The History and Use of Bourbon!!!

We ave a slight Bourbon obsession in my house....While some of that is wine, a majority is fine and hard to find Bourbons. Our wine rack has no wine on it!

We ave a slight Bourbon obsession in my house….While some of that is wine, a majority is fine and hard to find Bourbons. Our wine rack has no wine on it!

To finish out National Bourbon Heritage Month, I thought I’d make the final blog Cocktails with Cally just about bourbon. I thought you might want to know exactly what makes this special liquor Bourbon and where it came from.

To start, let’s look at the name Bourbon. It was named after the French Bourbon Dynasty. The Bourbon’s ruled France during the 16th century when Henry IV became the first Bourbon king in France. Ultimately, their family went on to rule in many other countries in Europe, including Spain, Naples, and Sicily. It is mostly associated with Bourbon County, Kentucky, but some dispute whether or not it’s origins in the United States can be traced to Bourbon Street in New Orleans. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Bourbon in the United States is associated with Bourbon County, Kentucky and New Orleans is just lucky enough to have a famous street names after one of our favorite libations.

Bourbon has been distilled since the 18th century, and consists mainly of corn. Bourbon is first noted in history in 1820, but is used consistently starting around 1870. Contrary to what many people think, Bourbon can be made anywhere in the United Sates, it doesn’t have to be distilled in Kentucky to be considered Bourbon. That rumor probably got started because the best and most sought after Bourbons come from Kentucky.

Mr. Elijah Craig himself!

Mr. Elijah Craig himself! Photograph courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.com

Lucky for us, Bourbon has a pretty well documented history. While there are many myths and lore’s that are associated with it, for the most part, we can tell a lot about this liquor all the way from its first conception. It is thought that Elijah Craig, a Baptist Minister no less, was the first to use charred oak barrels to age his distilled product. This helped to give it the rich, amber color we have come to know and love. Now, his neighbor, Jacob Spears, who hailed from Bourbon County Kentucky, is said to have been the first to market his spirits under the name Bourbon. More than likely, there is no one single person who can claim to have invented Bourbon. It is more likely that it was a collaboration between many distillers who tried each others drinks and made adjustments in their own process. Over time, the distilling process was refined, and the delicious libation we enjoy today was finally created.

The current bottle of one of the oldest Bourbons.

The current bottle of one of the oldest Bourbons. Photograph courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.com

While most producers have their own recipe for the sour mash and process that they use to make Bourbon, they must all follow strict guidelines to be bottled and sold as Bourbon. First, it must be produced in the United States. While I’m sure other countries would love to produce their own version of Bourbon, the United States is the only place that can lay claim to its production. Secondly, it must be at least 51% corn. Other grains can be used, and rye is one of my favorites, however, the mixture must be at more than half corn. All Bourbon must be aged in brand new charred oak barrels. These barrels are reused in many different ways after the Bourbon is bottled (think aging beer, syrup, other liquors), Bourbon gets a brand new barrel each and every time it is produced. When it enters these brand new charred oak barrels, it cannot be more than 125 proof, which is 62.5% alcohol by volume. When it is bottled, it is 80 proof or more, making it at least 40% alcohol by volume. There is no ageing requirement for regular Bourbon, but from experience, I can tell you that the longer it ages, the better it tastes and the more expensive it is and gets much harder to find! This is because as the liquid ages in the barrels, the barrels absorb some of the liquid and some of it evaporates (that is called the Angels Share). So, while aging increases the tastiness of Bourbon, you get much less per barrel. If you want to bottle as Straight Bourbon, it has a minimum aging time of two years.

My Old Kentucky Home is located in Bardstown, Kentucky and they have the world famous Bourbon Festival every year.

My Old Kentucky Home is located in Bardstown, Kentucky and they have the world famous Bourbon Festival every year. Photograph courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.com

Congress recognized Bourbon as distinctive product of the United States in May of 1964. While it can be produced anywhere in the United States, it is mostly associated with Kentucky. This is probably because of the limestone base that we sit upon. The water that is purified through the limestone is iron free and is touted by many master distillers as one of the most important elements in Bourbon distilling. In 2013, it was determined that about 95% of all Bourbon was produced in the Bluegrass state.

My favorite way yo enjoy Bourbon...on the rocks with a cool cube of ice!

My favorite way yo enjoy Bourbon…on the rocks with a cool cube of ice!

There are many ways to serve Bourbon and it is found in many famous cocktails, as we have seen in the past few posts over this month. However, if you have a fine, well-aged, sipping Bourbon, you will not want to spoil it with any mixers or accompaniments. Serving just Bourbon in a glass is called Bourbon neat. This is one of the best ways to enjoy Bourbon on a cool, fall night or on a cold, Kentucky night in front of your fire place. Some people like theirs with a splash of water or over ice, which is called on the rocks. I also LOVE to cook with Bourbon and in many of my recipes, I substitute Bourbon for Vanilla.

My challenge for you is to go out and purchase a few smaller bottles of different brands of Bourbon. See what you like. Try them neat, add a little water, and try them on the rocks. See what works for you. There are many, many different distillers, and most of them produce several different types of Bourbon. Find one you like, and you’ll never turn back!

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Berries, Ginger, and Bourbon…Oh My!!!

Cocktail 3The weather is beautiful here in the Bluegrass sate right now. It’s that time when the mornings are cool  and you need a light jacket to go outside, but it warms up later in day. You can’t beat it! This is why September is National Bourbon Heritage Month, because you can’t help but want to sip good Bourbon in this weather! There’s nothing better than a great Bourbon cocktail around an evening campfire or at a tailgate. Our days can’t decide if they are fall or summer, and that inspired this week’s cocktail. It’s a refreshing combination of summer flavors mixed with the beautiful crispness of fall.

Summer flavors to me, are refreshing and bright. I love the combination of ginger and mint with almost any summer berry. I chose blackberries for this drink, because we had such a delicious crop of them this year. In my opinion, you can’t get any more fall than Bourbon, so the combination that I came up with for tonight is the perfect marriage between summer and fall.

So let’s get to it! A lot of areas of this drink can be open for your own interpretations and tastes. Add more blackberries for more tang, add more ginger for more zest. It’s all up to you. If you prefer a less strong drink, substitute club soda for the tonic water, or to take even a step further, and use ginger ale. I like to use a taller Collins glass for a drink like this, mostly because of the muddling, but it’s up to you. You could do all of this in a cocktail shaker and pour into chilled Martini glasses for a classier edge as well.

Blackberry Bourbon Cocktail – Makes 1 drink

Cocktail 2

Ingredients:

– 3-4 Fresh Blackberries

– ¾ inch Freshly zested ginger

– 4-5 Fresh Mint leaves

– 2 tablespoons pure cane sugar (You can use regular sugar, but I prefer cane sugar. Simple syrup works as well. If you like a sweeter drink, feel free to add more sugar)

– 2 Shots good quality Kentucky Bourbon

– Tonic Water to finish

– Blackberries and Mint to garnish

Directions:

– Add blackberries, ginger, mint leaves, and sugar to your glass.

– Muddle together, enough to break up the blackberries and bruise the mint. Remember, if you don’t have a muddler, the handle end of a wooden spoon also works.

– Add ice to fill the glass.

– Pour in Bourbon and finish with Tonic Water.

– Garnish with blackberries and mint leaves.

– Enjoy!!!

This drink is great at an early season tailgate or an end of summer party!

Cocktail 1

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Down the bank water blind!

This fantastic bluegrass fall weather has got the dogs all excited! Here’s a video of one of Deacon’s water blinds from today. He takes the line right down the bank! I’m so happy with how his training is progressing!!

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Waveland State Historical Site…Craft Fair!

12021908_10103007321525480_153032065_nSo, my plans to go on a Dove Shoot got canceled due to inclement weather, mainly the beautiful fall air that has ascended upon us! Apparently, the dove tend to not fly as well when it’s chilly outside! That left my day wide open, and if you know me, I can’t spend the first day that feels like fall inside!

I have been seeing signs all week for Waveland State Historical Site’s annual craft festival. It’s my perfect scene; local craftsmen and history! OK, the free wine tasting was really what got me going, but I did spread the wealth to all the vendors  So, Trev and I loaded Bur up in the truck and headed out.

Obviously I’m going to start this adventure with the history of Waveland….The Greek revival mansion that sits on the property today, is not the original Waveland Home. The 12007294_10103007322049430_786622544_noriginal house was built by Daniel Boone Bryan, who was the nephew of the Daniel Boone you are thinking about. Daniel Boone’s sister married into the Bryan family, and Boone himself surveyed the land that he would bequeath to his nephew, who was a renowned historian, frontiersman, and poet in his own right. The original property was about 2,000 acres and at one time boasted being the largest hemp and rope producers in the nation. Waveland was named after the “waves” that were produced when the wind blew through the fields of wheat and hemp. During his reign, Waveland had a large gunsmith shop with over 25 men employed (Bryan himself was an accomplished gunsmith), manufactured saltpeter and gunpowder, a gristmill, blacksmiths shop, a Baptist church, women’s seminary, distillery and paper mill. Bryan and his wife, Elizabeth, managed all of this along with 12 children. They make us in the present day look like slackers!

Yes, they had a child's size cabin and Bur had to play in it!

Yes, they had a child’s size cabin and Bur had to play in it!

Joseph Bryan inherited the estate from his father and immediately went to making changes. His wife pushed him to builder a larger, grander home, so he tore down the old stone home built by his father, and built the manor we visited today. Bryan’s wife wanted many expensive amenities, so he cut corners in a few places to save money. For instance, instead of marble base boards, he used stone and painted them to look like marble. This Bryan was resourceful while keeping his wife happy….husbands of today, take note! Most of the materials to produce their home came directly from the plantation.

During Joseph Bryan’s tenure as owner, slaves were present. 13 to be exact; 10 men and 3 women. They were all clothes in outfits made by Bryan’s wife, Margaret, who made clothes for everyone living at Waveland. Lucky for her, the dewing machine was invented during her lifetime, making her job much easier! The women kept the house and cooked and the men tended the land. Each man was given 20 acres to work and a house to live in on their assigned acreage. This Bryan did not keep his slaves in the same way as others did at the time. They were given many freedoms and luxuries not allotted to most slaves of the time. They could hunt, sell at the local markets (being allowed to keep their profits), and were allowed to keep firearms and weapons. He also built their homes out of brick, making them warmer than the normal clap board houses normally built for slaves. However, he sis support the confederacy during the Civil War and gave them supplies. The Union Found out (Kentucky was really on the border about what side she wanted to be on for most of the war, but that’s a whole other post in itself!) and tried to arrest him, but he outsmarted them and fled to Canada. He returned to Waveland after the war, where is slaves, now freedmen continued working for him as paid employees.

He had a really good time :)

He had a really good time 🙂

The last Bryan to own Waveland did not have the same work ethic and sense that his forefathers had. He lost his original home and had to move into Waveland with his parents. When they passed away, he and his family kept the plantation, but he was a horrible gambler. Other family members had to sell their homes so that they could pay his debts to keep Waveland in the family. However, eventually this lifestyle caught up with him and he was unable to pay off his mounting debts and lost the home to auction. The estate passed through several hands over the years until the Commonwealth of Kentucky bought it, and the only 200 acres that remained with it. The University of Kentucky now uses those acers for experimental agriculture research. Joseph Henry Bryan was not all bad. He did help Waveland to produce some of the most renowned trotter racehorse in known history. Waveland Chief, Ben-Hur, Eric, Olaf, and Wildrake all carried Waveland genetics, with Wildrake never losing a race and being bought by the Rockefeller’s in the 1880’s. He also built a racecourse on the property where he and other businessmen would watch from the rail, while the women, who weren’t allowed at the course were banished to the roof of the mansion to watch through binoculars.

The home is now a museum with daily tours for most of the year, and best of all, you can rent to property for parties and gatherings.

Now for my adventure! Waveland is a beautiful piece of property that has been kept as 12021761_10103007321834860_2119420790_nclosely to its original state as possible. It’s also full of mystery….You never know what little garden you might find hidden around a corner or what secret the next hedgerow is keeping. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a wedding that was being set up, for later on this evening. What a glorious day for an outdoor reception in a secret garden! He had a great afternoon searching through the butterfly gardens, admiring the wears of local artisans, and sampling some great, regional cheeses and wines.

waveland

Chrisman Mill Vineyards & Winery is there with a beautiful variety of their wines, and the best part, tastings are free. They also had a magnificent Sangria that paired perfectly with the fall weather. Their Facebook page is here, so check them out for seasonal offerings. Boone Creek Creamery is out in full force with a selection of cheeses that will certainly please even the most discerning foodie. I am going to go on ahead and recommend the French Cheddar (for obvious reasons!) and the bread cheese, which apparently melts into one of the creamiest bowls of goodness you’ve ever had. I can’t wait to cook with it! You can check them out at www.BooneCreekCreamery.com and if you are looking for something fun to do one afternoon, visit them at their shop on Palumbo Drive in Lexington, Kentucky. You can tour the shop and see your cheese being made! I plan on going soon!

Other stand outs, in my opinion are Nora Swanson Arts. Her jewelry is amazing, and you

Some of their offerings...

Some of their offerings…

can check her out online at www.nswansonarts.com.

Firefly Knits and Fibers up-cycles many old pieces of clothing (such as wool skirts and jackets) for a new life as a cute handbag or pillow. She has a set of owl pillows I plan on getting for Bur’s room! You can see her offerings at www.fireflyknitsandfibers.com.

If you are a photography buff like myself, you will appreciate Roy Craft Art’s booth. His pictures from around Appalachia are sure to inspire you. You can check him out at www.roycraftart.com.

Can't get enough of these owls!

Can’t get enough of these owls!

Other booths offered handmade baskets, several types of jewelry, soaps, stained glass and many other locally made items. Most of the artisans are producing what they sell right in their booths, so you can see their process. I know that there is something here for everyone! Oh yeah, there’s Kettle Corn too, and who doesn’t love Kettle Corn!

The craft fair is open again tomorrow starting at 11:00. You can tour the house with the price of your admission, which is $5.00 for adults and children under 12 are free. I hope you have time to stop by there and enjoy a pleasant afternoon at Waveland State Historical Site (http://parks.ky.gov/parks/historicsites/waveland/) and support our local artisans!

Other great offerings!

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Another Bourbon Favorite….The Mint Julep!!

JulepContinuing on for National Bourbon Heritage Month, I’m covering what I think is possibly the most popular drink in Kentucky, especially on the first Saturday in May. Yep, that’s right, it’s the Mint Julep. Now, you may have a had a Mint Julep at one time or another and thought..”what’s all the hype about? This really isn’t that special.” Well, more than likely you had a version of Mint Julep that used a special mix or simple syrup to make it easier for the bartender to mix. I understand your trepidation. I too was the victim of sub-par Mint Juleps for years and thought that I could never enjoy one. I would drink the obligatory Julep at a Derby gathering or at a friend’s party, so as to not be rude to the hostess. Then one day, I decided to look up the original recipe and make my own. I was pleasantly surprised with how refreshing it was! It’s very similar to a Mojito, but with bourbon instead of rum. I have a new found love for the Mint Julep and will be serving the original recipe, made with good bourbon, at one of my next cocktail parties. The great thing about this drink, is that it’s also perfect for tailgating. It’s easy to make, with just a few ingredients, and when done correctly, it’s a delicious crowd pleaser!

Before it became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, the Mint Julep had a fairly shady past. No one knows for sure exactly when it was concocted, but the first known history starts in medical journals. The name Julep is used to describe a sweet drink, usually used to administer unappetizing medications. It is a Persian word, literally meaning “Rose Water”. It makes its first appearance in 1784 when it was said “”sickness at the stomach, with frequent retching, and, at times, a difficulty of swallowing. I then prescribed her an emetic, some opening powders, and a mint julep”. John Davis also makes mention of it in an 1803 publication where he said, “a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.” He doesn’t specify what liquor is used, but more than likely, knowing the Virginians of that time period, it was some sort of Bourbon or Whiskey!

Kentucky's own Native Son...Henry Clay! www.wikipedia.com

Kentucky’s own Native Son…Henry Clay!
http://www.wikipedia.com

Esteemed Kentuckian, Henry Clay, took the Mint Julep on its first road trip. Mr. Clay took it with him to Washington D.C. where he introduced it to the Round Robin Bar at the esteemed Willard Hotel. From there, its popularity sky rocketed! Without Ole Henry’s influence, this drink may have faded away into the background of history and we would be enjoying a different Bourbon drink on the First Saturday in May.

Many variations of Juleps have been popular throughout history, depending on the region you are in and the booze you had available. Like I said earlier, it’s fairly similar to a Mojito. It was also made with Gin and different types of muddled fruit. Remember, a Julep is a sweet drink, so it can be done a lot of different ways, we just prefer the mint version here in Horse Country!

An 1862 version of Bar-Tender’s Guide: How to Mix Drinks, written by Jerry Thomas,

Present day Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. www.wikipedia.com

Present day Willard Hotel in Washington D.C.
http://www.wikipedia.com

gives recipes for five variations of the Mint Julep. They use a variety of spirits mixed with mint and sugar. He says that the Mint Julep is a “…a peculiarly American beverage…” It made the voyage overseas with the help of British Captain Frederick Maryatt, who included the recipe in his book, Second Series of a Diary in American. He describes the Mint Julep as follows…”There are many varieties of Mint Julep, such as those composed of Claret, Madiera, ect, but the ingredients of the real mint-julep are as follows. I learnt how to make them, and succeeded pretty well. Put into a tumbler about a dozen sprigs of the tender shoots of mint, upon them put a spoonful of white sugar, and equal proportions of peach and common brandy, so as to fill it up one-third, or perhaps a little less. Then take rasped or pounded ice, and fill up the tumbler. Epicures rub the lips of the tumbler with a piece of fresh pine-apple, and the tumbler itself is very often incrusted outside with stalactites of ice. As the ice melts, you drink.” It’s a recipe that is open for interpretation and the addition of many different add ins. The result is always the same, a sweet drink that is pleasant to sip on a hot, southern afternoon. In the end, the Bourbon based Julep edged out Gin, and the simplified version with muddled sugar and mint has become the version of choice. A recipe from 1916 is one of my favorite descriptions of the Mint Julep:

One of histories first mixologists...Jerry Thomas. www.wikipedia.com

One of histories first mixologists…Jerry Thomas.
http://www.wikipedia.com

“The famous old barroom, which was approached by a spiral staircase. Here in this dark, cool room, scented with great masses of fragrant mint that lay upon mountains of crushed ice, in the olden days were created the White Sulphur mint julep and the Virginia toddy, for which this place was famous the world over. The mint juleps were not the composite compounds of the present day. They were made of the purest French brandy, limestone water, old-fashioned cut loaf sugar, crushed ice, and young mint the foliage of which touched your ears…Here, in this old room, was uttered that famous remark of the Governor of North Carolina to the Governor of South Carolina. “It is a long time between drinks.”

This drink is also known as the “Old White” but it sounds like a beautiful Mint Julep that I

Europe can thank Fredrick Maryatt for bringing them the Mint Julep. www.wikipedia.com

Europe can thank Fredrick Maryatt for bringing them the Mint Julep.
http://www.wikipedia.com

can imagine sipping on the front porch in a rocking chair, listening to the ceiling fans whine overhead.

Starting in 1938, Churchill Downs began promoting the Mint Julep as the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. About 120,000 are served in a single day every May. A select few of these are what is known as the extra-premium, custom made Mint Julep. They are $1,000.00 and you even get to keep the gold plated commemorative Julep Cup it comes in! They are made with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, mint imported from Ireland (I never knew that Ireland was the place for mint, but I don’t know if I could ever go back to having domestic mint after having the Irish version!), a silver straw, spring water ice cubes from the Bavarian Alps (because obviously water flown in and frozen from another country is better than anything we have here!), and sugar from Australia (again, I don’t know if I could ever go back to domestic sugar!). The proceeds from the sale of the premium Mint Julep go to charities dedicated to retired racehorses.

Churchill Downs in 1902 www.wikipedia.com

Churchill Downs in 1902
http://www.wikipedia.com

Drink wear is always important part of my discussions and we are lucky again this week…there is such a thing as the Julep Cup! It is a small, pewter or silver cup that froths up on the outside as you stir the ice to mix your drink. You can use them for a variety of different drinks, but it takes the guess work out of what to serve your Mint Julep out of! However, just like most any cocktail, you can drink this one out of a variety of bar-ware, just be sure the cup or glass can withstand muddling, because you will be mixing the sugar and mint together with a muddler. I really feel like that is an important step that is being left out at many bars now, due to time restraints on the bartenders. It helps to develop the flavors, in my opinion. Another fun fact to know is that there is a certain way to drink a Mint Julep out of a Julep Cup. You are only supposed to hold the cup by the top rim or the very bottom portion of the cup. You don’t want to disturb the frost on the outside of the cup, because it is keeping your drink incredibly cold, which adds to the enjoyment of a Julep. Your body heat makes the pewter or silver cups heat up and causes the ice to melt quickly. The world’s largest Mint Julep cup was unveiled at the 2008 Kentucky Derby. It was a six foot tall cup, including the mint sprig. It had an elaborate pumping system that was hidden in its giant stir straw.

Now for my favorite part…the drink making!

Mint Julep – Makes 1 drink (you can make pitchers of this drink, but I think it takes away from the integrity of this particular cocktail, so I like to make them individually.)

Ingredients:

2 shots of good Kentucky Bourbon
4 mint leaves
1 teaspoon powdered sugar (white sugar works as well, but the powdered sugar dissolves more easily)
2 teaspoons of water
Mint sprigs for garnish

Directions:

– Add mint, sugar, and water to the Julep Cup and muddle.

– Fill the glass with cracked or crushed is (this type of ice froths the cup batter than cubes)

– Add the bourbon and stir until cup is frothy

– Garnish with mint sprigs

– Enjoy!!!

I promise, if you’ve had a bad Mint Julep experience, there is a good chance this recipe might help to change your mind!

Julep 1

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The Lab takes on the agility course!!

We took a break from getting prepared for the fall hunt tests and practiced some agility!

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Beer Dog….This is how ever day in the field should end!!

This is how every day in the field should end!!

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A Kentucky Original….The Old Fashioned!

11997172_10102992041881010_424156341_nIf you live in Kentucky, then you know that September is National Bourbon Heritage Month! It’s really our highest of all high holidays! So that means that for the month of September, I will be celebrating by bringing you some bourbon hits and the history that comes with them.

This week we are going to start out with the first known bourbon cocktail, and possibly the first “cocktail” ever, the Old Fashioned. It is thought that the first use of the name “Old Fashioned” was used at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky. At the time, the Pendennis Club was a very popular gentleman’s

The original Pendennis Club. Photograph courtesy of www.wikipedia.com

The original Pendennis Club.
Photograph courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.com

club, and since it was in Louisville, I’m sure the bourbon (and good bourbon at that) flowed freely. The club was established in 1881 and it is thought that the drink was made by the bartender to honor Colonel James E. Pepper. Pepper was a distiller of fine bourbons. The Colonel promptly took that drink to the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, where it began its journey to fame! It was thought that a concoction of spirits, bitters, water, and sugar (what would be known as the drink that brought on the name “cocktail”) was where the Old Fashioned got its start. It was first

Colonel James E. Pepper himself! Photograph courtesy of www.jamesepepper.com

Colonel James E. Pepper himself!
Photograph courtesy of http://www.jamesepepper.com

recorded in 1806 in an issue of The Balance and Columbian Repository. The combination spirits, bitters, water, and sugar fell out of favor for period of time, before making itself known again around 1833, however, Rum, Gin or Brandy were used in place of the Bourbon and nutmeg was also used as a garnish.

Leave it to a bluegrass bartender to come up with the perfect combination using Bourbon! Since the drink had been around for a while, but hadn’t gained its popularity yet, they called it “Old Fashioned”. Kind of like we call things from that period old fashioned, to the bartender, at the time ideas and drinks from 50 years prior were old fashioned!

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The first recipe for this drink was published in 1895 by George Kappeler. He wrote as follows:

“Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail
Dissolve a small lump of sugar with a little water in a whiskey-glass;
add two dashes Angostura bitters,
a small piece of ice, a piece of lemon-peel,
one jigger whiskey.
Mix with small bar-spoon and serve, leaving spoon in glass.”

The original Pepper Distillery. Photograph courtesy of www.jamesepepper.com

The original Pepper Distillery.
Photograph courtesy of http://www.jamesepepper.com

Variations were made over the years, trying out different spirits or syrups instead of the lump sugar, but bartenders kept coming back to the original recipe!

Today, we stick mostly to the original recipe, but like to garnish with orange slices and cherries, for a little pizazz!

As for drink ware for your cocktail, life has made it an easy choice….the Old Fashioned glass! It is basically a short tumbler. They are described as “a glass typically having a wide brim and a thick base, so that the non-liquid ingredients of a cocktail can be mashed using a muddler before the main liquid ingredients are added.” However, you can use any type of glass that will withstand muddled ingredients. Dixie and Solo cups will work if you are at a tailgate or picnic, as long as you don’t get over zealous with your muddling!

So, now that I’ve given you the history, I will give you the official recipe!

11950913_10102992042045680_1938493987_n

Old Fashioned – Makes 1 Drink

Ingredients:

2 shots of good Kentucky Bourbon
2 dashes of Angostura bitters (found in the specialty section of your local liquor store)
1 Sugar cube
2 Dashes of plain water
Orange slice and cherries for garnish


Directions:


– Place sugar cube in the bottom of your glass. Saturate it with bitters and water.

– Muddle together, until sugar is dissolved.

– Fill the glass with ice.

– Add Bourbon.

– Garnish with orange slice and cherries.

Enjoy!

I’ve heard bartenders complain about having to make this drink, because it is fairly involved and they have a lot of people to serve! However, I know you will impress your guests when you serve it at your next dinner party during the cocktail hour!

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Taking a classic and adding a twist!!!

One of the best refreshing drinks on hot, summer day!

One of the best refreshing drinks on hot, summer day!

This week’s cocktail is going to be short, sweet, and to the point! Yes, I’m still down in Florida, and yes, it’s “hot as the blue blazes”, as my Mama would say. When its so hot outside that the windows in the house are constantly fogged up, you want something light and refreshing for your cocktail hour. While I don’t drink Vodka, it is a great starter for this particular variety of drink. You can use it in a variety of different ways, but today, I’m going to put it in a tried and true Vodka Tonic. What is a Vodka Tonic you may ask? Well, it’s exactly what it says it is, Vodka and Tonic Water. The classic version is these two components mixed with a lime twist (basically squeezing fresh lime into the glass before adding the Vodka and Tonic). I want to amp it up a little, so obviously I’m going to put a different spin on what you might be thinking about.

This is one of my Mom’s favorite drinks. When in a bind, and not sure what to order, this is her go to cocktail. It’s a tried and true friend that’s been with her for years. Don’t ask how many, because both of us will just lie and say “doesn’t she look great for 30?” which is true! As much as my Mom loves this drink, she gets a little bored with the typical lime, vodka, and tonic. This is where I have to get creative. Can’t go too sweet for her, because she likes her drink like she likes her men…to have a little bite! With that being said, she wants new flavors infused for her drinking pleasure.

One of my all-time favorite flavors to play with is ginger. It’s such a versatile ingredient and can go sweet or savory. It’s also very uplifting and helps to give me energy when I’m lacking! That’s why it’s perfect to muddle together with the lime juice for a Vodka Tonic. You can add as much or as little as you like, depending on your intensity level. My Mom likes hers pretty intense, so I add quite a bit of ginger root. If you just want a hint of flavor, start out with less; you can always add more! If you can get your hands on it, it’s fun to garnish your glass with candied ginger, which is a perfect accompaniment to the tart flavors of the lime and tonic. Dad always fresh mint around, so I decided to add a little of that as well!

The little ridges int he middle of the plate are perfect for grating a variety of ingredients.

The little ridges int he middle of the plate are perfect for grating a variety of ingredients.

This is really simple to do. You start out by taking your ginger root and peeling it. This is going to sound crazy, but the easiest way that I have found to peel ginger is with a spoon. Yes, a spoon. For whatever reason, the rounded edges glide over the knobs of the ginger root, taking the skin off, but not taking most of your product with it. Try it, it really is pretty easy! After that, I like to use the pictured piece of equipment to get the finest shred of ginger that I can. If you use a lot of ginger, look into getting one of these. They are great! The will shred almost anything from garlic to ginger, hard cheese and even break an onion down to give you onion juice! I love it for ginger, because it gives you an almost ginger water, but leaves out the hairy insides of the root. I hate those, because they are always getting caught in my teeth! If you don’t have one of these graters, a regular kitchen grater will work, or you can just cube

See the strings of the ginger root are separated from the pulp.

See the strings of the ginger root are separated from the pulp.

it into very small chunks, just be prepared to have a little ginger floating around in your drink, which can never be a bad thing!

So take your ginger, lime juice and a few mint leaves and put them in the bottom of your glass. I choose to use a shorter bar glass, but any one will work. Muddle these three items together to get a good mix. If you are using chunks, you may have to work a little harder! When I’m in a situation, where I don’t have a muddler (which doesn’t happen very often!), I like to use a wooden spoon. Same result, just a little extra work, since the end you are muddling with isn’t as large.

So you’ve got your mint, lime juice and ginger melding together. Time to add some ice, Vodka, and Tonic. For this drink, I chose to use a cucumber infused Vodka, to add a little more freshness. You can use plain, if you like, or another flavor. I like to finish with lemon and lime wedges on the glass rim, just because it’s pretty and your drinker can add more juice, if they want a more tart drink!

Other variations on this drink would be to use cucumbers in place of the ginger. Just slice them thin, and muddle with the lime juice. They also look great on the rim! Cucumber infused Vodka can also be used to intensify the flavor. If you go a little sweeter, and like your fruit, try an apple, and maybe some apple infused Vodka. Raspberries and blackberries also work great as well. Like I said, the possibilities are endless!

This is another fun drink to set up a bar with. Have the essentials, Vodka, Tonic Water, and Lime juice, but have a variety of other add in’s out for your guests to play with. Let it be interactive and have fun with it! I can almost guarantee your guests will love it!

Vodka 1

Ginger Infused Vodka Tonic – Makes 1 drink
– ½ inch piece of ginger root, peeled and finely grated (again, more for more bite, less for less bite)

-6-7 Mint leaves
– Juice from ½ of a lime
– 2 shots of Cucumber Vodka (flavored Vodkas are great here, but make sure your flavors go together with your add in)
– Tonic Water to finish
– Lemon and Lime wedges to garnish. Candied ginger to garnish, if you can find it!

Directions:
– Muddle mint, ginger and lime juice together in a glass.
– Add ice to the top of the glass.
– Pour vodka over ice.
– Finish with Tonic Water.
– Garnish with lemon and lime wedges and candied ginger (if you have some)

ENJOY!!!

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Another Hemingway Favorite….The Mojito!!

He was such a gentleman...he carried my basket and helped me collect inspiration for this weeks drink!

He was such a gentleman…he carried my basket and helped me collect inspiration for this weeks drink!

Yes, it’s still hot in Florida! Since we are still in the Sunshine state and the temperature outside feels like it’s the surface of said sun, I wanted to make a nice, refreshing drink this week. Bonus, most of the ingredients could be found in my parent’s yard! I was out walking Deacon yesterday morning and couldn’t get over how great the spearmint was smelling from Dad’s herb garden. The man has a gold plated green thumb for getting stuff to grow in this oppressive heat! I particularly enjoy that attribute of his, since I benefit from it every time I’m down. I picked some of the mint, thinking I would put it in my water later on that day to give it a nice flavor and kept walking. This was at about six thirty in the morning; any later and I would have been melting and not able to see the mint from the sweat that would drowning my eyes! Anyways, I had forgotten that Dad also grows lemon and lime trees. I send him a different variety every year for Father’s Day, so he has quite a nice little collection going on. One of the lime trees was so pregnant with fruit, that its branches were almost touching the ground. While I was picking a few to help ease the burden on the tree, it hit me…. I haven’t had a good Mojito in ages! Fortunately for me, everyone in my family keeps a stocked bar at all times in their house, so I didn’t even need to go to the ABC (my favorite liquor store in Florida) to get anything. Don’t worry, I’ll come up with another excuse to get there next week! All I had to do was wait until five o’clock for cocktail hour to begin (we sometimes start before then, but I would never admit to that!)

Our hero and the Mojito's original namesake, Sir Francis Drake.

Our hero and the Mojito’s original namesake, Sir Francis Drake.          Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia.com

But first…. A little Mojito history. As many of you may know, the Mojito is Cuban by heritage. The classic cocktail that we enjoy today was perfected in Havana sometime after the sixteenth century. It was thought that a crude version was used as a medication for dysentery and scurvy. I know, not very sexy, but it eventually gets elevated! Francis Drake, an English sea captain was said to have needed a quick cure for his crew after a successful raid at Cartagena de Indias and lucky for him he was close to Cuba. The South American Indians were known for these cures, so he sent a small party to shore to get the required ingredients and recipe. A crude form of rum, called aguardiente de caña, which literally means “fire water” (I’m sure it tasted amazing!) was a local commodity made from cane sugar, was alcohol for the drink. Other local components included limes, sugar cane, and mint. The funny thing is, is that the lime juice

The Golden Hind, the boat Drake was in command of that was stricken with sea disease!

The Golden Hind, the boat Drake was in command of that was stricken with sea disease!      Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia.com

straight up would have cured their illnesses, but you know these sailors, why have just lime juice when you can have a whole cocktail! Besides, the lime juice, sugar cane, and mint were probably needed to make the aguardiente de caña palatable, so it was a win-win situation. They got a drink that was drinkable and were able to rid themselves of horrible diseases all with one swig! They brought their magical cure home with them, and so began the journey of this widely popular cocktail. Sometime around 1650, a spirit called Tafia was introduced to the British population and was a form closer to the Rum we know today. This probably helped to make the drink tastier to those who didn’t have the iron stomach of a sailor, aiding in the Mojito’s popularity.

Originally, the drink was called the “El Draque”, after Francis Drake. When the drink started to become more civilized, it was called the Mojito. More than likely the word Mojito is a variation on the word mojo, which is a Spanish marinade comprised of many flavors, with lime being the key component, making it similar to the libation. However, there are some who contend that the word is a derivative of mojadito, which is Spanish for “a little wet” or a diminutive of mojado, which means “wet”. I like the former explanation, because it makes more sense to me. At the time, Cuba had a lot of immigrants from the Canary Islands coming across its borders, bringing with them the flavors of the creole marinades, Mojo sauces. The timing makes sense to me, so that’s the story that I choose to dream about.

The napkin that Hemingway wrote on.

    The napkin that Hemingway wrote on.                 Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Ernest Hemingway gets to make another appearance this week….The Mojito was said to have been his favorite drink. I find that hard to believe, because he was a very thirsty man,

Hemingway walked this very alley to get to La Bodeguita del Medio and enjoy and Mojito!

Hemingway walked this very alley to get to La Bodeguita del Medio and enjoy and Mojito!                                                     Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia.com

so I’m not really sure that he had a favorite. However, he did make the little bar, La Bodeguita del Medio, famous as one of their regulars. This is where he enjoyed many, many Mojitos, even writing “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita.” He enjoyed Mojitos at La Bodeguita del Medio and daiquiris at El Floridita, a historic fish restaurant and cocktail bar in Havana, when he would frequent Cuba. Like I said, it’s hard to say that the Mojito was his favorite. He had a favorite in every bar that we went into, which was several to say the least! His slogan about his two favorite Havana cocktails can be read on the wall of La Bodeguita del Medio even to this day, signed by the author himself. What an interesting man; I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during his escapades and adventures! Some biographers dismiss the idea that he was a real regular at La Bodeguita del Medio and his love of Mojitos.To them I say “you’re crazy!” In

Outside view of the El Floridita.

Outside view of the El Floridita.                                    Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia.com

my mind, he loved a good cocktail at any bar, and what could be better than a true Mojito in a true Cuban restaurant and bar! Besides, this is my story! So when he gets tired of living it up, bantering with explorers in Paris, (reference to last week’s Cocktails With Cally) my favorite author, Mr. Hemingway fishes his way back across the ocean to Havana and immediately goes to his favorite bar (the first one that he comes to!), and orders his favorite drink (the one that is easiest to make, and in Cuba, that is probably the Mojito!)

Another fun fact…in 2014, the Mojito was the polled as the most popular cocktail in Britain. Mr. Drake and his crew would have been proud! No scurvy for present day Brits!

Mojito 1This is another one of those great cocktails that is a canvas for your imagination. While I have chosen to stay traditional this week. It doesn’t happen very often, but being inspired by Hemingway, again, I wanted to make a drink that I thought he would have enjoyed with Gellhorn, my favorite of his three wives. No frills and extras for him. Just a nice, neat cocktail that tastes good, is easy to make, and saves you from the perils of disease that the sea has to offer! Now, if you like the extra frills, and I’ll be honest, I do enjoy a frill now and again, let your imagination be your guide. Fruity flavors added to the simple syrup are great for those of you who want a sweeter drink. Bitters (you remember, one of my new favorite cocktail items) help to cut the sweetness, if you want to go in the opposite direction. Feeling a little more Cozumel than Cuban! Tequila can replace the rum with ease! A “Mojito Royal”, is done with champagne instead of club soda. You know I’m going to be trying one of those soon! An “English Mojito” uses gin as the alcohol and replaces any sugar with Sprite. All of the countries that have embraced the Mojito have added their own spin with their regional spirits and fare. You can do the same. If you have some extra fruit laying around, infuse your simple syrup with it. Watermelon is one of my favorites. Again, the possibilities are endless. If you’re having trouble coming up with something, but want to try s different take, do a quick Google search for Mojito variations. It’s an easy way to find inspiration and usually a great recipe or two!

You can use regular simple syrup or infused simple syrup in your Mojito. It’s actually very “simple” to make (see what I did there, it’s pretty funny, right!) You basically take equal Mojito 3parts water to sugar, put it over the stove on high heat and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, stir until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid looks clear, like the original water. Turn the heat down to around medium, so that it is just simmering. Let it simmer and reduce to about half to amount. This give you liquid sugar that is pretty easy to work with. If you want to infuse, add your flavorings of cut up fruit, or anything else that makes sense to you, at the beginning and follow the other steps. I will caution, do not leave this unattended for too long. It will overflow and you will have a giant mess on your hands! If this does happen to you, let me know and I will give you a method for easy clean up, because it happens to me all the time! I get distracted and forget, before I know it, I’ve got a bubbly, sticky mess on my hands, and my kitchen smells like fruit every time I turn my stove on for the next week! When you have let the mix reduce, you can strain out the extra fruit through a colander if your pieces are larger, or use the cheese cloth over the colander for smaller cuts. For my recipe, I chose to use regular cane sugar. Mostly because I’m in Florida and I can get it locally and it’s really good! I don’t really want to mess with in the integrity of the sugar cane. When I’m at my house, I make the simple syrup. You can make it ahead of time and leave it in the fridge for about two weeks. If you choose to use simple syrup, just replace cane sugar in the recipe with simple syrup. You may have to add a little more or a little less to get the sweetness right for you, but this is true with either version. Some people like their drinks sweet, some don’t. I personally like to be able to taste the mint and lime juice over the sugar, but that’s my taste buds! Do what works for you.

You can also make these in a pitcher to serve at a party and not just in individual glasses. I have made the recipe so that you will be able to figure how many drinks you want per pitcher and follow the recipe with ease. I like to muddle a little mint, lime, and sugar in the bottom of my guest’s glasses, so that when they pour the drink in, they get some extra flavor, but that’s up to you. The cocktail is perfectly fine straight out of the pitcher. I serve in a highball or Collins glass when I want to garnish with limes and mint, but it drinks just as well out of a Dixie cup!! Mr. Hemingway liked no frills drinks, do him a favor and enjoy yours out of whatever you want to drink it out of. He would have appreciated that!

Traditional Mojito

4 parts Rum

3 parts fresh squeezed lime juice (sometimes I’ll use a little less lime juice, and add some lime pulp to the bottom of the glass to be muddled with the mint and sugar)

6 mint leaves

2 teaspoons cane sugar (you can play around with the amount. If you use the simple syrup, you can either add to muddle or add after you’ve muddles the mint, it’s up to you.)

Soda water (this element is added at the end, and it’s another one of those that you play around with to get the amount right for you. If you like a stronger tasting drink add less, if you don’t like your drinks strong, add more)

Lemon and Lime wedges to garnish (these are also good for those guests who want to add a little more tartness to their drinks)

Mint sprigs to garnish

Preparation:

– Add mint leaves, sugar, and lime juice (and a little lime pulp, if you really like that flavor!) to the bottom of the glass. Use a muddler (a muddler is used like a pestle, from mortar and pestle fame, and is basically used to muddle or mash ingredients together.) to “bruise” the mint leaves and mix the sugar with the lime juice. I say bruise, because you are really just trying to release the essential oils from the mint, not tear it apart. It makes a pretty garnish floating in the drink, and if you break it up too much, it will get stuck in your teeth while you’re drinking it.

– Once this mixture is muddled, add the rum.

– Top off the drink with soda water. I like to serve mine with a straw, so that you can always be mixing the mint and sugar around in your drink.

– Garnish with lemon and lime wedges and a sprig of mint. My Mom likes to eat the mint as she’s sipping her Mojito. It’s very refreshing!

If you are making these in a pitcher for a crowd, just follow the directions and multiply the amounts for the number of drinks. Have some extra soda water and lime juice out for those you may want a slightly less strong drink or who want a little more tartness! These drinks are great at any summer get together. They are easy to make and easy to drink! Have fun and enjoy!

Mojito 3

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