I saw a tweet from Watershed Distillery (one of Columbus's two excellent micros) today containing the picture above. It seems that the Container Store has chosen to stick two Watershed bottles (Vodka and Four Peel Gin) in a display in every location in the United States. Well done, guys. It is a well-chosen display, actually. Watershed's minimalist labeling, and square-shouldered bottles go well with the chain's clean-lined aesthetic, and the label colors of these two go well with the shelving and other accessories for the display. For those of you who are unfortunate enough to not have Watershed in your market, don't steal the displays. If you didn't realize yourself, the batch number on these display bottles is "01". I think there are likely more Container Stores in America than there were bottles in batch one of either of these liquids.... Just order yourself some from Binny's. (Mandatory legal disclaimer: My wife owns stock in the Container Store (Symbol: TCS), and I drink a lot of Four Peel....)abc
In recent days I have been doing some serious damage to a new bottle of OYO Stone Fruit, the fourth product to come out of Ohio's first microdistillery, Middle West Spirits, located here in Columbus. OYO Stone Fruit is based on the same rich winter wheat neutral spirit that makes up Middle West's flagship vodka and fresh, tart Montmorency cherries. It is rounded out with a range of yellow peaches, and apricots, thus giving it the stone fruit moniker. In addition, the flaovr is enriched with almonds and sweetened with hibiscus and wildflower honey from local fields, not China. The result is a deep, complex liquor that is lightly sweet but carries considerable bite. As with all their products, Stone Fruit is made almost exclusively with local products. The cherries are from the Niagara region, and the apricots are necessarily from further afield, but everything else is Ohio grown, allowing them the best freshness and control over quality. The guys at Middle West call Stone Fruit an infused vodka. I don't think this is a good idea, from an accuracy or a marketing standpoint. Like their OYO Honey Vanilla (my absolute favorite among their products), this is much too rich and nuanced a liquor to let be confused with the sea of infused vodkas on the market. And for such a small-run product aimed at the high-end cocktail maker, I think that's a sales suppressant. This is a serious product, not some shelf-space expander. Regardless of how you categorize it, Stone Fruit is a lot of fun to mix with. It holds its own as the primary spirit in a cocktail, yet also mixes very well with a variety of other liquors. It works particularly nicely with a soft bourbon like Four Roses or Maker's Mark, as you'll see in a moment. It pairs with good rum, depending on the variety, in ways either interesting or disastrous. I don't have a rum solution good enough to offer yet, but I will suggest a bourbon pairing that I like quite a bit, another cocktail where the Stone Fruit is the primary spirit, and a third with champagne.
ROLLING STONEThe Rolling Stone is my favorite creation so far with the Stone Fruit. You can up the ratio of Stone Fruit to bourbon to as much as 1:1, but I think you get a more balanced result with these ratios. Four Roses works best for me with this, but try Maker's for a little softer, sweeter result. Bigger, more robust, super-premium bourbons are both a waste and get a little titchy with the Stone Fruit. The drink leaves an interesting impression of passion fruit, or all things, without the distinctive electric vibe that fruit always leaves behind. My bartender buddy, Cris Dehlavi, who also happens to be Middle West's brand mixologist, suggested the Cointreau. Without it, the drink is still delicious, but that electric Passion Fruity effect is very pronounced. Don't overdo the Cointreau, however, as it easily overwhelms the subtler flavor elements. The Stone Fruit works nicely with different citruses, though I haven't tried orange juice yet and make no warranty there. My second cocktail uses only the Stone Fruit which, when by itself, likes lime juice much better than the lemon I used in the Rolling Stone. I wanted to play up the almond notes in it and used a bit of BG Reynold's excellent orgeat for a nice, funky sour.
- 4 parts Four Roses Bourbon
- 2 parts OYO Stone Fruit
- 1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 part Cointreau
STONE SOURThe last cocktail I've come up with so far that is worth sharing is the serendipitous result of New Year's leftover champagne that was much too good to pour out and a Twitter discussion I had with a reader who wanted something like but unlike a Bellini. I've also been on a French 75 kick lately, and things kinda clicked.
- 4 parts OYO Stone Fruit
- 1 part fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 part BG Reynold's Orgeat
STONE BUBBLESA few notes here. Do not use Fee's Cherry Bitters here, as was my first instinct. They bring out the cherry flavors of the Stone Fruit far too strongly. The Peach Bitters instead highlight the supporting flavors. And this is one of those cocktails where the bottled juice just won't do. Squeeze your limes fresh or don't bother. Really. OYO Stone Fruit is available all over Ohio, as well as online nationally at The Party Source out of Kentucky. Middle West also hopes to have retail distribution in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Maryland/DC by the end of February. If you can get ahold of some, I invite you to try it out. abc
- 1 oz. OYO Stone Fruit
- 1/2 oz. lime juice
- splash simple syrup
- 3 dashes Fee's Peach Bitters
- Champagne to top
The Dispatch writes on Columbus' two local distilleries. Some good stuff on the economics of micro-distilling, as well as background on both Watershed and Middle West. (With bonus misspelling of one of the world's great cocktails!) Also, see this article in Metropreneur Columbus.abc
My recent post about the demolition of the Kahiki Supper Club got me to wondering about what contributions, if any, Columbus and the Kahiki had made to the Tiki drink oeuvre. Fortunately, when you wonder things about Tiki, the path to answers is fairly simple....
Google it?No, silly sockpuppet. Beach Bum Berry it. For a guy who calls himself a bum, he's put a bit of work into researching the whole Tiki thing. Remixed has not one, but two drinks we owe to those who toiled at the Kahiki in its heyday. The one I want to talk about is the Port Light, a child of Sandro Conti from 1961. The Port Light is that relative rarity among Tiki drinks, a whiskey-based one. The recipe calls for bourbon, but since I was working on my Crown Royal Black review at the same time, I decided it would be a good way to test the Tiki suitability of the brand.
Canadian whisky for Tiki drinks? Globally, doesn't that miss by, um, all the way?Hey, the original recipes for this supposedly South Pacific movement came from the Caribbean, which misses by, um, most of the way. So I fail to see why I should expect geographical consistency to be any more of a hobgoblin of the Tiki mind than any other kind.
True, the mind of Tiki is indeed gloriously free of any consistency hobgoblins.Exactly. Now, a lot of Canadian whiskys are so gentle that they might well become lost among the wildly varied flavors of Tiki-style cocktails. But since Black was specifically designed to hit the Bourbon dance and not be a wallflower, I figured it would be up to the challenge. Here's the recipe (substitute bourbon for the Black if you want the original):
PORT LIGHTThe resulting drink is one of the more refreshing whisky based drinks I've tried, Tiki or otherwise. In fact, I've marked the recipe for reuse this Summer when things get sticky. It is not as perfectly balanced as some recipes. I think this is because from a texture standpoint, I just don't want to use so much ice. And as I learned earlier this month, the amount of ice you use in a blender drink can seriously affect the balance. Still, perfectly balanced or not, it's perfectly tasty. The flavors go so nicely together, I'm surprised that there aren't more passion fruit and whiskey recipes. Next time round, I'll up the grenadine or simply hit it with a quarter ounce of simple syrup. Or a few of you could make the effort and report back here. I've got other drinks to make this month, you know! Regardless of your deification to helping me with my research, I suggest you give this drink a try. It's well worth it. * I've been specifying Trader Tiki's syrups this month for most everything he makes, but the passion fruit syrup is one I don't have. abc
- 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. passion fruit syrup*
- 1/4 oz. home made grenadine
- 1 1/2 oz. Crown Royal Black
- 5 oz ice
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