Confessions of a Mixologist: Minneapolis Hustler

The taste of bourbon is a bit too austere for some. Fret not; there are some wonderful cocktails that can soften it up a bit. One such example is the Minneapolis Hustler. I came across this gem on one of my favorite mixology websites, Cocktail DB. This cocktail has much in common with a classic cocktail from years past known as the Oriental Cocktail. It’s an interesting mix of citrus, sweet and sour with a touch of subtle herbaceousness to boot.

 

Minneapolis Hustler

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Barrel Report – All Ten Four Roses Recipes

You know the story about Four Roses’s ten unique bourbon recipes, right? They use a combination of two mashbills and five distinct yeast strains, resulting in ten unique bourbons that act as building blocks in blending their different bottlings. We couldn’t resist finding the best of each, and for several years now, we’ve maintained our own Handpicked versions of all ten recipes. With the recent arrival of several new bottlings to fill out the lineup, we sat down to taste all the expressions at once.

 

4R

 
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Bourbon 101

September is Bourbon Heritage Month! We’re celebrating with, well, lots and lots of bourbon.

 

Why does bourbon get a whole month? The US Senate declared September “National Bourbon Heritage Month” back in 2007. The bill passed with unanimous consent, and calls for consumers who enjoy bourbon to celebrate the family heritage, tradition and longstanding legacy that the bourbon industry contributes to America and the world. Whether you enjoy this classic American spirit on the rocks, neat, or in your favorite cocktail, let us know how you’re celebrating.

 

Bourbon Barrels

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Confessions of a Mixologist: Monte Carlo

Bourbon is back in a big way. The Manhattan, for example, has once again become many peoples’ go to way to enjoy America’s spirit. (Sure you can make a Manhattan with bourbon. Why not? -ed.) So check out this splendid reworking of the Manhattan called the Monte Carlo. The key difference is the substitution of Benedictine in place of vermouth. Benedictine is an aromatic liqueur that has been produced in France since the 18th century. If fact, B&B (Benedictine and Brandy) was one of the first packaged premixed cocktails. Benedictine is a versatile mixer and makes a great addition to any liquor cabinet. Also, if you simply mix Benedictine with bourbon, you just created a Kentucky Colonel. This distinguished elixir is perfect for sipping on your front porch as the last days of summer wind to a close.

 

Monte Carlo

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Confessions of a Mixologist: Eastern Sour

Give this unconventional bourbon cocktail a try. The key ingredient in this drink is Orgeat syrup, a sweet and nutty syrup familiar to Tiki devotees like myself, but a mystery to many. Do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle tout suite. This delicious almond syrup is the magical ingredient in dozens of tropical drinks, most famously the Mai Tai. While most tropical drinks use rum as the base spirit, the Eastern Sour substitutes Bourbon and the results are delicious. The Eastern Sour was created by Tiki drink legend, Trader Vic Bergeron. Below is my version which is refreshingly sour. If you want to sweeten it up a bit, just add simple syrup.

 

Eastern Sour

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National Bourbon Day

In attempt to prepare for National Bourbon Day, we did a bit of research. We were happy to find ten fun facts with the help of Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Binny’s Spirits Specialist, Joe Maloney.

whiskey rocks 3
1. Bourbon does in fact get its name from Bourbon County. Which, sadly, used to be a part of Virginia.

 
2. Bourbon was declared, “America’s Official Native Spirit”, by an act of Congress in 1964.

 
3. The mash bill of Bourbon must include a minimum 51% corn.

 
4. Bourbon must be aged in New charred American White Oak barrels.

 
5. Maker’s Mark, Pappy VanWinkle, Weller, Old Fitzgerald (Larceny),and Rebel Yell all use wheat in their recipe. Others use Rye.

 
6. Interesting tidbit: Labels stay the same, while what fills the bottle can actually change.

 
7. Old Fitzgerald was originally made by Stitzel-Weller Distillery, the same label is used, but currently produced by Heaven Hill’s distillery(Bernheim).

 
8. Pappy VanWinkle used to be made at Stitzel-Weller, but is now made by Buffalo Trace.

whiskey rocks 2 (1)

 
9. Bourbon is only made in America, and not solely in Kentucky as you may believe. In fact, we have a delicious Bourbon made in Evanston. Few Spirits makes a bourbon. Ironically, the town was dry for quite a lengthy time, 1858-1972, and was home to a leading temperance movement activist, Frances Willard. She would most certainly be shocked and upset about Bourbon production in Evanston.

 
10. Well this really isn’t a fact, but here are some really great bourbon cocktail recipes from Four Roses.
 

Enjoy your bourbon on this fantastic holiday!

Binny’s Derby Mint Julep

It’s time for the Kentucky Derby! We’re celebrating with a classic – you guessed it – a Mint Julep. Of course our favorite is a Buffalo Trace Mint Julep. We headed to the South Loop Tasting Room for this not-so-secret recipe:

 

Derby Mint Julep
 
2 1/2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
2 oz Water
4 Sprigs of Mint
 
Muddle the sprigs of mint with the simple syrup. Pour in bourbon and water. Serve on the rocks with a mint sprig garnish!

 

Whiskey Hotline Hits the Road: Willett

 

The Whiskey Hotline’s next stop on the road through Kentucky and Tennessee? Kentucky Bourbon Distillers. You might remember our visit last summer. What has changed since? When we were there last July, the first floor of their newly renovated Warehouse A was half full of barrels. Now, the entire warehouse is nearly full. The place is buzzing. On our last visit, they were gearing up to build a grain mill and two bed & breakfasts. The mill is finished – a shipment of corn arrived and we got to watch it go up an auger and into a hopper. That was cool. And at least one of the B&B’s is done. It seems like they start a project every week, and finish one every four.

 

What did we taste? KBD resumed distilling in January of 2012, and we got our first taste of their young rye and bourbon after just 13 months in wood. Excited to taste them over hte next few decades. Also, they’re distilling using seven different mash bills – we were able to sneak back a bottle of their wheated bourbon recipe white dog. And it’s fantastic. After our delicious (and popular) last batch of Willetts, you know we want another round. So keep an eye out for more Binny’s Handpicked Willetts in these ages: 4 year, 6 year, 7 year, 8 year, 9 year, 10 year, and 22 year (!!!).

 

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Binny’s Mailbag: Finished Bourbon

What could be more tempting than sneaking a peek at somebody’s mail? Here’s your chance to see the kinds of letters we get every day. Have a question of your own? Email us at spirits@binnys.com. wine@binnys.com or beer@binnys.com.

 

“…

I am extremely concerned about whiskeys being called bourbon, yet being aged in sherry/wine/brandy casks. Isn’t there a strict law about what can and cannot be called bourbon?

-YK

…”

 

Angel's Envy

Hi YK!

Yes and no. The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (pdf) covers what needs to happen to whiskey before it can be called bourbon:

 

  • It has to be made from at least 51% corn.
  • It has to be aged in NEW, charred oak barrels.
  • It can’t be distilled higher than 160 proof and can’t be put into a barrel for aging at higher than 125 proof.
  • It has to be bottled at 80 proof or higher.

 

Bourbon that you see with sherry or port cask aging is FINISHED in those casks. These bourbons generally spend several years in the legally required new charred oak barrels, and then are finished in refilled port, sherry or whatever barrels for a short time, usually 3-9 months. Angel’s Envy is a great example of this – a bourbon that saw years in charred oak barrels that then sees extra time finishing in port casks, giving it its characteristic gobs of round fruit.

 

Binny’s Handpicked Buffalo Trace

The next Binny’s Handpicked Buffalo Trace is on the way. It might seem like this is a story we’ve told before, but each of our Buffalo Trace Handpicks is a little different, and this next batch is no exception. After a painstaking afternoon, and after making a dumb mistake, we ended up with a Buffalo Trace we are proud to call Binny’s Handpicked. Here’s how it happened.

 

We started out this time with 24 barrel samples. It seems like our Buffalo Trace vattings sell out sooner and sooner, so we were hoping for a batch of 17 barrels, our biggest yet. Remember that our goal is to create the most delicious and consistent bourbon, one that we think is a step above the standard Buffalo Trace. We taste across all the samples, finding those that are right on target with that special Binny’s thumbprint, and blend a small amount of all the samples. Then we find more samples that are spicier or sweeter that we can use to hone the final blend to just the right balance.

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