Late winter weather in Texas calls for whiskey to warm you up. But instead of heading to a bar for a beverage, CultureMap brings you three winter warmer whiskey cocktail recipes to make at home.
A Texas take on Irish Coffee
Amanda and Nick Swift both love Scotch whisky, but Amanda was born to love it. “My family is Irish Catholic,” she says. “If you’re not drunk by noon, you’re not doin’ it right.”
Rather than feed that passion at the local pub, Amanda and Nick traveled extensively to whiskey meccas like Kentucky, Ireland and Scotland to research production methods and learn the business. They used that knowledge to start the Swift Single Malt Texas Whiskey distillery in Dripping Springs in 2012 and cranked out their first batch by August 2013.
“We tried a couple hundred recipes before settling on the one we use,” says Nick. “We kept refining it to find just the right two-row barley that when malted is sweet but not too sweet. We want a slight musty flavor with the right amount of subtlety.”
The Swifts also worked hard to match the mineral content in the water they use to the profile of water used to make whisky in Speyside, located in the Scottish Lowlands. Amanda put her science education to work to analyze the water and add back minerals after filtering it.
“We are very particular about our water,” explains Nick. “We like the water from just outside Elgin, Scotland and just outside Bushmills, Ireland, which are similar in ion content. We want to replicate that.”
They took the same care in selecting copper stills that were handmade in Portugal, and the aging barrels from a Kentucky bourbon distillery and the Sandeman Sherry bodega in Spain. The Swifts do every step of production by hand. They hand mill 1,200 pounds of grain a week and ferment it on site. It is then distilled one bucket at a time. Each bucket is poured through a copper funnel lined with cheese cloth right into a barrel for aging.
After distillation, the first batch of Swift Single Malt lazed about for a year in bourbon barrels and another three months in Sherry casks before it was bottled. The second batch — the batch that is on shelves now — also aged for a year in bourbon barrels, but matured for six months in the Sherry casks. Swift plans to make about 39 bourbon barrels or the equivalent of 15,000 bottles a year.
“It’s a labor of love,” says Amanda. “We hand bottle every one right down to putting the hand numbered label on each one. My dad stuffs every cork into the bottles.” The finished whiskey is golden amber in color and regularly compared to The Macallan in flavor. It’s fantastic neat or with a cube of ice, but Amanda’s dad loves it in Irish Coffee. Pick up a bottle of Swift Single Malt Texas Whiskey at Wine & Spirits on South Lamar Boulevard or Austin Wine Merchant for $50; or order it by the glass at Péché, The Blackheart or Lamberts.
Swift Irish Coffee
- Equal parts Swift Single Malt and Bailey’s Irish cream
- 5 ounces strong coffee
Top with homemade whipped cream.
The dreaded Dark Age for alcohol started January 17, 1920 and spread its gloom until December 5, 1933, spanning the time when Cutty Sark, the blended Scotch whisky was introduced to the world in 1923. The UK-based whisky maker has just released a Prohibition Edition commemorating the end of prohibition 90 years ago.
Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition is made in small batches in Scotland, aged in American oak casks and sold in black bottles that harken back to the bottle style of the 1920s. It is a lighter style whisky with vanilla, toffee and citrus flavors. What could be better than mixing a Prohibition era cocktail with it? The Boulevardier, a cousin of the gin-based Negroni, came to prominence in print in 1927. The Bouldevardier swaps the gin in Negroni for a good pour of whiskey (typically bourbon) which is mixed with equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth. For a smokier, nuttier version, swap the bourbon for Scotch and replace the vermouth with Madeira — it’s delightful. Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition is available at Specs for $30 a bottle.
- 1.5 ounces Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition
- 1 ounce Campari
- 1 ounce Madeira
Combine the ingredients in a glass filled with ice and strain into a rocks glass with ice.
Garnish with a twist of lemon.
The Capone cocktail
While we certainly don’t celebrate the murderous crimes of infamous gangster Al Capone, we can get behind his love for whiskey. January 17 marked what would have been his 116 birthday, which is a fun excuse to make a cocktail with another Prohibition era whiskey, Templeton Rye.
Templeton Rye is distilled in Indiana and bottled in Templeton, Iowa, giving it Midwest roots any Chicago mobster could admire. Reportedly this whiskey was Capone’s rye of choice. In fact, it is said that he had it smuggled into Alcatraz and that he is even buried with a bottle. While we can’t vouch for that, we can tell you his namesake cocktail is badass. Templeton Rye is available at Twin Liquors for $40.
- 3 ounces Templeton Rye Whiskey
- 1 ounce Grand Marnier
- Splash of Champagne
- Dash of bitters
Combine Templeton Rye, bitters and Grand Marnier in a shaker. Shake well, strain in martini glass. Float champagne and garnish with lemon twist.