One Cocktail, Two Spirits: Bartenders Go for a Blend

That manhattan or old-fashioned may have more than one type of bourbon or rye.

Comments: 12

  1. As someone who likes both rye and bourbon, I'm not sure I understand the thinking behind this. Both bourbons and ryes can be made with a mixture of grains, including corn and rye, but rye needs to be 51% rye. Why not pick a bourbon or rye that has the flavor (grain) profile you like? This seems like mixing a California cabernet (or meritage) and a French Bordeaux, when there are lots of different grape %s of both.

  2. Because mixing similar spirits (say Scotch) can yield an even better combination. It's not just about matching a grain bill. Two 51% ryes may taste different. For me, I've mixed two scotches before; for example, adding a smoky flavor to a Speyside Malt (but not as smoky as a Laphroaig for example).

  3. What nonsense. As soon as those refined spirits hit the muddled fruit, sugar cube and bitters of a classic Old Fashioned, the distinction is lost. Our favorite is the person who orders Grey Goose or Ketel One with a sugary mixer. The entire bar staff smirks. Those who truly appreciate fine liquors do so with the booze served either neat or with a little ice. Want to prove to the bartender that you are clueless.. order your expense liquor with a mixer that obscures the nuances of the liquor. Thank you.

  4. Try making an old fashioned with Michters and then make one with Jim Beam and tell yourself the distinction is lost. Maybe next time leave out the fruit and cut down the sugar. And cut out the smirking altogether, or else you might find your guests going elsewhere.

  5. Their passion is apparent and much appreciated!

  6. I want to know why the bartender's bottle of Rittenhouse 100 B-I-B looks different from mine.

    Re first two commenters - well, I'm glad you're not my server. I usually drink my brown liquors with a splash and/or a little ice - not neat, they usually need a little water to wake up. But there are mixed drinks where you can taste the higher quality or higher proof base liquor, just as you can sometimes taste higher quality bitters. But yeah, if a drink is highly defined by a lot of sweet or strongly flavored mixers, might as well use liquor from the speed rail. I've had Manhattans (esp) and OFs (less) that benefited from premium ingredients, and others that wouldn't have. And I don't muddle the fruit in my OFs.

    Mike's comment re mixing and grain profile - it is fun to taste against the different grain mixes, but you have to research who uses a high rye bourbon mash vs low rye vs wheated, and which ryes (like Rittenhouse) are 51% vs some that are 95 to 100% rye. Plus, house styles and yeasts can dominate the other factors. A lot of bourbon and rye drinkers practice "vatting," which is combining different whiskeys to get a blended product they like; they typically keep this in a decanter as their house pour. I think they arrive at the answer much more by trial and error than by formula or by adding the missing profile. I haven't really tried it, although I did try the notable online hack to approximate Pappy 15. Similar but sadly not the same.

  7. they changed the branding/logo on the rittenhouse in the last year or so.

  8. I always wondered, how many psychological and gustatory studies are there of the reasons behind the invention of cocktails? Is this a pleasure of mixing and shaking several liquids? Or, instead of using one pure ingredient, a manifestation of the words Ecclesiastes (7:29), "God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions"?

  9. I know Ms. Stipe blends the gins for taste, but it's interesting that Plymouth's makes gin in 41%, 47%, and 57% 'Navy Strength.' They don't sell the latter two version in the US (sadly, as I like the 47%), but they can be found duty free or in other countries. I've also mixed the 41% and the 57% to approximate the 47% version.

  10. Navy Strength Plymouth has been available in the US for about 3-4 years. Just need to ask your local store.

  11. It's ironic to read anything other than enthusiastic endorsement of the practice of blending the base liquors. After all, cocktails are themselves the ultimate combination and not just that, but acknowledged by all to be an open-ended category... To have your, um, cake and eat it seems, er, not in the spirit. Anyway, the vatting of American whiskeys, as devotees call it, has been ongoing for at least 12 years now. It took its cue from the Scots whisky blenders but in fact has an old pedigree in American too, especially pre-Pro. Old Forester was originally such a vatting.

  12. i can't wait to combine a portion of LAGAVULIN with either a scotch or a rum