Many of you reading this article probably only know me for the usage of strange homemade ingredients in drinks and random techniques and equipment to make them, such as my fire extinguisher ice creams. I never like the idea of calling myself a 'mixologist' or 'molecular mixologist,' I prefer the term experimental bartender. This is because it sums up what I do perfectly. I am a bartender. A bartender who likes to experiment.
As such, I enjoy nothing more than finding new ingredients which I can play around with to try and create something a little different and break the 'rules' of designing drinks. Last year when I was looking for a new way to cause some trouble in the industry, there was a rather large proportion of people drinking bourbon and coming up with rules of how best to drink it. Challenge accepted!
I tried several types of bourbon and asked a few people what they perceived as their favourite. Buffalo Trace popped up quite a few times, so this is what I decided would become the victim of my new experiments.
Spending hours sifting through the internet, reading magazine articles and reviews, and tasting rather a large amount of it, I had a long list of flavour profiles, distillation techniques and history based on the brand. It was time to start playing around with, what I like to call my favourite 'story brand'.
My first step was 'fat-washing'. This term is used to name the process of transferring the flavour from products high in fat, into the bourbon. The first fat-wash was with butter. After 24 hours of infusing and filtering the bourbon I was left with a bottle of Buffalo Trace, which gave an incredible rich and silky taste. Being rather inquisitive my instinct told me to try stirring this over some ice with a bit of maraschino liqueur and Lillet Rouge. Without being too arrogant the combination was incredible.
I decided to enter the Buffalo Trace cocktail competition in Camden a couple of weeks later. The fat-washing was a great technique and produced a brilliant cocktail. The only problem was that it was not to everyone's' taste. I tried smoking the bourbon next. I based the idea on the charred barrels the bourbon is aged in. Simply using apple-wood wood chips and a smoking gun I trapped the smoke inside the bottle and left it to infuse. Stirring this down in a rocks glass with ice, bitters and a small dash of honey to create a Smoked Buffalo Old Fashioned won me the competition. I even added a sprinkle of gold leaf to symbolize the gold, which was found by Albert Blanton to pay for the Buffalo Trace distillery. Walking home with 1st place under my belt and a magnum bottle signed by the Master Distiller, I knew I had to use this product more.
I started creating Buffalo Trace flavoured caviar to sit on homemade honey biscuits and Buffalo Trace Julep ice cream for events around the country. Eventually the guys at Hi-Spirits picked up on my activities and I was lucky enough to be able to give 'molecular' masterclasses at the Buffalo Trace Bourbon Empire at London Cocktail Week, which to my surprise was a sell-out class every day!
My favourite experimental cocktail with Buffalo Trace so far definitely has to be my Buffalo Pot Noodle, consisting of bacon fat-washed Buffalo Trace 'noodles' in a plastic pot served with clarified spiced tomato and basil consommé.
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