Thomas Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey

Thomas H. Handy used to sling Sazeracs in New Orleans. He must have been good at it, because Buffalo Trace have named a special release after him.

The Rye is uncut and unfiltered, I believe the bottle I tried was the 2008 bottling, but there are also 2006 ones out there too. It forms a part of the Trace’s Antique collection of Bourbons. While I never understood why the Buffalo is left off of the greatest liquors these guys unleash, this certainly is a fine product. Like all rare booze, it’s the ones that are no longer out there on the market that are the best, the ones from 2000 & 2001 are whispered of online.

There is a little talk out there on the web about only 22 barrels of this elixir being bottled, and it certainly not something I just run into everywhere. It will cut a wedge out of your wallet, but it is a tasty way to see it go.

There is a bottle at Sticky, here in Sydney.

At home, Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #21: The Shanghai Cocktail

Paris of the East, Whore of the Orient, City of Broken Dreams. Shanghai sprung from the brackish marshlands near the mouth of the Yangtze River only a few hundred years ago. It was handed, probably in jest, to the invading laowai who had proved themselves to give up the foisting of opium addiction on the people of China, if only to assuage their own addiction to the brewing leaves of tea.

Shanghai is a city that reinvents itself, almost on a daily basis. The old is swept away to make way for the new. Romance lives right there in the streets, with its kindred spirits, heartbreak and poverty. Sights, sounds and smells assualt the senses.

Embury’s Shanghai Cocktail could indeed have sprung from those very same brackish waters. It is a cocktail that balances but also is quite unlike anything I have tried before. It has a smell of leftover Christmas Cake and spices swimming in, well, something. It’s not that I hate it, I’m just not sure I’ve got my head around it yet. I think I might try it with rum next…

The Shanghai Cocktail

5mls Cointreau, 10mls lime juice, 10mls Sweet Vermouth, 40mls Rye Whiskey. Shake over ice and strain.

At home, Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #18: Lotus Club Special

My copy of David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks arrived last night. Once the gauche dustcover that was obviously designed by a blind man in the late seventies was removed I was quite taken by the powder blue embossed hardcover and sat down to read the words I have heard so much about.

Embury would have done extremely well in a world of social media, and there is little wonder in my mind why his book has remained popular. He exudes a point of view, not content with listing ingredients or defining methods, he defines opinion. He is right, and you, dear reader, are most likely wrong and have been for some time, for that matter.

After thumbing through the pages, wondering what I would make, I stumbled on the section containing the Sazerac. It seems very clear that Embury was not a fan, claiming the drink satisfied neither whiskey fans nor those with a taste for herbsaint or absinthe. He goes so far as to call the drink an old fashioned flavoured with absinthe and to declare that he had never met a Sazerac fanatic, even in Nawlins.

I felt the grate a little on this, being as I am, a Sazerac fanatic. While the taste does perhaps not permit the best of either the base nor modifier to shine through, it is the interplay between them that makes me love this drink. That ordering one requires a bartender to make a little effort and is usually the start of a discussion and a number of drinks. For me, at least, the Sazerac is very much an “enlivening tonic”.

Embury focuses on cutting the corners from the somewhat finnickity practices of the absinthe wash that make a Sazerac so time consuming and offers up this method in its place.

The Lotus Club Special

In a rocks glass, place a sugar cube soaked with three dashes of Peychaud’s bitters, a few drops of absinthe and a small amount of whiskey. Muddle the sugar and stir thoroughly until dissolved. Add a curative measure of Whiskey and stir in ice until the drink is cold and the glass covered in condensate. Garnish with the peel of lemon.

I used the La Perruse 100% cane sugar cubes, about 5mls of Green Fairy absinthe at 75%abv and a slug of about 60mls of Jim Beam Rye Whiskey to make the drink in the picture. It was delicious, a little muddier than the carefully prepared Sazerac, but the time saving means I’ll be doing it again…

I think Mr. Embury ande I are going to have a lot of fun together.

Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #11: The Boulevardier

I’ve written before about my love of the Negroni and also of Rye Whiskey, so it made perfect sense to combine these two passions in this wonderful drink.

The recipe calls for Bourbon, but increasingly I swap corn for rye in pursuit of a spicier mouthfeel. I’ve also made the drink with the red dipped Maker’s Mark, and while good, the rye wins in the end, at least for me.

Harry McElhone, who wrote it up in Barflies and Cocktails, was meant to have invented it for Ernest Hemingway, presumably while he was in Paris after visiting Spain to fire a couple of potshots at the forces of General Franco. I like to picture him blustering down the streets of the City of Lights, well stoked by a number of these.


  • 45mls bourbon (or rye)
  • 30mls Campari
  • 30mls sweet vermouth

Stir with cracked ice & strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry, or a lemon twist, or an orange slice.

Bottle Shop, Spirit

Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey

Rittenhouse RyeRittenhouse Rye Whisky was originally launched upon the repeal of Prohibition by the Continental Distilling Company ofPhiladelphia, and was subsequently acquired by Heaven Hill Distilleries, the nation’s largest independent family-owned spirits producer. Heaven Hill now produce a complete range of very crappy products like Hypnotiq and some non-agave tequila, but because of Rittenhouse I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they care about what they’re doing. They also produce Georgia Moon, a moonshine packaged in a jar (overbite and inbred children sold separately).

Back to Rittenhouse, it comes in three varieties, standard, bottled in bond (left) and the pricey but delightful 23yr old, which is much harder to find but well worth the effort. Rye whiskey is a bit drier (less sweet), stronger tasting and more peppery than bourbon. Cocktailwise, Manhattans and Sazeracs should definitely be experienced with this gem of the American Northeast.

So far I’ve found Rittenhouse at the Victoria Room, the Bayswater Brasserie and at Lotus. I also think I saw a bottle or two on the shelves at Elizabeth Bay Cellars.

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