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Mixology: Whiskey

By Ashley Jakubczyk

Feb. 2, 2014 11:57 p.m.

There are loads of trendy and diverse cocktails out there with complex and confusing flavors. Sometimes, though, it’s great to sip on a classic drink that’ll never quite go out of style. You know what you’re eating – shouldn’t you also know what you’re drinking?

Each week, columnist Ashley Jakubczyk will talk about a new mixed drink, where to get it in Westwood and how you can concoct your own version at home.

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Even though I’m a Los Angeles native, it’s no secret that I’m truly a Southern girl at heart. It started when I got my first pair of cowboy boots as a gift. Then country music stole my heart and now whiskey has captivated my taste buds.

Of all the spirits, whiskey is one of the most intricate and complex. It’s distilled from fermented grain mash. Different types of grain (such as corn or wheat) are used to create the different varieties, including single malt (one type of grain) and blended (multigrain). The multiple variations produce numerous distinct flavors, ranging from smoky to sweet.

Though whiskey doesn’t hail from the United States, the American South is famous for distilling its various versions, including bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, that have become famous worldwide under the moniker American whiskey.

One of the easiest whiskey-based drinks to mix is a simple Jack and Coke, made from Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Coca Cola. It’s a staple that can be ordered at any place that has a full bar, and is also easily recreated at home.

Due to whiskey’s high potency, a Jack and Coke is a good way to expose yourself to this new flavor set. However, if you’re already comfortable with the taste of whiskey, venture out a bit by trying another whiskey-based cocktail, like the Manhattan – a cocktail made of whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters.

Whiskey Blue, an upscale lounge and bar, at the W Hotel on Hilgard has a whiskey themed happy hour, Bourbon and Bites, Monday through Saturday from 5-9 p.m. There are four main drinks, all crafted from bourbon, a corn distilled whiskey.

Whiskey Blue’s version of the Manhattan is made from Old Forester bourbon, sweet vermouth and orange bitters. This simple combination, with its citrus undertones, cuts the potency of the whiskey for a balanced, well-blended drink. Another similar version, the Old Fashion, is offered as well. With regular bitters and sugar cubes replacing the orange bitters and vermouth, it’s not as sweet, but it really allows the flavors of the whiskey to stand out.

In true spirit of the American South, you can also order the My Old Kentucky Home, which combines Old Forester bourbon with simple syrup the refreshing tastes of lemon and mint.

The following recipe is a sweeter version of a Manhattan, made with a cinnamon flavored Canadian whiskey-based liqueur called Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. If you don’t like the taste of cinnamon, you can use a different whiskey in place of the Fireball. Try Southern Comfort Bourbon – the fruity undertones will pair perfectly with the sweetness of the apple liqueur.

Cinnamon Apple Manhattan

2 ounces Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey
1 ounce apple liqueur

Stir the whiskey and liqueur in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, then garnish with a freshly cut apple slice and serve.

Cinnamon Apple Manhattan (non-alcoholic)

1.5 ounce cinnamon simple syrup (1 cup water and 1 cup sugar boiled together with 1 cinnamon stick)
1.5 ounce apple juice

Stir the syrup and apple juice in a mixing glass with ice. Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass, then garnish with a freshly cut apple slice and serve.

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Do you agree with Jakubczyk’s Manhattan picks? Have a better whiskey-based drink to try? Comment below or email Jakubczyk at [email protected].

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Ashley Jakubczyk
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