Review: Booker’s Bourbon “Off Your Rocker” 2016-05 and “Noe Hard Times” 2016-06

In December of 2016, Beam Suntory informed the public that enjoying a bottle of Booker’s batches in 2017 will come affixed with a price increase of an additional $40 over suggested retail, resulting in a $99 price tag. The explanation included the customary press release rhetoric of supply/demand and a reduction in release schedule from six to four times per year. The news was not met well with everyone, from consumers and critics all the way up to distributors and store buyers. Beam Suntory’s not so subtle attempt to elevate Booker’s unto the ranks of Pappy van Winkle backfired and flopped, and the company backed off weeks later. Given the recent fanfare surrounding the brand, it seemed an appropriate time as any to test drive the final two batches of 2016.

Booker’s Batch 2016-05 “Off Your Rocker” – A most appropriate nickname for this expression. This is very much a “Noe holds barred” bottle, deceptively powerful for only being 6 1/2 years old. The near-65% abv is quite evident right from the nose with a nice blend of charred oak and the signature combination of vanilla and tobacco that was customarily present in the pre-nickname Booker’s era. The alcohol refuses to sit back unless you add a bit of water to the mix, which brings out dark chocolate, pepper, and a little bit of cherry. The finish is long and strong, with more black cherry and vanilla that eventually eases up over time to provide a mild relief. A big and boisterous affair, much like the bourbon’s namesake himself, if legend is to be believed. 129.7 proof. $60 / A-

Booker’s Batch 2016-06 “Noe Hard Times” – Taking the volume down from Off Your Rocker’s 11 to about 8 1/2, “Noe Hard Times” (a tribute to Noe’s highschool football nickname) has plenty of vanilla dancing about on the nose, but it’s a tad lighter on the oak and alcohol notes when contrasted against other releases in the class of 2016. A bit of toffee, burnt brown sugar and a lovely medium length finish of dark cherry and vanilla. 127.8 proof. $60 / B+

This is not the last we will see of Beam Suntory’s strategic moves regarding Booker’s. Price increases are still slated to happen gradually and will reach the higher tier price points by late 2017/early 2018. If Booker’s is your brand, it may be best to stock up now. These two would be suitable places to start.

Bookersbourbon.com

Recipes: 2016 New Year’s Eve Cocktails

With the end of 2016 fast approaching, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that the year is over and a fresh new start awaits us all. Here are a few last minute cocktail recipe ideas for your gathering. On behalf of the staff here at Drinkhacker, we’d like to wish you a safe and happy 2017. Thank you for stopping by our little corner of the internet for almost a decade now, and we’d like to see you here for our 10th anniversary celebration, so where ever New Year’s Eve takes you, please celebrate responsibly!

Midori Sparkle
3 parts Champagne
3/4 part fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 part Midori melon liqueur

In a champagne flute, combine champagne and grapefruit juice. Top with Midori.

Golden Hour
2 parts Stoli elit Vodka
1 part Contratto Vermouth Bianco
¼ part Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 dashes of Orange bitters
Absinthe spray
edible gold flake garnish

Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a martini glass that has been sprayed with absinthe. Garnish with edible gold flake.

The Smokin’ Churro
3 orange slices
½ oz. molasses
¾ oz. Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur
2 oz. Tanteo Chocolate Tequila

In a pint glass, muddle orange slices and molasses. Add Ancho Reyes Tanteo Chocolate and ice. Shake well. Strain over fresh ice into a rock glass. Garnish with a cinnamon-sugar dusted orange slice.

Recipes: Christmas and Holiday Cocktails, 2016

It’s been quite a long year for most folks. With the end of 2016 barrelling down on us, hopefully the world will finally allow the reprieve for which most of us have patiently waited and along with it, a moment’s peace. Let us all take a few moments this season to count our good fortunes, and maybe sip a cocktail or two along the way. Happy Holidays from all of us here at Drinkhacker.

The Gingerbread Man
2 oz. vanilla vodka
1/2 oz. gingerbread syrup
2 oz. half and half
dash of nutmeg
dash of cinnamon
dash of ground ginger
rim of crushed gingersnap cookies, brown sugar and molasses

Combine gingerbread syrup, half and half, vanilla vodka with a dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground ginger. Rim the glass with crushed gingersnap cookies, brown sugar and molasses.

Cold Turkey
1 oz. Charbay Blood Orange vodka
1 oz. Maurin Red Vermouth
1/2 oz. cranberry Douglas Fir syrup
1 oz cranberry juice
1 oz orange juice
4 oz chai tea

Assemble all ingredients together and steam with espresso wand until hot.

NOTE: Should you find yourself without cranberry Douglas Fir syrup, you can make this without and it will be just fine. Less earthy, but fine.

Pomegranate Punch
1 orange, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 apple, diced
2 cups Sauvignon Blanc, chilled
2 cups pomegranate juice, chilled
1/4 cup apple balsamic vinegar (or white Balsamic vinegar)
4 bottles Strongbow Cherry Blossom Cider, chilled

Combine wine, pomegranate juice and Strongbow in a large pitcher or punch bowl. Add fruit and vinegar and stir to combine. Ladle the punch and fruit into smaller ice filled glasses.

Holiday Ornament (not meant for the tree!)
1 1/2 oz. Baileys Original
1 oz. vodka
1-2 oz. heavy cream
2 dashes peppermint extract
honey for ornament rim
crushed candy canes for rim
mini candy cane for garnish

Combine Baileys, vodka, heavy cream and peppermint extract into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake Well. Line the rim of clear ornament with honey and dip into crushed candy cane pieces. Funnel contents from shaker into ornament. Garnish with mini candy cane.

NOTE: You totally can do this in a glass. It’s fine.

Salt & Char Yule Nog
(Yields 12 glasses)
6 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch cinnamon
pinch kosher salt
6 oz. cognac
1 oz. jagertee
orange and nutmeg to garnish

Mix egg yolks and brown sugar. Slowly add in milk and cream. Add vanilla, salt, white sugar, cinnamon, cognac and jagertee. Whip egg whites then fold into liquid mixture. Serve in chilled glass. Top with orange zest and nutmeg.

Recipes: Thanksgiving Cocktails 2016

Once again, the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. However, this year seems a bit more unusual for those of us accustomed to having our team serve as the butt end of football jokes: the Detroit Lions are sitting atop the NFC North in first place. Here are a few recipes we’ll be putting to good use while explaining to our 92 year old grandmother why everyone is so angry at Alexander Hamilton these days.

Also, be on the lookout for our annual Holiday Gift Guide arriving in short order. (Tomorrow, actually!) Check back to get the lowdown on our giftable selections on a wide range of libations!

appleshoneyApples & Honey
1 ¼ parts Drambuie
2 parts kosher pressed apple cider
¾ part lime juice
1 sm pinch kosher salt
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 part kosher sparkling white wine (for dryer cocktail, 2 parts sparkling wine)
Garnish with thinly sliced apples and mint

Combine liquid ingredients and salt minus wine into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain over ice. Top with Sparkling wine and garnish with thin apple slices and mint.

Spiced Autumn Mimosa
¾ oz Ciroc Mango
¾ oz champagne
¾ oz fresh orange juice
1 cinnamon stick

Garnish with grated cinnamon, orange wedge and pomegranate seeds.

star-of-autumnStar of Autumn
1 ½ parts Facundo Neo rum
1 part Laird’s Applejack
¼ part maple syrup
¼ part lemon juice
apple wheel (green or Granny Smith) for garnish

Shake all ingredients with plenty of ice. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a thin apple wedge or curled apple peel.

punchHippocras Punch
4 parts white wine
2 parts Hendrick’s Gin
1 part chamomile tea
½ pineapple chopped
1 ¼ cups sugar
3 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
4 orange peels
1 teaspoon ground white pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a small pot and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into a teapot and serve hot in teacups. Garnish with pineapple, cinnamon stick and orange peel.

chicagoLast Harvest
Created by Ben Schiller, The Sixth (Chicago)

2 oz. Campari
2 oz. apple brandy
1/2 oz. Cinzano 1757 Vermouth
1 oz. Wild Turkey bourbon
1/2 oz. walnut liqueur
4 dashes of aromatic bitters

Build all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice for 15 seconds, then funnel into cocktail bottle. Drop in a small apple slice for garnish. Serves two.

Recipes: Halloween Cocktails, 2016

Halloween is upon us, and with it a weekend’s worth of costumed and themed parties. As always, we’d like to present for your consideration a pretty substantial list of cocktail recipes and ideas that will enhance any get-together you may be planning.

bloodhandThe Blood in Hand (Blood and Sand)
1 part Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey
1 part cherry liqueur
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part orange juice, freshly squeezed

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a rocks glass.

Bat Magic

1.5 parts Bacardi Black
0.5 part fresh lime juice
0.5 part simple syrup
top with dark beer
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine Bacardi Black, lime juice, simple syrup and bitters in a shaker filled with ice, shake, strain into an ice filled pint glass, then fill with dark beer. Garnish with an orange slice.

pumpkin-spice-and-everything-nicePumpkin Spice and Everything Nice
1 oz Baileys Pumpkin Spice
1 oz Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
1 1/2 scoop vanilla ice cream
cola to top
sprig of mint for garnish

Combine Baileys Pumpkin Spice, Captain Morgan and vanilla ice cream in a highball glass. Top with cola and stir. Garnish with mint sprig.

witchesbrewWitches’ Brew
2 oz. dark rum
1 oz. fresh lime juice
3/4 oz. ginger liqueur
Sweet Cuveìe Cava

Please use caution and carefully light one end of a cinnamon stick and let it smoke. Place smoldering stick in glass with a plate covering the bottom to prevent overheating. In a cocktail shaker, combine ice and ingredients. Pour over glass with cinnamon stick and top off with Sweet Cuveìe Cava.

Bewitching Berry
2 parts Sauza Signature Blue Silver Tequila
1/2 part peach juice
1/2 part blackberry puree
1/2 part lemon juice
1 part simple syrup
peach slice and blackberry for garnish

Add ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain over ice into a coupe glass. Garnish by skewering a fresh blackberry and a slice of peach with a knot stick.

milagroMilagro Ofrenda
2 parts Milagro Reposado
1 part fresh mandarin juice
1/2 part fresh lemon juice
1/4 part orange blossom honey syrup
1/2 part egg white

Put all ingredients into a Boston shaker, add ice and shake until cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass/coupe. Garnish with edible marigold.

Recipes: Labor Day Cocktails 2016

So for this, the 250th recipe post to Drinkhacker, we celebrate the unofficial arrival of summer’s end. However, with the continuous reports of record heat around the globe, it appears that summer isn’t going quietly this year. So until the arrival of everything pumpkin spiced and cooler temperatures, hang out with one of these this holiday weekend.

Midori Melon Oasis
Created Los Angeles mixologist Yael Vengroff
1 part Midori melon liqueur
1 1/4 parts light rum
1/2 part peach liqueur
3/4 part lime juice
3/4 part pineapple juice
6 mint leaves

Combine Midori liqueur, light rum, peach liqueur, lime juice, pineapple juice and mint leaves in a blender with ice. Blend on high and pour into a Hurricane glass. Garnish with mint, sliced peaches and a pineapple wedge.

Caitie McCabe PhotographyBaker’s Citrus Sazerac
1 1/2 parts Baker’s bourbon
1/2 part grapefruit liqueur
1 tsp of simple syrup
1 dash of Angostura bitters
1 dash of Whiskey Barrel bitters

Spritz a chilled Sazerac glass with honey whiskey liqueur. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir well. Pour into the spritzed Sazerac glass and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

(Note: Bourbon snobs hear me out. I know to use a higher quality bourbon like Baker’s in a mixed drink borders on sacrilegious, but it’s actually pretty great in this instance. Give it a shot.)

image008Drambuie Mixed Berry Sangria
3 parts Drambuie
1 part triple sec
1 cup Chardonnay
1 part orange juice
1 part lime juice
1 part honey
2 cups frozen berries
10 dashes cherry bitters

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with skewered berries with basil sprig.

unnamedFrozen Boulevardier
3/4 oz. Aperol
3/4 oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
3/4 oz. Bulleit bourbon
1 Quenelle of tangerine sorbet
Zest of lemon
Hand-Crushed Ice

Crush ice in a bag, pour into a rocks glass. In a mixing glass, combine Aperol, Carpano Antica and bourbon. Add fresh ice. Stir for 30-45 seconds, strain over crushed ice. Garnish with a scoop of tangerine sorbet and lemon zest.

(Note: Regarding Hand-Crushed Ice, you can totally use crushed ice if you have that setting on your fridge. And if you can’t be bothered with making a Quenelle, just use a regular scoop of sorbet. No need to get precious about this if you don’t want to. It’s just as good.)

Recipes: National Rum Day, 2016

Tomorrow (August 16) marks the annual passing of National Rum Day, a holiday with an impressive longevity in comparison to other spirit-inspired festive occasions. Here are a few cocktails we pre-tested over this past weekend and which received our stamp of approval. Bear in mind: All of these cocktails are best served without listening to Jimmy Buffett.

East India NegroniEast India Negroni
2 parts Banks 5 Island rum
1 part Campari
1 part Lustau East India sherry
orange peel (for garnish)

Add all the ingredients but the garnish to a mixing glass, then add ice. Stir and strain into a rocks glass with one large ice cube. Garnish with the orange peel.

Mount Gay Rum’s Barbadian Rum Punch
1 part sour (lime juice)
2 parts sweet (simple syrup)
3 parts strong (Mount Gay Black Barrel rum)
4 parts weak (water or unsweetened iced tea) (Note: we used iced tea)

Combine all elements and stir. Let sit in fridge for 20-30 minutes. Serve.

image007Rum Babalu
2 parts Kirk and Sweeney 12 Year Old Rum
¾ part fresh lime juice
½ part maple syrup
1 part ginger beer
1 dash of Angostura bitters

Add all ingredients in a shaker except ginger beer, add ice and shake well until chilled. Strain over fresh ice, top with ginger beer and garnish with an orange peel.

Pineapple-Mojito_Close-up-BestPineapple Mojito
(Recipe and photo by Cocina 214)
6 leaves of mint (no stems)
1 oz pineapple chunks
1.5 oz pineapple juice
1 oz simple syrup
.75 oz Malibu Pineapple Rum
.75 oz Bacardi Rum Coconut
1 oz soda water
0.5 oz diluted lime juice

Muddle mint, pineapple, diluted lime and simple syrup. Add ice. Then add Bacardi and pineapple rum. Shake well. Pour contents into a 16oz glass. Garnish with pineapple leaf.

Neo White Negroni
2 parts Facundo Neo rum
1 part Cocchi White Americano
dash of Maraschino liqueur
Lemon twist

Combine ingredients with ice. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Hint of SpiceCruzan Hint of Spice
(Recipe by Christian Guillén)
2 parts Cruzan Aged Light Rum
1 part D&D Shrubs & Syrups Co. Spiced Pecan Orgeat
1/2 part Allspice Liqueur
3/4 part fresh lime juice
5 dashes Angostura Bitters

In a cocktail shaker, combine rum, spiced pecan orgeat, allspice liqueur, and fresh lime juice. Shake and strain into a Collins Glass over crushed ice. Top with bitters and garnish with a mint sprig and lime wheel.

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