Modern Classics

Dispatches from the world's best bars.

Ice Carving at Prizefighter in Emeryville, CA


But while Pappy’s popularity was exploding, production wasn’t. In fact, Julian had a major problem: Demand was threatening to deplete his entire supply. Stitzel-Weller, once his main supplier, had actually shut down in 1992. Its parent company, Diageo, continued to warehouse old whiskey there, but Julian had a finite supply that he could sell. He was only putting out about 7,000 12-bottle cases of bourbon per year (compare that to Jack Daniels, which exceeds 10 million cases annually). This was a niche product with mass awareness, and there was no way Van Winkle could scale production. But the scarcity, combined with the praise, only made it more desirable for serious whiskey nerds, compounding Van Winkle’s problem. To actually continue delivering the product, the Van Winkles struck a joint venture in 2002 with Buffalo Trace. The distiller would make bourbon for the Van Winkles in exchange for a cut of the sales. So, the 20-year Pappy you drink in 2030 won’t be from the same distillery as the 20-year Pappy you drank in 2006. But that won’t matter too much: More important than the distilling is the aging process, determining not only how long to store the barrels but also where to store them. “Certain types of warehouses have different flavor profiles, so there are all these tweaks you can do along the way,” says Julian of the aging. “We want it on the cooler, lower floors.”

How Pappy Van Winkle Became King of the Whiskeys
via Instapaper

Name My Trendy Cocktail Bar

Also works for farm-to-table restaurants, artisanal butchers, etc. Hat tip to Mike O’Dea.

4 days ago - 1


Time stands still at Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook, one of the best neighborhood bars I’ve ever met (that’s Sunny sitting in the back room in photos 2, and one of his paintings on the wall in photo 3).

I noticed the other day while browsing the liquor shelves at Bowery & Vine on the Lower East Side that Tequila Corazon, a brand under the Sazerac umbrella, has released a series of interesting tequila editions aged in oak barrels from the parent company’s Antique Collection bourbons and ryes (Thomas Handy, George T. Stagg, etc.). I’m a fan of Añejo tequila, and a fan of Sazerac’s various high end whiskey offerings, so a bottle of Añejo tequila aged in Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon barrels was a somewhat pricey but hard to resist splurge for me.

Fortunately, I didn’t regret the purchase a bit once I got home. Often these sorts of connoisseur products end up being expensive but disappointing gimmicks, but this one is a true win. The wood-ey, maple-syrup-and-pecan influence of the bourbon is clearly detectable, but it manages to blend elegantly with the citrus agave sweetness of the tequila into a very refined sipping spirit.

Never one to shy away from trying expensive, refined booze in a cocktail, I promptly tried the Van Winkle-aged tequila in a margarita, where it was good but perhaps a bit sweet (I really prefer the peppery bite of a blanco tequila in a margarita), with subtle wood notes poking through the sweet and sour. As I expected, though, where it really shined was in a spirit-forward context like the Oaxaca Old Fashioned (pictured above), where it provides a nice subtle whiskey-esque undertone that calls to mind the drink’s whiskey-based progenitor.


Sunny’s Bar - Red Hook, Brooklyn


Sunny’s Bar - Red Hook, Brooklyn

Forgotten Cocktails That Deserve a Revival -

1 month ago - 1