Tasting Notes for March 22, 2013 Holly Hill Inn Menu

Around the World in 80 Days • Dublin, Ireland 1872 • Bourbon & Cocktail Flight



Irish Whiskey. Blend of malted barley (column still) green barley (pot still) whiskeys. 40% ABV. No age statement. 

Jameson is the #1 selling Irish whiskey in the world and very often the #1 selling whiskey in any category (it flirts with that title with Jack Daniel’s). In 1870 it was already well on its way to that title being the second largest brand in Ireland producing nearly 1,000,000 gallons annually.

Nose is floral, citrusy and slightly sweet. Taste is light, moderately sweet with strong malt and grains. Finish is short with cinnamon, vanilla and grass.


Bushmills 10 Year Old

Single Malt Irish Whiskey. 40% ABV.

Probably the second most well-known Irish whiskey and nearly the size of Jameson. A single malt style Irish whiskey aged for 10 years in American oak casks (mostly ex-bourbon).

Nose is light with floral, citrus and cinnamon notes. Taste is slightly sweet with mild grains, some caramel, vanilla and chocolate. Finish is medium length, crisp and grassy with lingering notes of vanilla and cinnamon.


Giants’ Gate Cocktail

Adapted from the original recipe by renowned bartender Max La Rocca.

Recipe: In mason jar, gently muddle 2 cardamom pods. Add 1 1/3 oz Bushmills, 1/3 oz lime juice, 2/3 oz simple syrup and 2/3 oz Guinness Stout and shake over ice. Double strain into a cocktail glass. Perfume with 6 spritzes Guinness Stout and garnish with a skewer of whiskey-soaked raisins.

Taste is rich, creamy and slightly spicy. The citrus contrasts the sweet notes without overwhelming. Easy to savor and easy to drink. A perfect match to either the apple cake or the bread pudding.

Guinness Extra Stout (Alternate for non-cocktail drinkers)

Dry stout style beer. 5% ABV. 12 oz bottle.

This is the most popular alcoholic drink in Ireland currently and the brewery is one of the most popular tourist destinations.

Taste is rich, creamy and thick. Finish is creamy and very long with complex spice notes, vanilla, chocolate and malt.

Tasting Notes for March 15, 2013 Holly Hill Inn Menu

Around the World in 80 Days • New York City, 1872 • Bourbon & Cocktail Flight


The Boulevardier Cocktail

This is the precursor to the Manhattan. It seems to have been developed in the 1890s, about 20 years after Fogg would have been through. The cocktail is sharp, robust and slightly bitter with almost no sweetness.

Recipe: 2 oz bourbon,1 oz sweet vermouth, 1 oz Campari. Stir over ice for 60 seconds, strain and garnish with an orange twist. (For the flight, pour size is half.)

Larceny Bourbon (Alternate for non-cocktail drinkers, 1.5 oz pour)

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Grain bill: corn, wheat, malted barley (very high wheat; specific proportions not released). 92 Proof. Blend of 6 to 12 year old barrels.

Larceny is named for John E. Fitzgerald, who, in the 1870s, was a federal bonded treasury agent who made a fortune by ‘appropriating’ the best bourbons and reselling them under his own name. He was part of a tax evasion conspiracy so large it reached up to O. E. Babcock, then President Grant’s personal secretary.

This bourbon is a small batch containing less than 100 hand-selected barrels. Nose is strong wheat with notes of toffee and butterscotch. Taste is buttery caramel, honey and mild spiciness with a rich mouthfeel. Finish is long, gently sweet and savory with subtle grain and grass notes.

2012 Malt Advocate “Best Buy.”


Old Forester Signature 100 Proof 

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley. 100 Proof. No age statement.

From the marketing department: A spirit so finely crafted that in 1870, bourbon pioneer George Garvin Brown bottled it, sealed it, signed it and pledged: “This is mine, I guarantee every drop.”

Old Forester was the first bourbon to be sold by the bottle only. It launched in 1870 and would have been just appearing in New York in 1872. The newly released 100 proof Signature edition is a small batch from hand-selected barrels and most likely is the closest we’ll get to the flavor profile of the 1800s version.

Nose is strong and complex with the typical caramel, vanilla and oak plus rich spiciness with cinnamon, clove, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg and orange. Taste matches the nose with excellent balance of the flavors. Finish is long with the sweet notes falling away early letting the spices linger.

2003 San Francisco World Spirits Competition “Gold Medal.” 2004, 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition “Double Gold Medal.” 2004 San Francisco World Spirits Competition “Best Bourbon of Show.”


Bluegrass Sundown Kentucky Bourbon Coffee Cocktail

Bluegrass Sundown is a dark roasted coffee liqueur infused with Kentucky Bourbon and designed to produce a velvety, rich dessert drink. (It’s like an Irish coffee with Kentucky pride!) It’s made by Alltech, the company that produces Peirce Lyons Reserve single malt whiskey, Town Branch bourbon and KY Bourbon Barrel Ale.

Recipe: 2 oz Bluegrass Sundown, 4 oz boiling water. Stir together in coffee mug. Float heavy cream on top. (For the flight, pour size is half.)

2012 International Spirits Competition “Gold Medal.”

Old Fitzgerald Bottled In Bond (Alternate for non-cocktail drinkers, 1 oz pour)

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Grain bill: corn, wheat, malted barley (specific proportions not released). 100 Proof. No age statement.

Like the Old Forester, the Old Fitzgerald brand hit the market in 1870. Unlike the Old Forester, which was sold only in the bottles and targeted the average whiskey drinker, Old Fitz was sold by the barrel and originally exclusively to steamships and railways giving it a certain allure. (It was later discovered to have been sold to gentlemen’s clubs in larger cities as well.) If Fogg were to have had a fine bourbon on his railway journey across the United States, this would likely have been it.

Nose is very soft and sweet with oak, vanilla and some fruit. Taste is a bit rough with notes of grains, barrel char, leather and light spice. Ice brings reduces the barrel flavors and brings up the sweet and nut character. Finish is medium length, hot and slightly oily with flavors of raisins, orange peel and oak. Ice reduces the heat and oiliness.

Distilled at the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, KY (owned by Heaven Hill). Bottled by Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, KY.


A New York State of Mind

March 15-16. $40. Wine pairing available. Vegetarian options available.

Hors d’oeuvre

“Lobster Roll”

Buckwheat blini with lobster salad

First Course

Grand Central’s Oyster Bar Oyster Pan Roast

Fresh-shucked oysters sautéed with a little cream and butter over toast points

Benito II’s Mozzarella en Carrozza

Fresh Mozzarella sandwiches pan fried in olive oil with lemon caper sauce

Second Course

Caesar Salad

Nicola Paone’s way

55th Street Lobster Bisque

Rich with lobster butter and toasted croutons


Pan-Fried Flounder Canal Street Style

Dusted in corn starch and soy and sauced with fresh ginger black bean sauce over scallion dumplings

Midway Meets Mulberry Stuffed Veal Chop

Boneless 10-oz. veal chop, butterflied and stuffed with thin-sliced prosciutto, Taleggio and golden raisins with Marsala mushroom sauce

Le Cirque’s Original Spaghetti Primavera

Lexington Pasta’s fresh spaghetti with Sirio’s original recipe of broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, tomato, fresh herbs and a touch of cream and Parmesan


New York Cheesecake

High and light

Hannah Davis’ Baked Apple Crunch

Spiced apples with a butter crumb crunch topping

Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage by Michael R. Veach

I attended the book release party in Louisville tonight for Mike Veach’s new book, Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

Invitation to Mike Veach's book release party

 My collection of personalized bourbon history books is growing.

Personalize book Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage 

Look for my book review next week in Ace Weekly!

In the meantime, here’s a review of the book launch party. 🙂

One of the special things about Mike Veach is that he leaves a trail of rare, unique and specialty bourbons in his wake. He opened two ‘very special’ bottles for the launch party – a 1918 Old Crow and a 1955-56 Old Fitzgerald. (It may be no surprise that the history of both brands are covered at least in part in his book.)

I was fortune it enough to get to try both. (I stood next to Mike with an empty glass and begged.)

The Old Fitz is surprising like the better bourbons of today. It’s a little rougher around the edges but still qualifies are ‘bourbon smooth.’ The corn is obvious, and the traditional notes of vanilla and caramel are right up front. There’s a hint of spiciness but not too much. It was very pleasant and it was apparent why the brand was so popular in its day.

The Old Crow was night and day different than the modern bourbons. Because it pre-dated filtering, it had a very high content of oils and congeners (flavor molecules) that get removed from today’s bourbons. This gave it a slightly greasy and very rough-and-tumble mouth feel. It was actually smoother than the Old Fitzgerald due to the oil content. It had a muskiness to it but no unpleasantly so. Ice would have really fought the oils, but it was quite drinkable neat.

And this is part of the reason Mike Veach has a (literal) following. You never know what he’ll open next.

PS – someone asked him how he comes up with the old and rare bourbons. “People give them to me,” he said …

** UPDATE ** link to the book review for Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage by Michael R. Veach :


Craft Bartending – The Old Fashioned

There are three key components to craft bartending:

  1. Quality ingredients
  2. Precise measuring
  3. Perfect technique

This Old Fashioned recipe highlights all three spectacularly.

The Old Fashion is a fantastic cocktail but unfortunately it tends to be mangled more than it’s made right. As much as I praise Mad Men for helping to reinvigorate craft cocktails, Don Draper does not make a hell of a cocktail (spoiler: this video horrifies me).

A few notes on what an Old Fashioned isn’t:

  • It is not a fruit salad
  • It is not a slushy
  • It is not a whiskey and orange juice

A stickler could successfully argue that an Old Fashioned is actually just a bittered sling, citrus optional … and there’s ample historic evidence to support that. But your average consumer has a vision of an Old Fashioned with orange and cherry and I tend toward making what my customer expects rather than something historically accurate.

The Old Fashioned lends to some very nice variations. For example, restricting the fruit element to just the bitters and the expressed orange oil makes for an excellent cocktail that’s more bourbon-forward. Check out this video for this variation (and notice how different it is from the Don Draper version!).

Here’s my recipe and video for the Ultimate Old Fashioned with Spiced Maraschino Cherries:

Old Fashioned Video Preview


Ultimate Old Fashioned with Spiced Maraschino Cherries


Here we walk through the three keys of craft mixology with this cocktail:

1. Quality Ingredients

This Old Fashioned recipe uses spiced maraschino cherries as a key ingredient. I use the recipe from the Cupcake Project Blog here. These are well worth the time to make.

Do not use standard “maraschino” cherries! If you must buy, get a real maraschino cherry like the Oregon Bordeaux cherries.

2. Precise Measuring

Put your bitters in a dropper bottle. It’s far to easy to overwhelm a cocktail by dashing just a bit too much bitters in it. Measure your alcohol, too! If you don’t have one, the OXO SteeL Double Jigger is the best I’ve ever used.

3. Perfect Technique

Shake, then shake some more. It’s an arm work out to get the sugar to dissolve this way but it’s worth it because the sugar abrades the orange and cherry and extracts maximum flavor into the drink.

Double-strain! There’s an enormous difference between a finely-strained cocktail and one with pulp. If you leave fruit pulp (or – shudder – pieces of fruit) in a cocktail like this, it will cause separation over a few minutes. You’ll wind up with fruit bits on one layer, alcohol on another and a skin of water on the top.

Fruit juice and oils are in the drink, whole fruit is in the garnish. Keep it that way.


Ultimate Old Fashioned with Spiced Maraschino Cherries

  • YIELD: 1 drink (1 Servings)
  • PREP: 5 mins

The best Old Fashioned you’ll ever have.


  • hard ice
  • 2 half-moons orange
  • 2 spiced maraschino cherries
  • 2 oz bourbon prefer a premium or super-premium like Woodford Reserve or Four Roses Small Batch
  • 8 drops Angostura bitters (app. 2 small dashes)


  1. Add to shaker: * 1 half-moon orange * 1 spiced maraschino cherry * sugar * bitters * bourbon
  2. Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds or until sugar is disolved.
  3. Double-strain (hawthorne & fine mesh) into double-old fashioned glass.
  4. Fill glass with ice and top with a flag made using the other orange half-moon and spiced maraschino cherry.
  5. Stick in a straw and enjoy!

Bespoke Post :: Roast box review

bespoke-post-roast-coffee-boxRetail price:

  • Aerobie Aeropress: $25.95
  • Hario Skerton ceramic coffee grinder: $45-$60
  • Cafe Integral Santa Isabel Coffee – exclusive to Bespoke Post: approximate $18-$20

total retail value: $88.95
Bespoke Post price: $45

Watch the below video for my review.

For more videos related to this box, visit: http://bespokepost.com/box/roast

Sign up for a Bespoke Post Box:  http://bespokepost.com/r/1c10f6

(full disclosure this is an affiliate link)

Edit Jan. 13, 2013: In case you find yourself in need of justifying any of the above items, check out this article at The Atlantic on the health benefits of drinking coffee:


Recipes from the 2013 4th annual Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience

Kelly Choi master of ceremonies @kellychoi


Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience Judges:  Chris Morris,


This year’s Manhattan Experience featured cocktails:


Contest recipes in order of presentation:

Twitter hash tag #WoodfordNYC will get your posts with additional photos of drinks and the event.

Washington D.C.’s Charles Tappan presents his cocktail “The Lineage” : 2oz Woodford Reserve bourbon, 1oz Lillet Rose, 2 dashes bitters, 1 1/2 smoked honey ice cubes. Smoked honey ice cubes: boil 2 cups water w/ 1 cup honey. Add 1 1/2 oz. Lapsang Souchong tea. Let cool and freeze in ice cube tray.

Up next is Travis Fourmont’s “Midnight Manhattan” : 2oz Woodford Reserve bourbon, 1/2oz Italian Amaro, 1/4oz each cherry liqueur & bitter orange liqueur, 4 dashes orange bitters.

Marc Yanga with “The Jerry Thomas Experiment” : 2oz Woodford Reserve bourbon, 1oz Carpano Antica, 1/4oz orange curaçao, 3 dashes orange bitters

Kyle Grosz with “The Big Horse” Manhattan : 2oz Woodford Reserve bourbon, 3/4oz Cocchi Barolo Chinato, 1/2oz Original Combier, 2 dashes bitters.

Garron Gore shows off his “East of Hudson” Manhattan for the judges : 2oz Woodford Reserve bourbon, 1/2oz Carpano Antica, 1/2oz Punt e Mes, 2 dashes bitters.

Last but not least, here’s Christopher Ryan James making his “Far East Manhattan” : 2oz Woodford Reserve bourbon, 1oz sesame seed infused vermouth, 2 dashes bitters.

More detailed recipe instructions and photos of each drink and mixologist can be found on Bourbon Blog.

The 2013 4th annual Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience Winner is…

Garron Gore wins audience favorite with his East of Hudson!
Congrats Garron!

And the big prize goes to… Travis Fourmont’s “Midnight Manhattan.”
Congratulations Travis!

Woodford Reserve cocktails from NYC for the 3rd annual Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience 2012

In honor of tonight’s 4th Annual Woodford Reserve Manhattan Contest I’m going to post the recipes from the 2012 contest. If you would like to follow along with this year’s contest, starting at 7:30pm EST January 7th 2013, follow Woodford Reserve’s Twitter feed at: twitter.com/woodfordreserve

There was a full house at the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience in NYC 2012. 79d077189c66dc6184b9262e4cedf474 1a9dc7731036a072cf028490f6c60678

The bartenders scurry to prepare garnishes for the competition.


Recipes are in order of the competition:

First up is Rob Turek’s Buffalo Plains Manhattan: 1.5 oz buffalo bacon fat washed WR, 3/4 oz black peppercorn infused vermouth, 1/4 oz elderflower liqueur, 1 dash chocolate bitters.

Now up is Karla Ramsey from Louisville, KY with the Ramsey’s Manhattan: 2 oz WR, 1 oz apple brandy, 1 oz sweet vermouth, 2 splashes bitters

Curtis Parker from Indy makes the Downtown Manhattan while we sip on a WR Bourbon Ball manhattan. pic.twitter.com/fUDFjJlH Downtown Manhattan: 2 1/2 oz WR, 1/4 oz cherry syrup, 1 orange rind, 2 coffee beans, 2 vanilla beans

From Philly comes Colin Shearn’s Radiation Blues Manhattan: 2 oz WR, 1/2 oz orange curaçao, 1/2 oz Italian bitters, 3 dashes bitters

Seattle’s own Brien Hendershott makes a Vintage Manhattan: 2 oz WR, 1/2 oz sweet vermouth, 1/2 oz port vinegar reduction, 3 dashes bitters

NYC’s Joann Spiegel’s “Leaving Manhattan”: 2 oz WR, 1/2 oz Italian vermouth, 1/4 oz dark creme de cacao, 1/4 oz black tea

Joe Raya from Charleston presents his Connecticut Shade Manhattan: 2 oz tabasco infused WR, 1 oz vermouth, 1 dash homemade Tabasco bitters

Last years winner, Nick Nistico from Miami, creates Mr. October: 2 1/2 oz WR, 1 oz mandarin liqueur, 1 oz ginger syrup, 1/2 oz sweet vermouth, 2 dashes bitters, 2 dashes orange bitters

Now up is John Miller’s “The Big Apple” from Annapolis: 2 oz Maple infused WR, 1 oz cinnamon infused vermouth, 2 dashes baked apple bitters

From the nation’s capital comes Erik Thompson with his Blackened Cherry Manhattan : 2 oz WR, 1 oz sweet vermouth, 5 sprays cherry bitters

From Scottsdale, AZ comes Matt McCullough’s “The Big Orange”: 2 oz WR, 1/2 oz Tuaca, 1/2 oz orange liqueur, 1/4 oz Madeira

Up now – Michael Cerretani’s “Woodford Dey Manhattan” from Denver: 2 oz WR, 1/4 oz bitters, 1/4 oz vermouth, 1/4 oz yellow chartreuse build

Chicago’s own Jonny Abens concocts his “Chicago Sunday”: 2 oz WR, 1/4 oz maple syrup, 4 dashes peach bitters, 1/4 oz lemon juice

And now for Sin City’s Jessica Fesler with “The Mayan 212”: 2 oz WR, 1 oz Licor 43, 2 dashes bitters infused w/ red chili pepper.

Last 2 bartenders… Now up is James Potter from ATL with “The Absinthe Minded Professor”: 2 oz WR, 3/4 Chai-infused swt vermouth and 1/4 oz orange liqueur

Last but not least is Christopher Asay from Asbury Park, NJ with “The Hothead Manhattan” : in heat resistant container Ignite 3 oz WR with 1 1/2 oz jalapeño infused ginger syrup and 3/4 set vermouth. Also add 3/4 oz high proof rum and 4 dashes bitters and ignite in 2nd heat resistant container add 3 oz boiling water. Pass solution back and forth w/ ignited water. After a few passes snuff the flame and pour!


The 2012 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Contest Winner:

Joann Spiegel’s “Leaving Manhattan”: ” 2 oz WR, 1/2 oz vermouth, 1/4 oz creme de cacao, 1/4 oz Lapsang tea syrup, 2 dashes orange bitters