If you were forced to make something of a classic Hobson’s choice of nibbling on bacon, sipping bourbon or none of the above, which one would you select? Fortunately, I wasn’t forced to make that choice – I spent part of my Saturday evening both eating bacon and drinking bourbon because I attended The 2014 Bacon & Bourbon Expo held at The Astor Center of New York City.
With mixologists staffed at the bar, I decided to begin the evening with one of the three bourbon-based cocktails being featured on this very special night, The Overlook Old Fashioned. It’s made with Elijah Craig 12 year old bourbon, Oloroso sherry and Byrrh Vermouth. I enjoyed this while noshing on passed snacks, which included Neuske’s Applewood Smoked Pepper-Coated Bacon Buttermilk Biscuits.
Next, I found a table that was being worked by people from a highly-regarded New York City-based restaurant, Fatty Cue, where it appeared as though sliders were being served. In fact, they pulled pork on a bun with a side order of cole slaw. After these bites, I now had a firm foundation on which to build a serious drinking experience.
Returning to the bar, I ordered the second of their featured cocktails, The Smash And Grab Job. Start by muddling several sprigs of mint, add lemon juice and a drizzle of honey, then the bourbon (in this case, Bulleit was used). All the ingredients are shaken together in an ice-filled shaker; strain it into a glass with ice, then add a lemon wheel as a garnish.
Following a few more nibbles of the bacon buttermilk biscuits, I requested the final featured cocktail of the evening, Ole Faithful Punch. The recipe for this one is as follows:
- Two slices of a blood orange muddled
- One muddled strawberry
- Three-quarters of an ounce of lemon juice
- A half ounce of simple syrup
- Half an ounce of Aperol
- An ounce and a half of Rye (here, Rittenhouse Rye was used)
After stirring all of the ingredients together, pour into either a rocks glass or a highball glass filled with ice. Top it off with a little bit of club soda, then garnish with a quarter slice of blood orange. Technically, this wasn’t a bourbon-based drink (although I suppose you could probably substitute it with that if you prefer it over rye), it was nevertheless mighty tasty.
Some of the more interesting bourbons I tried on this evening came from Wild Turkey. Although the menu only mentioned Wild Turkey 101 and Rare Breed, I also sampled their Kentucky Spirit; while this one wasn’t officially on the menu, they did decide to include it in the evening’s tasting.
Both the Wild Turkey 101 and the Kentucky Spirit are 101 proof, but other than that similarity, they are quite different. The Wild Turkey 101 is aged between four to eight years but is blended in such a way as to avoid any kind of a burn when swallowing. The Kentucky Spirit, on the other hand, is blended and aged in a single barrel for up to 12 years. It is somewhat sweet and has only the slightest burn on the palate. By contrast, the Rare Breed is even higher in alcohol at 108.2 proof. Aged anywhere from eight to 10 years, it presents itself with more of a burn up front – understandable, given its alcohol content.