Bourbon is super trendy right now and I had the chance to sample several bourbon cocktails at a small competition held at Vine Arts wine and spirits shop this past Sunday evening.
The event was sponsored by Beam Global. Competitors from six Calgary restaurants and lounges were asked to create an original cocktail using a product under the Beam umbrella, ranging from bourbons to a rum (Curzan Black Strap Rum), cognac (Courvousier VS) and even a single malt scotch (Laphroaig).
You’d expect competition to be stiff with talent from Anejo, Cilantro, Milk Tiger Lounge, Ox and Angela, Raw Bar and Taste all wooing our taste buds — and it was. I was impressed with Franz Swinton (representing Anejo), who managed to create a delicious and smoky number by combining scotch and tequila with sweet milk, cinnamon and star anise.
On our way out we were asked to vote on our favourite cocktail. I quite fancied the Pulque Sazerac from Cilantro, but I also liked the winning cocktail from Taste. Hashtag Boom (#Boom) mixes Knob Creek bourbon with a homemade red pepper simple syrup, lemon juice and ginger beer. The result is a tart-meets-spicy-meets-peachy-sweet liquid taste explosion. #Boom will be available at Taste for the next month. Or, you can make the cocktail at home:
Hashtag Boom (#Boom)
- 1-1/2 oz Knob Creek bourbon
- 1 oz Red Pepper Gastrique (see recipe, below)
- 1/2 oz lemon juice
- Fentiman’s Ginger Beer
- 3 dashes Fee Brother’s Peach Bitters
Shake bourbon, gastrique and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker full of ice. Strain ingredients into a rocks glass, and proceed to fill glass to the top with ice. Top drink with ginger beer, and add three dashes of peach bitters. Garnish with a kimchi praline (or even just a lemon wedge).
Red Pepper Gastrique
- 3 oz red peppers
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 oz red wine vinegar
- 2 oz white vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Boil sugar, water and vinegars together. Reduce heat and add peppers. Puree and strain (consistency should be able to coat the back of a spoon). If too thick, thin with a little hot water.
— Recipe courtesy Matt LaRocque, Taste