“Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses” is easily one of my favorite verses, and pretty much sums up how I feel about beer, although I think the horses deserve better.
Whether drowning sorrows or about to kill someone, a lot of country singers sing about whiskey. Whiskey may have been a gentile drink in Scotland, but here in America, it goes with cowboy hats, wranglers, and saloons. And songs about heartache, revenge, and lost love.
“I put some whiskey in my whiskey” is my theme song to loneliness. You know the days. And who hasn’t had a couple of glasses at the bar with a mind singing (or at least feeling), “Whiskey River, take my mind. Don’t let her (his) memory torture me.” Whiskey is something you drink alone thinking of someone else. Or, in “The Gambler,” something you drink with an odd stranger you meet on a train.
Washington State is known for its rain more than its whiskey. But it does have some local distilleries - Dry Fly in Spokane, Bainbridge Organic Distillers in Bainbridge, and Fremont Mischief Distillery in Seattle. One up-and-coming distillery is Woodenville Whiskey Co. They have had white dog and vodka for awhile, but just last Saturday released their first American whiskey and bourbon. Fans apparently lined up early in the morning to test it out.
Mom and I just happened to show up the day after the release, looking around for some local whiskey. Woodenville is in Washington wine country, but those who follow the whiskey scene knew where to come for the amber goods. The cozy tasting room was packed with fans curious to try some of the new whiskey.
Confirmed - Scotch in whipped cream is a good idea.
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Scotch
Beat until firms up to whipped cream consistency.
I'm thankful for many things this year - and whiskey is one of them. It's easy to incorporate whiskey into your Thanksgiving table. I don't just mean setting down a bottle and grabbing some glasses. I mean actually adding it to some common dishes and desserts. It gives a special taste without altering the traditional menu too much. The recipes below, from bonappetit.com, gave me a chance to cook with both bourbon and Scotch. The kitchen smells delicious.
Bourbon Cranberry sauce - I've never been much for cranberries, either fresh or from a can. However, adding a little whiskey has a way of turning me in favor. This is a simple recipe that sweetens up the dish and can be made up to a week ahead of time. You mix the cranberries, sugar, and cinnamon in a 9x13 inch pan for 30 minutes, stir and bake another 30 minutes. Add the bourbon, stir, and stick in the fridge until you need it.
For this recipe, you will need:
4 cups cranberries
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup bourbon (I used Maker's Mark)
For full instructions on preparing this recipe, please visit: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/1991/11/bourbon-cranberry-sauce#ixzz1esQO1QkQ
Pumpkin Butterscotch Pie - This seems obvious now, but I did not realize that the way to get butterscotch flavor is to literally mix butter and Scotch. And a little sugar and cream. It's a bubbling, caramelized pot o' goodness that is then mixed with the pumpkin, eggs, and spices. It creates a lighter pumpkin filling, which is soft, creamy and smooth. It is also incorporates a lot of different spices without favoring any of them too much. According to Mom, we are not going to be going back to the regular pumpkin pie anytime soon.
And here's the topper - Scotch whipped cream. Why use vanilla in homemade whipped cream if Scotch is on hand? I will be trying it fresh tomorrow when I make it for Thanksgiving, but whipping cream with either brown or white sugar (I've seen recipes with both) and some Scotch seems like it can't go too wrong.
Apple Pie with Whiskey-Soaked Cherries - This one follows a pretty basic recipe for an apple pie except for the dried cherries soaked in Scotch. They are little flavor bursts that make the pie come alive and add a richness. Don't worry if you soak the cherries longer than the recipe calls for - it does't hurt them a bit.
For the filling, you will need:
1 cup dried tart cherries
2 tablespoons Scotch whisky
3 to 3 1/2 pounds medium-size Golden Delicious apples (about 8), peeled, halved, cored, thinly sliced (For a variation, mix in Granny Smith apples)
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*For the pie crust, I use the Martha Stewart recipe, then put the filling in raw dough and follow cooking instructions according to: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2005/10/apple_pie_with_whisky_soaked_cherries#ixzz1ese24PmY
F.X. McRory's Steak Chop and Oyster House in Seattle has enough whiskey bottles across the bar to require three ladders to reach them, and our bartender, Matt, gamely climbed up and down them seeking the right ones for our tasting: a local, American Whiskey (Bainbridge), a bourbon (Blanton's), and an Irish whiskey (Red Breast).
The menu boasts a full page of just bourbon while the sign on the bar boasts, "The World's Largest Bourbon Collection," although Matt said they might be the second largest now if the rumors out of Las Vegas are true.
It still takes 8 1/2 hours for two people to take all the bottles off the shelf, dust them, and put them back up. The only whiskies that aren't on the shelf are the most popular, such as Jack Daniels, Bushmills, and Jameson, that would run out too fast to make the trips up the ladder worth it. Other whiskeys can't seem to get off the shelf. One bottle had a type of seal that hasn't been used since the 1980's with a faded $3 price tag on it.
I'm visiting my parents for Thanksgiving and found it surprisingly easy to convince them that a side trip to a whiskey bar near the Seahawks stadium was the best way to end a pre-holiday shopping day. My mom doesn't actually drink much whiskey, but she's a good sport and agreed to be my tasting partner anyway.