Readers of my (Steve’s) other blog will know that we’re both big cocktail fans and that I particularly enjoy whisky based ones. So when The Bar contacted me to see if I’d like to work with them again (previous post here) by featuring some recipes I was happy to do so. As with the previous post topic and content are solely up to me (provided I use recipes from their website!) and I am reimbursed for costs of ingredients. In this case I only claimed the two bottles of whisky (Bulleit Bourbon and Lagavulin 16 y/o) that I didn’t yet have. This time I was also offered payment in addition to expenses, consider that full disclosure!
Small print out of the way and on to the drinks. Its always nice to taste the base spirits alone first before mixing them up into a cocktail. Comparing them side by side in the glass there doesn’t appear to be much to differentiate them but lets see how the tastes work out.
My first sample is Bulleit Bourbon, this apparently has a highish proportion of rye in it & you can certainly taste the spiciness it contributes.On the nose there are green apple notes with oaky vanilins and a touch of varnish. Its pretty smooth in the mouth with more of that vanilla, some cinnamon and an unusual vegetal asparagus-like note. It finishes with chili-caramel and a slight earthiness. Adding water does nothing for it; drink this one straight! A good value bourbon I’d be keen to try the Bulleit rye too.
The Talisker 10 y/o is a firm favourite of mine (and hence my own bottle). Aromas of caramel, furniture polish and light and light wood ash. Toffee apples to the fore in flavour with light peaty top notes seguing in to honey with a slight TCP rinse and the suggestion of salty sea spray common with island whiskys & finishing with paper-ash. I like a splash of water in mine which thickens the mouthfeel and brings out more of that sweet malt note. For those who really like fruitiness with their smoke; try the Port Ruighe.
Another well regarded Scotch is Lagavulin 16. This presents a lot more fruitily on the nose, with plums and probably an earlier cut of lighter components than the Talisker. Alongside the plums are pears, fresh cut wig and golden syrup cake. Flavour wise there’s ash, iodine, beach-campfires and freshly tarred ropes. The flavour is smokey without being overly phenolic, biscuit notes in the middle with a dry and briney ashen finish. Again, adding water does nothing for it leaving a flavour reminiscent of a rain-washed-out BBQ.
Base spirits sampled; its time to move on to the headline drinks. As before I looked to include drinks that have been made in the real world, beginning with this competition winner from Luke Ashton, the Tiki inspired New Frontiers. Its always nice to be able to make a cocktail for which I already have the ingredients (the Ron Zacapa being featured in my last cocktails post)
The spicey bourbon works well with the rich and comforting Ron Zacapa though both myself and Daisy found it to be overly sweet with both vanilla liqueur and almond syrup. This was easily rectified by adding 50% more bourbon (i.e. 60ml instead of 40). The Bulleit works well here, but equally you could use a different bourbon and perhaps up the level of bitters. This would make for a good post lunch/ mid-afternoon palate enlivener and we both enjoyed it enough to make again.
The Lagavulin was used to make an Angus Collins. This is a riff on the traditional gin-based Tom Collins. We chose to make our own sweet and sour mix, which gives it an extra freshness and drank it as a sour rather than a fizz (i.e. omitted the soda water). This would make for a good aperitif though would be a bit of an acquired taste being both smokey and sharp. Whilst I liked it I’d perhaps be inclined to try with a mezcal instead of a headline whisky like lagavulin 16 and Daisy wasn’t a fan at all.
Last up for today’s post is the Malted Marigold. Some people are turned off by the idea of using egg whites in a cocktail but they really do add extra body and a pleasing foam head. Ours looks a little milkier than the one on the site, but still tasted good. The choice of rosemary as a garnish is an inspired choice as the savoury woodsy character really works well with the honey and smoke in Talisker. This one was again a hit with both of us.
Three quite different cocktails then; with plenty more to choose from on the site; so worth taking a look even if these don’t appeal. There’s a new section of Christmas recipes that may be especially relevant for this time of year!