Testify! The Gospel According to Corsair Artisan Distillery
On a recent trip to Nashville, I was lucky enough to tour the Corsair Artisan Distillery, self-proclaimed makers of booze for badasses.
These guys are the real deal. They distill everything themselves. Our guide preached against “so-called” distillers who take what MGPI (formerly LDI) barrels in Indiana and then bottle it in Iowa, Utah or Nashville. (More on MGPI in another post.)
But I get it. Corsair is completely hands-on, every step of the process.
They have a guy who slices vanilla beans with a razor blade for their vodka. The veggies and botanicals for their award-winning gin are also hand-cut and “layered like a lasagna”. Their bottles are even individually labelled and filled.
Despite their attention to detail and reverence for distilling, they don’t follow convention. They poke at the establishment with refreshing irreverence. It takes an evil genius to devise quinoa whiskey. And a mad scientist — albeit one with incredibly good taste — to invent Triple Smoke Whiskey.
Then there’s Distillery Cat, a stray who’s now a full-fledged staff member and an expert mouser. My some-time assistant Lula Belle would be jealous.
Great big distilleries feel like theme parks. Wineries feel like artists’ studios. But Corsair felt like being in the garage with the Ramones in 1974.
My only regret: I should’ve left with a few more bottles. I didn’t realize that outside of their Gin and Triple Smoke Whiskey, it’s not easy to find Corsair on local shelves.
Note: In Nashville, Corsair distills whiskey. In Bowling Green, they distill vodka, gin and absinthe.
Never pictured Woody as a Moscow Mule guy.
The PDT Cocktail Book, Jim Meehan, Chris Gall
This book is gorgeous. But it’s not a case of style over substance. There’s a lot of great information here, from setting up a bar, to techniques and an incredible spirits primer. And oh yeah, the recipes. Unlike the complicated science projects found in many cocktail primers, most of these drinks are approachable and accessible to the novice bartender (like me). Shameless admission: I have both the book and the ebook so The PDT Cocktail Book is always at my fingertips.
Crafting Classic Cocktails
I recently attended a Scoutmob-curated cocktail class at H. Harper Station. It was hosted by Jerry Slater, whose reputation as a master mixologist is beginning to extend far beyond the Atlanta area.
It was definitely $35 well spent. Not only do you learn tips and techniques from a master, you get three classic cocktails (for us, a Daiquiri, Negroni and Manhattan). Plus snacks that feature PIMIENTO CHEESE and BACON.
The classes are offered exclusively by Scoutmob. Sign-up to be the first to learn about the next round.
To the five boroughs
I’m a little Manhattan-obsessed. But after running across a Brooklyn Cocktail recipe in Ted Haigh’s essential book, Vintage Spirits, I thought might be time to drink my way through another borough.
If you squint, the Brooklyn sure looks like a Manhattan, but it’s a little sweeter and drier. It’s a great vintage cocktail that’s worked its way into my regular rotation.
Haigh’s recipe calls for Amer Picon, which I understand is difficult (if not impossible) to procure in the US. The fine folks at the H+F Bottle Shop suggested Amaro CioCiaro as a substitute.
Although you may not have Amaro CioCiaro or Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur on the shelf, they’re worthwhile investments. After all, there are quite a few interesting cocktails that include them as key ingredients.
2 oz. rye
3/4 oz. dry vermouth
2 tsp. amaro CioCiaro (recommendation: Amaro CioCiaro)
2 tsp. Maraschino Liqueur
1 cocktail cherry (recommendation: Luxardo)
Fill both a mixing glass and a coupe glass with ice. Pour rye, vermouth, Amaro and Maraschino liqueur into the mixing glass and stir. Dump ice from the coupe glass and drop in the cherry. Strain cocktail over the cherry. Drink and repeat as necessary.
Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, Ted Haigh
The don’t call Ted Haigh Dr. Cocktail for nothing. Vintage Spirits is a great primer on the history of the mixed drink. It’s a fascinating read. And like The PDT Cocktail Book, you can actually make most of these drinks yourself. Where ingredients are difficult (or impossible) to find, viable substitutions are offered. There are also tons of entertaining vintage photos, illustrations and ads.