Black Wednesday, Blackout Wednesday or Drinksgiving; perhaps not terms familiar to the majority of us, but maybe something which will elicit a wry smile among our American readers!
Maybe Thanksgiving Eve is a more globally acknowledged name for the day before Thanksgiving, but whichever label you care to use, the definition remains unchanged; it’s purportedly the most popular drinking evening of the year for the folk in the U.S.
Students are home from college, preparations for Thanksgiving dinner are done, and everyone is ready to kick back, relax and have a few drinks, before the big day arrives along with all the hustle and bustle mass catering usually involves!
So, in the spirit of friendship (pardon the pun!) we thought we’d give some recommendations for the best whiskey/bourbons and cocktails for those celebrating at home, and the best whiskey bars in New York for party-goers lucky enough to be out and about in the Big Apple on 22nd November.
Top Whiskies & Cocktails
Small batch, award winning Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Elijah Craig, enjoys rave reviews for its smooth, rich and gentle warm spice and smoke flavours. Enjoy over a cube of ice or use in the signature cocktail ‘The Old Fashioned’
The Old Fashioned
2 fl oz / 57ml Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
¼ fl oz / 7ml Simple Syrup
3 dashes of Bitters (such as Angostura)
Orange Swath (a band of zest with a little pith attached that is twirled and placed in the drink)
Brandied Cherry (optional)
In a mixing glass, add bitters, simple syrup, Elijah Craig Small Batch, and ice. Stir until well chilled. Strain cocktail over a large ice cube in a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry and swath of orange.
Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon
Using water from the Kentucky River, non-GMO grains and the deepest No.4 ‘alligator’ char on the inside of the American White Oak barrels, Wild Turkey 101 delivers a distinctive full bodied, deep auburn coloured Bourbon. With aromas and a palate of vanilla, oak, citrus and toffee, with a light smoke undertone rippling through, this premium whiskey is one of America’s most popular. A fantastic neat drink on the rocks, or if you can bear to mix it, it makes a great Boulevardier.
A twist on the Negroni that’s perfect for cooler weather.
1¼ fl oz /35 ml Wild Turkey Bourbon or Rye
1 fl oz / 28 ml Campari
1 fl oz / 28 ml sweet Vermouth
Add all ingredients into the mixing glass. Stir, and strain over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a cherry.
With a choice of easy everyday drinking, small batch, single barrel or small batch select, the multi award winning Four Roses have a bourbon to suit all preferences. However, we are going to recommend the Small Batch, which is suitable for everyday drinking but will add a touch of depth and class to any cocktail. Aged between six and seven years, this bourbon gives aromas of sweet oak and caramel, with a spicy fruity flavour and a long, smooth finish. Enjoy on its own or shake it up a bit with a Gold Rush!
The Gold Rush
2 fl oz / 57 ml Four Roses Small Batch
¾ fl oz / 21 ml Honey syrup *
¾ fl oz / 21 ml Lemon juice
Garnish – Lemon peel
Add all ingredients to a shaker. Add ice and shake for fifteen seconds, or until cocktail is well chilled. Double strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish.
*Honey Syrup: Combine equal parts honey and hot water. Stir until honey is dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
You have six to choose from, but we’re going straight in with the sherry cask single malt. As the name suggests, the four-year-old Rocky Mountain Single Malt is transferred to PX and Oloroso Sherry barrels to impart that sweet, cask finish. Aromas of figs, dates, honey and candied fruit, flavour of cherries, blackcurrants and walnut and a smooth, sweet caramel finish with a hint of smoked cayenne. Enjoy neat with a splash of water.
Michter’s US*1 Single Barrel Straight Rye Whisky 10 YO
Okay, so we’ve upped the ante a little with this, but if you’re looking for something rather special to celebrate with, look no further.
Maturated in fire charred, new American white oak barrels, this 46.4% abv rye whiskey delivers deep notes of vanilla toffee, toasted almonds and cinnamon with a kick of crushed pepper and fresh hint of orange citrus. Relax with a dram – just a dash of water, or, use it to make one of the best Manhattan’s out there!
2.5 oz. Michter’s Rye
1 oz. Punt e Mes or Noilly Prat (or any other Vermouth)
2 good dashes Angostura Bitters
Garnish: Maraschino cherry
Fill a large glass with ice, add rye, vermouth and bitters and stir well.
Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with the cherry.
Top Whisky bars in New York
For those lucky enough to be hitting the bars in New York, here’s our top five recommendations for the best venue for your whiskey/whiskey cocktails:
The Flatiron Room
With locations in Murray Hill and Nomad, Manhattan the Flatiron Room is a haven for whiskey lovers. With seriously impressive spirit menus, the list of Rye, Bourbon, Whiskey, Scotch and International whiskies on offer is seemingly endless! Choose a neat drink, a whiskey cocktail, or go all out and book a tasting flight.
With a full evening’s entertainment on offer, you can enjoy Thanksgiving Eve drinking a variety of whiskeys, along with some incredible food and live music.
So, if you fancy stepping back in time to the prohibition era of the 1920’s, immerse yourself in the cozy interiors of one of the Flatiron Rooms and make sure you allow plenty of time to peruse the extensive whiskey menu whilst soaking in the sounds of live jazz. And if you find a dram you’re really partial to, you can purchase the bottle, drink as much as you like, then have the bottle tagged with your name and stored safely in their Bottle Keep. You then access your very own bottle in the future, using your electronic Bottle Keep card; cool!
The Brandy Library
Do not let the name deceive you! This establishment has a whiskey menu over 13 pages long! They are clearly serious about their drams – Scotch is split according to region, with separate sections for blended malt and single grain and blended. You then have all the American Whiskeys, followed by Irish, Canadian, Japanese, followed by the rest of the world. And for connoisseurs really wanting to splash out, there’s even a 40 year old, 2019 release 84% proof Dalmore at an eye watering $2,249!
Worry not, the rest of the whiskey menu is far more financially inclusive, but has some stunning brand names available. If neat whiskey isn’t your thing, there’s a good selection of cocktails available, ranging from an Old Fashioned signature cocktail to
a Boulevardier made with Weller Special Reserve Bourbon or a Black Bird comprising Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon. And never fear, there is always a Whiskey Sommelier on hand to assist if the choice becomes overwhelming.
Then of course there is the tasting flight option – and boy what a selection on offer! With the ultimate being a special edition flight of ‘100 years of Dalmore’:
“100 Years of Dalmore – Upon a silver serving tray, a trio of Baccarat crystal dram flutes, each engraved with Dalmore’s stag head logo, will be presented to you. In the first, you’ll find the 25 year old which was matured first in American ex-bourbon and first-fill bourbon barrels, then in sherry casks, and finished in Tawny Port pipes from Portugal. In the second, you’ll find the 35 year old which was matured first in Matusalem (sweetened Oloroso) casks, then in ex-bourbon barrels, and finally in Colheita port pipes from the 1970s. And in the third, you’ll find the 40 year old, which matured in exbourbon and sherry casks, before finishing in first-fill bourbon barrels.“ $ 1,200
The Campbell Bar
Oozing charisma and splendour this bar is a winner even without its whiskey. Situated inside Grand Central Terminal, The Campbell is divided into three separate ‘experiences’, each reflecting a different aspect of John W. Campbell, the financier who converted the space into his private office and reception hall in 1923. The Campbell Bar is representative of his office – natural finishing of wood and leather are punctuated with statement materials such as brass and quartzite.
The Campbell Palm Court on the other hand, offers a more oasis like environment as towering palm trees surround the drinkers who are free to observe the comings and goings in the main terminal.
Lastly, the Campbell Terrace offers a more ‘al fresco’ drinking experience, as a covered veranda sweeps towards the chilly outdoors – however, it obviously has its own full bar, so there’s plenty of winter warming whiskey to keep you warm!
Talking of which – the drinks. A nice whisky cocktail will keep you feeling happy whilst you peruse a very healthy sized whisky menu comprising American, Scotch, Japanese and Irish Whiskeys.
Who can talk about whiskey and New York and not give a shout out to the Irish community! The name Dead Rabbit stems from the gang of the same name prevalent in the lower Manhattan area in the mid 1800’s, who fought (in the bare-knuckled sense) to protect the immigrant Irish underclass. A five-story 19th Century townhouse now serves as an Irish bar with an American accent.
Spread out over three floors, each offering a different experience, the bar obviously specialises in Irish charm and Irish Whiskey – 91 of them in fact, ranging from $14 Jameson to the limited-edition Method & Madness 33 Mizunara at $810, not to mention a very good selection of Scotch and American whisky/whiskey. The Taproom celebrates everything that makes a traditional Irish pub, with plenty of Irish whiskey and Irish coffees, which contain – well, whiskey!
The Parlour on the first floor specialises more in cocktails and the third floor hosts the Occasional room, which can cater for up to 60 people and is available for private hire.
The Travel Bar
A hugely impressive menu of 450 whiskies awaits you at this Brooklyn bar. With a menu split by nationality, then by region/type, it’s very easy to navigate and is a reflection of why the bar is so named, as the owners wished to bring their love of travel to their bar.
Rare and vintage offerings sit alongside staple American and Scotch favourites, along with Japanese, Irish, Indian and English whiskies. And if whiskey flights are your thing, they have those available too.
For those in a more party mood, there are some fascinating sounding cocktails on the menu, accompanying the more traditional Manhatttans and Old Fashioned.