Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Apple Manhattan (or: What to Do with a Lot of Bad Bourbon)

I've recently had a lot of bad bourbon on my hands.  As I've hinted at in previous posts, I'm working on barrel aging cocktails.  For this to happen, I had to prime the barrels - one with bourbon and one with port.  Being the poor grad student that I am, I'm not dropping a ton of $ on bourbon just for the sake of flavoring a barrel.  So, I got 2.5 liters of Very Old Barton and 2.5 liters of that very cheap port that they make somewhere in the US (hence not Porto) that's generally reserved for cooking.  After two weeks in my adorable charred oak barrels, I now have an overabundance of both.

Now, if you know me well you know that having a lot of an ingredient that kinda of sucks is a de facto challenge of my culinary/drink making skills.  So, Very Old Barton, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

There are a number of cocktails that are essentially pillars of the drinking community and that serve as the basis for a number of variations.  The Old Fashioned, the Martini, the Negroni, the Daiquiri, and of course, the Manhattan.  So, sticking with something tried and true, I decided to channel the regal Manhattan.  I started with 1.5 oz of the Very Old Barton, .5 oz of sweet vermouth (not pictured for some reason), and bitters.  Coffee bitters were my first choice and worked pretty well, though Angostura is also a natural pairing with the apple.  Peychaud's wasn't bad, either, but the other two were better. Next, I went for an apple because I had a bunch in my fridge.  I'm nothing if not economical (read as: lazy).  I took half the apple, cut it up sans skin, and muddled it in a shaker.  At this point I thought I'd throw in some simple syrup to maybe mask the nastiness of the bourbon.  I used a cinnamon* variety I made recently, about .25 ounce.  I then added the other ingredients and shook with ice.  Double strained (hawthorne and tea strainers) into a martini glass.  Finally, garnished with a slice of apple because this is a classy establishment.  At least on Tuesdays.

1.5 bourbon (Can be scaled up)
.5 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 a small(ish) apple, muddled (I'd recommend a sweeter apple like Golden Delicious to go with the vermouth)
.25 oz cinnamon simple syrup
Garnish with apple slice

OPTIONAL: dash of Cognac.  I've tried it with it and without it and it honestly wasn't too different.  Slightly smoother.  I think a half and half of Cognac and bourbon would be great here, but I'm trying to burn the bad bourbon, not the Cognac.

I was pleasantly surprised how well this turned out.  Very fresh, very smooth.  You get a lot of apple and a lot of spice.  Not overly sweet at all.  Fresh apple juice from muddling the fruit does wonders over using a processed substitute.  Perfect seasonal drink that costs a pittance to make.  Tastes even better with Aziz Ansari in the background.

*To make your own cinnamon simple syrup, just make a 1::1 simple syrup and simmer it with some cinnamon sticks in it for 30 minutes.  It lasts longer if you add a splash of rum or vodka.

P.S.  Barrel Aged Cocktails are coming soon.

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