Iced Tea Cocktails

A follow-up to Crowdsourcing Cocktails: Iced Tea

iced tea ad 2

Last week I put a question to the crowd: what cocktails could I make with my leftover iced tea?  A few of you replied with excellent suggestions, which I took to my kitchen along with my barware.

Fellow bloggers G-Lo (It’s Just the Booze Dancing) and Susannah (What Tastes Good) both provided recommendations.  However, I didn’t follow their suggestions to the letter, but rather tweaked them slightly based on my personal tastes and what I had on hand.

First, G-Lo recommended the following:

How about one part homemade Limoncello, of which I have plenty, and three parts Sun Tea, shaken and poured over ice in a tall glass and then topped with a splash of San Pellegrino Blood Orange Soda? Garnish it with a wedge of lemon and BOOM! you’re done.

Thankfully, I still had some homemade limoncello (a little less than G-Lo, I believe) and was able to easily find San Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa (Blood Orange) at the neighborhood grocery store.  (As an aside, I prefer Orangina to San Pellegrino, but that’s neither here nor there in this case.)  After mixing things up, I was surprised at how nicely it tasted.  Each ingredient was equally recognizable and the juice didn’t over-sweeten the drink and I thought it would.

I made a slight modification for my second helping, however: instead of shaking the three together, I stirred them in my glass over ice.  Stirring better separated the flavors a bit more and didn’t chill the drink as much, which I more preferred.  More importantly, I was able to use two homemade products – tea and limoncello – killing two birds with one cocktail, as it were.

The second recipe was sent by Susannah, who suggested:

Sweet iced tea (infused with fresh mint if you can) and bourbon. That’s pretty much the best I can do once the temperature gets above 90…

Here I must admit: I cut corners.  As the recipe called for sweet tea, I used my sun tea (not infused with mint) with a half tablespoon or so of sugar, along with the bourbon, in two-to-one proportions (two parts tea, one part bourbon).  This too wasn’t bad and definitely provided a boozier kick than G-Lo’s recipe.  Yet I preferred the former limoncello-based drink to the latter – perhaps it’s my penchant for malt-based whisky (rather than corn-based bourbon), or it could have been my preference for unsweetened tea over sweetened.

Nevertheless, both cocktails used the surplus tea as I had intended and taught me a couple of new cocktails in the process, which was why I had originally asked the question.  I spent a few moments in the kitchen with my cocktail shaker, which these days, is an exceedingly rare occurrence.

Thanks to you both for sharing the information, very much appreciated!

Published in: on August 5, 2013 at 11:01 pm  Comments (3)  
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Bye Bye Bourbon Barrels

If you overheard a conversation discussing used wooden barrels as a commodity, you might think you had traveled back in time a few centuries.  But don’t be confused, it’s still 2011, regardless of the old-timey facial hair you might see out and about.

The used barrels-as-commodity discussion is relevant today, it turns out, especially when it comes to used bourbon barrels.  Tasting Table, “a free daily email publication that delivers the best of food and drink culture to adventurous eaters across the country,” published a short piece summarizing this intersection of boozing and economics.  “In fact, these vessels are becoming the latest commodities of the food world, finding employment in their post-whiskey lives as containers for everything from fish sauce to beer.  Some barrels even end up as pieces in the firebox of a smoker, where their sweet fumes imbue all manner of meats and vegetables. (A most honorable death, we think.)”

Tasting Table’s article traced the afterlives of barrels from four notable bourbon distillers – Pappy Van Winkle, Woodford Reserve, Heaven’s Hill, and Tuthill Town – then produced a graphic showcasing their research (included above). There is a wide range of uses for the barrels – Heaven’s Hill barrels are used to hold maple syrup, fish sauce, cocktails, and several beers, for example; barrels from Tuthill Town hold vinegar and barbecue sauce.

Regardless of what they’re used for, the barrels’ status as a commodity in the modern culinary and craft brewing industries clearly indicate bourbon’s new respect as a quality spirit.  No more hiding in the shadow of its single malt Scottish cousin.  Or maybe it can be more simply explained by quoting my father: “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Picture courtesy of Tasting Table and  And thanks to HoneyBadger for the Tasting Table email.


In related whisky barrel recycling news, Victory Brewery announced this week that it is selling the barrels used to hold its Dark Intrigue brew on Dark Wednesday (also known as November 23) for only $40.

A used bourbon barrel would of course make an excellent addition to any backyard patio.  But you also might be wondering, what exactly is Dark Intrigue?  According to the brewery, “Our Storm King Stout spent the summer in bourbon barrels from Jim Beam and Heaven Hill Distilleries, and has finally emerged as Dark Intrigue. (It’s like Clark Kent going into a phone booth and coming out as Superman, only more delicious and less crime-fighty.)”

Published in: on November 3, 2011 at 9:12 pm  Comments (2)  
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Cutting Corners?

A fine, aged whisky (or whiskey) is a thing of beauty.  Whether it is Scottish, Irish, Japanese, or American, a full bodied, oaky, slightly smokey pour is my idea of simple perfection in a glass, unadulterated by water, temperature, or mixer.  However, an unsettling trend has developed in the whisky world, a trend placing profits and production over time, patience, and ultimately, quality: the reincarnation of white whisky.

You might not have heard of white whisky before.  Or perhaps you know it by its other name, moonshine.  Well, not exactly, and therein lies the root of the problem.  Moonshine – un-aged whisky bottled straight off the still, the kind produced illegally during Prohibition – is not identical to the present craft distilled white whiskies.  Modern white whiskies are aged somewhat, but nowhere near the length of time of traditional scotches and bourbons.  And there it is, our problem: time.

Aging whisky in barrels, oftentimes for decades, costs money: the barrels themselves as well as the space to house said barrels being the two most obvious expenses.  Because you cannot sell the spirit whilst it ages, startup distilleries have a hard time making a profit: this “is why many new distillers start with ‘white’ spirits like vodka and gin, then invest in whiskey once the money is flowing.  But the allure of producing brown liquor is a strong one, so for the last few years entrepreneurial types have been looking for ways around the time conundrum,” writes The Atlantic’s Clay Risen.

So, what to do if you’re a distiller who wants to produce whisky but doesn’t want to wait?  You produce whisky with only minimal aging, allowing you to turn a profit much more quickly.  Yet cutting corners comes at the cost of quality: regardless of what artificial aging techniques are used – bags of wood chips, smaller barrels, even moving the whisky inside the barrel – there is no substitute for time.

Perhaps consumers are wise to this fact: The Washington Post’s Jason Wilson asserts: “It’s unclear how many people are buying white whiskeys, and even more unclear how they’re being consumed… ‘Demand for them isn’t high, and I rarely see repeat sales on them. Most folks just want to try them to satisfy their curiosity.’”

Curiosity is certainly understandable, but is by no means a substitute for good old-fashioned patience.  Perhaps these corner cutters would be better off remembering “the maxim of Julian ‘Pappy’ Van Winkle: ‘We make Fine Bourbon. At a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always Fine Bourbon.’”

Published in: on August 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm  Comments (3)  
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Bourbon: Tennessee or Kentucky?

This past weekend saw the running of the 137th Kentucky Derby, perhaps the biggest day of the year for oversized hats and Mint Juleps.  I was unable to watch the race.  However, a good friend and loyal reader went to a Derby-watching party Saturday and e-mailed me about it the following day.

During the festivities, he informed me, a spirited debate occurred – one that I would have immensely enjoyed.  The key question: what is the difference between Kentucky bourbon and a “Tennessee sipping whiskey,” such as Jack Daniels?  A fine question indeed, yet one I cannot readily answer, as I am admittedly ignorant when it comes to most American whiskeys.

Now, at this point in the post I would ordinarily proceed with an in-depth discussion of the geographical and historical differences distinguishing Kentucky and Tennessee whiskeys, an analysis of the legal definition of “bourbon” according to U.S. federal law and international trade regulations, and possibly even consideration of the Lincoln County distillation process, which uses coal as a filter.  But such a discussion would be largely academic – not personal or based on experience – as I do not regularly drink bourbon, regardless of where it truly originates.

So instead of engaging in my ordinary discussion, especially on a topic I am none too familiar, I thought it would be more enjoyable to replicate the original discussion by putting the question to you, the readers.  A few questions to get the crowd thinking:

What defines bourbon?  Is it location, distillation process, or something more, an intrinsic quality based on personal experiences and aesthetics?

What is your favorite bourbon?  And more importantly, why?

Published in: on May 9, 2011 at 11:05 pm  Comments (9)  
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Back to the Grind

Woodford Reserve master distiller Chris Morris

While I was away from work on vacation last month, several co-workers – knowing my love of whisky and of all things drinking – dropped a few news clippings on my desk for me to peruse when I returned.  The information included two newspaper articles, one from The New York Times and another from The Wall Street Journal, as well as a brochure for a new distillery in central Virginia.  Together, this stack provided a much-need (and appreciated) diversion from cleaning out my email inbox.

Here’s a rundown of the info, none of which made sitting at my desk after a wonderful vacation filled with booze and sunshine any easier.  But I appreciated the thought; thanks guys.

“Canadian whisky has an image problem,” writes Robert Simonson; it is “the unglamorous workhorse of the whisky world, producing dependable, light-bodied, mixing whiskies derided by booze connoisseurs as ‘brown vodka.’”  But Canadian distillers are looking to change that image by returning to their roots.  New, independent distilleries – some of which are aging their whisky in Canadian oak barrels, not American ones – are employing “sleek packaging and nods to small-scale production [that] suggest what they’re meant to deliver.”  Namely, a smooth, rich, full-flavored whisky that is classically Canadian.  The article also provides a Scouting Report of “new-style Canadian whiskies available in some cities in the United States.”

Read Simonson’s article, Distillers Take a New Approach to Canadian Whiskies

Farther south, in Versailles, Kentucky, Chris Morris is a busy man.  Working as the master distiller in a distillery dating back to the 1830s, Morris “oversees the process for Woodford Reserve, a premium bourbon.”  Although drinking for a living sounds like the dream job, it hasn’t always been so choice: he’s “done everything from sweep the floors to work in the company’s sophisticated laboratory, breaking down the chemicals in alcohol.”  Morris prides himself on “modernizing old practices” and documents his experiments and tastings with extensive notes, “a surprisingly complex task because of the many things that can affect a whiskey’s flavor.”

Read the Journal’s review, Distilling a Lifetime of Whisky Knowledge

Just east, over the Appalachians, a new distillery began production late last year.  The Virginia Distillery Company has (thus far) produced three expressions of their Eades Small Batch Double Malt Whisky – a Speyside, a Highland, and an Islay – whose component malts are between 10 and 18 years old.

The company will also produce a single malt that will be “the first and only in America to produce double-distilled single malt whisky using authentic, Scottish-made copper pot stills.”  Virginia’s unique climate will also create a special whisky: “As our whisky ages inside the cask, the dramatic fluctuations in temperature and humidity as the seasons change will cause the wood to expand and contract. These dynamic forces will draw the whisky into and out of the wood of the cask much faster than it would in a typical Scottish warehouse.”

Read more about the Virginia Distillery Company, located in Lovingston, Virginia