Cocktail Ad Lib


Just once in a while I “build” a cocktail, and these days tend to start with an established formula and add to it. In this case, I started with a Sazerac formula – whiskey, bitters, absinthe-type cordial – and made additions until it tasted right. A teaspoon Eastern Ontario maple syrup, sourced at Kingston’s charming market a year ago, helped raise the foundation, but the structure was completed by a burble of  Rose’s Grenadine. The latter must be 10 years old and was stored in the most indifferent circumstances, but the taste never changes, a testimony to the soundness of an old recipe but also – I suspect – modern food science.

So what we get is a lightly-sweet yet bitter whiskey cocktail with a cherryish aftertaste.

Most of the whiskey was Jack Daniels Single Barrel and the rest was a dash each of Old Overholt Straight Rye and Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon. Why the mix? I find blending two or three whiskeys adds complexity and gets a better taste.

I think next time I’ll eschew the Tennessee classic as the base. Jack has a slightly earthy note, even in the mix, which doesn’t quite mesh with the other parts. But I’ve got a good thing going here and will try again with another straight whiskey(s), not tonight though. One of these is enough.

I wonder if this formula is something to be found in an old cocktails text with a name like, say, the Red Rocket, or Hogtown Hoo-Hah. Who knows? Given there are only so many ingredients to blend for cocktails, I’d think something similar must be inscribed in Jerry Thomas‘ or another classic work. But if not, that’s okay, cocktails by definition is a do-it-yourself endeavour.

The image above is shaded in grey and ebon but autumn is nigh upon us, plus it is just about sundown, so it suits the moment actually encountered.


1 thought on “Cocktail Ad Lib”

  1. Good post…free form expatiation on the forces at work in the making of a great cocktail. I come away thinking of a riverboat gambler named Sazerac Jack.

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