“Bourbon is a legacy of blue grass, water and Kentucky limestone,” Carol Peachee tells me when I ask what makes Kentucky bourbon so prized.
Limestone? Water? Bluegrass? What’s that have to do with fine bourbon?
Turns out it’s quite simple. According to Peachee, the limestone filters the iron out of the water as it flows through the rock, producing a sweet-tasting mineral water perfect for making the greatest tasting liquor. Limestone, with its heavy calcium deposits, also is credited with the lush blue grass the state’s prize-winning horses gaze upon — making their bones strong.
It’s been a long time since I took geology in college, but I do like the taste of good bourbon and the sight of stately horses grazing in beautiful pastures and the more I can learn about it all, the better. Which is why I love Peachee’s entrancing photographs.
I first met Peachee, an award-winning professional photographer, when she was autographing copies of her latest book, Straight Bourbon: Distilling the Industry’s Heritage (Indiana University Press 2017; $28). Creating beauty as well as a sense of yearning, her books, including The Birth of Bourbon: A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries, take us on a wanderlust journey of lost distilleries and those now re-emerging from the wreckage of Prohibition. At one time, Kentucky had over two hundred commercial distilleries, but only sixty-one reopened after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Now, as Kentucky bourbon becomes a driving force throughout the world, once barely remembered and long closed distilleries are being restored and revamped and are opening again for business.
Using a photographic technique known as high-dynamic-range imaging ― a process that produces rich saturation, intensely clarified details, and a full spectrum of light ― Peachee hauntingly showcases the vibrancy still lingering in artifacts such as antique tools, worn cypress fermenting tubs, ornate copper stills some turning slightly green with oxidation and age, gears and levers —things we would never typically think of as lovely and compelling.
Traveling with the Book
Keeping copies of her books in my car when I travel to Kentucky, I love visiting some of the places and sites she’s photographed.
Her passion for bourbon may also have come about, in part, because she lives in Lexington, Kentucky which is rich in the history of bourbon making (and, we should say, sipping).
To get a taste of how bourbon connects to the land, when in Lexington, Peachee suggests a stop at the Barrel House Distilling Co. including the Elkhorn Tavern located in the old James B. Pepper barrel plant. It’s part of Lexington’s happening Distillery District. But fine bourbon doesn’t just stop in Lexington.
“There are so many bourbon distilleries now,” she says, noting that the heritage of good bourbon making is more than the equipment and the water.
“The cultural heritage of distilling also lays in the human culture,” she writes in the Acknowledgements section of her latest book, “the people who learned the crafts of milling, copper welding and design, barrel making and warehouse construction and then passed them on through the generations down to today’s workers and owners.”
And now Peachee has passed them down to us so we can fully appreciate the art of distilling
Town Branch Bourbon Bramble
3/4oz Fresh squeeze lemons
3/4oz Simple syrup
5 Fresh blackberries muddled
Shake with ice, strain and pour over fresh ice in rock glass with blackberry garnish.
Town Branch Bourbon Mint Julep
2 oz Bourbon
8 mint leaves
1/4oz simple syrup
Dash of bitters
Add crushed ice with mint garnish and straw.
The above recipes are courtesy of the Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company.
When Piña de Plata or the Silver Pineapple first opened in 1817, the location in what is now La Habana Vieja, Spanish for Old Havana would have been just known as downtown Havana back then. Located at the end of Calle Obispo, across Monserrate Street from the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana, the streets in front of the muddy pinkish-red stucco exterior with its famous neon sign bustles with cars with fins in Easter egg colors and matching interiors. It’s a sea of pinks, purples, sky blues, two tones of white and maroon and other combos. We could be in a scene from “Mad Men,” but instead of crystal clear martinis, we’re heading to El Floridita.
200 Years and Counting
The name changed from the Silver Pineapple happened in 1914 about the same time that Constantino Ribalaigua began learning to mix drinks from his father. Four years later, Ribalaigua, who later earned the nickname of “El Rey de los Coteleros” or The Cocktail King of Cuba, had earned enough money to buy the place. He was only 26 and would own it for decades, creating more than 200 cocktails and adapting dozens more.
Creating the Hemingway Daiquiri
It was one of Ribalaigua’s adaptations that made him famous—the recipe and the person who frequently left his apartment down the street after spending the morning writing and relaxed with a couple—or maybe even more—daiquiris. A concoction of white rum, maraschino liqueur or cherries depending upon the recipe, freshly squeezed lemon juice or pineapple juice and sugar or a sugar syrup, it pleased Ernest Hemingway so much, that soon El Floridita, daiquiris, and Hemingway became an icon of the bestselling author’s days in Cuba. El Floridita soon earned a subtitle, becoming “la cuna del daiquiri” or the cradle of the daiquiri.
At opening time, the doors open and people stream in. They’re a mixed lot. College students, older literary types, locals probably bemoaning that they can’t have a quiet drink because of all these tourists, men who looked like artists and musicians, women in exotic outfits looking like poets and writers. The shiny mahogany bar is an extravagant piece of beautiful wood where red-jacketed bartenders swiftly add ingredients and then buzz them in the blender.
Daiquiris for All
These bartenders are smooth, able to mix and pour two daiquiris at a time. They need to be, the surge of people is endless. There’s a neo-classicist style to the decor. Huge paintings back up the bar and line several large walls. Chandeliers drip from the ceiling, the tables in the large dining room have white tablecloths and louvered doors. The bar itself is rather dark though streaks of the stunning sunshine stream through the door. Musicians come up on the small stage and play Cuban music, jazz, Bolero, Timba, and their own compositions as well including music from the eastern end of the island.
You don’t have to imagine Hemingway sitting at the bar, a bronze bust of him in his favorite corner was sculpted in 1954. And it’s easy to pause when my eye captures the lifestyle statue of him at the bar that was added almost 50 years later. Another honorific is a plaque with a Hemingway quote: “My mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio and my daiquiri in the Floridita.”
But probably the best indication of the author’s prestige and power as a tourist attraction is the lure of the blender as it mixes another daiquiri (there are four varieties associated with Hemingway and I’ve included two of them below) and the clinking of glasses as patrons toast the author and, of course, his drink.
2 oz. white rum (Floridita uses Havana club)
½ oz. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. maraschino liqueur
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1½ cups crushed ice
Mix the lime juice and sugar in a blender and pulse to combine. Add the maraschino and crushed ice and blend on high speed, gradually adding rum to the mix. Pour into a chilled large cocktail glass.
2 ounces white rum (I prefer Brugal)
Juice of ½ lime
½ ounce fresh grapefruit juice
¼ ounce maraschino liqueur
1 teaspoon simple syrup
Shake with ice, and strain into coupe. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Mr. Purple, a swank rooftop restaurant and bar on the 15th floor of Hotel Indigo in New York’s Lower East Side, is again hosting Veuve Clicquot Winter Chalet.
As my friend Victoria Collins describes this special pop-up event, it’s a funky apres-ski lodge in the sky with fur-lined seating, ambient lighting and a custom Veuve Clicquot champagne bar inside a magically lit igloo–think the ultimate snow globe experience–one with drinks and food.
Sip this classic Champagne and nibble on the limited-time menu featuring such foods as a rich cheese fondue as well as other sweet and savory fondues, short rib empanadas, tempura baby zucchini, and pretzel bites while enjoying the all-encompassing views of the city and locally sourced foods as well as the vibrant feel of the pulse of New York.
Operated by the Gerber Group, the hospitality industry powerhouse, Mr. Purple has garnered high praise from Thrillist and Gotham and is definitely the place to be this holiday season.
While sipping Veuve Clicquot, give a toast to the Widow Clicquot who after her husband’s death took over his business and ensured that it would become, in time, an international company. The word veuve is French for widow and Barbe-Nicole was only 27 when her husband died in 1805. It was a time where there were few if any French businesswomen and none were allowed to even have a bank account. Yes, we have come a long way.
But Widow Veuve was audacious and bold. To encourage Napoleon’s Officers to protect her property she gave them bottles of her Champagne and plenty of it. Of course, being on horseback meant the officers couldn’t hold both bottles and glasses. So they jettisoned the glasses and used their swords to cut through the necks of the bottles, a practice now known as sabering according to Tilar J. Mazzeo who described this incident in his book, The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It.Needless to say, you shouldn ‘t try this either at home or on a horse. Just pop the cork instead please.
The widow’s bribe worked. The officers got to drink fine Champagne, riding away happy and the Widow Clicquot’s property was safe. The Widow also revolutionized the Champagne industry with her innovations including a way to produce a crystal-clear champagne free of sediments as well as creating the first blended rose champagne and the first registered vintage Champagne. Her dream all those years ago was stated by her plainly in 1831: “I would like my brand to be ranked first in both New York and St. Petersburg”
We’d say her business plan worked out quite well. But what we really love is another of her famous quotes.
“Lobster salad and champagne are the only things a woman should ever be seen eating.”
We can drink to that.
See you at Mr. Purple.
Reservations for Veuve Clicquot Winter Chalet, which begins November 15, can be made up to can be made 10 days in advance at https://www.mrpurplenyc.com/.
It’s time to say goodbye to the days of rosé and warm up with the seasonal fall cocktails at Nearly Ninth at Arlo Midtown. Now available are the Cider-Car, Apple Cider Mimosa, Chai-Town, Hopscotch, Bourbon Smash and the gorgeous Applejack Sazerac (pictured below). The Applejack Sazerac is the ultimate autumnal cocktail, including Laird’s Applejack, Woodford Reserve, Honey, Peychaud Bitters and finished with Absinthe and a rinse of Allspice.
A drink crafted to the warm the soul, Zuma’s Japanese Old Fashioned is garnished with a freshly cut orange slice and two berries and takes a new twist on a timely classic. Made with Toki Japanese Whisky, Hokuto sugar and bitters this rich, smooth and silky cocktail will leave you begging for another.
Cocktail name: Pumpkin Spice Martini Westin Cape Coral Resort’s restaurant, Marker 92 Waterfront Bar & Bistro, is serving up the delicious Pumpkin Spice Martini, made with Smirnoff Vanilla Vodka, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Pumpkin Liquor. This festive drink is then topped with Whipped Cream, a dash of Cinnamon and Nutmeg. For those traveling to Cape Coral for Thanksgiving this fall, Marker 92 will be celebrating with a dedicated holiday dinner menu, as well as additional festive cocktails like their Apple Cider Mimosa, Cranberry Apple Sangria and Thanksgiving Punch. Price: $14
If you’re looking to shake off the chilly fall weather, look no further than The Irvington. Located in Union Square, the bartenders are now offering chic fall cocktails including the Bourbon Smash and our personal favorite, the Cider-Car (pictured center, below). Served in a coupe and topped with a dry apple chip, this Insta-worthy cocktail features Cognac, apple cider, lemon juice, apricot liquor and a hard cider float.
The English-inspired boutique hotel is renowned for its innovative (and oftentimes whimsical) cocktails, and someone who plays a large role in that recognition is its chief spirits officer, Jorge Centeno, who spearheads the property’s beverage program and mixes up some of the inn’s most popular, Instagram-worthy creations. Now, visitors to the inn can embrace spooky season all autumn long with Jorge’s fun play on Alfred Hitchcock’s creepy fall classic, The Birds, with The Birds Poison Punch cocktail – infused with mezcal and tequila, tepache, blue curaçao, lemon juice, mineral water and lavender smoke.
Combine ingredients over ice & stir for 30 revolutions. Can be served up or on a large format Ice cube. Garnish with an orange twist.
What makes it unique: “For those chocolate lovers. A savory balance of incredible spirits that accentuate the beautiful dark chocolate flavor you crave. The orange & vanilla notes from the Anejo tequila pair deliciously with the bitter notes made famous by Campari. A wonderfully warm and cozy libation for the fall” – Ian McKinney
With temperatures dropping as fall arrives, the newly opened, Spanish-inspired restaurant MDRD atop the historic Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids, MI boasts flavorful twists on classic warm Spanish cocktails, including its cozy Spanish Coffee, which is crafted with rich overproof demerara rum and orange curacao flamed to perfection, both mixed into European roast coffee. The drink is then topped with whipped cream and a garnish of freshly grated nutmeg and gold leaf, satisfying imbibers’ taste, smell and sight on chilly autumn evenings.
Our favorite fall vegetable is tequila. LIQS, the world’s first premixed cocktail shot, is bringing you all the fall flavors with their Tequila Cinnamon Orange shot. In European countries, it’s common to take a shot of tequila with a cinnamon-sprinkled orange slice instead of salt and lime; thus, LIQS’ version was born. This mind-blowing flavor combination will change the way you look at tequila for a sweeter, smoother shot. Portable, pre-packaged, and premixed, LIQS’ lightweight four-packs are perfect for taking on-the-go. The shots are low carb, low sugar, low cal and gluten free and available across the U.S. for $9.99 – find the Tequila Cinnamon Orange here on Total Wine.
Akin to a premium rum punch, the Spice Market is made from Plantation three-star rum and Plantation original dark rum, mixed with complimentary sweet, spicy and sour flavors: charred banana, Orgeat (a nutty floral syrup), aromatic fall spices, and lime. This autumn orange-colored cocktail is topped with smoked banana foam and garnished with a peony.
This deep orange cocktail is a more riveting spin on a classic margarita, using fresh ingredients from tropical environments and mezcal, giving it a smokier flavor. Garnished with a mint leaf and a tajin-crusted glass, this one puts a fall twist on a summer staple.
Channeling the refreshingly crisp autumn air that engulfs the Holy City, the “An Apple a Day” cocktail utilizes organic apple cider, apple brandy and vanilla liqueur to provide immediate refreshment and invoke memories of fall days spent at the orchard. Combined with bourbon, a spritz of fresh lemon juice, and house-made fall spice syrup, it’s the ideal drink to sip on after a beautiful fall day exploring Charleston.
This cocktail from T2, a sophisticated rum and cigar lounge at Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, an expansive oceanfront luxury resort in the Bahamas, gives a kick to the classic Caribbean mojito combining rum and fresh mint leaves with house-made pumpkin syrup and pumpkin whipped cream, topped with a dash of soda. Guests can sip and savor as they take in the surrounding tunes of live Bahamian music and indulge in cigar pairing suggestions from in-house mixologists to create an all-encompassed experience.
The Inns of Aurora, a luxury lakeside boutique resort in the Finger Lakes, serves up the warming “Lost Moose” cocktail at their Fargo Bar & Grill, a tavern serving elevated eats and late-night drinks. Cozy up with hazelnut liqueur, Jack Daniels honey and apple juice, with a splash of ginger ale, in a mug – served hot.
DenimatThe Joseph, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Nashville Cocktail name:Life Is But a Dram Comfortable luxury, seasonally-inspired craft cocktails and an all-day menu of American and Italian favorites by Chef Tony Mantuano and team await at The Joseph Nashville’s rooftop bar, Denim. One of Denim’s signature cocktails perfect for Fall, Life Is But a Dram, is a spirited take on a Manhattan made with Heaven’s Door whiskey and The Joseph’s “Highway 61” whiskey blend, espresso-infused Carpano Antica, Angostura bitters and orange bitters.
1.5 oz Heaven’s Door Highway 61 The Joseph Blend whiskey 1.5 oz espresso-infused Carpano Antica sweet vermouth 2 dashes of Angostura bitters Orange twist or orange oil Dehydrated orange slice (optional)
Add ingredients to mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 45 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass. Spray with orange oil or express oils from a fresh orange peel. Garnish with a dehydrated orange slice.
Find the perfect fall respite within Manhattan at The Parlour Restaurant and Bar, where the Chili Mule is the perfect blend of classic fall spices. Made with premium Scottish Vodka, Arbikie infused with Chili, Ginger Beer, Fresh Lime Juice, and Rosemary Simple Syrup, it’s the perfect drink to enjoy on fall nights along with The Parlour’s Jazzy Wednesdays, featuring the Café Society.
Cocktail enthusiasts looking for a drink to sip during the crisp fall months should try Brugal 1888’s “East to West” cocktail. This unique fall-themed recipe fuses the premium rum – produced in the Dominican Republic by the 5th generation Brugal family – with maple syrup and apricot liqueur, adding a sweet flavor with hints of fruity and citrus notes.
Cocktail name: Merriman’s Coconog Sip on Merriman’s Coconog this holiday season for a tropical twist on the classic eggnog cocktail. Highlighting tastes of coconut and cinnamon, Merriman’s Coconog uses an Old Forester Bourbon and Licor 43 base mixed with coconut milk and freshly ground nutmeg. Top it off with whipped cream and enjoy in paradise!
13.5 oz Coconut Milk
6 oz Whole Milk
3 whole eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp freshly ground Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
Blend on high speed for a full minute.
Whisk over double boiler until mixture reaches 160 F.
Shake 6 oz of chilled Eggnog Mix with:
1/2 oz Licor 43
1/2 oz Old Forester Bourbon
Pour in carved Coconut Top with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of ground nutmeg.
Marriott Marquis Houston’s completely reimagined holiday lights event, Texas Winter Lights, will be serving innovative, boozy fall cocktails for any crisp autumn day. High Dive (the rooftop restaurant & bar) curated an all-new hot “Spiced Apple Pie” drink inspired by the aroma and taste of a delicious homemade apple pie. With the smell of cinnamon and spiced apples, this cocktail is sure to put anyone in the fall mood. Other fall cocktails will include a “Spiced Pear Martini,” a fruity seasonal punch with a crisp cranberry and orange finish, and a glow-in-the-dark “Starry Night” ginger mule (that even chan
Evan Williams, Kentucky’s first distillery, is hosting “The Ideal Bartender Experience” as part of Louisville’s celebration of African American history. The distillery was founded by Evan Williams in 1783, but the experience takes visitors no further back then to the final days of Prohibition and into a secret speakeasy at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, a multi-million dollar artisanal distillery, immersive tourism destination and retail location on Louisville’s Whiskey Row.
The Ideal Bartender Experience, separate from the other tours available at Evan Williams, introduces guests to Tom Bullock, the first Black American to write and publish a cocktail book. Written in 1917, “The Ideal Bartender” was almost lost to history despite Bullock’s fame at the time.
Greg Boehm, owner of the New York-based company, Cocktail Kingdom, has close to 4000 books about cocktails in what is said to be the largest collection in the world. Consider the collection research as Cocktail Kingdom manufactures professional barware, reprints vintage bar literature, and a full spectrum of professional and custom barware, artisan bitters and syrups.
According to Go to Louisville, several years ago Boehm was contacted by a woman wanting to sell a first edition of The Ideal Bartender. It was the one book Boehm was missing and so he jumped at the chance to own an original copy.
“In the cocktail bar industry, unfortunately, the African American community is not very well represented at all. It is just not a diverse group, so anything that lends diversity to bartending is a good thing,” Boehm explained. “In addition, The Ideal Bartender is a little snapshot of what people were drinking pre-Prohibition, and unlike a lot of cocktail books, none of these recipes were cribbed from anyone else. This is a completely unique cocktail book.”
Bullock, a stately looking man, was known to make some powerful — and according to article in The New York Times — addictive cocktails. He was also reputed to be a great conversationalist and to have a wide range of knowledge on current events–which was expected of a bartender working in rarified places.
Though Bullock was known to the wealthy elite who sipped his cocktails he was relatively unknown until former President Theodore Roosevelt filed a libel suit in 1913 against a newspaper claiming he was not only a liar but also frequently drunk. In his testimony, Roosevelt said that one of the few drinks he’d ever had — and that didn’t happen until he had left the White House — was a mint julep mixed for him by Bullock at the St. Louis Country Club. And, Roosevelt told the court, he took only a sip or two.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch called this out as a lie, printing an editorial opining, “Who was ever known to drink just a part of one of Tom’s juleps? Tom, than whom there is no greater mixologist of any race, was taught the art of the julep by no less than Marse Lilburn G. McNair, the father of the julep. Are the Colonel’s powers of restraint altogether transcendent?”
Marse, for those who don’t know their Missouri or mint julep history, was the grandson of Alexander McNair, the first governor of the state.
Whether he drank more than half of the mint julep or not, Roosevelt won his suit, and Bullock became famous for his bartending skills. Patrons who loved his cocktails included George Herbert Walker — you know the last name, as he was the grandfather and great-grandfather of our 41st and 43rd U.S. presidents, and August Busch Sr., CEO of Anheuser-Busch, who each helped get the book published.
“I have known the author for many years, and it is a privilege to be permitted to testify to his qualifications…” In all that time I doubt that he has erred in event one of his concoctions,” wrote Bush in the intro to Bullock’s book.
Bullock was quite creative when it came to drinks, creating a version of an Old Fashioned easily transported in a flask for those attending the matches at the St. Louis Polo Club.
The 45-minute tour at The Ideal Bartender Experience includes a taste of three premium whiskeys as well as a mint julep made from one of Bullock’s recipes, is one of several fascinating immersive experiences taking place in Louisville.
Tom Bullock’s Old Fashioned for the Polo Field
Fill one eight ounce flask with 100 proof bourbon near to the top. Shove four raw sugar cubes or pour four raw sugar packets into the mouth of your flask, dash eight times with Angostura. Shake the flask vigorously. Pour the contents over the largest ice cubes you can find.
Maple syrup, one of the original cash crops, is the rich and delicious gifts the sugar maples give us every spring–at least for those willing to tap and collect the thin sap that is then boiled down to a thick amber consistency. For Eric and Laura Sorkin of the Vermont-based Camp Runamok, who make barrel-aged and smoked maple syrups, it’s more than just a pancake topping in the morning. One of Runamok Maple’s core missions has always been to educate consumers about the versatility of maple as an ingredient and they recently upped the ante with a variety of fascinating products such as their special-editions syrups including Cocoa Bean Infused made with only two ingredients–organic maple syrup and cocoa bean nibs
The Sorkins also produce jazzy Maple Sparkles (yes, just like the name implies it’s sparkly), and Strawberry-Rose Maple Syrups that can be used as a topping on pancakes and waffles and also in such recipes as Crepes with Sliced Bananas and Peanut Butter Pie.
Now they’ve upped the ante with their their new collection of cocktail mixers includes four syrups – Maple Old Fashioned, Maple Tonic, Smoked Old Fashioned, and Ginger Mule – and three different kinds of bitters – Floral Maple, Aromatic Maple, and Orange Maple. All are made with 100% pure Vermont maple syrup. The cocktail syrups can easily take the place of simple syrup, and will leave cocktail enthusiasts wondering why they hadn’t previously opted for the rich, complex flavors of maple syrup instead. The maple-based cocktail bitters are jam-packed with earthy, botanical flavors and will quickly elevate cocktails with just a few drops. Customers can purchase 250 mL bottles of the cocktail syrups for $16.95 each and 100 mL bottles of the bitters for $11.95 on runamokmaple.com.
The line of cocktail mixers will feature four different syrups – Maple Old Fashioned, Maple Tonic, Smoked Old Fashioned, and Maple Ginger Mule – along with three different kinds of bitters – Floral Maple, Aromatic Maple, and Orange Maple.
“At Runamok Maple, we have been creating cocktails using our infused and smoked maple syrups since we started production,” said Laura Sorkin, co-founder of Runamok Maple. “Through our experimentation over the years, we have come to realize that our maple-based creations are, to this day, some of our favorite cocktails. With the launch of our new cocktail syrups and bitters, we want our customers to experience those same flavors that we have been sharing with our family and friends.”
Most cocktails feature a touch of sugar, which most commonly comes in the form of simple syrup, but the process can be tedious, particularly for the home bartender, and the taste of the granulated sugar dissolved in water is sweet but plain. Runamok Maple’s new cocktail syrups feature the rich, robust, and nuanced flavors of organic Vermont maple syrup, along with additional flavor notes from high-quality ingredients such as ginger and orange. The cocktail syrups, which are priced at $16.95 per 250 mL bottle, also have the added bonus of already being in syrup form, eliminating the extra step of dissolving sugar.
Made with 100% pure Vermont maple syrup, the Maple Old Fashioned cocktail syrup is an infusion blend of real herbs and spices, without any refined sugar. The syrup features a slight bite from Runamok Maple’s very own bitters, along with the subtle essence of orange and cherry, making it the perfect all-encompassing mixer to add to your favorite bourbon or whiskey. Similarly, the Smoked Old Fashioned cocktail syrup is packed with all of the classic Old Fashioned flavors – only this time Runamok Maple uses its Smoked with Pecan Wood maple syrup to add a unique flavor dimension. Maple syrup and whiskey are the perfect pairing, with each offering complex flavor profiles that bring out the best in the other. The added element of smoke creates the perfect drink to enjoy near a fire on a crisp fall evening.
In addition to the Old Fashioned, Runamok Maple drew inspiration from two more classic cocktails, the Gin & Tonic and the Moscow Mule, for its other cocktail syrups. The Maple Tonic combines Runamok Maple’s signature organic maple syrup with the addition of quinine extract, lemon, and lime, giving the mixer a bright, refreshing taste that will have cocktail drinkers quickly forgetting about traditional tonic water. Mixing the Maple Tonic cocktail syrup with gin and seltzer water makes for an easy and delicious summer cocktail. Like the others, the Maple Ginger Mule cocktail syrup features 100% pure Vermont maple syrup as its base. Runamok Maple then infuses fresh ginger and lime into the cocktail syrup to give it a crisp, zesty flavor profile and a cleaner overall taste than mixers that use artificial flavors.
On the back side of each cocktail syrup bottle and on their website, customers will find a suggested cocktail recipe to use with each syrup, including the Amber Old Fashioned (using Maple Old Fashioned), Tapper’s Tonic (using Maple Tonic), Leather & Velvet (using Smoked Old Fashioned) and Green Mountain Mule (using Maple Ginger Mule).
Launched alongside the cocktail syrups is Runamok Maple’s collection of cocktail bitters. Made in the traditional way with all-natural herbs and root extracts infused in alcohol, Runamok Maple delivers its version in a maple base. Though they’re maple-based, the bitters pack a punch, like traditional bitters, and just a few drops can take a cocktail to the next level. Each 100 mL bottle of bitters is priced at $11.95.
With notes of cardamom and ginger, the Floral Maple bitters combine botanical complexity and subtle aromas with a smooth maple base. The addition of rose, citrus, and clove makes these bitters perfect for any gin or vodka cocktail. Built on a warm base of maple, cinnamon, clove, and allspice, the Aromatic Maple bitters meld perfectly with the flavors of darker spirits, like bourbon and whiskey, and even feature subtle tasting notes of sarsaparilla and vanilla bean. Lastly, the Orange Maple bitters are perfect for brightening up any cocktail – whether fruity or neat. The citrus aromas, layered on top of a subtle maple base, make it a wonderful addition to cocktails made with vodka, gin, and even bourbon.
Runamok Maple’s full collection of products – including specialty maple syrups like Bourbon Barrel-Aged, Cardamom-Infused, Cinnamon + Vanilla-Infused, and Pecan Wood-Smoked – are available on runamokmaple.com. The products can also be found on the brand’s Amazon page, as well as at specialty food shops across the country.
For making cocktails, there’s a selection for mixing Manhattans as well as several types of bitters and with Mother’s and Father’s Day coming up, the gift packages should make any parent happy.
The following recipes are courtesy of Camp Runamok.
Roasted Pears with Royal Cinnamon Maple Caramel
2 pears, ripe but not too soft
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup Runamok Royal Cinnamon Infused Maple (can also use Sugarmaker’s Cut Pure, Cinnamon+Vanilla Infused or Whiskey Barrel-Aged)
1/3 cup heavy cream
Vanilla ice cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 375. Peel the pears and then cut them in half. Remove the cores with a melon baller or pairing knife. Slice the pears starting an inch down from the stem, keeping them still attached (if a slice comes off, just roast it next the the pear in the pan and add it at the end).
Find a pan that fits all four halves snugly but in one layer. Put the butter in the pan and heat on the stove until melted. Place the pear halves in and fan the slices gently. Baste with a the melted butter and then sprinkle the sugar on them evenly. Place the pan in the oven and roast for about ten minutes or until they have just begun to brown. Remove from the oven, take the pears out with a spatula and set aside. Pour the maple syrup into the pan and heat to a boil. Add the cream and stir, cooking about another five minutes until the sauce has thickened.
To serve, put two pear halves on a plate and drizzle with the warm maple caramel sauce. Add a dollop of vanilla ice cream if you like. Serves 2.
“If they are not crispy, chicken wings can be a big disappointment,” writes Laura Sorkin in this introduction to Wings with Maple Hot Sauce. “I never cared for them until I tried a recipe that involved baking them in high heat for almost an hour. Wow, what a difference. Most of the fat is rendered, leaving crispy skin and tender meat. Wings are now my son’s yearly request for his birthday dinner and we are always game for trying new sauces.
“Runamok Consiglieri, Curt Alpeter is all about wings and developed this sauce using the Cardamom Infused Maple for the sweet counterpart to the heat of Texas Pete’s. Curt is from Ohio which is near enough to Buffalo, New York that we are going to allow that he is a wing expert by proxy. He has related to me that the chopped scallions and cilantro are key. I did not include measurements because it should be a little-of-dis, little-of-dat kind of dish.”
Wings with Maple Hot Sauce
Salt and pepper
Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce or similar
Runamok Cardamom Infused Maple Syrup
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Preheat oven to 400. Place wings in a sturdy pan, making sure there is enough room for a single layer. Drizzle just a tad of vegetable oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, flip the wings over and return to the oven. Bake until crispy and brown, about another 20 – 30 minutes.
In the meantime find a bowl large enough to hold all the wings. Pour equal amounts of hot sauce and maple syrup and butter. If you are cooking a few pounds of chicken, try 1/4 cup of each. Combine with a fork, mashing up the butter and blending it. Don’t worry if the butter leaves chunks, it will melt when you add the hot wings.
When the wings are fully brown and crisp, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and put in the bowl with the sauce. Add scallions and cilantro. Toss until coated and serve immediately with plenty of napkins.
Sparkly Maple Bourbon Smash
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce Runamok Maple syrup (Sparkle Syrup or Sugarmaker’s Cut)
Creating artisanal ice for large scale events, private clients and parties in Los Angeles is a continuation of Leslie Kirchhoff’s career as an artist, DJ and photographer for high-end magazines like Vogue. Feeling a little stifled and less than creative in her day-to-day work doing magazine shoots, she hit upon the idea of ice cubes as works of art–albeit not very permanent ones. She also realized that while putting large ice cubes in drinks was trendy, putting something in the ice cube itself wasn’t being done. Using that as a springboard she started Disco Cubes, where she creates handcrafted ice so beautiful and/or unique that it turns a mere cocktail into a showpiece.
“The cube itself is just the container for whatever you put inside, like a tiny 3-dimensional blank canvas where gravity doesn’t quite exist,” says Kirchhoff who describes great cocktails as similar to multi-sensory sculptures. “Mixologists are truly becoming artists, much like chefs have become. You have the architectural elements, like the shape and texture of the glassware, the color and clarity of the drink. Every element is so carefully calculated that it’s a wonder why more people aren’t experimenting with ice.”
Now Kirchhoff is sharing her ice cube recipes in the recently released Disco Cube Cocktails: 100+ innovative recipes for artful ice and drinks. The name Disco harkens to both a renewed interest in the designs, clothing and aesthetics of that era as well as her own work as a DJ. Kirchhoff also is very much influenced in her ice works by Danish designer Verner Panton who she describes as an inventor as well and the first to make a single-form injection-molded chair.
I just love everything about him,” she says, impressed by Panton’s ability to find a balance between the weird and the practical while have fun doing so.
A perfectionist when it comes to cubes, Kirchhoff also read up on the physics of freezing and talks about polishing ice cubes to make them perfect. In other words, Disco Cubes isn’t just cracking open an ice cube tray or putting a glass under the dispenser on the refrigerator.
Some of her recipes have multiple steps and include ingredients we’re not likely to have on hand. Others are simpler and those are the ones I’m starting off with here. If you like them and want to go more experimental, I’ve included the more complicated ones at the end.
HERBAL SPEARS Makes 4 Spears 4 fresh herb sprigs [about 4 inches long] 5¼ in clear Collins cube mold
Place one herb sprig into each Collins cube compartment. Fill the mold with water and freeze until solid, about 30 hours. Remove the cubes from the mold, polish them, and keep frozen until ready to use. Polishing Cubes As with metal that needs polishing or wood that needs sanding, ice sometimes needs a little love before it’s ready for its close-up. Cubes may have seams from two-part molds, lumpy tops, or other imperfections you want to smooth out. This process must be done quickly, especially in a warm environment. Shaping Herbal Spears A sharp paring knife can easily skim off the seam from an ice sphere. Hold the cube with a microfiber cloth in one hand, while carefully carving with the knife facing toward you, rotating the sphere away from you as you go.
HOT SAUCE SHATTER These are easy to make and can be used in drinks such as Bloody Marys, Margaritas and Michelada (chilled Mexican beer mixed with other ingredients such as lime juice and Worcestershire sauce) that require spicing up. Makes Enough for 10 to 15 Drinks 1 ounce hot sauce 2 cups water Quarter sheet pan, to use as ice mold
In a glass measuring cup, combine the hot sauce with 2 cups of water. Place a quarter sheet pan in the freezer, and carefully pour the hot sauce mixture directly into the pan. Freeze until solid, about 2 hours. Pop the entire sheet of ice off the tray and transfer to a 1 gallon freezer bag until ready to use. When ready to serve, with the ice still in the bag, shatter it into various-size pieces [anywhere from 1 to 4 inches, or 2.5 inches in length] using a mallet or rolling pin.
HOLIDAY PUNCH + ROSEMARY WREATH You don’t have to wait until the holidays to serve this one. It can be a cool summer drink as well. Makes 24 Servings Four 750 ml bottles prosecco, chilled 24 ounces Peppered Cranberry Syrup (see recipe below) 16 ounces vodka ¾ ounce orange bitters 1 Rosemary Wreath (see recipe below)
In a large punch bowl, combine the prosecco, cranberry syrup, vodka, and bitters. Stir to mix. Gently add the ice wreath and serve. Peppered Cranberry Syrup Makes About 24 Ounces 4 cups cranberries [two 12 ounce packages] 1 cup sugar 4 ounces apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoons peppercorns, coarsely cracked
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cranberries, sugar, apple cider vinegar, and peppercorns with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 6 hours, or overnight. Strain it twice through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve, or for up to 1 week. Rosemary Wreath Makes 1 Ice Wreath 1 tablespoon dried hibiscus flowers One 8 cup Bundt pan 1 or 2 bunches rosemary sprigs
In a large heatproof glass measuring cup, steep the hibiscus flowers in 32 ounces of hot water for 5 minutes. If using a silicone Bundt pan, place it on a quarter sheet pan. Arrange the rosemary sprigs in a wreath shape inside the pan. Through a fine mesh strainer, pour the hibiscus tea into the mold, then add 2 cups of water. Use the sheet pan to transfer the mold to the freezer and freeze until solid, about 8 hours, or overnight. DR. DRAGON + RADISH CUBES Makes 2 Cocktails 2 Radish Cubes 2 cucumber strips 4 ounces Miso Butter Washed Suntory (see recipe below) 1½ ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice ¾ ounce Radish Simple Syrup (see recipe below)
Place 1 Radish Cube in each of two Old-Fashioned glasses to temper. Add 1 cucumber strip to each glass, circling the cube and touching the side of the glass. In a cocktail shaker filled with plain ice, combine the whisky, lemon juice, and radish simple syrup. Cover and shake for 15 seconds, then double strain into the glasses. Radish Cubes Makes 4 Cubes 4 micro radishes, or small red radishes, stems trimmed so total size is about 2½ inches 2-inch clear ice cube mold Place 1 radish in each compartment of the clear cube mold. Fill the mold with water and freeze until solid, about 30 hours. Remove the cubes from the mold, polish them, and keep frozen until ready to use. Miso Butter Washed Suntory Makes 2 Cups 4 ounces unsalted butter 1 teaspoon sweet white miso paste (can substitute soy sauce instead) 2 cups Suntory whisky (or other bourbon)
In a small pan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in miso paste to combine. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Combine the melted miso butter and bourbon in a lidded wide-mouth container, then cover and shake briefly to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours, then transfer to the freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight. Remove the hardened butter from the top of the bourbon and set aside, then strain the mixture through a coffee filter set inside a sieve and into another lidded jar. Store infused bourbon in the refrigerator for up to a month. Radish Simple Syrup* Makes about ¾ Cup ½ cup sugar ½ cup thinly sliced radishes
In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the sugar and ½ cup of water. Heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the radishes. Cover and let steep at room temperature for at least 2 hours, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a lidded jar or bottle. *Beware the pungent smell of making this simple syrup. SOUL MAKOSSA + TANGERINE TURMERIC CUBES “In 1973, Manu Dibango brought an infec¬tious groove from Africa to the dance floors of downtown New York City with his mas¬sive global hit, “’Soul Makossa,’ which flew off shelves so quickly that even DJs had a hard time getting their hands on a copy,” says Kirchhoff. “The infectious sax riff and vocal chant were covered, sampled, and famously ripped off time and time again, most notably by Michael Jackson in ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’. With these cubes you’ll have a party in your glass faster than you can say ‘ma-mako, ma-ma-sa, mako-mako ssa.’” Makes 1 Cocktail 1 Tangerine Turmeric Cube (see recipe below) 2 ounces tequila Soda water or tonic water, for topping off 3 dashes Angostura bitters Lime wheel, for garnish
Place the Tangerine Turmeric Cube on a cutting board and using a serrated knife cut it diag¬onally through the middle. Place both halves into a white wine glass or Old-Fashioned glass. Pour the tequila over the top, then top with soda or tonic water, bitters, and lime wheel. Tangerine Turmeric Cubes Makes 4 Cubes 8 ounces freshly squeezed tangerine juice, strained 2 ounces fresh turmeric juice, strained (see note below) 2 ounces Honey Simple Syrup (see below) 12 dashes of orange bitters Collins cube tray
In a large glass measuring cup, combine the tangerine juice, turmeric juice, simple syrup, and orange bitters. Pour the mixture into the tray and freeze until solid, about 4 hours. Simple Honey Syrup 1 cup water 1 cup honey
Combine water and honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high, stirring constantly until honey dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool about 30 minutes until it is at room temperature. Store refrigerator in airtight container, it should keep for up to 2 weeks. Note: Turmeric juice can be found locally at Apple Valley Market in Berrien Springs and GNC in Benton Harbor or if you don’t want to buy it then consider mixing a little ground turmeric with carrot or orange juice. The above recipes are reprinted from Disco Cubes by Leslie Kirchhoff with permission by Chronicle Books, 2020. Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at email@example.com or by writing to Focus, The Herald Palladium, P.O. Box 128, St. Joseph, MI 49085.
The dazzling 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition brought 27 million people to Chicago which was no small feat given that the first gas powered automobile is credited to Karl Benz in Germany in 1886 and Henry Ford’s 1908 Model T was the first car easily accessible to people other than the wealthy.
The crowds came to see all the newest inventions like the Ferris Wheel, the zipper and Cracker Jacks, diet carbonated soda, Aunt Jemima syrup and pancake mix and Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum. Plus it was at the Exposition that Pabst Select won the Blue Ribbon in the beer competition and hence forth became known as Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.
But there were other attractions less awe inspiring or recognizable but as important if not more so.
1500 botanicals (a term used to describe seeds, berries, roots, fruits and herbs and spices) were brought from around the world to the exposition to the Field Columbian Museum (now the Field Museum). Among the 40 million objects belonging to the museum—only 1% of which are on display—the majority of these botanicals remain.
Megan Williams, Director of Business Enterprises for the Field Museum, started a beverage program around seven years ago in celebration of the museum’s 125th anniversary. Her idea was to use some of these botanicals as a way of connecting the museum’s past and present.
“I am not a researcher here,” says Williams discussing her background, “though I used to teach environmental science. I joined the Field museum as an account manager and then took over the restaurant. I wanted to create a sense of community, a place for people to sit and talk and what better place for that than a bar.”
Combining the communal ambience of a bar with the awesome history of the museum was one of the reasons Williams started the beverage program.
“I wanted to educate people through taste and smell, to be able to taste or smell something that has a historic significance,” she says.
Williams described it as an opportunity to bring people together who love spirits and love learning.
“It’s not just putting a museum label on something though there’s a legitimacy in that,” she continues, noting she’s worked with brewers and wine makers as well in developing Field branded drinks. “But we wanted to take it another step further, working with people who have a passion and understand the museum’s language and mission.”
Contacting the Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, she invited Matt McClain, Journeyman’s lead distiller and owners Bill and Johanna Weller to view the botanicals to look at the botanicals.
“The first spirit we talked about was rye, that ended up as the last one made,” says Williams. “We asked questions such as what would work well in making gin—what could–out of these 1500 botanicals—and where could we source them.”
McClain spent several months researching the botanicals that were at the museum, to determine their history as well as their availability.
“I found that a lot of them were not considered safe or even poisonous,” he says. “Standards were different back then.”
From there, he and Bill Weller chose those they thought would be a good fit for the spirits they wanted to create.
The first product they created was their Field vodka using Bloody Butcher Corn, an heirloom variety often used for making bourbon. The vodka then served as a base for the next distilled spirit, their Field Gin
“We wanted to make a global gin,” says McClain. “So we were pulling species from around the world. We narrowed it down to around 50.”
But once they had the botanicals and began developing recipes, they had to cross off a few more from the list.
“A lot of botanicals that look and taste good, don’t work where you put them in in alcohol, others that I wanted to use were hard to get or arrived too late, I still have agave in the cooler,” says McClain, noting they used other criteria as well in the selection process. “Bill and I wanted the gin to be lavender focused. Obviously gin also has to have a heavy juniper taste as well. We wanted the gin to have tropical undertones and had to figure out those as well.”
Then they were down to 27 including not only lavender and juniper berries but also prickly ash, anise, mango, ginger, coconut palm sugar, pineapple, papaya, Valerian Root, cinnamon, coriander, Horehound, star fruit and Charoli nuts which are sourced from India.
For their Field Rye Whiskey, they tried several types of figs which McClain describes as the world’s oldest sweeteners, finally deciding that Black Mission figs worked the best. The figs were macerated or soaked in alcohol for three months, a process that brought out subtle and all-natural flavors of bananas, sweet melons and strawberries.
“It’s an incredible whiskey,” says McClain. “It has heavy caramel notes and soft marshmallow like palate.”
Bottles of the Field distilled spirits are available for sale. For those who would like to learn more about their taste, they’re also used in some of the cocktails served at the Staymaker, Journey’s restaurant.
Beer, which is so Chicago given its rich German heritage, was the first partnership Megan Williams embarked upon when she started her beverage program. Two Chicago breweries, Off Color Brewing and Two Brothers Brewing were among the first to use the botanicals to create beers for the museum. researchers at the Field Museum have spent years excavating and studying the Wari site in Peru. Toppling Goliath introduced PseudoSue pale ale, a nod to the museum’s famous 40 feet long and 13 feet tall at the hip, Tyrannosaurus rex. Physically SUE is the largest specimen T. rex specimen that’s been discovered so far.
Off Color’s introduced Wari, their artisan beer based on the Peruvian chicha, a purple corn beer native to areas of Central and South America. One of its other tie-ins with the museum is that Field scientists have spent years leading excavations at Cerro Baúl, a remote mountaintop citadel which was the only contact point between the Tiwanaku and the Wari, considered two great kingdoms whose dynamic relationship ultimately contributed to the rise of the Incan Empire. According to Off Color’s website, an essential sacrament shared by both cultures revolved around chichi. It seems that both tribes liked to consume massive quantiles of chicha served in ornately inscribed drinking cups called keros that were discovered during the archaeological expeditions at Cerro Baúl. In this way, Wari and Tiwanaku cemented their relationships. In other words, next time you see a bunch of heavy alcohol consumers at bars, understand they’re just continuing a thousand year ritual similar to that of the Wari and Tiwanaku.
The following recipes are courtesy of the Journeyman Distillery.
Journeyman Fig Old Fashioned
1.5 oz Field Rye
0.5 oz Fresh Orange Juice
0.25 oz Journeyman Bourbon Maple Syrup
Dash of Journeyman Barrel-Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Dehydrated Orange Wheel
Stir ingredients and pour into a rocks glass, over ice. Garnish with dehydrated orange wheel.
Field Vodka Gimlet
1.5 oz Field Vodka
.75 oz Fresh Lime Juice
.5 oz Simple Syrup
Fresh Lime Wheel
Shake ingredients well and strain into a tall glass over ice. Garnish with a fresh lime wheel.
Field Gin Fizz
1.5 oz Field Gin
.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
.5 oz Pear Simple Syrup
1 oz Aquafaba or Egg White
Combine ingredients and dry shake before adding ice to the shaker. Wet shake until froth has built up. Strain into a Collins glass and top with soda. Garnish with Star Anise.
Cocktails when I was in college meant run and coke and, though I hate to admit it, since then I haven’t really upped my cocktail making skills except to use Diet Coke in the early years after graduating.
That’s why I decided to meet with Schueneman and Andrew Claeys at the 1912 white round barns that is the focal point of the Round Barn Estate, a winery, distillery and brewery in Baroda, Michigan to learn about the Shake & Stir workshops they hold each weekend.
“We try to use the fruits that are in season,” say Schueneman, the retail manager at Round Barn. “That’s why for the three cocktails we’re making in October we’re using pear juice and local honey for our Honey Pear Margarita which is garnished with a sprig of rosemary. We also have an Apple Cider Sangria we’ll be showing how to make using apple cider, pears and apples.”
A section to hold the workshop has been separated from the tasting room area and has a lounge-like look with comfortable stuffed chairs.
“We think it’s the perfect place to spend a fall afternoon,” says Schueneman. Indeed, it is very cozy while still being sophisticated—the perfect place to watch rain or snow come down and still feel snug.
But before one can relax, there are lessons to be learned. The recipes are displayed on television screen and they look easy enough. But there’s a complicated basket of wood and gleaming stainless steel cocktail making equipment. I recognize the two types strainers, jigger and zester as well as shaker, cutting board and several types of glasses. Schueneman explains one of the several objects is a muddler.
Giving the lesson today is Seth Claeys who shows how to make each recipe with a showmanship that is impressive. He can pour the drinks at great heights from the shaker without a drop being spilt. It would seem he’s done this many times before.
“We like the recipes to be easy so that people, after attending the workshop, can create them at home,” he says.
The 60-minute cocktail making masterclass costs $40 per person and includes creating and tasting three Round Barn cocktails as well as the weekend cover charge/
“The classes take place on Saturdays and Sundays unless people schedule ahead of time,” says Claeys. “We change recipes frequently so people can come back and learn how to make other cocktails.”
While the equipment stays there after the workshop, those attending receive a souvenir cocktail glass and $5 off every three-bottle purchase.
Since I have a strainer (though I’ve never used it before and it just gets shoved aside as I look for other equipment, zester and jigger from my parents who made martinis and Manhattans, I didn’t really need anything else to make the Honey Pear Margaritas at home. My husband said they were delicious but then what else can a husband say. But I haven’t learned to pour the drinks from a great height and have them fill the glass perfectly. In fact, I didn’t try figuring I’d rather drink the cocktail then clean it off the counter.