UK bartenders get playful with U.S. icon

VERSAILLES, KY -- The Woodford Reserve people go to great lengths to find bartenders who treat their premium bourbon whiskey with imagination and respect. For example, running its "Bartender of the Year" competition.

This year, the fifth-annual event held at the Woodford Reserve distillery (seen here) near Versailles, again pitted bartenders from the United Kingdom and Ireland against each other, with Thomas Kirk of the Brass Monkey in Nottingham emerging as the overall winner.

The competition was created to promote the use of bourbon, particularly Woodford Reserve’s triple distilled small-batch product, in the British Isles where finding the iconic American whiskey sometimes takes perseverance in a land dominated by Irish and Scotch distillations. Winner Kirk now will be working with Woodford Reserve as a cocktail consultant at various trade and consumer events over the coming year.

Woodford, incidentally, was long known as the Labrot & Graham Distillery before changing its name in 2003. The distillery itself opened in 1812 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as being designated a National Historic Landmark.

I was able to prevail on my new best friend, Samantha Henry, to put together the particulars of the top 10 recipes just in time for your holiday experiments.

From a consumer’s point of view, any bourbon can be substituted for the Woodford – Jim Beam is my house favorite for mixed bourbon drinks – and any particularly UKish brand name ingredients used here should have American counterparts available in your local stores.

1st Place: Tom Kirk (Brass Monkey, Nottingham), "Right of Passage"

-- Muscat dessert wine (25ml)
-- Woodford Reserve (50ml)
-- Cinnamon sugar (10ml)
-- Few drops of Peychaud’s Bitters
-- Zest of orange

Pour all ingredients into lowball and stir over ice to taste. Garnish with orange peel and cinnamon powder.

2nd Place: Jeremy Lucas, "The Bluegrass Elixir"

-- One 2” piece root ginger
-- 1 barspoon bitter orange marmalade
-- 3 barspoons Kombucha Cordial
-- 1 barspoon Noilly Prat Rouge
-- 2oz Woodford Reserve Bourbon
-- 2 dashes Fee Brothers orange bitters

Stir and fine strain into an old fashioned glass and garnish with a root ginger slice.

3rd Place: Joe Stokoe (All Star Lanes, London), "Gingerbread Hailstorm Julep"

-- Woodford Reserve (60ml)
-- Fresh root ginger
-- Fresh mint
-- Sorghum

Combine ingredients. Shake and serve in sorghum bottle. Garnish with fresh piece of root ginger and mint

4th Place: Matt Keegan (Blanch House, Brighton), "Francis Bryan"

-- Pink grapefruit (1/8)
-- Black pepper (few pinches)
-- Woodford Reserve (37.5ml)
-- Crème Peche (12.5ml)
-- Liquorish syrup (few barspoons)

Muddle grapefruit and pepper. Pour in remaining ingredients. Shake and serve in a rocks glass.

5th Place: Tim Fitz Gibbon (Raoul’s, Oxford), "Thoroughbred Punch"

-- Woodford Reserve (500ml)
-- Madeira (200ml)
-- Cherry Heering (150ml)
-- Apple juice (1lt)
-- Lemon juice (200ml)
-- Orgeat syrup (100ml)
-- Cloves

Pour all ingredients into large punchbowl over large block of ice. Add fresh fruit.
Mix and serve in chilled rocks glass

6th Place: Steve Manktelow (Cocoon & Volstead, London), "Bluegrass Cobbler"

-- Fresh peach
-- Apricot brandy (10ml)
-- Woodford Reserve (40ml)
-- Vanilla syrup (10ml)
-- Lemon juice (10 ml)

Blend peach to make puree. Shake and serve in rocks glass over ice. Garnish with peach fan, dusted with cinnamon powder.

7th Place: Kobus van Zyl (Four Seasons, Dublin), "Ultimate Chocolate"

-- Woodford Reserve (40ml)
-- Valrhona Liquid Chocolate (40ml)
-- Kahlua (20ml)
-- Crème de Cacao (20ml)
-- Dash of Amarula cream
-- Crumbled chocolate shavings (white, dark, milk)

Shake all ingredients together. Serve in martini glass. Garnish with trio of chocolate shavings.

8th Place: Mike Valentyne (Cotton House, Manchester), "Woodford Wobble"

-- Woodford Reserve (50ml)
-- Ice
-- Maple syrup (2 barspoons)
-- Lemon juice (25ml)
-- Black pepper (1 grind)
-- Apple juice

Shake and strain. Garnish with fresh ginger and a cherry in a martini or rocks glass.

9th Place: Gary Hayward (Boutique, Leeds), "Getting Lucky In Kentucky"

-- Woodford Reserve (50ml)
-- Campari (10ml)
-- Cartron Caramel (10ml)
-- Vanilla sugar (2 barspoons)
-- Peychaud’s Bitters (1 drop)
-- Muddled orange rind

Muddle, then dilute. Serve in honey- and nutmeg-rimmed rocks glass.

10th Place: Sam Kershaw (Tiger Lilly, Edinburgh), "Jakey Four Fingers"

-- Woodford Reserve (60ml)
-- Buckfast Tonic Wine (25ml)
-- Damson jam (2 barspoons)
-- Pineapple juice (37.5ml)
-- Dash of bitters
-- Dash of egg white
-- Fever Tree ginger ale

Shake all ingredients (except ginger ale). Strain over cubed ice. Lengthen with ginger ale. Serve in tall catalina glass. Garnish with sprig of fresh mint.

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Anonymous said...

WTH is the Sorghum mentioned in the 3rd place winning Gingerbread Hailstorm Julep? Im not sure I have ever seen sorghum bottled.


William M. Dowd said...

Dear Puzzled:

Sorghum, also known as milo and a dozen other names, is a type of grass grown virtually worldwide as a domesticated grain crop.

In the U.S., most sorghum is used for animal feed although a little bit of it is made into a molasses product to be used as a sweetener.

Although over the years other products squeezed out sorghum as a mass-market swetener, it remains popular in the South and is used in baking, drinks, candies, etc.