Enjoy whiskey. That was Dave Broom’s message – and happily taken by a crowd that gathered on a rainy Saturday afternoon to try out some whiskies in cocktail from one of the pre-eminent whisky authors.
“Ask questions,” he told us. “Otherwise it’s just one boring, long Scottish rant.” Like that’s a bad thing when it comes to whisky. I showed up for a Scottish rant.
Dave Broom – author of my ultimate whisky guide, The World Atlas of Whisky – was at Char No. 4 to tell us to mix our whisky. You heard that correctly – to put mixers and ice in our whisky.
He said forget the rules. It’s not just for men (yep – got that message!). It’s not just for people of a certain age (around 20 seems a good time to start drinking it…). It’s not just for after dinner (do people eat dinner at noon? Is that supper?) It doesn’t have to be drunken in a tumbler (whew! Because I use jars sometimes). And it can be mixed.
Also, it’s not serious. It should make you smile. Dave put forth the idea that drinking whisky and enjoying whisky are two different things. With his newest book, Whisky: The Manual, he is looking at how to enjoy whisky by mixing it up.
Rainy Saturday afternoons are becoming my favorite Whiskey Time. This weekend’s found me around the corner in Char No. 4 on Smith Street for a class on Rye.
Our instructor, Allan Roth, referred to it as the “Gateway Whiskey” on the way to the harder bourbon and Scotch. I think maybe I skipped over it for Scotch and have now found myself seeking to know more about it. Apparently, I caught it at a good time since there has been a Rye Revival of sorts, thanks to the resurgence of cocktails and a rise in craft distilleries. But Rye, according to Allan, has deep American roots – the Whiskey Rebellion was over Rye, George Washington was a distiller of Rye, and the American cocktails like Old Fashioneds and Manhattans center around it.
Per Se draws plenty of foodies to its elegant dining room of sumptuous little bites of things I can’t pronounce and wouldn’t think to put together (“Carre d’Agneau”: oxtail, Hen-of-the-Woods mushrooms, cipollini onions, mustard cress and smoked nettle vichyssoise).
And the food is good. Very good. But I’m always looking for a way to slip some whisky into an evening in addition to my “Oysters and Pearls” (Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek oysters and sterling white sturgeon caviar).
Enter The Admiral. Suave and sexy, The Admiral is a cool sip of wonderful before a long evening of eating.
My dinner mate and I were the lucky recipients of a gift of dinner at Per Se, so we decided to go ahead and treat ourselves to a couple of pre-dinner cocktails.
A good Scotch cocktail – really any Scotch cocktail – is a tough find, but scoring a light, balanced one is even harder. The Admiral pulls it off in a refreshing blend of, well, things I can’t pronounce and wouldn’t think to put together: Auchentoshan 12-year, saffron syrup, and butterscotch foam.
I would have been happy right there, but our waiter reminded us we had 9 courses of cuisine to try.
I did manage to find more whiskey, though – a tasty little bourbon vanilla chocolate square to end a delicious evening.
An establishment called The Rum House would not normally be my first choice for drinks. It’s the title. And the location – right off Times Square. I don’t have anything against rum, just like I don’t have anything against vanilla. But given the choice in a city that serves everything, a girl wants her whiskey like she wants her chocolate.
I was happy to discover that the title was a bit of unintended irony - The Rum House does whiskey.
You know it’s a going to be fun cooking when you have to buy bourbon, Scotch, and Irish whiskey for the recipes.
This Thanksgiving, I am still thankful for whiskey and have kept some of my favorite whiskey recipes from last year – bourbon cranberries, butterscotch pumpkin pie, and Scotch whipped cream (recipes available In the Kitchen). I will also be welcoming guests to my apartment with a mug of whiskey cider (recipe available In a Cocktail).
But there’s always room for some new traditions. This year, my whiskey additions to the menu are: baked sweet potatoes with a bourbon and maple sauce and a whiskey chocolate tart for dessert.