Category Archives: Recipes

The Pastrami Sazerac

pastrami sazeracNow, in case you don’t live in a huge city and/or do have a “normal” job that keeps you from all that pesky, cutting-edge day-drinking you’ve be meaning to do; fat-washing is the term for infusing a liquor with a flavorful fatty substance. Simply mix liquor with hot fat, steep overnight, freeze, separate the congealed fat and strain through a cheese cloth. Alcohol can emulsify both fat and water-based flavor compounds, so the spirit will not only retain a subtle trace of the original flavor, but it will have a deliciously silky mouth feel, too. 

I’ve seen the technique go horribly awry, like the last ten over-crisped bacon washed Bourbon cesspools I’ve had pushed on me at various bars. My only advice for those kinds of cocktails, if you’re going to fat wash with bacon, don’t fry it quickly; render it carefully, so as not to scorch the tiny bits, and use the rendered fat along with the meat.

On the other end of the spectrum, Shawn Soole’s creation, the Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Martini, pushed this technique to the next level by washing a dark rum with an extra cheesy, extra buttery, grilled cheese sandwich and then muddling in a roasted tomato. The first time I read about it (last week; I was veeerryy late to the party) I immediately mixed up some Lost Spirits Navy Style Rum with a piece of grilled potato bread and American cheese. Reflecting on that masterpiece over a pastrami sandwich the next day, I got an idea… and here we are at the Pastrami Sazerac.

First, you need to fat-wash some rye whisky.

  • 325mL/half-bottle Straight Rye Whisky – I used Michter’s US*1 Straight Rye.
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 25g unseeded or seeded rye bread – That’s roughly one slice.
  • 50g pastrami – Making your own is, of course, the best way to go: I like this recipe.
  • 60g sliced provolone
  • Pinch kosher salt
  1. In a non stick pan melt the butter over medium heat until it stops sizzling. That means that the water has evaporated and your bread will brown much more easily in the fat left behind.
  2. Throw in the rye bread and pastrami and gently brown, flipping until brown on all sides.
  3. Remove bread and meat from pan to glass bowl and rip into small pieces when cool enough to handle.
  4. While the pan is still hot throw in the cheese. Resist the urge to play with it. Once it’s bubbling and starting to brown scrape it and all the fat in the pan into the bowl with the bread and meat.
  5. Immediately add the whisky to the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let set 4-6 hours at room temperature.
  6. Strain through a cheese cloth, making sure to squeeze out the bread. Freeze for 4 hours and separate the congealed fat. Strain once more through cheese cloth and keep refrigerated in a sealed bottle. Use within three days.

You can certainly drink the washed rye neat. It’s satiny with a nice sweet saltiness, but I think it deserves a more complex frame so let’s make an obvious decision and blend that new silky spice emulsion into a Sazerac. You may notice I left out the simple syrup. I prefer to take the pastrami sazerac in the salty, buttery direction, instead of sweet. Besides, the Peychaud’s adds enough sweetness for me.

The Pastrami Sazerac

sazerac ingredients

  • 2 oz. pastrami sandwich washed rye whiskey
  • 2 shakes Peychaud’s bitters
  • Absinthe vert
  • Fresh lemon peel
  1. Rinse chilled rocks glass with absinthe and dump.
  2. In a shaker add washed rye, bitters and ice. Stir to chill and strain into rocks glass.
  3. Express a lemon peel over drink, wipe around rim of glass.
  4. Garnish with the lemon peel and serve.

Cheers!

The Shiso Julep

The Shiso JulepSince my first visit to the Hawthorne in Boston, finding new Julep recipes has become one of my favorite hobbies. The ultra-exclusive atmosphere and astutely ambitious cocktails at New York’s Angel’s Share didn’t make it seem like it was going to be the place to find one, at first.

Like the Old Fashioned, the Julep is an elemental technique. The classic cocktail was only minimally modified to suit the dog days of summer. Instead of aromatic bitters, muddle a cooling, aromatic herb with your simple syrup and then add your whisky and a hefty pile of ice. It’s a drink that preaches the gospel of the minimalist; one of the few where the whisky can really shine through, despite being bound to other ingredients.

Where The Hawthorne‘s Katie Emmerson switched out the classic Bourbon for a heady Islay malt, Angel’s Share‘s director, Shingo Gokan, in true form, opted to change everything. Instead of Bourbon, he uses a Japanese whisky, Hakushu 12 yr. Where there was mint, now there is shiso. Lastly, instead of commercial white sugar, Shingo has sourced the elusive Japanese wasanbon toh for its subtle earthiness and vibrant fruit.

Like the Lagavulin Julep, the Hakushu has some peat to add to the mix, but is far more balanced. It adds more of a savory, richness at the base and less of the blast of bog water that the juggernaut Lagavulin rolls through on. 

Japanese whisky is also milder than Bourbon, making mint’s subtle, more complex cousin, Shiso, a perfect match. It’s floral and green enough to add the aromatic layer, and still cooling enough to enjoy on a hot summer day. The citrus-y side of the shiso also adds a bit of sweetness to the liquor, like a deliciously perverse whisky gimlet, though maybe not quite that sweet until you add the wasanbon.

Wasanbon sugar rounds out the mix with a subtle molasses flavor and light fruity notes not found in commercial sugars. It is manufactured in Japan from a rare sugar cane plant that is much thinner than the cane we think of in the US. It’s all made by hand so the care and skill that goes into making it, makes it a rare treat, even for those living closer to the source. Typically, wasanbon is pressed into molds and shaped as candies, or used in wagashi, the Japanese equivalent of petit fours. People use it in coffee or cakes, too, but try not to cover the flavor up with too many other ingredients.

Gokan came up with the idea of making a Japanese-style Julep while visiting the Hakushu distillery in Japan. He was also kind enough to share his recipe with us, here. The one hold up to making this at home, however, will be finding wasanbon sugar, as it is extremely rare. Despite the language barrier, I managed to find a big bag of it on Rakuten but immediately after buying it they ran out of stock. If you’re lucky you can buy a smaller bag, but if that stock runs out next, then you may have to find another way to source it. Good luck! It’s amazing stuff.

Shingo Gokan’s Shiso Julep

  1. First make a simple syrup with two bar spoons worth of wasanbon sugar and 60mL of mineral water.
  2. In a Julep Cup, add a small amount of shiso leaf and the syrup. Muddle lightly.
  3. Add 60mL Hakushu 12yr and fill cup with crushed ice. Carefully stir until chilled and the outside of the cup is frosty
  4. Garnish with aromatic shiso leaf and serve.

Thank you to Angel’s Share for the recipe. If you haven’t been yet, you should get there soon and check it out! The cocktails are so delicious that the first time we went, I had a mid-life crisis as we were leaving. This isn’t just a must-try cocktail, this is a must-see speakeasy.

Village Yokocho
8 Stuyvesant St
New York, NY 10003

New England Clam Chowder

clam chowderEver the proud Yankee, I’ve been slowly whittling down my New England clam chowder recipe for a long time… and I don’t mean that thick, floured goop you think I’m talking about. I didn’t say clam gravy. I said clam chowder, dammit. True chowder. The stuff the old school, New England settlers made. It’s been one of my absolute favorite things to make since well before I realized that it paired so well with single malt Scotch.

This dish plays well with any single malts that have an oceanic quality to them, so Talisker, Highland Park, Jura, or any Islay you can think of, all drink very nicely with it. Each has their own nuance to bring to the table, but the iodine from the peat and the phenolic brine from the clams blend into one another seamlessly. The unctuous creaminess of a well made chowder can stand up to the high proof, and the smokiness of whisky practically begs for a strong mouthful of ocean. This is a downright sacramental experience.

Chowder’s is a tragic story, though. Somewhere along the way, chefs trained in the French style stopped making chowder and started making bechamel garnished with chowder constituents, loosened up with canned clam juice. The texture and flavor was similar enough that not many people could tell the difference (or cared), and soon, even people from New England began to associate their historic culinary contribution with this new, pasty impostor. Real New England clam chowder does not use flour to thicken it. It relies on potatoes for thickness and milk or cream for it’s velvety smooth mouthfeel.

cutting boardMaking it from scratch is a lot of work, but other than the time you commit, the process is very easy. The most important step is making your clam stock. Toss that bottled crap out the window; it’s for lazy dullards. Coaxing nectar from clams using gentle steam is about as simple as it gets and bottled clam juice will not give you the same results.

Traditional clam stock is made by steaming clams in a small amount of water. I prefer to use a little corn stock. Real clam stock is also very salty, so corn sugars add some complimentary sweetness and help to mitigate the saltiness of these ocean dwelling bivalves.

Corn stock is one of those secret ingredients that will give your recipes an extra boost which your guests won’t quite be able to put their finger on. Each summer I vacuum seal and save all my corn cobs in the freezer for use throughout the year, but even crappy winter, supermarket corn has a cob that can make a decent stock. For convenience you can even make a large batch of corn stock and freeze it for later use.

New England Clam Chowder (makes about four servings)

  • 4 corn cobs
  • 3 pints filtered water
  • 4 lbs 4 oz littleneck clams
  • 4 oz diced salt pork
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small (5 oz) onion, diced
  • 1 large (2.5 oz) shallot, diced
  • 1 long stalk (2 oz) celery, washed and diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs red potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3-4 sprigs thyme, stripped and stems discarded
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. Cover corn cobs with 3 pints filtered water. Bring to boil, reduce to medium and slow-boil until reduced to 1 cup, about an hour. Strain and pour hot stock into a large pot with a vegetable steamer basket. Cover so the stock boils more easily in step three. Discard cobs and solids.
  2. As corn stock boils, brush clams well under cool water. Discard any that won’t close when you tap them. Gently tap two clams together to check for cracked shells and add all solid ones to the steamer basket in your pot. Discard cracked clams.
  3. Cover pot and steam over high until clams open. As they open, carefully remove them from the pot with tongs so they don’t overcook, and place them in an uncovered bowl to cool. After five minutes of active boiling they should start opening, but it may take up to fifteen minutes. Throw away any that don’t open after that.
  4. Remove pot from heat, strain the clam stock in the bottom through a cheese cloth to remove shell fragments and set broth aside.
  5. Once clams are cool enough to handle, scrape them out of their shell and place them in a bowl making sure to capture all the liquids that accumulate. Strain liquids through cheese cloth and add to clam stock. Discard shells and rinse out pot.
  6. Roughly chop clam meat, paying close attention for errant shell fragments that may be stuck to the clams. Cover clams in bowl with plastic wrap, reserving any juices and set in fridge until ready to use.
  7. salt porkRender salt pork in the pot over medium heat until crispy. Discard the excess fat.
  8. Add butter, onion, shallot, celery, bay leaves, and thyme to pot. Saute until soft and onions are translucent, about 10 minutes, working up the brown bits from the bottom as the vegetables release their moisture. Remove from heat and set aside
  9. In a separate pot, add potatoes and cover with reserved clam stock. If it doesn’t quite cover it, add some filtered water or whole milk to top it off. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are soft.
  10. Ladle out half of the potatoes into the onion mix, leaving all the liquid in the pot with the rest of the potatoes. Puree potatoes and stock with a stick blender until thick, creamy and all lumps are gone. This is where all the chowders thickening power comes from; over worked potatoes.
  11. Add thickened stock, cream, a few grinds of black pepper and chopped clam meat to the pot with the onion mix. Gently turn all ingredients together. If the mix is too thick or to salty just add some extra cream or whole milk to taste. Heat over low, stirring frequently for five minutes to meld flavors.
  12. Serve immediately, or cool pot in an ice bath and leave covered in the refrigerator for flavors to meld more overnight. Heat gently just until warmed through, garnish with chives or crackers, and serve with an oceanic single malt.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try garnishing your bowl with a few drops (I said drops, not a splash) of single malt. While this is a great pairing with any oceanic flavored whisky, even without the whisky garnish or pairing, this is one delicious chowder.

Cheers!

Single Cask Nation Dalmore 12yr and Condensed Grapefruit Cereal

SCN-Dalmore-PairingThis Single Cask Nation release spent 12 years in a refill Bourbon hoggie and then 10 months finishing up in a luscious PX cask. It is cask strength, but the proof dropped down to a very unusual 92 proof (46.1%). Barrel proof usually goes up in places where the barrels are hot, like Kentucky, because alcohol molecules are bigger than water molecules; when the barrels heat up and become pressurized in the summer, more water squeezes out between the wood pores than alcohol. However, unimpeded by wood, alcohol wants to evaporate faster than water, so in damp and cool places like Scotland, the proof goes down slightly because there’s lot of water in the air already and there’s not as much pressure ejecting it from the barrel.

The anomaly makes for one bizarre spirit. It’s like a well-stocked produce department with a smashed up handful of Fig Newtons drenched in molasses and cherry cola. Taking my nose out of the glass, the world smells like a magazine, one with all those perfume samples in them. It’s sharp, sweet and woody, a challenging whisky, so rather than taking notes and reviewing this one, I figured I would toss things up, test my mettle, and post a recipe to pair with it, instead.

This recipe is inspired by Christina Tosi’s work at Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC. Sweetened condensed grapefruit and cornflake crunch are two toppings she uses in other applications, but I’ve modified the recipes here to make them easier to prepare, and postured them as a bowl of breakfast cereal. Feel free to try replacing the grapefruit with concord grape juice or even a dose of Pedro Ximemez sherry if you’re feeling adventurous. Both would compliment this whisky very well!

Pairing whisky with sweets can be hazardous if you’re not careful, but in this case, the woody qualities of the Dalmore could really use a nice confection to balance them out. The sweet cherry, and spicy cola balance with tart grapefruit and rich, crunchy cereal, while the creaminess of the condensed milk coats your mouth to make sure all the flavors can play nice. It’s a very simple recipe, as well, which can be prepared a few days in advance for convenience.

Condensed Grapefruit Cereal

  • 225g (3/4 cup) sweetened condensed milk
  • 60g (4 Tbl) white grapefruit juice
  • 2g (1/2 tsp) kosher salt
  • 2g (1/2 tsp) citric acid
  • 2 drops red food coloring
  • 85g (1/4 of a 12 oz box) cornflakes
  • 40g (1/2 cup) milk powder
  • 40g (3 Tbl) granulated sugar
  • 4g (1 tsp) kosher salt
  • 1 stick (8 Tbl) melted butter
  1. In a small pot over medium heat reduce grapefruit juice to 2 Tablespoons.
  2. Mix juice with salt and citric acid and stir until dissolved.
  3. Fold well into sweetened condensed milk and reserve in airtight container in the refrigerator to set.
  4. Preheat oven to 250*F.
  5. Mix milk powder, salt and sugar. Set aside.
  6. Lightly crush corn flakes.
  7. Toss corn flakes with butter, then with dry milk mix, and spread on parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake 15 minutes (check after 10 and stop when flakes start to change color). Cool and store in airtight container until ready to use.
  9. Spoon a dollop of grapefruit mix into glass and top with cooled cornflakes mix.
  10. Serve with Single Cask Nation’s Dalmore 12yr PX finish and enjoy!

Thank you, Jason Johnstone-Yellin from Single Cask Nation, for the sample!

Glenmorangie – Original 10yr (43%)

Glenmorangie Original 10

Brand ambassadors can be difficult to pin down. Besides the constant traveling, seminars, meetings and release parties, I imagine they probably receive an unreasonable amount of requests like mine. As a small-time blogger, it’s hard to not drown in the ocean of voices assaulting them when mine is, like all the others, the voice of an impersonal email asking for free stuff with the promise of a completely unpredictable result.

Glenmorangie’s global master brand ambassador, David Blackmore, is an especially busy man. Promoting for the industry’s fastest growing brand is no small job, and doing it on a global scale must be exhausting. In a message I never thought I would see a reply to, I jokingly told him I would rename my dog David-Blackmore-kicks-ass if he would send me a few ounces of whisky so I could write about them. Four days later, a box showed up on my doorstep…

David-Blackmore-kicks-ass

David-Blackmore-kicks-ass

Well, it’s been a bewildering few days for my dog, who suddenly has no clue what I’m shouting at him when I catch him whizzing on things or chasing squirrels. As an entity which has a difficult time understanding polysyllabic commands, having a new name that’s five parts longer is very hard on him. My neighbors are equally confused; several have asked me who David Blackmore is. I just point to the growing pile of liquor bottles on my back porch and let them slip quietly back into their homes to gossip about me to their already concerned spouses.

Please don’t give your dog alcohol. Don’t be one of those assholes. Still, things happen from time to time when you have low tables, full glasses and the equivalent of a free-roaming, thumbless toddler with cognitive disabilities running around your house. Incidentally, I can tell you that David-Blackmore-kicks-ass LOVES whisky, and more importantly, now all of my glassware has lids.

Nose: Apricot and mildly nutty almonds are classic Glenmorangie. Deliciously minerally for the first few seconds, transitioning quickly to sweet white grapes and squeezed orange peel garnish. At the base it’s an extremely fruity, buttery malt with honeyed monkey bread and crusty pastry.

Palate: Light and extremely easy-drinking single malt. Hot croissants with a thin honey glaze. A surprising hint of cardamom. It’s creamy with a smooth with a vibrant finish that lets some more of the grapes loose. Again, classic apricots and mild nuttiness define the classic Glenmorangie style.

Rating: RecommendedFor right around $40 this should be a staple in your cabinet. It’s a sleek spirit, matured in delicious first and second fill American white oak. While I prefer it neat, it does mix exceptionally well, too. Try it in one of my favorite mixed drinks, the deliciously easy Whisky Dip: Mix 2 oz. Scotch and 1 Tbs pineapple syrup. Garnish with orange peel and serve.

Thank you to Gretha Smart and David Blackmore over at Glenmorangie for the generous samples!

Wings and Celeriac Slaw

Wings and Celeriac SlawThere are two paradigms people generally think of when talking about food and Bourbon: cooking with Bourbon or eating food while drinking Bourbon. I much prefer the latter, in fact, I very rarely get a good hit of Bourbon flavor when I see people trying to throw the drink into their mix as an ingredient. I almost always feel like it’s just there to sound sexy. Bourbon chocolate cake sounds like it could sell some units, but I always find myself asking, “where’s the Bourbon and why did they waste it in this recipe?”

When we’re cooking with Bourbon we tend to think of sugary things, like bread pudding, glazes, caramel or peach preserves. In these instances, the Bourbon is not being framed, rather contributing to a dish, surrendering a lot of its character to fit in. Conversely, when pairing food with Bourbon, we intend to create harmony with the Bourbon, to make it better than it would have been by itself and not squash too much of its essence. Cooking with it can mask it while pairing should frame it.

Eating super sugary things, like caramel, with Bourbon actually lays waste to the sweet receptors on your tongue, destroying any sweetness you could have perceived in the spirit and throwing the whole thing out of balance. Caramel might sound like a delicious pairing but if you’re drinking a Bourbon after a big hit of it, you’ll find a sour, bitter mess in your glass. Not that a little sweetness is completely uncalled for, just don’t go overboard. You need to temper your sweet with a heavy dose of creamy, savory, perfumed or bready.

Carrots, parsnips, pretty much any sweet and earthy root vegetable, when prepared correctly, play nicely with Bourbon’s perfumed and savory side. Mayonnaise is just about as mouth-coatingly creamy as you can get. Fried foods work to the bready ends and, using meat as a vehicle, mingle a little in the savory side as well. With this in mind, the toasted batter on savory wings served with a side of creamy celeriac slaw are all begging to be served with a few fingers of heady Bourbon.

There are a few day-before preparations to attend to in this recipe. Chicken fries best when it’s had lots of time to dry out, and giving the salt lots of time to absorb into the meat will not only help keep it juicy, but helps make the outer surfaces dry and fry better, so don’t skip these steps or you could end up with soggy, flavorless wings. The  most difficult part for the celeriac slaw is making your own mayonnaise, which you could just as easily skip, but I love the flavor of homemade mayo; making your own is a skill any good cook should have under their belt.

Celeriac Slaw

  • 1 medium celeriac (celery root)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • pinch of ground allspice
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • sprinkle salt
  • sprinkle sugar
  • a few grinds black pepper
  1. If you don’t wish to try your hand at making your own mayonnaise you can skip to step 7.
  2.  In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder grind both mustard seeds and coriander.
  3. In a flat bottomed bowl add yolk, ground spices, allspice, black pepper, salt and sugar and beat yolk until smooth.
  4. Add vinegar and lemon juice.
  5. Whisk in a few drops of oil, one drop at a time, until a stable emulsion forms. Take your time. The key is to go slow and let each drop fully mix in before proceeding.
  6. After 10-20 drops are mixed in, you can begin to slowly drizzle in the rest of the oil slowly, whisking quickly. Every few seconds back off the oil and make sure it’s good and mixed before proceeding. When all of the oil is mixed in you should have a thick sauce. Set aside. Don’t be discouraged if it comes out runny. Just try again and add the oil a little slower during the first stages of mixing. Go, literally, one drop at a time.
  7. Peel the celeriac, wiping the freshly cut sides with the leftover lemon as you go, to prevent browning.
  8. Once peeled, cut one side flat. Flip that side to the bottom so the root sits steady. Cut slices of the root as thinly as you can, and after you get a few, lay them on the cutting board and finely julienne. A julienne-capable mandolin will save you lots of time, but a sharp chef’s knife will work, too.
  9. When you get a small handful of strips, toss them into the bowl of mayonnaise and fold to cover. If you want a thicker dressing, don’t use as much of the root. If you want a thinner dressing, use it all. If it’s still too thick you can add some extra lemon juice to thin it out.
  10. Cover surface with plastic wrap and store in fridge up to a few hours ahead of time.

Fried Wings

  • 8 whole chicken wings cut into flats and drumettes (16 pieces)
  • 1 c cornstarch or tapioca starch
  • 1/2 c ap flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • kosher salt
  • Canola oil for deep frying
  1. The night before your meal, spread the wing pieces out on a drying rack over a baking dish. Season liberally with kosher salt on both sides and rest in refrigerator overnight.
  2. The next morning, rinse the wings. Dry them off well with a paper towel and set aside.
  3. Mix 1/2 cup of the corn starch, baking powder, spices, and a sprinkle of salt. Whisk to mix and then dredge the wings in the mix, shaking off the excess well before returning them to the drying rack. Set back in fridge for at least one hour, up to twelve.
  4. Preheat heavy pot of oil to 390*F. Preheat oven to 250*F.
  5. While oil heats, whisk together last 1/2 cup of starch, all flour, vodka, chicken stock and a sprinkle of salt. Batter should be very thin.
  6. Fry in two batches to keep oil hot. One by one, dip wings in batter, let excess drip off and then slowly add to fryer. Fry for 7-9 minutes or until wings are light bronze. Oil should drop down to around 360-375*F. Try to maintain that temp. Drain wings on paper towel or brown paper bags. Keep first batch of wings warm on a pan in the oven until second batch is done and ready to serve. Taste one and if they need salt sprinkle it on while the wings are still warm.

Plate wings with a dollop of slaw, serve with a nice heady Bourbon, like Buffalo Trace, Johnny Drum or Noah’s Mill on the side, and enjoy!