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Classic Cocktails: Have Your Whiskey Sour Two Ways


For years, the whiskey sour was a simple confection made of fresh lemon juice, syrup, an egg white and, of course, whiskey.

A whiskey sour without the egg white, with a cherry.

A whiskey sour without the egg white, with a cherry.

But when the cocktail fell out of vogue in the late 1960s, processed mixes began appearing as a way of simplifying matters for people too busy to squeeze a lemon. No matter that most of the sweet-and-sour concoctions on the market tasted only of sweet — with a strident chemical aftertaste.

Salmonella fears surrounding eggs led to the elimination of egg whites in cocktails and not just in the whiskey sour.

Soon, a century of tradition disappeared. And with it went once-popular drinks, such as the Ramos gin fizz, the round robin and the bourbon flip.

But the rise in popularity of hand-crafted cocktails has brought back the whiskey sour of the 1870s. There’s now a National Whiskey Sour Day, which was observed Aug. 25. But expectations are greater than ever.

People want a high-quality whiskey, no matter if you want a bourbon, an Irish whiskey or a rye, depending on your tastes.

Jake Corney, head bartender at Bohanan’s, 219 E. Houston St., prefers to use a bourbon that’s been aged in heavily charred barrels, such as Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. “You want a good, solid, spicy bourbon. Nothing too sweet,” he says.

Jeret Peña of the Brooklynite, 516 Brooklyn Ave., prefers rye, and you’ll see a vast assortment of them in his bar.

The Brooklynite's whiskey sour, made with an egg white.

The Brooklynite’s whiskey sour, made with an egg white.

“It’s like everything else I love, it’s misunderstood,” he says. “I love the spice element that is associated with rye.  The proper rye can cut through certain flavor profiles.”

Some still avoid the egg white but will squeeze the lemon fresh. The choice is yours.

“I am all about simplicity when making cocktails at home,” Peña says, adding that if you want to use egg whites and are leery about it, you could buy a carton of pasteurized egg whites. (Read the label first to make sure you’re only getting egg whites and no preservatives.)

Here are two variations on the whiskey sour. The first is the classic recipe, the second a playful variation on the original that adds more fruit juice but eliminates the egg white., which adds texture to the drink, Corney says.

It also helps to know your audience before you make the drink. Dale DeGroff, also known as “King Cocktail,” points out in “The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks,” that the British want their whiskey sours to be sour while Americans want a sweeter drink, which may explain why many added maraschino cherries to the mix. You may want to start with less syrup and build it up to suit your taste.

Classic Whiskey Sour

This is the traditional way a whiskey sour was made before the advent of sweet-and-sour mixes and artificial lemon, Corney says.

2 ounces bourbon
3/4 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 egg white
Bitters, your choice

In a dry shaker (without ice), add bourbon, syrup, lime juice and egg white and shake vigorously. Then add ice and continue to shake vigorously until chilled. Pour into a cocktail glass. Top with 3-4 drops (not dashes) of bitters and make a swirl effect on the egg foam, if desired; otherwise, use a heavy single dash of the bitters of your choice. Carney prefers Angosturra for this drink. Serve.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Jake Corney, Bohanan’s

Kilbeggan Secret Sour

Kilbeggan Secret Sour

Kilbeggan Secret Sour

This variation on the classic, from Joaquin Simo, head mixologist at Pouring Ribbons in New York, uses a touch of grapefruit juice and a dash of orange bitters to add to the sour tang of the drink.

1 ½ parts Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
1 ½ parts club soda
¾ part dry vermouth
¾ part simple syrup
½ part fresh lemon juice
½ part fresh grapefruit juice
1 dash orange bitters
Lemon peel, for garnish

Combine whiskey, club soda, vermouth, syrup, lemon juice, grapefruit juice and orange bitters in a mixing glass over ice and shake. Strain into a Collins glass with ice. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Joaquin Simo, Pouring Ribbon/Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

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Light the Torches! It’s Tiki Time at Bohanan’s


It’s hot. You know it, but what are you going to do about it?

One solution would be to cool off at Bohanan’s Bar, 221 E. Houston St., from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday where the folks are throwing a tiki party on the patio.

Fu Manchu at Bohanan’s

The torches will be lit for Tropical Classics in the Courtyard at Bohanan’s, where folks will able to sip the likes of a modern Mai Tai, a take on the fun Fu Manchu and such playful creations as Gee Punch, La Florida and Joe’s Volcano.

Tiki drinks, iced down in ceramic mugs with tropical cuttings, conjure an image of a simpler time, when the rec room was decorated in a Polynesian masks and prints, luau music played on the stereo, and dreams of island life floated over the pu pu platter on the snack table. Is it any wonder these kitschy cocktails are making a comeback?

Think of the paper umbrellas, the generous fresh fruit garnishes, orchids, ornate citrus peel twists and more than a little ice, all adding cooling splashes to the party. You’ll find them at all Sunday at Bohanan’s, where the party is the final event of Texas Tiki Week, sponsored by the Austin chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild.

Jake Corney, head bartender at Bohanan’s Bar, created the cocktail list after being introduced to the wonders of the rum-laced libations while on a urban tiki expedition in New York. It was led by Brian Miller, who hosts Tiki Mondays at Lani Kai there.

“The whole thing about tiki is that it should be fun,” Corney said, adding that while the drinks are certainly eye pleasing, the fresh flavors are what will captivate drinkers.

Jake Corney mixes a cocktail for a customer at Bohanan’s Bar.

There’s no reason you can’t throw your own tiki party at home, too. Corney has provided the recipes for his latest creations. He also offered a few tips on what to do to throw a memorable cocktail party. He’s a firm believer in using freshly squeezed juices to maximum effect. If you don’t have time to squeeze your own, try the fresh juices available at specialty stores like Central Market, he said. Top quality ingredients across the board, from the liquor you use to the ice, make a noticeable difference in your cocktails.

So do little touches, such as the grating of nutmeg over the top of the Mai Tai or the dash of bitters to finish off a drink.

While doing his research on tiki drinks, Corney also discovered the world of rums, which come in a variety of styles. An analogy could be made to tequilas in that white rum and silver tequila are great for blending because of their simpler profiles. Yet aged rums, as well as añejo tequila, add a welcome complexity to cocktails.

They’re great to play with during the summer, Corney said, and you should be able to pick up a couple or more to sample side by side. “Rum is one of the cheaper spirits on the market,” he said.

Corney learned about bartending from internationally renowned mixologist Sasha Petraske  and has worked behind the bar at Bohanan’s for the last two years.  He’s put the information he’s gathered in that time not just for his customers but also in the planning of the first San Antonio Cocktail Conference, which the Houston Street restaurant and bar spearheaded. Plans are afoot for a second conference, which will be held in January and which Corney promised will be greater than the first.

But for now, it’s tiki time at Bohanan’s. If you can’t make the party on Sunday, you can still sample the drinks the next time you visit the bar. For more information, call (210) 472-2600.

 

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Chill Out with Some Classic Summer Fun


Tiki drinks are a call to have fun. That’s what Jake Corney, head bartender at Bohanan’s Bar, 221 E. Houston St., had in mind when developing the following libations, including variations on a pair of tiki classics, the Mai Tai and Fu Manchu. So, get out the torches, the leis and the island music, and let the good times roll.

All of these drinks can be made as punches, if you’d like; just multiply the quantity by the amount you wish to make. Just remember that adding ice to the punch bowl can water down your drinks. Corney suggests getting a large block of ice for the punch bowl because it will melt more slowly; otherwise, leave the ice for the glasses. And don’t be afraid to play around with the recipes to suit your tastes.

La Florida

La Florida

1 ½ ounces lime juice
¾ ounce Italian vermouth
3/8 ounce white creme de cacao
3/8 ounce orange curaçao
3/8 ounce grenadine
1 ½ ounces white rum

Shake lime juice, vermouth, creme de cacao, orange curaçao, grenadine and rum with ice. Serve in tiki glass.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Jake Corney/Bohanan’s Bar

Joe's Volcano

Joe’s Volcano

¾ ounce lemon juice
¾ ounce orgeat (see note)
2 ounces Goslings Rum
1 slice orange
1 egg white
Club soda
1 dash Angosturra bitters

Shake lemon juice, orgeat, run, orange and egg white in a dry shaker. Add ice and re-shake. Serve in tiki mug. Top with soda and a dash of Angostura.

Note: Orgeat is a sweet syrup made with almonds.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Jake Corney/Bohanan’s Bar

Mai Tai

Mai Tai!

1 ounce lime juice
½ ounce orgeat (see note)
½ ounce orange curaçao
1 ounce aged rum
1 ounce white rum
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash Peychauds bitters
Freshly ground nutmeg

Served over cracked ice in chilled double old fashioned glass. Dust with freshly ground nutmeg.

Note: Orgeat is a sweet syrup made with almonds.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Jake Corney/Bohanan’s Bar

Gee Punch

Gee Punch

1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce grapefruit juice
½ ounce lime juice
½ ounce falernum (see note)
1 ounce dark aged rum
1 ounce white rum
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash Peychaud bitters

Mix juices, falernum and rums. Pour into a chilled pilsner glass filled with crushed ice. Bitters go on top.

Note: Falernum is a sweet syrup used in tropical drinks. It has cloves, allspice, nutmeg and ginger among its flavors.  Substitute a simple syrup and maybe add a splash more white rum if you can’t find it.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Jake Corney/Bohanan’s Bar

Fu Manchu

Fu Manchu

1 ounce lime
3/8 ounce simple syrup
3/8 ounce creme de menthe
3/8 ounce orange curaçao
¼ ounce triple sec
2 ounces white rum

Serve in a tiki glass.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Jake Corney/Bohanan’s Bar

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Cocktail Conference Shakes It Up for a Good Cause


Rob Gourley of San Antonio makes a Philly Smash with rye, lime, Averna, simple syrup, berries and mezcal at the Esquire Tavern.

By the time the last drop of vodka had been poured, the last cube of ice chipped and the last mint garnish bruised, the inaugural San Antonio Cocktail Conference could be classified a success.

Adrian Sarabia of San Antonio uses Ranger Creek White in his White and Red.

The four-day event, which included everything from what could affectionately be dubbed “booze cruises” along the river to Sunday brunch, attracted hundreds. Several of the seminars, on topic ranging from ice to making cocktails at home, sold out, all offering the promise of a great future for the event.

The best news of all was the event, planned as a fundraiser for the San Antonio charity HeartGift, raised enough money to pay for the costs associated with the heart surgeries of two children from countries where the proper treatment is either unavailable or inaccessible. The surgical fees are donated by the doctors, but there are costs associated with flying the children in and taking care for them during their recuperation.

Houston Eaves of Austin makes a 3-Piece Suit with Fernet, Campari and Punt e Mes.

Saturday brought a cocktail competition in which more than 30 contestants had to prepare an original cocktail that was judged on taste, presentation and execution. The grand prize winner was John Lermayer from the Florida Room in Miami, followed by Jake Corney of Bohanan’s, which is where the contest was held, and Charles Shelton of Austin.

Lermayer named his winning cocktail Have a Heart and promised HeartGift executive director Cathy Siegel that he would be donating some of his winnings to the charity.

Saturday evening brought a crowd of cocktail lovers to the Esquire Tavern. Along the longest bar in Texas, mixologists whipped up specialty drinks that featured drinks such as Texas spirits, including Ranger Creek White and Tito’s Vodka as well as absinthe, mezcal, the Italian vermouth Punt e Mes, and digestifs such as Averna and Campari. Spray cans of bitters were also used by several to finish off their cocktails.

Wonderful flavors, all, and a great reason to raise a toast to a successful launch of the San Antonio Cocktail Conference.

 

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