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Review – Berentzen Bushel and Barrel

Posted by Reese On December - 2 - 2014

For over 250 years Berentzen has been making distilled spirits and specifically apple and other fruit liqueurs.  Bushel and Barrel is the marriage of their long experience making apple liqueur with the years of tradition and flavor of Kentucky Bourbon.  The result is a apple bourbon liqueur clocking in at 30% ABV.

The color is a light honey/amber.  The nose is where it really starts to come alive, though.  The aroma is primarily crisp apple with the subtle notes of bourbon – caramel, vanilla and spice – rounding out the profile.  The flavor follows what the aroma started and with less sweetness than I expected.  This liqueur is truly not cloying like so many are.  The whiskey adds back notes but the apple is really the star here.  I have to add that the apple flavor in Bushel and Barrel is more natural than I’ve found with other apple liqueurs.  I think it would make a really interesting, slightly more “grown up”, Apple Martini.  For me, Bushel and Barrel is best when mixed 1:1 with a nice high-rye bourbon or straight rye.  Something with some spice to play off the sweet apple flavors.  I’ve been adding a dash of bitters and making a Bushel and Barrel Old Fashioned that is very tasty and perfect for the fall.

Berentzen Bourbon Old Fashioned

Berentzen Bushel and Barrel Old Fashioned
1 oz Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
1 oz Berentzen Bushel and Barrel
1-2 Dashes Old Fashioned Bitters
1) Combine over ice
2) Garnish with a fresh or dried apple slice
3) Drink
4) Repeat

† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Homemade Orange Bitters

Posted by Reese On November - 4 - 2014

Lately I’ve been drinking a lot of carbonated water at work and at home.  My favorite way to drink it is with quite a few dashes of bitters.  While I like the flavor of aromatic bitters (and I’ve been using a previous batch frequently), I prefer fruit bitters.  Having barreled through a couple bottles of Fee Brothers bitters I decided to try making my own orange bitters.  Here is the recipe from my first batch.

Orange Bitters Steeping

Reese's Orange Bitters (Batch 1)
Peel of 2 Oranges (including pith) sliced thin
Zest of 2 Oranges
3 Cinnamon Sticks Broken into Pieces
15-20 Cloves
2-3 Cups Vodka
1) Combine the above  in a jar and let it steep for a week
2) Strain through a metal sieve
3) Re-strain through a clean paper towel to get the fine particulate out

Okay, so that was batch 1 which netted about 20 oz of really tasty orange bitters.  They were lightly sweet, with a really fresh orange flavor.  The spices were there but not overpowering.  They lasted all of about 2 months.  Sooo…wanting a little more output and some additional flavors, I moved on to batch 2.

Reese's Orange Bitters (Batch 2)
Peel of 3 Oranges (including pith) sliced thin
Zest of 1 Orange
8 Cinnamon Sticks Broken into Pieces
15-20 Cloves
15-20 Allspice Berries
2 Cups Vodka
2 Cups Water
1) Combine the above  in a jar and let it steep for a week
2) Strain through a metal sieve
3) Re-strain through a clean paper towel to get the fine particulate out

This batch netted about 3.5 cups (30 oz) but the flavor isn’t as robust.  The orange flavor is more subtle (and the color is notably lighter).  The bitter notes are a bit more pronounced, likely from the extra pith.  Finally the spice qualities are about the same.  Going to be good for water flavoring, but not as powerful as I was hoping.

So, for batch 3, I’ll definitely be going back to something closer to batch 1.  I think the extra zest (versus whole peel) gives more orange punch and the lower quantity of liquid made the end product more concentrated.  Go figure, right?  Though, I’m liking the additional spices.  Likely my next batch will retain the allspice and possibly add ginger or cardamom to the mix.

What I’m Drinking Now: Autumn Sour

Posted by Reese On October - 30 - 2014

Autumn is upon us good hackers and what better way to celebrate the season than with a cocktail!  Wanting a drink reminiscent of fall with flavors to match, I reached for whiskey, apple and a touch of cinnamon and came out with a cocktail that’s easy to drink and very tasty.

 

Autumn Sour


Autumn Sour
1 1/2 oz Whiskey *
1 oz Lemon Juice
2 oz Apple Cider
1/2 oz Cinnamon Liqueuer **
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
1) Combine everything in a shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled and strain into a cocktail glass
3) Garnish with a dried or fresh apple slice

* I went with a blend of 1 oz Johnnie Walker Red Label and 1/2 oz Rye. I wanted a light smokey note from the Scotch with the spiciness of the rye. However, you can (and should) use whatever suits your taste.

** If you can track down Fyr from J&L Distilling in Boulder, CO DO IT!  So tasty.  If not, I’d recommend using a more complex cinnamon liqueur like Original Cinn from Hiram Walker.

What I’m Drinking Now: Wildfire Sunset

Posted by Reese On October - 6 - 2014

I love mezcal.  It’s like tequila’s rougher, somewhat crazy cousin.  I love the smoke, the sharpness and the depth of flavors.  I had some orange juice in the fridge and decided to try a Tequila Sunrise with some smokey mezcal in place of the tequila.  Behold, friends, the Wildfire Sunset.

Wildfire Sunset

Wildfire Sunset
2 oz Smokey Mezcal
3 oz Orange Juice
Splash of Grenadine
1) Combine the mezcal and orange juice in a rocks glass with ice
2) Drizzle the grenadine into the center of the drink

Note: We have more than a few forest fires here in Colorado (thankfully few this summer). When one is burning the sunsets are frequently deep red and you can smell smoke in the air. Seems rather fitting for this cocktail.

Review – Landy VSOP Cognac

Posted by Reese On September - 10 - 2014

Landy VSOP Cognac

Cognac is a classic cocktail staple and Landy is a strong contender for the only Cognac I need in my bar at all.  Landy has a light amber hue but the nose is where it really starts to get interesting.  Stone fruits and specifically black cherry are the stars with vanilla, maple and spice notes playing the chorus.  The aroma is tremendously smooth with no notable alcohol zing.

The flavor follows hand in hand with the stone fruit flavors.  Black cherry continues to shine the brightest with sweet notes of vanilla and spice bringing up the rear.  The finish is medium-long with a great fruitcake flavor of dried fruit, subtle spice and lingering sweetness.

Stiletto

We wanted to pair this Cognac with a classic cocktail.  Having some extra sparkling wine around we settled on the Stiletto from The Bubbly Bar by Maria Hunt.  The Stiletto is a riff (to use the word liberally) on the classic Champagne Cocktail and it was great.  The Landy really shone through and played extremely well with the orange flavor of the Grand Marnier.  I think the sweetness of the Proseco we used was a good choice as it gave the cocktail a light sweetness without being cloying.

Stiletto
1/2 - 1 oz Cognac
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
4 oz Sparkling Wine
1 Drop of Bitters
1) Combine the Cognac, Grand Marnier and Sparkling Wine in a flute
2) Add one drop of bitters

Having sampled Landy VSOP both straight and in a cocktail, it plays both roles tremendously well.  It’s flavors are distinct and smooth enough to call for you to have a snifter and it’s strong enough to stand up to other ingredients in a cocktail.  Definitely one to keep an eye out for.


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.