Bourbon and beyond

In conversation with Buffalo Trace master blender Drew Mayville

Buffalo Trace master blender Drew Mayville loves experimenting with bourbon and whisky. Supplied photo

It’s rare to find someone who describes their job as “fun,” and even less so if they’ve been in the same business for more than 38 years. But then not everyone has Drew Mayville’s job.

Mayville is the master blender at Buffalo Trace, the world’s most award-winning distillery. He was in Vancouver recently to chat about all things whisky and bourbon.

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Stone Fence

The Stone Fence cocktail, an historic drink given new life by bartender Jim Meehan in his new book Meehan’s Bartender Manual.

Here’s an old school classic getting a new life thanks to Jim Meehan. Cocktail historian David Wondrich traces it back to 1775 when it was “a savage mixture” of New England rum and hard cider. Nearly a century later, he notes, it had evolved into a “suave and smooth” bourbon cooler. Today, Meehan makes the most of the resurgence of craft cider and adds maple syrup for depth of flavour. And, he says, if you want to add a dash or two of Angostura bitters, by all means go ahead.

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Golden Oldie

The name may sound dated, but the Old Fashioned remains a classic for a reason. The Alchemist asked Sabrine Dhaliwal, Bar Manager at Uva, to let us in on its secrets.

Sabrine Dhaliwal stirs up a classic. Dan Toulgoet photo.

The Old Fashioned is amazing — simple and complex at the same time. On paper it is minimal — spirit, bitters, sugar and water (via the dilution of ice) — but what is critical for an Old Fashioned is getting that balance right. You get the balance right, you have a beautiful cocktail, but if you don’t, there’s nowhere to hide. The fewer the ingredients in a cocktail, the more skill needed to make it.

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Old Fashioned

Sabrine Dhaliwal’s Old Fashioned. Dan Toulgoet photo.

The classic whisky cocktail.

• 2 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
• 1 tsp granulated sugar
• 2 dashes Bittered Sling Kensington Aromatic Bitters
• Orange twist and brandied cherry for garnish

Add the sugar to an Old Fashioned glass, wet with bitters and (if using a sugar cube) muddle to dissolve. Add bourbon and a single large ice cube, stir for eight to 10 seconds and garnish with an orange twist and a brandied cherry.

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Sticky Toffee Old Fashioned

The Sticky Toffee Old Fashioned by David Warren.

The Salted Vine Kitchen + Bar’s David Warren combines several trends in this drink, including updated vintage cocktails and culinary techniques – this was inspired by Chef Jeff Pat’s sticky toffee pudding on the dessert menu.

2 oz (60 mL) Bulleit bourbon
¾ oz (22 mL) date syrup (see note)
Dash Fee Brothers black walnut bitters
Dash Angostura bitters
Sash Regan’s Orange bitters

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Bushel and a Pec

Bushel and a Pec by Justin Taylor. Danika Sea photo

4 oz bourbon
4 oz amaro
12 oz fresh pressed cider
2 dashes Scrappy’s Firewater bitters
Cinnamon and lemon zest (for garnish)

Pour ingredients (except garnish) into a small saucepan and bring to a temperature of no more than 80 degrees Celsius (use a thermometer, otherwise you could boil off all the alcohol). Remove from heat, divide evenly between four mugs and garnish with freshly grated cinnamon and lemon zest. Serves 4.


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Old Fashioned refashioned at Wildebeest

Cocktail-forward restaurant serving nine new takes on the classic for its fifth birthday

Four of the nine variations on the Old Fashioned on the menu at Wildebeest, which include versions made with rum, gin, tequila and bacon bourbon. Wildebeest photo

The Old Fashioned is, arguably, the original cocktail, or at least, the whisky version of it.

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Bourbon Sour

Sons of Vancouver’s Bourbon Sour. Dan Toulgoet photo

“This is one of my favourite cocktails to make,” says James Lester, co-owner of the Sons of Vancouver Distillery in North Vancouver. His method of shaking the egg white with a single ice cube makes the froth impressively thick and rich.

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