Monday, September 26, 2011

MxMo LXI: Local Color - Fig 'n Whistle

Our host for September's Mixology Monday is Lindsay from the blog Alcohol Alchemy. Lindsay has chosen to highlight a segment of the industry that has been shooting up sprouts all over the country more and more over the last few years: the local craft spirits producers, at least one of which you are now likely to have near you. Lindsay has dubbed the theme "Local Color", and I'll let her take it from here:
I felt that the “local” craft spirits scene would be the perfect backdrop for September’s MxMo LXI...So…pull out your favorite “local” craft spirit (for those of you not in the US, what hidden gem from your neck of the woods do you want to give some cocktail press?), tell us a little bit about it and why you love it, and let it shine in whichever way (or ways!) you see fit!
I split my time between NYC and CT, and not too long ago I wouldn't have all that many choices for local hooch, but times have been a changin'. There are the dueling gins of Brooklyn, Brooklyn Gin and Breuckelen Gin. (According to the Post, they've since called a truce, and the same article also says Breuckelen Distilling "is only the second distiller to open in the city since Prohibition." So there you go. Proliferation, like I said. I think King's County Distillery is the oldest, fyi.)
Being more of a whiskey man myself, I had initially assumed I'd go with one of the Hudson Valley Whiskeys from Tuthilltown Distillery (who will also sell you a small barrel you can use to age your own cocktails), but my Tuthiltown bottles are in NY and I'm in CT, and browsing the store here in CT I came across a perhaps more intriguing option in WhistlePig Straight Rye, a 100 proof 100% Rye made bottled in nearby Vermont. (EDIT: D'oh, a commenter alerts me that despite "Vermont" appearing no less than three times on the front of the bottle, in fact the liquid is made in Canada and only hand bottled on the farm in VT. What can I say, I got tricked. Or sloppy. But it's still good stuff and I'm rolling with it. Canada is like VT, right? Transitive property?) (VT is close enough to CT to count as local, right? It probably takes less time to drive between the two than the average LA commute, so I'm counting it. Besides, who doesn't love a pig?) As for drinks, I was seriously tempted to use the obviously local Manhattan as the cocktail, but what fun is that? Of course, just to be sure I confirmed the WhistlePig makes a damn fine one. But I've chosen to feature it in an original cocktail, as is my wont.
In addition to the delicious Vermont whiskey, I'm including a couple other ingredients to juice up the local vibe. While hardly local to me, I'm also using an excellent 8 year apple brandy produced by Clear Creek Distillery in Portland. I think Oregon in general and Clear Creek in particular exemplify the platonic ideal of localness, so in a nod to that in it goes. Their product compares well to a fine Calvados.
But I'm not done yet. For a tip of the hat to my other haunt of NY, I've used some Bittermens Mole bitters to season the drink, which as of Jan 2011 are proudly produced in Brooklyn. Putting it all together, here's the drink:
Fig 'n Whistle
Dry stir to dissolve preserves, stir with ice, and strain into chilled DOF (double strain if you prefer to have no trace of fig seeds or remnants of undissolved preserve) Garnish with slice of fresh fig.
The cocktail has a lot of deep round flavors from the wood aged spirits and spices from the bitters, not to mention a certain earthy nuttiness from the fig spread. The pectin from the preserves also contributes to the mouth feel, somewhat reminiscent of what you might find in a cocktail made with a gomme syrup.
Truth be told I actually made the initial version this cocktail using just Rittenhouse Rye for my second drink for TDN:Fall, but it ended up being an early night for everyone so I never got around to submitting it. I thought about using Laird's or Calvados the first time, but had none; my trip to the store for the WhistlePig and Clear Creek Eau de Vie took care of that, and this is a better version in any case. In an odd coincidence, I actually was going to use the same name before I even considered the WhistlePig Rye; it just popped into my head, I think because there is a pub called the Pig 'n Whistle in NY I pass by sometimes.  I hadn't even realized WhistlePig was from Vermont and thus a viable option for MxMo until I saw it at the store the day after concocting the drink, I would have guessed it was from Kentucky or thereabouts. But such is fate. Enjoy.

UPDATE: Lindsay's roundup post is up over at her site, head over there and check out all the drinks for this round of MxMo.


  1. Whistle Pig is made in Canada, not Vermont. (read the back label).

  2. d'oh! They tricked me. Thanks for the correction, I'll make a note in the post.

  3. I got suckered by the story of how this distiller bought a grain farm and made his own rye and aged it 10 years. My thought was that the story was worth the price. Until I realized that like Redemption, Bulleit, High West, and others, they bought the rye and sold it under their name.

    So I'm wondering what really makes it worth $75/bottle? $40 rye with $35 of bullshit marketing I guess.


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