The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2016

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66  /  the tasting panel  /  june 2016 M y great-grandmother had a shot of Canadian Club Whisky every day. She said it was better than coffee to get you going in the morning. Women drinking whisk(e)y is not a new idea. As we move throughout the decades of cocktails and spirits, our drinking habits bend and move with the times—from whisk(e)y to gin to vodka to sweet pink drinks and back to whisk(e)y. We went from an era when it was taboo for a woman to be in a bar to woman owning bars. This column celebrates those who break down barriers and make being a female a nonfactor in business and in life. Kristina Margo of Chicago's Pub Royale is an industry leader; we sat down at her bar and chatted over a few glasses of Knob Creek. Bridget Albert: If whisk(e)y was a person, describe the personality it would have. Kristina Margo: Rugged and tough upon meeting, but once you get to know them they are sweet and complex, while being wise beyond their years. They also have very elaborate stories about their past. How does the flavor of whisk(e)y inspire your cocktails? The versatility of the spirit is what makes it inspiring. When making a shaken drink, the citrus will complement the wood influence of the barrel (i.e. vanilla, caramel etc.) and make for a refreshing but complex drink. When utilizing it in a stirred drink, the characteristics of the mash build or technique of aging shines through more. Is it spicy because of a high-rye mash build? Is it rich due to aging in a Sherry cask? What does it say about a woman who drinks whisk(e)y? I think it says she has good taste. Are there any challenges mixing with whisk(e)y? I personally do not have any trouble mixing whiskey. Chicago is a whisk(e)y drinking town. The whisk(e)y drinks on the menu will always sell the most. The most challenging part about it is making a interesting drink that showcases the base spirit, while still keeping it innovative and intriguing for the guest, without over complicating things. When in doubt, a Whiskey Sour never fails. What is your favorite whisk(e)y drink? Rob Roy. How do you turn your customers on to this category? I ask what it is that they like about that brand's taste. It sounds like a silly question, but many people are taken aback by it. I help them deconstruct what it is about the whiskey that they prefer. Some examples are: high-rye mashbill (spicy) versus more grain (sweeter); bonded versus not bonded; heavy wood influence versus lighter Kristina Margo of Chicago's Pub Royale and Bridget Albert, National Director of Education, Beam Suntory for Southern Wine & Spirits. photos by Jacob Hand

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