As we go into another Wisconsin Halloween season and see the end of summer, I thought it would be good to tip our hats a final time to the vaunted distilleries of the bluegrass state. Since we have family and friends that will or have found their respective ways there in 2013, it is certainly apropos that we say our farewell to Kentucky by providing our loyal Firewater Lounge Lizards with the instructions to the proper way to drink bourbon whiskey. Here it goes, step by step...
1) Pour yourself a couple fingers of quality bourbon whiskey into a snifter or whiskey glass. Every single distillery worth their salt love you to love their product. You are not drinking vodka or gin here, so appreciate the beauty of the spirit. Bourbon only has three prerequisites. It needs to be 51% corn, at least 80 proof and aged in new charred oak without added color. The wood is what matters to your eyes. The oak lends the whiskey its rich amber hue and bar-light orange glow.
2) Now its time to nose your bourbon. One reminder, you are not drinking wine here. You do not have to swirl bourbon to death. Like other high-proof spirits, bourbon evaporates readily and immediately from its surface; too much swirling will send an immoderate amount of alcohol to your nose. So gently bring the rim of your glass to your nose and smell. Move it away, swirl once and bring it back up to your face. Open your mouth slightly and breathe the bourbon in through your mouth and nose this time. Different? Awesome.
3) Time to drink. You are going to do the Kentucky Chew. Take a small amount of bourbon in your mouth. Inhale a bit of air while swishing it to all parts of your mouth with a chewing motion. Swallow over your tongue. Breathe in through your mouth and savor the whiskey’s finish. Now, it is important that you do not ice your bourbon. Coldness itself changes the flavor profile. Many people will like to add water to their bourbon; not only is this customary, in many instances it’s preferred. Diluting a higher-proof spirit down to about 80 proof removes its alcohol burn and rigidness. One reason to do the chew is to understand how bourbon affects your palate and to adjust with water accordingly. You can watch Jim Beam’s own, Fred Noe, do the chew here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DO76e3T3qck, but for God’s sake, don’t lip-smack like this old fart in order to take in air. The other Lounge Lizards will be forced to kill you.
Now if you don’t want to drink your bourbon straight, you know that the Lounge will give you a cocktail parting ways. So, before we go, how about quaffing a Bar Drake Manhattan, the signature drink of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco. Here’s the pour.
Bar Drake Manhattan
2 1/4 ounces Woodford Reserve Bourbon
1 ounce ruby port
1 bar spoon of maple syrup
Dash Angostura bitters
Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass. Stir briskly 30-40 revolutions. Strain and garnish with cherries, preferably with our cognac cherries.