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Fall Bar

September 9, 2011

Eating and drinking seasonally just feel right to me. When summer is here, I want things that are cool and refreshing. But as a nip starts to form in the evening air and the darkness begins to descend earlier in the day, the bright and colorful drinks of warmer days seem less appealing.

A long long time ago, I believed in keeping a full stocked bar at home. However as I’ve grown older, I’ve abandoned such pursuits and try to stick with bottles that reflect the season. Now there are some that really work all year long. Gin is the perfect example, although some would likely campaign for whiskey. After all, it’s hard to argue with Manhattans.

As I mentioned earlier this week, the white rum and tequila are on their way out. Actually the tequila is gone. Although I haven’t talked explicitly about what’s replaced them, or how the whole liquor cabinet is shaping up. But looking across the new additions, and the old bottles that will be back in rotation, I’m seeing a definite flavor profile for the fall.

Hello ouzo.

Specifically, I picked up a bottle of Ouzo No. 12. Partially, this is because I both enjoy anise-based spirits, and I love spirits that louche. I’d be perfectly content drinking absinthe all the time, but ouzo is for those times that you want something a little bit sweeter, less herbal, and more focused on anise.

This is good stuff, and not terribly expensive. F. Paul Pacult in his Kindred Spirits recommends it highly. In the days to come, when I get back from a late night of pizza judging, and I’m not feeling my best, you can guarantee this will be the bottle I reach for to cure what ails me.

Oh look, it’s brandy.

Brandy kind of snuck in the liquor cabinet because of the cocktail cherry project. ADS showed me how Trader Joe’s dried pitted tart Montmorency cherries, when soaked in brandy, are transformed into a wonderful cocktail garnish. We finally worked through the jar he gave me many months ago, and it was time for a new batch. So Mrs. Fussy sent me to the store for a small bottle of palatable brandy.

A liter is small, right? I mean, it’s smaller than a 1.75-liter jug. And let me tell you, it took some restraint to not just get the big bottle anyhow. The thing is that brandy is really flexible. You can use it for cooking, soaking fruit, or punching up cocktails. It can go in coffee, give balance to whiskey, and it can even help use up the remnants of the white rum.

The Raynal VSOP that I picked up isn’t foul when sipped on its own, which makes it appropriate for a multitude of uses. But it’s not great brandy. It just happens to fall in that great intersection of price and value.

You remember amaro.

Just last week I mentioned the bitter orange liqueur from Italy I picked up. So there’s no need to go into it further, except to remind you of its brown herbal pungency, balanced with a bit of sweetness.

The returning bottles that mostly sat on the sidelines over the summer are the spicy grainy Rye Dog, the bright ginger found in Domaine de Canton, and maybe it’s my imagination, but I swear there is a bit of sweet spice in the wee little bit of Cornelius Applejack on hand. There are the both the smoky Highland Park and the sweeter sherried Macallan single malt Scotch whiskys. Speaking of sweet Scotchy things, I’ll bring down the honeyed Drambuie as the weather gets a bit cooler. And perhaps with anise playing such a large part of the fall flavor profile I’ll make a dent in my Peychaud’s bitters and finally finish the Meadows of Love absinthe.

It’s probably not the typical home bar, but it’s mine. And I’m very pleased with the combination of spicy, bitter and sweet that will help glide in the fall.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2011 10:25 am

    Berkshire Mountain Distillery
    http://berkshiremountaindistillers.com/
    You’re welcome. ;-)

  2. September 9, 2011 11:52 am

    Well said. I have been gently nudging my Lady Friend to ease up on the Margaritas and Daiquiris and transition into the brown liquors with the changing season. Fall is a time for brandy and bourbon (and applejack!).

    I had not thought of ouzo as an autumnal tipple, but the spice of anise seems like it would play well with the cooling temps. Will give it a try.

  3. September 9, 2011 4:52 pm

    Great post, and I’m looking forward to the fall drinks. We’re still in margarita weather for another month or so.

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