Monday, September 22, 2014

What’s More Apt Than Bourbon and Branch to Celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month?

Welcome the new season with simplicity itself: Bourbon and Branch.

Autumn in New York. A time for reflecting summer’s end as the days darken more quickly, and for completing old projects and starting new chapters. It’s also the time of year when our tastes turn to earthier, deeper-seasoned flavors. So we reach for bourbon when we want to satisfy our fall-lust for darker spirits. Serendipitous, since we celebrate America’s “native spirit” in a thirty-day celebration known as National Bourbon Heritage Month.

One of our new favorite bourbons, Four Roses Small Batch, blends “four original & proprietary Bourbons . . . to reward you with a mellow symphony of sweet, fruity aromas and rich, spicy flavors.” They’re not kidding. Deep, sweet-oak wood char, and rich caramel swirl around your nostrils upon first whiff. It’s seductive. Pour yourself a little and add a few drops of water to open up the spirit; let its esters do their magic when they hit your nose and tongue. Now add a splash of water and an ice cube. Give it a little swirl. You’re on your way to making one of the simplest drinks out there. Bourbon and Branch.

The “Bourbon” part of the name is obvious, but what, you ask, is “branch”? Branch is actually plain, still water added to a mixed drink. In the South, some folks call a stream or creek a branch, hence the simple leap for branch to mean plain water.

Bourbon and Branch

Ingredients
2 ounces bourbon (try Four Roses Small Batch, perfect at 90 proof)
3 ounces still water (filtered would be best)

Method
Add to an ice-filled highball or double-rocks glass. Stir. Note: Sometimes we prefer our Bourbon and Branch with just one ice cube or no ice at all if were looking to warm ourselves up from a crisp night on the town.

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A note about water: How important is water to cocktails? Without it, you would have a warm glass of whatever it was you were mixing. Dilution is the essential step. It comes from shaking or stirring ice that’s commingling with the other ingredients. Close your eyes and think of a bartender. What is she doing? Most likely, shaking the drink she’s making for you. Naturally, you think of ice when you think about making drinks. You hear that unmistakable sound of clinks and clanks; involuntarily, you start to shake your torso to the rhythm of the bartender’s forceful yet graceful movements. All performed to make your drink explode with flavors and aromas that lay dormant until H2O introduced itself to the game. Water, therefore, is the paramount ingredient in your drink.

According to the Ultimate Dallas Web site, “JR’s favourite tipple was bourbon and branch. It was his drink of choice after a long day at the office to help him unwind.”

J.R.’s Bourbon and Branch

Ingredients
2 ounces bourbon whiskey*
4 ounces mineral water

Method
Pour the bourbon and water into a highball glass almost filled with ice cubes.

For a neat twist on Bourbon and Branch, we decided to use BetterSweet maple water for the “Branch” portion of the drink. If you’re not familiar with maple water, it’s all the rage, and for good reason. Its texture caresses your palate like velvet and tastes like red velvet cake (but just a hint). BetterSweet is only one ingredient: 100% organic maple sap, “sweetened by nature.”

Maple Bourbon and Branch

Ingredients
2 ounces bourbon (try Four Roses Small Batch, perfect at 90 proof)
3 ounces maple water (try BetterSweet)

Method
Add to an ice-filled highball or double-rocks glass. Stir. Note: Sometimes we prefer our Maple Bourbon and Branch with just one ice cube.

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There will be times when you’ll want something fizzy added to your bourbon. So we experimented with the BetterSweet maple water and turned it into maple soda to make a Maple Bourbon Highball. Make sure you use a self-contained soda syphon that requires a disposable single-use charger. Soda Syphons, once a staple of the American household, can handle liquids that contain sugar. Soda chargers that require you to screw a canister to the device will result in disaster because sugar plus CO2 produces a megaton amount of carbonation. But if a SodaStream is the only device you have to carbonate water, and you are hellbent on making soda water with maple water, make sure you only charge it a bit. Once you see water squirting out the top, it’s time to let go of the plunger.

Maple Bourbon Highball
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
2 ounces bourbon
3 ounces carbonated maple water (read about it, above)
ice

Method
Add bourbon to an ice-filled highball or double-rocks glass. Top with carbonated maple water. Stir.

photo © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz

1 comment:

  1. I was looking for something new to try. Thanks for sharing this blog. It looks great. Will have to share it with my friends too.

    ReplyDelete