Friday, April 11, 2014

Why Rye? Good question...

I have to say that you, our customers, are inspirational.

How is that for a start for a blog post?

It may seem like pandering but I assure you that it is not. I/we are regularly impressed by the insightful questions that we get from our customer base. Some of those questions are well framed and challenging, they are asked by people with a long history in this world that we work in and are asked about very specific subject lines that test our most experienced staff members with their difficulty to answer, while others are simply two or three word questions.

This past week I had one such moment when a very simple two word question that was asked in complete innocence provided and answer and then a conversation that lasted quite some time. I was working with a customer in our Bourbon section and we were talking about the resurrgence of the classic cocktails that we have all been reading and blogging so much about. During the conversation this customer told me that he was using Bulleit Bourbon to mix up his Manhattan's and wanted to know if I had another suggestion for a "mixing" Bourbon that might be good for his purposes. My answer seemed simple enough, since he was using their Bourbon, I suggested trying their Rye.

His response... Why Rye?

The conversation evolved.

Bourbon is primarily corn I told him. Bourbon is sweet, Sweet Vermouth is sweet, and Maraschino Cherries are sweet I told him. Bitters are obviously bitter and so is the Orange twist. Sweet and bitter offset eachother and each balances the other which is why thay are so good but there is another component to Bourbon that is also complimentary and that is Rye which is spicey. The Spiciness of Rye adds another dimesion that adds further interest to the cocktail.

Bulleit Bourbon is actually a favorite mixer for Bourbon based cocktails for just that reason. The truth (as I see it) is that many bourbons are a bit too sweet and caramelly with all of the other sweet stuff going on. Rye is a flip flop of Bourbon. Rye is primarily Rye and corn is a secondary component and that makes it more spicey and less sweet. Most mixologists agree that the same classic cocktails do better with Rye than Bourbon and my experience is that our customers that take the suggestion to go that route usually continue down that road.

Other topics we discussed that day included the other items used in the making of his new favorite cocktail.

Sweet Vermouth- Suggestions for one that is better that Martini & Rossi. Lots to talk about here too but to make it as simple as possible... Carpano Antico. Expensive but worth every penny. Punt e Mes (same producer and bit less expensive), Contrato, and Martinez Lucuesta, are other great choices and each is a bit different.

Maraschino Cherries- Luxardo are undoubtably the best in their category, "life changing" was a descriptor one customer used. Bada Bing is another great choice and less expensive than Luxardo.

A last thought. I had one customer tell me that he was purchasing a bottle of Jefferson's 25 year Rye to make his cocktail even better. This is a very expensive cocktail and sometimes the best intentions can have an adverse effect. The truth is that the Rye in this case is a very special opportunity to have and taste a very unique and highly prized Whiskey. It is my opinion that the only thing that this particular rye needs is a cool evening, a good sipping glass and perhaps a single ice cube. If you want to add your favorite cigar to the mix and/or a friend who is a good conversationalist and taster, it might aslo enhance the evening but neither is required.

Sometimes you can have the best intention and actually work against your goal of the perfect cocktail. We have a large number of great "component" Whiskeys to choose from, just grab one of our staff and we'll help to find the right one for you.


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