Maple Bourbon Fizz

We’re back to sub-freezing temperatures in New York City, and with the mercury set to stay that way for the next week, a bourbon cocktail seemed appropriate. Last year, the Maple Bourbon Sour became my winter cocktail of choice. For many, maple syrup may be more of a fall flavor, but I’ve always associated it with the winter months when the trees are tapped to collect the sap and sugar houses produce the syrup.

This time around, I decided to go with a fizz version using not just soda, but egg white as well. The egg white helps give the cocktail more body and a creamy texture, which melds well with the profile of the bourbon.

The recipe below is the result of some tinkering on my part and reflects my personal taste. As you’ll see, there’s flexibility. For a cocktail on ice, I tend to lean heavier on the bourbon so that it doesn’t become too diluted. I’ve also found that the maple syrup flavor can get lost in the mix sometimes, so I suggest using at least one full ounce or a little more depending on your liking. And please, don’t skimp on quality with the maple syrup – use the real stuff from New England or Canada. Lemon juice is usually the standard citrus for a bourbon-based sour cocktail, but lime juice can work just as well.

On using the egg white, be sure to combine and shake all ingredients before mixing with the ice and topping off with soda. This allows the egg white to fully emulsify into the frothy goodness that distinguishes this cocktail. And with an eye toward food safety, be sure the egg is fresh, at a cool refrigerator temperature, the shell is clean and, of course, your hands are clean before separating.

Here’s the recipe. Happy drinking.

MAPLE BOURBON FIZZ

Time: 3-5 minutes
Equipment: Cocktail shaker; egg separator (optional, there are lots of ways to separate an egg)
Glassware: highball or larger-sized lowball glass

2 1/2 ounces bourbon (Makers Mark or Knob Creek are good options)
1 ounce lemon or lime juice (your preference)
1 full ounce maple syrup (or a little more if you like it on the sweet side)
1 egg white
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounce soda water

First, fill your glassware of choice three quarters full of ice to chill the glass (the ice will also be used in a couple of steps).

In a cocktail shaker, add the bourbon, lemon or lime juice, maple syrup, egg white and bitters. Seal and shake vigorously for 30-60 seconds. Add the ice to the shaker, seal again and give it another 10 shakes or so. Pour into the glass and top off with soda water.

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Savoring Bell’s Hopslam Ale

Bell's Hopslam Ale

Even though the annual release of Bell’s Hopslam Ale was just two months ago, you’d be hard pressed to find a bottle of this extra hopped-up IPA anywhere at this point. In fact, it’s nearly impossible. Stores sell out of the stuff the day it hits the shelves. Many even have wait lists. And it’s all too common for bars to tap out a keg in less than an hour.

Which explains why I’ve had a few bottles of Hopslam lingering in the back of my fridge for the last five weeks – until last night. It’s not a beer to be wasted and I’d been rationing a six-pack since I tracked it down in late January. One a week, at most. And I wasn’t all too willing to share, either (you’re a lucky man @wesmorgan). Cause if you miss out or, even worse, waste it on some unappreciative sucker, it’ll be another year before you see it again.

I was lucky to even find a six-pack when I did. Hopslam had been sold out for nearly two weeks. But I had a hunch that one of my local liquor stores, which shall go unnamed, might still have it in stock. So I stopped by one night after work, hoping against hope that I’d find the prized Hopslam in the cooler. I looked in every cooler door twice. Nothing.

Head down, I started for the door. But I must have lingered long enough to catch the attention of the cashier (soon to be my best friend). When he asked if I needed any help, I reluctantly told him what I was looking for, assuming there was no way they’d have any left. If they did, it would be in the cooler. Hopslam sells for $25 a six-pack, why wouldn’t they have it on display?

He didn’t respond at first; he just stood there and sized me up. Then, almost in an attempt to make sure no one would hear, he quietly said he might have some in the back and told me to wait. A few minutes later he appeared at the register with said Hoplsam. He quickly bagged it up and processed my credit card as though he didn’t want anyone to see the transaction go down. It was thrilling. Kinda like scoring drugs in an alleyway. Well, at least that’s what I assume it would feel like if I actually hung out in alleyways to score drugs (and I’m not just saying that because my parents read my blog).

I hurried home with the goods in hand, eyes wide and a huge grin on my face. But I didn’t open a bottle that night. I couldn’t. Drinking it right away might ruin the reward. Didn’t I need to do more to earn it? So I waited. And then, one at a time over the last 5 weeks, I let myself indulge.

Needless to say, Hopslam is a beer to be savored and appreciated. At 10 percent alcohol, it’s not a beer to be underestimated either. I’ve been slow walking my last bottle for two hours. It’s a dream for hopheads. Right from the start, you know it’s going to be epic. The aromas are strong – as in standing four feet away strong –  and hop heavy. It delivers big grapefruit flavors, stone fruit and a bit of spice. Honey notes help add a smoothness on the front that masks the alcohol. But then the alcohol comes in big and the hops linger for a nice long finish.

And now it’s gone. Probably not to be seen again until next year. But if you earn it, it’s worth it.

Homemade Eggnog

Homemade Eggnog

I made that eggnog for our holiday party. It was quite tasty and it didn’t last very long. At first, our guests were a bit hesitant. But before I knew it, people were coming up to me with three empty cups in hand and asking for more ‘nog.

I’ve been wanting to make eggnog since last December, when I read about a project by the guys at The Bitten Word to make eggnog and age it for a year. Yeah, that’s right, one whole year. You can read about their results and watch a funny video of them testing the finished product here. The recipe they used was based on this write-up from Chow.com.

Now, I wasn’t quite as motivated as they were – I just made the eggnog on the day of our party and used a different recipe from Alton Brown. While many recipes call for using both raw egg yolks and whites, I opted to cook the yolks (but I still used raw egg whites). The eggnog had a nice custard-like texture and the whipped egg whites made for a much lighter ‘nog than the type you buy in the store. Adding a whole lot of Maker’s Mark bourbon helped too.

 

Homemade Eggnog
Recipe from Alton Brown
Makes about 12 cups

 

8 egg yolks
2/3 cups sugar, plus 2 tbsp
1 quart whole milk
1 pint heavy cream
1 1/4 cups bourbon (I like to use Maker’s Mark)
1 tspn nutmeg
8 egg whites*

 

Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Slowly add the 2/3 cup sugar and beat until it is completely dissolved

In a large sauce pan, combine the milk, heavy cream and nutmeg and bring to just a boil, stirring often. Remove from the heat and slowly temper the egg yolk mixture – stir the warm mixture, in 1/4 cup incriments, into the egg yolk mixture until it is fully heated, then combine with the rest of the warm milk mixture. Cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the heat, stir in the bourbon and pour into a large mixing bowl. Depending on how strong you like your drinks, you can add a little more or use a little less bourbon. Chill in the refrigerator for two hours.

Using the mixer, beat the egg whites to soft peaks in mixing bowl. Slowly add the 2 TBSP sugar while the mixer is still running and beat until stiff peaks form. Stir the egg whites into the chilled mixture and pour into a larger serving container.

Serve the eggnog with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

*Note: this recipe contains raw eggs.

Enjoy the Derby with a Mint Julep

Photo by ResseCLloyd via Flickr

It’s Derby Day, have you figured out the odds and placed your bets yet? Or more importantly, have you figured out what drink you’ll be pouring at your Derby Party? Is it even a question?

Mint Julep via Chow.com

3 Sprigs fresh mint
1 Teaspoon water
1 Teaspoon sugar
2 Ounces Bourbon (I’d recommend Maker’s Mark, but that’s just me)

Muddle 2 mint sprigs, the water, and the sugar in a highball or collins glass or a silver julep cup.

Fill the glass with crushed ice, and pour in the bourbon.

Garnish with the remaining mint sprig.