Being a good Latina chick, I’ve tended to stick to mix drinks that are made of rum, tequila and the occasional vodka. Mojitos, margaritas, daiquiris, cosmos and my personal favorite the sidecar—which is actually made with triple sec and Cognac—have been my go-to mixed drinks throughout most of my adult life. Over the last few years however, I’ve expanded my palette to include some brown liquor, mainly bourbon and whiskey, most which I have experienced at a whiskey bar in Harrisonburg, Va., where my son is at school.
When I learned that Society Fair, a food emporium in Alexandria, Va., was starting a monthly book and bourbon club, well I knew I had to look into it since it brought together two of my loves—reading and sampling new (to me) drink and food items. The event was the brainchild of Nadine Brown, general manager of Society Fair. A sommelier by training, Brown professes a love of bourbon.
“Working in this [restaurant] industry, you don’t get much time to sit around reading so I thought this would be a good combination,” says Brown. “Society Fair is known for pretty pink cakes and whimsical. But we also have another side, with great gumbo, amazing cocktails and bourbon.”
For the inaugural meeting of the book club, Brown invited a former colleague of hers, Brad Gamble, who was the head bartender at Charlie Palmer Steak on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. while she was the wine director at the restaurant. Gamble and Brown selected three whiskeys from High West Distillery in Park City, Utah to pair with the discussion of Stephen King’s “The Outsider”: the Double Rye!®, the Campfire® and the American Prairie Bourbon™.
The first one that Gamble poured was the Double Rye! which clearly tasted of anise. A blend of 2-year-old rye and 16-year-old rye, Gamble shared with the group that Double Rye’s profile changes when warmed under a flame, becoming more cinnamon-like in taste.
Per its namesake, the Campfire had a very smoky taste, likely from the Scotch in this blend which also featured a bourbon and a rye whiskey. It reminded me of the Italian apéritif, Campari®, which is actually a bitter. Gamble used the Campfire in a classic Boulevardier. (A recipe from High West using American Prairie Bourbon™ is reprinted at the bottom.)
The final whiskey to be sampled was the American Prairie Bourbon™. Of the three whiskeys, the American Prairie was the sweetest, featuring strong vanilla notes, and the one that I preferred.
The next Society Fair Bourbon Book Club will be held on Wed., Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. at Society Fair in Alexandria, Va. ET. The featured distillery is Angel’s Envy and the book to be discussed is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Reprinted from High West Distillery
While Gamble used the smoky Campfire whiskey for his Boulevardier, High West makes use of its American Prairie to blend with Sweet Vermouth and Campari, an Italian apéritif traditionally used in this cocktail for its smoky flavor. (I actually think it tastes like an ashtray would in liquid form). One bit of advice that Gamble had given was to stir the ice into the bourbon “to take the edge away” from the liquor.
3/4 oz American Prairie Bourbon™
3/4 oz Sweet vermouth
3/4 oz Campari
Lemon twist garnish
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with cube ice and stir until chilled. Serve up or over cube ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.