Americans live by the credo bigger is better, so it’s no surprise that American whiskeys offer a fuller, stronger and sweeter taste than many of their European brethren. Our domestic spirit is enjoying a renaissance, and adding a classic twist to the cocktail scene. With a wide variety from which to choose — from bourbons and ryes to blends and flavors — opportunities abound to guide your guests on a tasting tour of Americana on your backbar. Feature these uniquely American spirits in drink recipes, and your bar or club will have a leg up on the competition, bringing people in the door to sip on these whiskey libations until last call.
Le Vieux Cochon
Created by Justin Leone and on the menu at Benny’s Chop House, Chicago.
1 ounce WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey, 10 years old
1 ounce Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
1 ounce Cognac
¼ ounce Benedictine
1 dash each Peychaud’s and Angostura Bitters
Stir all ingredients and strain in a cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed lemon rind.
Marc Forgione’s Sazerac
On the menu at Marc Forgione, New York City.
3 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounce simple syrup
6 shakes of Peychaud’s Bitters
Stir ingredients with ice. Pour into chilled rocks glass. Burn oil from an orange peel over cocktail.
Courtesy of Vieux Carré Absinthe.
1 ½ ounces Woodford Reserve Bourbon
2 bar spoons Vieux Carré Absinthe
1 ounce egg white
1 bar spoon vanilla simple syrup
1 ounce maple simple syrup
1 pinch powdered sugar
1 pinch cinnamon
Combine Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Vieux Carré Absinthe, vanilla simple syrup, egg white, maple simple syrup and cinnamon in a shaker tin. Dry shake first — this will help get a huge, foamy head on the cocktail. Then add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a Marie Antoinette glass and dust with powdered sugar. Garnish with a few specks of cinnamon in one spot.
The General Lee
Created by Matty Eggleston of Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco, and featured in Left Coast Libations by Ted Munat with Michael Lazar (2010, Left Coast Libations).
1 ½ ounces Wild Turkey 101-proof rye
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup
1 Tbsp. kumquat marmalade
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Shake all ingredients over ice. Strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass.
Meet Your Maker
Created by Ryan Rouse for Branch Water Tavern in Houston, Texas.
2 ounces Maker’s Mark
¾ ounce pecan and honey Orgeat
½ ounce variegated pink lemon juice
¼ ounce Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur
1 bar spoon Clément Creole Shrubb
Shake and strain over crushed ice and serve in a Mexican prayer candle glass. Garnish with fresh dusted herbs such as mint or lemon verbena.
New York Sour
Created by Dushan Zaric of Employees Only in New York City, and included in the upcoming book, Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined (Ten Speed Press, Oct. 12, 2010), cowritten by Zaric and Jason Kosmas.
1 ¾ ounces Rittenhouse 101° Rye Whiskey
¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
¾ ounce dry red wine (Malbec or Syrah)
1 orange half-wheel, for garnish
1 brandied cherry, for garnish
Pour all ingredients except red wine into a mixing glass. Add large, cold ice and shake vigorously. Strain over new ice into a rocks glass. Carefully float wine on top. Garnish with an orange-cherry “flag.”
Created by Brandon Josie for 15 Romolo, San Francisco.
1 ounce Combier Roi René Rouge cherry liqueur
¾ ounce Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey
½ ounce Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
½ ounce lemon
½ ounce tangerine rhubarb gastrique*
Build in a Collins glass. Top with soda water and ice. Garnish with lemon peel.
*For gastrique: 5 pounds tangerine juice, zest of 5 tangerines, 5 pounds chopped rhubarb, dry vermouth, Champagne vinegar, cane sugar, Indonesian longpepper, grains of paradise and toasted coriander.