What it is

Late-breaking telexes from the craft spirit front by Wayne Curtis, author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in 10 Cocktails, columnist for Imbibe, and designated drinker for The Atlantic magazine.

  • And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails
    And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails
    by Wayne Curtis

Contact: Email me via

Twitter: @waynecurtis

Powered by Squarespace

Entries in whiskey (15)


Jack v. George? Follow the barrel

A bill was introduced into the Tennessee state legislature recently in which the devil is very much in the details.

The bill defines “Tennessee whisky,” and the devil has three letters. It’s the word “new.” The present bill is essentially a revision to a bill passed last year. Under last year's law, backed by Jack Daniel's, to be labeled as Tennessee whisky, white dog must be aged in “new, charred oak barrels.” The new bill, introduced at the prodding of George Dickel, requires only that white dog sit only in “charred oak barrels.” (Chuck Cowdery has posted both new and old bills here.)

The bill’s revision puts Jack at odds with George. That sounds pretty homespun and all Hatfield vs. McCoyish, but of course this is a heat-butting between two industry giants: Brown-Forman (Jack Daniels) vs. Diageo (George Dickel).

Diageo is in favor of allowing used oak barrels, and has recruited some craft distillers to its side. It claims, not very believably, that it’s interested in defending the rights of the little guy to choose what barrel it wants.  (The legislator who sponsored the new bill said of Brown-Forman, “They are a big bully picking on all the little guys.” Very rich, given that Diageo posted $17 billion in sales last year, vs. $3 billion for Brown-Forman.)

But what’s really behind this?

My suggestion: Follow the barrels.

It’s quite hard to source new oak barrels today, for a variety of reasons that I won’t delve into here. But getting enough new barrels to age bourbon or Tennessee whiskey is becoming a problem.

And it’s especially becoming a problem for Diageo, which has to compete with other big-time distillers for a dwindling supply, along with a booming wine and craft spirits industry, all of whom are clamoring for increasingly scarce barrels. (One craft distiller I spoke with two weeks ago told me that Independent Stave Company, the nation’s largest cooperage, told him to call back in nine to twelve months, as they had no barrels at this time.)

Why doesn’t Brown-Forman have the same sourcing problem? Because they run their own cooperage in Louisville. And in two months, they’re slated to open a second cooperage in northern Alabama. This will do little to relieve the national shortage of barrels, as the new place is being built solely to supply Jack Daniels.

Diageo, foreseeing difficulties in getting enough new oak to meet the legal definition of “Tennessee Whisky,” is simply following a time-honored path: it’s working to change the law. If they don’t need to use new barrels, they can simply re-use the old ones.

One word, three letters, problem solved.

As I’ve written before, barrels matter. Industry people say that barrels provide anywhere between fifty and eighty percent of the taste of bourbon, which by law must be aged in new barrels. A once-used barrel doesn’t impart much in the way color (one hundred precent of the color of bourbon comes from the barrel), nor nearly as much flavor — the barrel has had much of its oaky goodness leached out during the first round of aging. It’s like using fresh herbs in a preparing a meal, or dried herbs that have been sitting in the back of your cupboard for three years. There’s a noted difference.

How does the proposed bill affect the consumer? By changing the law to eliminate word “new”, the state legislature essentially moots the definition of Tennessee whisky. Pick a bottle up in the store, and you might get full-bodied whisky aged in new barrels. Or you might get a thin whisky aged in thrice-used barrels and carmel-colored for consistency.

Those in favor of a more expansive definition of Tennessee whiskey grouse that, under last year's law, all Tennessee whiskey will end up tasting like Jack Daniels. That’s patent nonsense, of course. It’s the same as saying under federal law, all bourbon tastes the same. Yet, bourbon come in many varieties, with wide pricing differences that reflect that. 

I’d like to see last year’s definition maintained, and the “new” kept in the “charred oak barrels.” As a consumer, that gives me a baseline of what to expect when I pick up a bottle labeled “Tennessee whisky.” Diageo is looking for an easy way out of the barrel squeeze.

Don’t let it.


LQQK! For sale: 2 bottles Maker’s Mark 42% bourbon, MINT!!!!!

Maker’s Mark reports that a “relatively small amount” of its now-famous Ooops!-Never-Mind Wheated Bourbon has made it to store shelves. It’s labeled 42 percent instead of 45 percent, reflecting a short-lived belief that Maker’s fans wouldn’t really notice if they were charged the same for water as for whiskey.

The company reversed course pretty quickly, but not quickly enough to intercept trucks headed to market. MSN reports that people — and by “people” I assume they are referring to those folks who earlier traded in Beanie Babies and Transformers — are voraciously hunting it down. Empty bottles of it are cropping up on eBay for $30. The niche-within-a-niche website Maker's Mark Bottles has even started a tracker service, so collectors can report when and where they’ve found the rare bottles.

New Orleans was on the receiving end of at least one shipment. I know this because I stumbled upon seven bottles of Makers 42% on the shelf in a store yesterday. I bought two, because, well, frankly, retirement is elusive when you’re a freelancer. My plan is to sit on these beautiful golden eggs for a while, and then cash in when I’m ready to hatch them.

Actually, now that I think about it, I’m ready. I’d be happy to live out my days in dim bars not worrying about deadlines, starting, say, tomorrow. So they're available — while they last! — at $500,000 for one, or two for $999,999. (Save a dollar.)You think waking up with a hangover is bad? Imagine waking up with a lifelong regret that you failed to nab these bad boys.

Contact me via the comments section.


Two Northeast whiskeys I'm demolishing, glass by glass

I've been putting the hurt on a couple of new mico-distillery whiskeys of late, one from Boston and one from upstate New York. Both are creditable and tasty and make me happy.

Bully Boy American Striaght Whiskey ($40) is produced by a couple of brothers in a frayed, industrial part of Boston — the first to produce liquor in Boston in years. They're also making rum, vodka, and white dog. Their aged whiskey was just released late last year and is made in a 150-gallon Kothe still with a mashbill of 45% corn, 45% rye and 10% barley. Then it went for two years in new American oak barrels with a heavy char.

Given the high rye, it's a surprisingly big and round whiskey, with hints of corn candy and only the slghtest hint of white-doggish funk, reflecting the honorable amount of time it spent in standard sized barrels. "It's kind of ppular to age stuff in small barrels, to get stuff to market faster," Will Willis told me, "but we just weren't psyched about it – it was a little too woody." I thought it shared a nicely harmonizing note or two with rum – there's a lovely, lingering sweetness.

I'm glad they gave this some time to relax instead of rushing to market. Thanks to time, Bully Boy makes for a perfectly fine sipping rum – not as complex as some longer-aged bourbons coming out of Kentucky, but still a welcome companion on a persistent winter night.

Hilllrock, located a little more than two hours north of New York City near where New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut converge, is all about the time. It claims the first approved solera-system for aging bourbon, an arrrangement whereby the whiskey starts in barrels that are later drawn down partway and used to top off older barrels and so on, until the whiskey at the bottom of the process is bottled. (This is a prety simple technology; what's more of a feat is that they it managed to find their way through the federal regulatory maze and still call this bourbon. My assumpton is that the juice has to be aged in new oak barrels for a time before it makes its way into the solera.)

It's a new distillery, so they're starting with "seed bourbon" – some aged product sourced from another distillery that mirrors the taste profile they're seeking. Distiller Dave Pickerell was at Maker's Mark for quite a run, and he knows where a lot of good stuff is hidden around the U.S. and Canada, and has the connections to acquire it. (He did much the same with the remarkable Whistlepig Rye.) The newly made whiskey at the upstate N.Y. the distillery first aged in smaller, new barrels, then blended with the seed bourbon, and then re-aged, solera-style. They claim an average age of six years.

It's quite good, and has an elegant custom bottle. There's a pleasing flinty minerality to it, with and nice spicnees on the finish, which is likely attributable to the aggressive 37 percent rye in the mashbill.Then it's all complicated with cherry notes. Is it worth $88? Well...  I prefer some of the Willett's at half that price, but this is still an excellent sipping whiskey and should occupy a place of pride at any bar.

Neither of these were as complex as some of the longer-aged whiskeys I've been sucking down lately, but both have sufficient richness – far better than the one-note of bottom-shelf whiskey, and they run circles around a lot of the thin, one-note stuff coming out of other micro-distilleries. I say: check 'em out.


Road trip: Four Roses by any other name

I detoured a bit out of my way yesterday to see the new Four Roses Visitors Center in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. I was envisioning a big and bold center, like their single-barrel whiskey — perhaps a scaled-down version of the Jack Daniels facility, which is loud and modern but informed by tradition.

The Four Roses “campus” is one of the most beautiful I’ve visited — it’s set down a narrow rural road, and features several Mission-style structures — arriving here is like coming upon a lost compound built by Spanish missionaries, albeit missionaries endowed with a deep understanding of industrial equipment. The structures are uniformly painted the trademark Four Roses yellow, like the label of its best known product.

The new visitor center opened last month as part of a $2.9 million expansion. It’s on a rise above the old visitor center, in a new building that’s also Spanish Mission style.

Sort of. But I wonder: when did we lose the knowledge of how to recreate mission style architecture? The new building lacks the élan and the proper proportioning of the earlier buildings on the grounds. And it’s made with a sort of cheap stucco cladding atop a faux granite plinth, which makes it look like a building from a new mall in an outer suburb. There's also a parade of small shrubberies in front, lending the impression of a waiting line for small shrubbery convention. And it’s weird because none of the other buildings have any design elements like this.

Ooops. My bad. For a moment, I thought this was an architecture blog.

But inside, the center was equally undistinguished - I was hoping for a more of a museum with artifacts of the company’s history. But it’s mostly a swag shop, with tee-shirts and refrigerator magnets, all emblazoned with the Four Roses logo. The new center brought to mind the lobby of a La Quinta hotel. Not a crappy La Quinta, mind you, but one of the good, well-maintained ones in a big city. One with a swimming pool.

Happily, you can buy bourbon in the shop. Unhappily, there was nothing I couldn’t find on my supermarket’s shelves beck home. I asked about the special limited edition bourbon that was bottled to celebrate the opening of the new center, and was available only at the distillery. Sadly, it sold out about two weeks after it went on the market in September. “And you just missed the cask strength limited release bourbon,” the clerk told me, making a frowny face. “That sold out maybe three days ago.”

Don’t get me wrong  — it’s a very nice visitor center, and a great gateway for those who know nothing about bourbon and are just starting to learn. It meshes well with the other Bourbon Trail distilleries, a fine remote campuses for teaching Bourbon 101. But for those looking to expand on an existing base — or pick up some otherwise unavailable expressions — it’s probably not worth the detour. Insert frowny face here.


Road trip: To the Source

Party Source — a great liquor store with an unfortunate name — is in Bellevue, Kentucky, just across the river from downtown Cincinnati. It’s Wal-Mart huge, which is to say, it’s large enough to distort space and time. In fact, the beer aisle is so long you can actually see the curvature of the earth.

But I didn’t come for beer. I came for bourbon. Hey, it’s Kentucky! And Jay Erisman, the store’s spirits manager, has been mighty helpful to me on the phone more than once as I’ve worked on whiskey stories.

So when my southbound migration back to New Orleans took me through the city last night, a subtle change in gravitational/magnetic fields hit me as I crossed the Ohio River, and my car was inexplicably pulled off the highway.

The store — perhaps this will not come as a surprise to you, but it was to me — is actually a party store. Which is to say a lot of floor space is given over to streamers and paper plates and balloons and cheeses and crackers and bagel crisps. But mostly it’s wine and beer and liquor. And one long, lavish and utterly beguiling aisle devoted to whiskey.

I walked slowly and quietly down the aisle, and paused from time to time to give thanks, as if in a sanctuary devoted to grain. The Party Source is well known locally for the single barrels it selects from various distilleries in the region, then privately bottles. But it’s also well supplied with output from  microdistilleries, and has a good sampling of harder-to-find bottlings from the bigger houses, like the Double Oaked Woodford Reserve.

In the end — who do I see about getting that hour back? — I picked up a bottle of the five-year, 114 proof Willett private bottling ($35), and a bottle of the elusive Weller 12-year ($25). And for good measure I picked up a bottle of Scarlet Ibis rum ($25), because, well... do I need a reason?

I wasn’t the only customer paying obeisance and getting lost while wandering the wheated plains. A pair of hipsterish 30-something guys were also wandering around slowly, and pointing out bottles as if at treasures in the Louvre.

“I don’t know why I’m so stuck looking at whiskey,” one of them said.

And his friend replied, “Um, because it’s delicious?”


Field Trip: Al’s Wine and Whiskey Lounge, Syracuse

Al’s has some 820 different bottles of spirits arrayed on a towering wall of shelves reached via rolling library ladder.

Do I need to write more? Yes? OK, then:

Al’s is on South Clinton Street in downtown Syracuse, part of a row that’s lined with beer and shot joints of the sort that attracts college students like flies to simple syrup. You can get a $1.50 Jack and coke across the street. But Al’s is classier, and has a solid, durable, and masculine feel to it, like an old-time saloon, with high ceilings and a little neon, but without getting all cute about it. You get the feeling Al’s could take a punch then come up smiling.

Al’s has a long and stout bar that makes for a manly place to hang out, and it’s got seating areas fore and aft  of the bar with those durable leather couches that look like the distant cousins of catcher’s mitts. They appear as if they could take a punch, too. Up front there’s an 8-foot projection screen, making Al’s a good place to catch a game. A manly game. Note: not soccer. When I left, someone was setting up for a weekly trivia game. I didn’t stick around to find out if the questions were manly questions or if the loser got punched in the face.

About the spirits: there are a lot of them. Did I mention there are about 820 different varieties? That’s what Jim the bartender told me, and a quick scan of the shelves gave me little reason to doubt his claim. This includes 100+ American whiskeys, and about 80+ scotches. It’s a fine selection, and had I the time I would have enjoyed working my way through some very excellent whiskies, including Elmer T. Lee, Basil Hayden, WhistlePig, and Tuthilltown. He reported that he moves a lot of Smooth Ambler Old Scout, which is indeed a fine bourbon. He does this through hand-selling, he said, and I like a place that takes the time to highlight the little-known good stuff. Jim said that if a distiller or distributor stops by with a bottle, and they like the way it tastes, they’ll find room for it on the shelf.

I ordered a Manhattan, part of my long term Manhattan project to assess the current state of this historic cocktail. More on this later. Jim asked for my bourbon preference (they also have a whole lot of ryes) and suggested Redemption High-Rye Bourbon from Indiana. He built it in a rocks glass, without first mixing it in a glass or tin. It was capped with Gary Regan’s Orange Bitters (good), but the first sip tasted mostly of bitters since it hadn’t been subjected to much too-and-fro (bad). And it was served over sloppy crescent ice with a bright red cherry (meh). It was also lighter on vermouth than I’d like. Overall, I’d give it B-.

Food here is strictly college fare — chicken nachos, buffalo chicken wraps, that sort of thing — but reasonably cheap ($5 to $8) and offers ballast where ballast is called for. It’s open until 2am, and you can order eats until 1:45am, which is essentially a public service.

Also, it’s just a few blocks from the freakishly interesting Niagara Mohawk Building (right). Which means that after you’ve had a few drams, you can wander down and repetedly shout “Surrender Dorothy!” and make jokes about flying monkeys. Don’t dismiss this as a stupid frat boy activity until you’ve tried it.

I Googled around to see if there was a fancy cocktail lounge in Syracuse, but didn’t turn anything up. If anyone has suggestions, let me know.

If not, that’s OK. I’d be happy to wander back into Al’s next time I’m in town, and try some more whiskey.  

321 South Clinton Street Syracuse, NY 13202‎; (315) 703-4773;


Whiskey shoot-out at the WSWA corral

The main exhibition hall at the liquor wholesaler's convention in Las Vegas last week was filled with makers and marketers of spirits looking for love (or at least distribution agreements). Among them were folks from a company called Western Flavored Whiskey. Their bottles have a round, frontierish look, and the labels are like old western wanted posters, except that the wanted are apparently naughty cowgirls, some with pneumatically enhanced breasts that could stop a steer. The whiskey is offered in four flavors: honey pepper, peach, amaretto and orange.

Of course cowboys drank flavored whiskey. You must have missed that day in seventh-grade history class. But like it or not, you’ll be seeing more flavored whiskey on the market. The cocktail revolution will not be un-flavorized.

The next morning, walking way on the other side of Caeser’s Palace, I passed a hospitality suite for a company called Real American Whiskey. It sells flavored whiskey. It's sold in round, frontierish bottles, and has labels with a western theme and a pair of comely rodeo cowgirls, who it turns out are mother and daughter. It's offered in four flavors: honey pepper, peach, amaretto and orange.

I mean, what are the odds?

So I stepped inside and asked a company employee about the link between Western Flavored Whiskey and Real American Whiskey. She blinked a few times and looked confused, then poured me a shot of orange-flavored whiskey. What other company, she asked? Really, the exact same flavors?

How embarrassing! It’s like two people showing up at the Academy Awards in the same Versace.

Just to make sure, she hollered across the room to a man in a suit, who wandered over. I asked about the other company, and his eyes narrowed to slits. These slits said, wordlessly, “Oh, them.

It turns out that one of the partners in RAW whiskey had worked with WFW as a consultant. Or so they claim.

As often happens in the liquor trade, they had a falling out. And so the consultant and his partner decided to go off on their own and launch their own brand of flavored whiskeys. Using the exact same flavors of his former client. Including honey pepper. Side note: What the hell with honey-pepper? I tried both honey-peppers whiskeys, and I’m here to tell you they both tasted off-the-charts wrong, although in bizarrely different ways.

One other thing also seemed clear: the cocktail revolution will not be un-litigated.


Meet your new Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey is dead. Long live Wild Turkey.

The standard 80 proof Wild Turkey is being retired by Associate Distiller Eddie Russell, the son of longtime master distiller Jimmy Russell. It’s being replaced by the first product he’s created solely on his own, called Wild Turkey 81.

What’s the difference — well, besides one proof degree? it’s made from the same high-rye mashbill as the product it replaces (as is Wild Turkey 101, for that matter), but basically it spends more time getting to know the barrel. The standard 80 proof was aged about four years; the 81 will be a blend of six to eight-year-old bourbons.

This is a smoother, lighter, more accessible bourbon, and that’s by design. “When I grew up in this industry, you drank bourbon straight or with a little water,” said Russell, who is 51 and has been with the company now for 31 years. “I didn’t want to limit ourselves to that…  With the 81, I was trying reach people we’ve never promoted to, whether that’s the 21-to-40 year olds, or females. Our industry as as whole hasn’t really marketed to either of them.”

Russell also said that he wanted the new product to work better in mixed drinks. “A couple of years ago were started listening to to the mixologists — and they were doing a craft like we were. A lot of them talked about how whiskey would lose its flavor when mixed.”

I understand and agree with each of these points — but they don’t seem to jibe. A lighter, friendlier bourbon isn’t what works best in classic revivals,, like the Manhattan. In those, you want something more big and boastful — like Wild Turkey 101. And something more historically accurate; the whiskey called for in the old bar guides was typically 100 proof.

But  I see what Russell’s getting at — a lot of the younger generation just now being introduced to mixed drinks are still preferring sweet. The Wild Turkey 81 will do well with a whiskey and ginger — the flavor comes through, but it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Personally, I like my whiskey bigger and more robust than the Wild Turkey 81 — I’m a big fan of the Wild Turkey 101. But I also think that Wild Turkey is wise to build a bridge for those in transition from, say, Jack and Coke, to something more sophisticated. Wild Turkey 81 could fill that bill. And for $20 retail, it’s a good value given the age of the product.

It’s also good to see staid bourbon playing around a bit. And Eddie Russell says this may be just the beginning. “I’m different than the older generation of distillers,” he said. “I’d like to see a few more experimental products out there. And I wouldn’t think it’s too far down the road.”

Wild Turkey 81 is being rolled out in seventeen markets this month, and will be available nationally as the 80 proof disappears from shelves.  


Field Trip: Smooth Ambler Spirits, West Virginia

Smooth Ambler Spirits fired up for the first time in April 2010, and had three white spirits on the shelves by June 2010. That’s not an uncommon trajectory for start-up microdistillers: get the white spirits out the door to generate cash-flow and brand awareness. Meantime,  put up some of the higher quality stuff in barrels for aging. Smooth Ambler has done that as well, and the first of aged products are about to roll out.

I visited the distillery in Maxwelton, W.V., earlier this month. It’s got a staff of four, headed up by master distiller and co-founder John Little, who was kind enough to show me around with John Foster, the director of sales.

Their white spirits include Whitewater Vodka, Greenbrier Gin and Exceptional White Whiskey. The vodka’s made from corn and malted barley and was slightly buttery and river-stone smooth. The gin, made from the vodka redistilled with seven botanicals, had a pleasing sort of lilac flavor, and a hint of juniper in the background.

The white whiskey is distilled twice and bottled at 100 proof. It’s based on a bourbon mashbill, with corn, barley and wheat. Little says he hopes to distance their brand from moonshine, the idea of which clings to West Virginia like lime to tonic. “We're more in line with the farmer-distiller,” he says.

The Smooth Ambler name was inspired by a type of horse — “horses are a big deal around here,” Little says — that has a particular gait that’s not a walk and not a run, but something in between. “It reflects what we like about living here,” Little says. “We’re not hicks, but we don’t wear Bluetooth earpieces in the barn like we’re expecting some call from the President.”

Following in the tiny footsteps of Tuthilltown’s Baby Bourbon, Little was getting ready to release his Yearling Bourbon, aged in 15-gallon new oak barrels for, well, a year. It’s a wheated bourbon, with the mashbill at 68 percent corn, 16 percent malted barley, and 16 percent wheat. It’s very good — with a slightly creamy taste and texture, underlaid with a pleasing gingery sharpness. It retails for about $42 for 750ml. Look for it in July.

I also got an advance sip of the triple malt bourbon, made with 60 percent corn, and the rest a blend of wheat, rye and barley malts. I sampled some barreled just two months ago at 120 proof in a five gallon barrel. Not surprisingly, it had a raw wood aroma, which will no doubt mellow with age, but the taste was full and nicely pungent, with a trace of acrid tobacco, and — as yet — none of the barrel's mellowing caramel notes. It still had a shaggy, white-dog aggressiveness about it, but it give it time. I’m guessing it will be worth paying attention to. Limited quantities possibly available as early as September.

A rye may also be on the horizon, but Little is concerned that the party may be over by the time they show up. That’s a justifiable concern given all the scrambling underway to fulfill demand for traditional ryes.

For a young start-up, the distillery, in a new building in a rural industrial park next to an airport, looks pretty settled. They operate a Christian Carl pot still with two columns, and a Vendome pot still. They’d just erected a new outbuilding for storage and aging a few days before I’d arrived, and they report they’re growing faster than they’d anticipated. They appear to be managing growth well. The distillery is open for tours, tastings and retail sales.

Look for Smooth Ambler in a dozen states to date: West Virginia, Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, Louisiana, California, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, and D.C.
Smooth Ambler Spirits,, Maxwelton, WV, (304) 497-3123


“Three cocktails,” he said, acidly.

In this installment of “cocktails from the crypt,” we turn again to acid phosphate. (Briefly touched upon in this dispatch from 2009.)

And we do so again thanks to Darcy O’Neil and his relentless research. In the April issue of The Atlantic, I wrote about Darcy’s rediscovery of acid phosphate, and how a few enterprising bartenders are playing with this potent souring ingredient, lending new life to old drinks. Adding a touch of acid phosphate is more or less putting your finger on the scale — making sweet taste less sweet, and twisting other flavors around slightly. You might say it’s a form of cheating. But, hey, cheating is fun.

The space for the magazine column is tight, so there’s rarely room for cocktail recipes. And that always seems a bit churlish — I mean, don’t you want to try these? — so I've posted three of the recipes mentioned below.

Oh, yeah, you’ll probably need to obtain some acid phosphate. To order this and Darcy’s excellent book about soda fountains (available in print or as a pdf), visit his storefront: Extinct Chemical Company.

Uncle Morris
Bobby Heugel, co-owner of Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston, came up with this nice creation, in which the acid phosphate knocks down the sweetness of honey while maintaining its rich flavor.

2 oz gin
1 oz honey syrup (3 Parts Honey; 1 Part Water)
.5 oz lime juice
1 tsp acid phosphate
1 dash celery bitters
1/2 medium Kaffir lime leaf
2 oz tonic

Shake all ingredients, except tonic water, with ice and fine strain into a 
Collins glass with cubed ice. Top with tonic water. Garnish with a lime
 wedge and pressed kaffir leaf.

Wet Grave
This is Darcy’s creation, which he came up with in advance of a presentation in New Orleans. (Wet Grave is a nickname for the city.)

1.25 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon
.5 oz claret syrup
1 tsp dry vermouth
1 tsp acid phosphate
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Stir over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Note: claret syrup is red wine (traditionally Bordeaux) mixed 1:1 with simple syrup.

Cherry Bourbon Phosphate
I’ve been playing around with phosphate and cherry, mostly because I'm mildly infatuated with the phrase “cherry phosphate.” And I love bourbon. As such, the future was easily foretold. This drink should be approached as a work in progress — it’s not quite there yet, but I’m encouraged by the direction it’s headed.

1.5 oz bourbon
.5 oz cherry juice
.25 oz simple syrup
1 tsp acid phosphate
1 or 2 dashes Jerry Thomas bitters
Soda water

Add first five ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Pour into collins glass and top with soda water and crushed ice.