Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Smoked Manhattan


Plenty of Fall cocktails used to come smoked for the patrons who liked that scent on their drinks. Places went through a lot of trouble to buy wood chips or cedar planks to fire and trap smoke in the glass. Some went even farther: building tiny smokers behind the bar to smoke a finished cocktail in a glass chamber for all to see. It used to be a real to-do!

Not anymore. At least not anywhere around here. Of course you can smoke your own drink, but MurLarkey makes it much easier for you with their Smokehouse whiskey. It is bacon smoked and packed with oaked whiskey flavor and a corn mash finish. It's a little intense on its own and needs sweet vermouth and a traditional bourbon or rye to round it out. The smoke is still heady and delicious, while the dry cocktail has spiciness and depth.

  • 2 oz. bourbon or rye (Virginia Gentleman used)
  • 1/2 oz. (or more to taste) MurLarkey Smokehouse whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi di Torino used)
  • dash Peychaud's bitters
  • maraschino cherry
Combine spirits in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Drop the cherry in and enjoy!

Pig Roast Old Fashioned


When I first got this Smokehouse whiskey from MurLarkey distillery, I wanted to showcase it in a cocktail designed to play up the bacon savoriness of the whiskey. The first thing that came to mind was rimming the glass with bacon shot (a mix of sea salt, bacon, black pepper and celery seeds), which would really keep things on the savory side. But I was a little unsure of what to do next. Traditional Old Fashioned cocktails have sugar and bitters, but I felt like that would mean abandoning my plan for a savory cocktail.

Then it hit me while perusing my bar. Amer Picon has bitter notes of orange, like the orange twist you squeeze into an Old Fashioned. It also has sugar, but not in the way that you would notice. Finally, I made my Amer Picon using orange peel bitters extracted with MurLarkey Justice white whiskey, so the base of the Smokehouse and Picon would be essentially the same distillate. 

What a success! The orange notes are aligned with bitter orange zest, negating the need for bitters. The sweetness of the Amer Picon is unnoticable and does not detract from the savory flavors of the Smokehouse. Then the bacon rim matches the bacon in the whiskey. It's so good that you want every sip to sample a little of the bacon shot rim!

  • 1 oz. MurLarkey Smokehouse whiskey
  • 1 oz. Amer Picon (DIY Amer Picon used)
  • bacon shot rim

To make the bacon shot, combine 1/2  tbsp. bacon bits, 1/2 tbsp. sea salt, 1 tsp. black pepper and 1/2 tsp. celery salt on a shallow dish. Wet the rim (or half the rim) of a chilled Old Fashioned glass with water or citrus juice and dip it in the dry mixture. Build the cocktail over ice in the glass and stir until it is chilled. 

Hot Passion

I'm not a fan of fruited coffee cocktails. Sure, a spiced coffee with brandy or tequila is very nice if done right. I even like Grand Marnier in a coffee if it has whipped cream. Its just that adding passion fruit in the form of La Grande Passion to coffee only makes it slightly more bitter. And the recipe doesn't call for whipped cream, which would have made this so much better and I would have used it if I had it. Imagine, chocolate sprinkles and all! What a nice drink. Instead, I got a hot mess not a Hot Passion.

Part of my problem is that I don't have real La Grande Passion. Nobody does since it went out of production almost 30 years ago! My homemade version is a very filtered infusion, but that still doesn't prevent it from separating when added to hot coffee. You see passion fruit floaters in the cup. Creme de Grand Marnier would cover it up, but that also wasn't an option because it is now unavailable. If I ever do this one again, and I won't, I'll use whipped cream or shave chocolate on top (or both) to cover up the separation.

Another problem is floating the Creme de Grand Marnier. I'm sure the original product would have floated nicely, but I'll have to play around with the proportions and use heavy cream to get it light enough. You can make it by adding 1:2 proportion of Grand Marnier to heavy whipping cream and sweetening it with confectioner's sugar. Whip it rapidly until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid starts to foam. Again, separation is the enemy of this drink, and I feel like we are observing a dinosaur of the 1990s, extinct and as yet impossible to resurrect.

  • 1 1/2 oz. La Grande Passion (homemade used)
  • 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier (Royal Combier used)
  • 1/2 oz. Creme de Grand Marnier (homemade recipe attempted)
  • 6 oz. hot black coffee

Build drink in a warm coffee mug with passionfruit and Grand Marnier in first. Fill with hot coffee and float Creme de Grand Marnier on top. 


Smokehouse Sour


Honey barbecue is the inspiration for this cocktail. It relies on two MurLarkey whiskies to lend it the signature barbecue flavors, but still requires a principal dose of bourbon to keep things from getting too intense. That's because the bacon smoked Smokhouse whiskey is very savory, but I still wanted vanilla and brown sugar flavors to permeate the smoke.

Otherwise, this is a very straightforward Sour, on the rocks as any barbecue fan would like his drinks so they don't spill on the picnic table's uneven planks. 

  • 1 oz. bourbon (Virginia Gentleman used)
  • 1/2 oz. MurLarkey honey whiskey 
  • 1/2 oz. MurLarkey Smokehouse whiskey
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • lemon wheel and maraschino cherry for garnish

Combine sugar, juice and spirits in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. Garnish with the cherry and lemon slice. 

Swizzles (Jumbly Jolt/ Skye Swizzel)

I've seen this recipe before. A combination of rum, scotch and gin as a swizzle with lime juice? That's a Skye Swizzle. The proportions are a little different, and not to this example's betterment. I ended up with a little too much ice and not enough liquid to spread around. That is perfectly fine, but I'd like the recipe to reflect that an indicate an Old Fashioned glass as the proper container. 

Like all swizzles, you need plenty of crushed ice on hand before you start mixing. I found that freezing the glass first and choosing a glass with thin walls to be very helpful. I tied on the napkin wrap (like my chicken?) first before freezing the glass so that I could take the glass out and start building the cocktail in it. Otherwise, it might be smart to chill the liquids in a shaker. But either way, put the wrap on before you start building the drink.

One final note: I chose my Dutch courage gin for the gin in this cocktail and greatly improved it over past examples that used dry gins. Look for an Old Tom style or Dutch genever like Bols to get the desired effect. My hope was that if all the spirits shared a barreling process, the flavors would come together better. I wasn't wrong!

  • 1/2 oz. scotch (Teacher's used)
  • 1/2 oz. Jamaican rum (Barbancourt Haitian used)
  • 1/2 oz. gin (homemade Dutch courage gin used)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sweet vermouth
  • 1 tsp. cherry brandy (Cherry Herring used)
  • maraschino cherry garnish

Build the drink in a frozen Collins glass (Old Fashioned with thin walls is preferable if you have one). Add all ingredients except for the cherry garnish and top with crushed ice. Using a swizzle stick, stir to chill the ingredients while melting the ice. As the liquor dilutes and the liquid level rises, add more ice and continue stirring until the glass is frosty and the cocktail is cooled. Add a straw and garnish with a cherry. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Autumn White Whiskey Margarita (MurLarkey Justice Variation)


Most tequila drinkers swear by the tequila Margarita, and that makes sense. There's a risk involved in swapping out the principal ingredient in any recipe, that being that the name of the recipe itself becomes meaningless. In the case of white whiskey, however, certain white whiskies have the qualities of tequila: a clean spirit flavor that blends well with citrus and herbal notes that are close to tequila. 

I've done plain white whiskey Margaritas before and they are excellent chameleon cocktails. You really feel like you are south of the border, when the spirit comes from your local distillery. So I felt that a white whiskey Margarita gives me permission to use flavored whiskies to create a flavored Margarita variation. 

MurLarkey's cinnamon whiskey gives any cocktail that essence of Fall weather and the spice we crave to warm us up. Peach is usually associated with summer, but swapping out the traditional orange flavored triple sec also changes the profile. To be honest, if I had pear or apple whiskey, I'd be using that and I encourage you to experiment as well. The whole purpose of this post is to further the spirit of innovation.

  • 1 1/2 oz. white whiskey (MurLarkey Justice used)
  • 1/2 oz. cinnamon whiskey (MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey used)
  • 1/2 oz. peach or other fruit whiskey (Bird Dog peach whiskey used)
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. sugar syrup 
  • lime slice
  • coarse salt for rim

Rim an Old Fashioned glass with salt by wetting it with a slice of lime and dipping it into coarse salt. Fill the glass with fresh ice. Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the glass and garnish with the lime slice.

Bourbon Daisy

I've done the Bourbon Daisy before, but with Southern Comfort, not peach whiskey. I felt that moving away from Southern Comfort was reason enough to explore this cocktail some more. That, and a Bourbon Daisy is a great way to make your summer style Daisy cocktail more suited to Autumnal drinking. 

I used Evan William's bottled in bond bourbon, which has pleasing hazlenut notes on the nose and at first sip. The last of my Bird Dog peach whiskey kept the whiskey-forward style of this cocktail. Southern Comfort is a brandy spirit with peach flavors. It is very rich, whereas Bird Dog's peach whiskey is heavier only on the peach flavor without the sugary cooked spirit notes of Southern Comfort. I know that inexpensive flavored whiskies are not prized, but I have to say that Bird Dog has been one of the most useful liquors on my bar. 
  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon (Evan Williams bottled in bond used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. grenadine
  • club soda
  • 1 tsp. Southern Comfort
  • orange slice
  • pineapple stick (optional)

Combine bourbon lemon juice and grenadine in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass full of fresh ice. Top with club soda and stir gently. Float peach liquor on top and garnish with fruit.