Monday, July 21, 2014

Atlanta's Best Double-Stack Burgers (Part 3): Gunshow

Kevin Gillespie's Gunshow is probably my favorite restaurant it the city right now. The small plate dim sum style service jives perfectly with my desire to try a little bit of everything on his menu. Gillespie and his staff basically make whatever they feel that particular week, which means you can and will transition from elegantly plated foie gras to equally delicious casual dishes like the "West Coast" burger.

This burger is Gillespie's take on the "secret" menu item from In-N-Out Burger, the Double-Double Animal Style. This burger came in the midst of a fast-paced meal, so I didn't get a lot of the specifics about sourcing, etc.

The Meat: The patties are 3-4 oz. each and expertly seared.  I'm not sure what cut is used, but it's probably 80/20 chuck. The beef is tender and extremely juicy.

The Bun: Perfectly soft and crisp on the cut side, which helps it stand up to the toppings.

The Cheese:  Standard American, as it should be. 

The Toppings: Grilled onions, pickles, and house made thousand-island smear. The extra sauce and nearly caramelized onions make for a very messy burger.

The Verdict: 95/100.  This burger is downright slutty in all the best ways and is a must order (if it's being offered, which it isn't always), no matter how many courses of foie gras or seared scallops you've already had. Order it, clean yourself up, and take the walk of shame to your car knowing you've had one of the best burgers in the city.

Previous Ratings:
"The Meatstick" - One Eared Stag (97/100)
"Apache Style" - Grindhouse Killer Burgers (87/100)
"Beltline Burger" - H. Harper Station (85/100)
"The Caboose" - Stationside (80/100)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Cocktail: Champs-Élysées

And we're back!  I've been pretty delinquent in posting Friday cocktails here, and even more delinquent in food-related posts, but forget all that and make this drink.  Today's cocktail, the Champs-Élysées, is very similar to the Sidecar but uses Green Chartreuse for some added complexity (and kick), rather than Cointreau. This one manages to be both complex and refreshing at the same time, a perfect drink for the unusually cool July weather we've had this week.  Santé!

Harry Craddock, The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930)

- 2 oz. Cognac (Pierre Ferrand Ambre)
- .5 oz. Green Chartreuse
- .75 oz. Lemon Juice
- .25 oz. Simple Syrup
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters

Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously.  Double strain into chilled coupe glass and garnish with lemon twist.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bourbon Review: Abraham Bowman Double Barrel Bourbon

The Sazerac-owned A. Smith Bowman Distillery has released a number of finished whiskies, which have ranged from mediocre to very good. I really enjoyed the port finished bourbon they did a while back, though I did not much care for the gingerbread stout beer cask finish they did last fall. The latest "limited edition" release (and doesn't it feel like everything is a limited edition these days?) is a "Double Barrel" bourbon. For this one, they took six year old bourbon and re-barrelled in in more new charred oak barrels for an additional 11 months. Although the total barrel time is just over seven years, you would expect the re-barreling to impart a lot more wood. Let's see.

Price: $79 (which is a bit over MSRP)
Proof: 50% ABV (100 proof)
Age: 7 years, 2 months
Mashbill: Reportedly Buffalo Trace Mashbill No. 2 (high rye)
Color:  Sweet Tea

Nose: Pronounced wood but balanced by toasted marshmallow, maple syrup, and 'Nilla wafers. There is a lot of alcohol on the nose, even after considerable air time.
Palate:  Dry and oak forward, but there is some sweetness to help keep the wood in check. The toasted marshmallow is in the background along with clove and white pepper. 
Finish: Medium length, dry finish that leaves the clove and pepper on the tongue.

Overall:  B

This is a nice enough bourbon, though a bit dry for my taste. It is not an oak bomb, to be sure, but there are several bourbons for half the price that I would prefer. I suppose that in today's market, all you have to do is call something a "limited edition" or "special release" and you can charge $70+ for it. Oh well, I guess I can't blame them when people like me buy these whiskies before they even hit the shelves.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Cocktail: The Solstice

In honor of tomorrow's Summer solstice, I bring you the Solstice cocktail. Creator John Deragon serves this drink in December for the Winter solstice, which makes sense for a booze forward whiskey cocktail. For those like me that drink brown liquor cocktails year round, however, this drink works just as well once the sun goes down on a 100 degree day in Atlanta. For a spirit forward drink, it is complex but also surprisingly balanced and drinkable. 

The recipe calls for Dubonnet Rouge, but any rose colored apéritif wine, such as Lillet Rouge or Cocchi Americano Rosa, will work well. In my opinion, there is no suitable substitute for the Amaro Nonino. As with any cocktail using grenadine, use a good quality grenadine or make your own to bring out the best in the rye and apple brandy.

Adapted from recipe by John Deragon in PDT Cocktail Book

- 1.5 oz. Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
- .5 oz. Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
- .5 oz. Amaro Nonino
- .5 oz. Dubonnet Rouge (or Cocchi Americano Rosa)
- .25 oz. Grenadine

Combine ingredients in mixing glass with ice.  Stir and strain into chilled cocktail glass. No garnish.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Cocktail: Two New Orleans Classics

In preparation for my wedding anniversary trip to New Orleans this weekend, I thought it was appropriate to hit a couple of classic Crescent City cocktails.  Outside of New York, New Orleans may be one of the best cocktail destinations in the country. It is host to the awesome Tales of the Cocktail festival hosted every summer and is also responsible for classics such as the Sazerac and Vieux Carré.

Adapted form Wiliam Boothby, World Drinks and How to Mix Them, 1908

The Sazerac is the cocktail most synonymous with New Orleans. In fact, the Louisiana legislature made it the official cocktail of New Orleans in 2008.  As with many cocktails, it was originally made with cognac at the Sazerac Coffee House. When Thomas H. Handy became the owner of the establishment in the late 1800s, he replaced the cognac with rye.  It was this recipe that was published in Boothby's classic, World Drinks and How to Mix Them in 1908. It is an Old Fashioned variant that is served without ice and takes on a lot of anise flavor from both the New Orleans staple Peychaud's bitters and the absinthe or Herbsaint rinse. There are very few cocktails that are its equal.

- 2 oz. Rittenhouse or Sazerac Rye 
- 3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- 1 Demerara Sugar Cube or .25 oz. Demerara Simple Syrup
- St. George Absinthe Verte*

Muddle the sugar and bitters with a few drops of water (or add the simple syrup). Add whiskey and ice, and strain and stir into an ice cold absinthe-rinsed rocks glass. Twist lemon peel over surface and discard.

*For an interesting variation, rinse the glass with a peaty scotch like Laphroaig instead of the absinthe.

Vieux Carré
Adapted from Stanley Clisby Arthur, Famous New Orleans Drinks, 1937

The Vieux Carré was invented at the Hotel Monteleone by Walter Bergeron, and the Monteleone's rotating Carousel Bar is still my favorite place to order one. The story is that the ingredients in the Vieux Carré were meant pay tribute to the different ethnic groups of the city. The cognac and Benedictine were an homage to the city's French influence, the vermouth a nod to the Italian heritage, the rye referenced the American influence, and the bitters represent the Caribbean. It picks up plenty of sweetness from the Benedictine without becoming cloying.

- 1 oz. Rittenhouse or Sazerac Rye
- 1 oz. Cognac (I use Leopold or Pierre Ferrand Ambre)
- 1 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
- .25 oz. Bénédictine
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
- 1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice and strain over large ice cube into a chilled rocks glass. Twist and discard lemon.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Cocktail: The Diamondback

For the longest time, I resisted buying a bottle of Green Chartreuse. Although it appears in a ton of classic and contemporary cocktails, I just couldn't justify spending $60 on a bottle of liqueur. I finally picked up a bottle this week, and I have been really impressed. 

Chartruese is an incredibly complex herbal liqueur that has been made by the Carthusian Monks near Grenoble, France since the early 18th century. The recipe is closely guarded, though it purportedly is aged with 130+ different herbs, flowers, and plants. It comes in two versions, Green and Yellow. Green Chartreuse is bolder and stronger at an eye popping 110 proof, while the Yellow Chartreuse is sweeter and milder at only 80 proof. 

This week, I've used my bottle of Green Chartreuse in a bunch of different cocktails, including the gin-based Bijou and the Irish whisky-based Tipperary.  My favorite so far has been the Diamondback. This drink dates back Ted Saucier's 1951 book Bottoms Up and packs a wallop. It uses bonded rye whiskey, bonded apple brandy, and Chartreuse.  Although the original recipe calls for the Yellow version, most resources I've consulted recommend the classic Green Chartreuse. If you are keeping score at home, that means that none of the ingredients in the Diamondback are under 100 proof, making this one to be sipped slowly and contemplated.

The Diamondback
Adapted from Ted Saucier, Bottom's Up, 1951

- 1.5 oz. Rittenhouse bonded rye
- .75 oz. Laird's bonded apple brandy
- .75 oz. Green Chartreuse

Combine over ice in a mixing glass and stire. Strain into a chilled coupe.  No garnish.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Cocktail: The Jack Rose

Flipping through the excellent PDT Cocktail Book, I noticed that a lot of the recipes call for Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy. This product caught my eye because the label reads like a bourbon label in that it bears the "Bottled in Bond" designation.  This means that by law -- the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 to be precise -- it must be aged in a bonded warehouse for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof. Although there are several bonded whiskies (Rittenhouse, Old Granddad, Col. E.H. Taylor), this is the only brandy I'm aware of bearing the designation. Unlike the French Calvados I've had, the Laird's is drier than expected with only a hint of apples. It could almost pass for whiskey. In any event, the stuff works great in cocktails and is a steal at $25. 

My new bottle of Laird's Bonded called for the most classic apple brandy cocktail, the Jack Rose. This recipe dates back to Boothby's 1908 book, The World's Drinks and How to Mix Them. The 100 proof Laird's is essential here, as the drink is diluted considerably with the grenadine and lemon juice. About the grenadine, if you can't make your own, try to spring for the good stuff. Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. makes a great one (the bottle even has a recipe for the Jack Rose on the side), and I'm sure there are others. The stuff you'll find at the grocery store won't do. For the citrus juice, I go with lemon juice, though some recipes call for lime.

Jack Rose
William Boothby, The World's Drinks and How to Mix Them
Adapted from the PDT Cocktail Book

- 2 oz. Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
- .75 oz. Lemon Juice
- .75 oz. Jack Rudy Small Batch Grenadine

Combine in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled coupe. No garnish.