweet mash.

Origins

Bourbon County was established in 1785 and was named after the French Royal Family. See the House of Bourbon family tree.

Distillery Founded in 1789

Contrary to popular belief, Elijah Craig was not the first producer of bourbon. The Baptist minister of The Blue Run Church, in 1771, does takes credit for the first to use oak barrels in the aging process.

It is hard to determine one single inventor of the liquor.

As with most liquor, beer and wine, the original producers date back longer than we realize. The method of distilling bourbon was likely brought from Scotland in the late 1700’s and has since morphed into what we know bourbon as today, thanks to Elijah Craig and many others.

So, get out there and get your Kentucky Hug today!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on June 14, 2017

 

It’s National Caesar Day!

Let’s have some fun with this!

The long weekend is coming up and that is exactly why National Caesar Day is celebrated on the Thursday right before the May holiday weekend. What else says celebrate, relax in the sun and let’s get summer started quite like a Casear?

This amazing drink is such a personal thing. Everyone likes theirs a little different, right down to the amount of spice added. When you’re drinking rum and coke, for example, the only variation you will get is the choices of rum or whether or not to add a lime.

How Do You Garnish Your Caesar?

Caesar’s can be garnished in so many different ways. Bartenders are getting crazy creative with them. They are opting out the exhausted, boring celery (sorry, celery, you’re great, too) and embellishing with spicy green beans more often.

Some are downright beautiful such as this Kimchi Caesar at Das Lokal. Some border on the ridiculous, from pickles, to lobster tails even sandwiches!

I’ve included a link below to a site of photos that showcase this insanity. No matter how you like them, they are perfect for those Sunday morning hangovers.

The high salt content in a Caesar helps you retain water and battle the dehydration. If Hair of the Dog is not for you, though, try a poutine! Speaking of hangovers, did you know the scientific term for your hangover? Veisalgia. It comes from the Norwegian term “uneasiness following debauchery”

The so-called hangover cure was created in Calgary, Alberta. Walter Chell, the Italian Bartender created the drink for the opening of the Calgary Inn in 1969. It is now the Westin Hotel.

As the story is told, the flavours of the traditional clam pasta, Spaghetti alle Vongole, gave him the inspiration to create a drink to mirror the taste when asked to create a signature cocktail for the opening.

How Did It Bloody Get In There?

Chell named it the Caesar, for an ancestor in Italy. It’s full name is now Bloody Caesar. While Chell worked to perfect the drink, he had patrons sample for him. One referred to it as “A damn good bloody Caesar!” Or were they just keeping in line with the vodka and tomato juice beverage, Bloody Mary?

Great story but it is believed that clam cocktails already existed. Not to take anything away from fellow neighbours in Calgary but a recipe was found in The Artistry of Mixing Drinks. This was published in 1936.

A virtual page-turning copy can be found here under Bartender Guides. The first 19 pages contains very interesting reading but if you want to jump right to this mysterious recipe that was found, enter page #28 in the upper box and hit enter. It’s not exactly the same as today’s version since Mott’s provides an easy mix of tomato and clam juice.

Starting on page 123, there are handy pages of useful information, anecdotes for poisons and emergency clean up methods. Also quite interesting to read, if you’re so inclined.

Over 350 million Caesars are consumed annually. Much of these numbers could very well be Canadian and Mexicans. Some Americans are not overly familiar with the drink.

Odd, because Mott’s is an American name brand but is only now being seen more often in stores across the States.  Maybe the craze of Caesars will soon catch on.

Now, prepare yourself for the Insane Variations!

In 2010, Parliament officially named the Caesar Canada’s National Cocktail. This weekend enjoy the beautiful blooms at the Tulip Festival at Parliament and do your own experimenting of Caesars!

Since we are on the topic of Parliament which is in Ottawa, Canada’s Captial City, one other place to find a fantastic Caesar is at Ottawa’s Oldest Tavern, The Lafayette on York Street in the Market. Again, it is a personal preference unique to you or me, just offering a favorite of my helpful taste tester.

Cool Things To Do In Calgary

Prehistoric Park and Zoo – Daily programs are free with admission.

Paint a Masterpiece or Have Breakfast with Penguins –

Improv Comedy Show or Dance Workshop

Go crazy with those garnishes!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 18, 2017

 

 

 

http://www.calgarysun.com/2015/05/14/national-caesar-day-can-calgary-really-lay-claim-to-canadas-cocktail

http://nationalcaesarday.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_(cocktail)

http://www.calgaryjournal.ca/index.php/calgaryeclectic/1168-are-americans-taking-over-a-canadian-cocktail-phenomenon

for some strange borderline ridiculous garnishes for cesars:

http://www.baconismagic.ca

Saint Patrick’s Day – Have A Whale Of A Time!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Let’s get some things straight.

Things I didn’t know. (That’s what I love about this. I’ve become a human sponge!)

Which facts are you aware of? And what will come as a surprise?

Not Commonly Known

Saint Patrick wore blue, not green. Most paintings depicted him in blue robes. Only after the Irish Independence movement in the late 18th Century did the green color get pushed.

He wasn’t Irish. Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in England, where he was born (though a few sources say Scotland).

He was born Maewyn Succat in 385 AD. By that time, many Romans were Christians and Christianity was spreading rapidly across Europe. As a boy, christianity was the least of his worries.

Saint Patrick ended up a slave. At the age of 16 , he was kidnapped by Irish raiders who sold him as a slave. He spent 6 captive years in Dalriada, Ireland, herding sheep where he found comfort in God.

At the age of 22, he managed to escape (a voice told him it was time). He spent 3 days sailing then walked 28 days to the point of near starvation and was reunited with his family.

He gained his priesthood and later returned to Ireland (when, again, the voice told him to go back), changed his name to Patricius and spent the rest of his life converting Irish Pagans to Christianity.

The odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000. The myth that St. Patrick used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit is likely not true. Instead, it is believed monks made this claim.

Patrick is also renowned for coming up with the Celtic cross, which combined a native sun-worshiping ideology with the Christian cross.

Sadly, after a harsh life of being constantly beaten by thugs, harassed by the Irish royalty, and admonished by his British superiors he died quietly, in Saul, Ireland in 461 where he had built his first church.

On a positive note, he founded monasteries, built churches, organized Ireland into dioceses, created councils and supported church officials, all during his life’s work.

The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was basically invented by Irish Americans.

What You May Already Know

Saint Patrick’s Day is the day of the saint’s death, not his birth. Early biographers state that he was buried near the Down Cathedral in the town of Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, or Dun Padraig, meaning Patrick’s Stronghold. A memorial stone stands over the supposed approximate location of his remains….well most of him. Apparently, a jaw and tooth are on display in the Dublin Museum.

Also, you can visit the Saint Patrick’s Visitor Center, also near the Down Cathedral, to learn more and pay tribute to him at his memorial site.

Saint Patrick is often portrayed with a Crozier, known as the Baccal Isu, his golden staff. A hermit was instructed, by Jesus, to give it to Patrick. Could this also be the staff of Jesus? Patrick used this crozier to banish the snakes. The Crozier was later denounced as superstitious and publicly destroyed in 1538 by order of the archbishop, George Browne.

The banning of the snakes is considered a myth since snakes never populated Ireland due to icy ocean conditions. It is believed to be another metaphor for cleaning up the streets of Ireland.

Patrick’s copy of the four gospels is held at the The Royal Irish Academy where his writings, referred as His Confession, can be viewed. The original writings are lost except for what is written in the Book of Armaghat the Trinity College Dublin Library.

Okay, school’s out, now for some fun…..

Parades, Beer, and Green Rivers!

The world’s first recorded Saint Patrick’s Day Parade took place in Boston on March 18, 1737, followed by the New York Parade, comprised of Irish military soldiers marching through the streets of New York, which first took place in 1762.

Today, 150,000 people take part in the New York parade, with 2 million people cheering them on. No motorized vehicles or floats are allowed in the parade, marching for Ireland only!

I have to mention this….the shortest parade occurred annually from 1999 to 2007 in Dripsey, an Irish Village. The parade spanned 26 yards, from the front door of one pub to another!

Rough translation of Erin Go Bragh!….Ireland Forever!

There are more Irish in the USA than Ireland. 34 million Americans have Irish ancestry. There are 4.2 million people living in Ireland.

In 1961, business manager of Chicago’s Journeymen Plumbers Local Union, Stephen Bailey, received permission to turn the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day. They used 100 lbs of vegetable dye! Today, they only use 25 lbs. The dye lasts for about five hours.

“The environmental impact of the dye is minimal compared with sources of pollution such as bacteria from sewage-treatment plants.” – Margaret Frisbie, the executive director of the advocacy group Friends of the Chicago River.

What’s with the Leprechauns?

This Irish fairy of supposed supernatural powers has no real connection to St Patrick. There are a couple of loose theories, one being everything Irish was rolled into this one holiday.

Oddly, there are no female leprechauns. No wonder the breed died out!

No Drinking On St. Patrick’s Day?

Irish law, from 1903 to 1970, declared St. Patrick’s Day a religious observance for the entire country. All pubs were shut down for the day, no beer for that day. The law was overturned in 1970, when St. Patrick’s was reclassified as a national holiday – allowing the taps to re-open. Not to mention cashing in on the tourist and beverage industries!

Speaking of beer:

Murphy’s Irish Stout – Light and sweet in flavor compared to the rest, Murphy’s Irish Stout has become increasingly more popular especially in the US.

O’Hara’s Irish Wheat – flavors of bananas, peaches and plums are blended with traditional hops. It’s perfect for those who prefer a lighter, easy-drinking option.– Something I prefer!

Neither of these can be found here in Canada but these are popular:

Kilkenny – smooth and creamy, the result of hops combined with fruits, malt, coffee and roasted barley.

And of course, there’s Guinness – A pint of Gat – The rich, dark, most popular Irish brew that comes in three varieties.

5.5 million pints of Guinness are sold on any given day, but this figure rises to an astounding 13 million on St. Patrick’s Day!

In 2012, it is reported an estimated $245 million is spent on beer on this day.

Going Local

Home to Ottawa since 1875 is St. Patrick’s Basilica, located on Kent St between Gloucester St. and Nepean St. It was the first English speaking Roman Catholic Church in the city. Free parking is available on all 3 of these streets Saturdays and Sundays.

Another St. Patrick church is in the Nepean district, at 15 Steeple Cres. It’s history began in 1833 and was rebuilt and blessed in 1866.

Game of Thrones

Plan your next trip to tour Northern Ireland, many of the filming locations of Game of Thrones. Lose yourself in the set, dressed in traditional robes and learn archery from the actors’ trainer.

If you are looking for a place to stay in Northern Ireland, Airbnb is very popular and can be inexpensive for travellers. Prices can be as low as $50 per night. Keep in mind, Europe tends to charge a minimal traveller’s fee, so inquire.

Here are a few beautiful options in and near the tour:

Stay in this breathtaking castle

City living in Belfast 

Wow– is all I can say!

A little more casual

On the water

My first choice, after touring Downpatrick

Great beachfront but you share the bathroom with the owner

Best bang for the buck

Last one, I swear

It would be so hard to choose…a cottage by the water or an amazing castle.

Enjoy your day however you choose to celebrate it!

Please Drink Responsibly

 

 

Posted on March 17, 2017 by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe