The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2012

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Say Bacon, Think Bourbon Louisville's Silver Dollar owner and bartender Larry Rice, a perennial Tales of the Cocktail presenter, pairs lower-proof straight bourbons, like Ancient Age 86 Proof, with barbecue, fried chicken, brisket and anything with bacon or smokiness. "I really like Ancient Age with our chicken and waffl e—the maple syrup and the sweeter aspects of the bourbon are a natural fi t," Rice says. For cocktails, Rice frequently pairs the Mint Julep, made from Old Weller Antique 107, with demerara syrup. The Julep, he says, balances nicely with chicken and waffl es. "I feel you can pair bourbon cocktails with most food if you consider your ingredients," Rice says. "I think a Gold Rush, Bourbon Sour or a Daisy can go nicely with spicier dishes or with fi sh dishes, especially if the use of butter is prevalent." Martin adds that exotic rum cocktails make a good pairing with Thai, Indian, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines, but he likes to pair the classic whiskey-forward cocktails "particularly with richer dishes that aren't too spicy. Old- Fashioneds and Manhattans are as fi tting as classic French wine pairings." At Sweet Grass in Memphis, mixologist Chris Ferri works with the chef to pair dishes with cocktails. "The pairing needs to complement each other," Ferri says. "When I taste a cocktail/wine the fi rst thing that comes to mind is what food I would pair with it. Then I usually go into the fl avor profi les—fi gs, leather, black fruit, etc." Ferri says the complexity of bourbon complements many aspects of cooking/din- ing. "There are many subtleties in bourbon that come from the wood: honey, vanilla, cardamom, caramel, spices, leather. Some even have a hint of citrus. All of these fl avors are found in food," he says. Larry Rice, owner and bartender at Louisville's popular Silver Dollar, pairs lower-proof straight bourbons with barbecue or anything with smoky fl avors. Whiskey Dinners Some bartend- ers are conducting whiskey-pairing dinners, partnering with the distiller. For $75 per person, the Boston-area MIT Endicott House recently offered a four course meal, starting with a tasting of Talisker 10 Year Old, Bushmills, Oban 14 Year Old and Laphroaig 18 Year Old. Endicott paired braised lamb shank with Macallan 12 Year Old from the Highlands and grilled fi let mignon with Auchentoshan 12 Year Old from the Lowlands, fi nishing with chocolate bread pudding paired with an Irish Coffee and a tasting of Jameson Gold Reserve. Brooklyn's Char No. 4 cooks with whiskey and is a frequent host to whiskey brands from around the world. In April, Char No. 4 and High West Distillery paired English Rye whiskies stimulate the appetite and can help cut through fatty meat dishes, according to Patricia Richards, Director of Mixology at Wynn Las Vegas. pea soup with smoked trout, roasted cipollini and mint oil with the distillery's Son of Bourye whiskey. It was followed by an appetizer of crispy smoked poached egg, roasted asparagus, pickled mushrooms, bacon and smoked chicken jus matched with Double Rye whiskey, and a main of roasted lamb saddle with ramp and cranberry bean stew with jalapeño lamb jus paired with Rendezvous Rye. The dessert was chocolate cheesecake with whipped crème fraîche and paired with Rocky Mountain Rye 21 Year Very Rare. In most cases, distillers want to work with bars that sell a lot of their product, to reward a good customer and showcase their spirits program. But whiskey dinners don't necessarily work everywhere. "We haven't done any pair- ing dinners since Las Vegas is so transient," says Patricia Richards, Director of Mixology for Wynn Las Vegas. But that doesn't mean Las Vegas isn't pairing whiskey. Richards seeks less sweet whiskies with a higher acidity such as ryes or high-rye bourbons, including Redemption Rye. "This higher acid will cut through fatty meat dishes and will make one want to eat more by stimulating saliva- tion," Richards says. "I also like the spicier notes in Makers 46, which adds French barrel staves to the inside of their bourbon barrels during aging." Richards digs pairing foods with spirits of similar geo- graphic origin. She pairs her Kentucky Apple Fix cocktail with a pan-seared center-cut pork chop with apple chutney. She also loves pairing whiskey with meats braised in the same whiskey. Richards says: "I'm getting hungry just think- ing about this!" september 2012 / the tasting panel / 47

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