This week I thought about pitting two cocktails against each other in honor of the Super Bowl. Then I realized this is the 10-Minute Happy Hour, emphasis on the minute, and two cocktails wouldn't quite fit our need for speed. Instead I chose one ultimate cocktail that will have you coming out the victor — no matter which team you're rooting for.
Like any drink, if you begin with quality ingredients, you'll end up with much better results. This week, I took a small batch rye from the bar. Made by Knob Creek, the bottle bears a tiny red insignia that states, "Patiently Aged." Now that's how you get a great happy hour in 10 minutes: let someone else do the hard part!
The artisan craze and the bourbon boom have led to a spike in small batch bourbon production. As the name states, this bourbon is indeed made in smaller batches. Typically, small batch spirits pour up a pre-prohibition style of booze, meaning they are in your face with flavor and aromas and there's no holding back on the alcohol. This puppy is 100 proof, but you would never know it. It's extremely smooth with vanilla and warm spices — perfect for pairing with orange essence.
Today's cocktail puts an orange spin on the classic Old-Fashioned with a fat slice of orange peel and orange bitters instead of the traditional Angostura. In these wintry months, I prefer the spice of rye instead of traditional bourbon, so into this drink went the Knob Creek Small Batch Rye Whiskey.
Pour one tonight and you'll see: you'll be craving this on Super Bowl Sunday, too!
1 sugar cube, or 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
3 dashes of orange bitters
Splash of club soda
Large peel of orange zest
2 ounces rye
In an old-fashioned, or short, glass place the sugar cube (or 1/2 teaspoon of sugar). Add the bitters and a splash of soda.
Use a muddler or a spoon to crush up the sugar until it is dissolved. I like to add the orange peel here too. Squeeze it to express the oils, run it around the rim of the glass and muddle it right in with the bitters and sugar. This gets the most fresh orange flavor into the cocktail.
Add ice and rye. Stir and enjoy.
Maureen C. Petrosky writes what she knows, food, booze and parties. Author of The Wine Club, she appears regularly on The TODAY show to share her vices, and advice with the world. For more info check out www.maureenpetrosky.com or follow her on twitter @maureenpetrosky
(Images: Maureen Petrosky)