Wilde Heart on Tempered Spirits.com

Last month, Imbibe ran a piece on Irish Whiskey that caught my attention, namely because I hadn’t tasted or mixed with very many Irish whiskeys. If you’ve paged through a large number of cocktail books, you’ll understand why — it’s just not used in cocktails very often. According to Imbibe the scene is changing, however, and more and more bartenders are experimenting with what was once the most popular spirit in the country.

As a result of the aforementioned article and a visit to the faux-Irish bar at the New York, New York Hotel in Las Vegas, the Hutch in the basement now has three Irish whiskeys added to its stockpile: Tullamore Dew (decent and mild), Bushmill’s Black Bush (a wonderful blend, a bit maltier, with a hint of sherry), and Redbreast 12-year (a great all-around single-malt). The one that’s been used most frequently as of late is the Black Bush, which is specifically called for in the following drink, the Wilde Heart.

Wilde Heart

1 1/2 ounces Bushmill’s Black Bush Irish Whiskey
3/4 ounce Amaro CioCiaro
1/4 ounce Cherry Heering

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

The Wilde Heart comes from Brandon Josie of 15 Romolo in San Francisco and is a wonderful mix of grain, bitterness, and sweetness. Despite its name, the drink is a gentle one, the CioCiaro being one of the less powerful Italian amari out there but quite a tasty one (I picked it up after seeing it poured into the Southern Cola at Holeman & Finch). What I love here is the use of Cherry Heering: it normally provides a powerful wallop of flavor that, while wonderful, tends to take over drinks. Plus, I rarely use it in anything except the Blood & Sand and the Singapore Sling*. In the Wilde Heart, it adds just enough fruity oomph to highlight the sherry-cask flavor of the Black Bush and the slight notes of fruit in the amaro. The hint of citrus oil from the orange twist completes the package. Says the 15 Romolo bar menu: “As dark and flamboyant as the author namesake.”

On the Wilde Heart: ”The subtle depths of sherry cask-finished Black Bush whiskey is matched with the nutty richness of an Italian amaro, with cherry liqueur lending a plush sweetness.”

Bushmills Black Bush: “Aged in used sherry casks, Bushmills Black Bush is rich and luscious, with an aroma of almonds and cherries and a bold flavor touched with dried fruit and honey.”

Redbreast: “Made with a combination of malted and unmalted barley, the single pot-still whiskeys from Redbreast are some of the best spirits coming out of Ireland. Redbreast 12-year-old is bold, with notes of honey, orange zest, and hazelnuts…”

Imbibe, September/October 2011

If you’re a Manhattan drinker, give the Wilde Heart (or the Redbreast whiskey) a try and I think you’ll have a new drink for the Fall. For a few more classic Irish whiskey drinks, head over to 12 Bottle Bar’s drink menu and sift through their selection.

*PS: I couldn’t find the Original Singapore Sling recipe listed online, but Ted Haigh published it in “How the Sling was Slung” in Imbibe July/August 2011. The recipe follows:

Original Singapore Sling

1 ounce London Dry Gin
1 ounce Bols Cherry Brandy or Cherry Heering
1 ounce Bénédictine
1 ounce Fresh Lime Juice

2 ounces Soda Water
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Combine all ingredients except soda water and bitters in an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with soda, then dash the bitters on top. Garnish with either a thick lime spiral (a la the 1920s) or omit the Bénédictine and bitters and float sloe gin on top (a la the 1930s).

For a newer version, check out Robert Hess’s show, but I like the original version best; Beachbum Berry’s Singapore Sling (? – 1950s), from Beachbum Berry Remixed, is also very good (up the gin to two ounces, reduce the Bénédictine to 1/2 ounce, add 1/2 ounce of brandy and omit the bitters, though they wouldn’t do any harm).

Drink of the Week: Singapore Sling on summitsips.com

Supposedly, July 27th was National Scotch Day. I know it’s not the most popular holiday, but the timing was pretty good (it was a coincidence, really) for describing the Scotch tasting event last week and for featuring the Blood and Sand cocktail the week before. I thought about selecting another Scotch drink this week but I decided it was time to move on. That’s when a friend of mine finally tracked down some Cherry Heering and made the Blood and Sand. I wondered if perhaps there were other readers looking for additional ways to use cherry brandy, so I thought I would feature the Singapore Sling.

It can be a delicious cocktail, depending on the recipe you use. That said, it’s just as easy to make one taste awful. Part of the problem is that like a lot of cocktails, the original recipe was lost and this has caused many enthusiasts to experiment with ingredients over the years. It’s certainly considered a classic, dating back to the early twentieth century when it was created at the Raffles Hotel Singapore, but it disappeared around 1930. The official “restored” version was supposedly discovered on an old bar napkin and pieced together based on bartender memory, but not everyone agrees that it is the proper recipe. Another drink called the Straits Sling is a close match, and more than a few cocktail historians think this might actually be the real recipe. Whatever you want to believe, one thing is absolutely clear—right or wrong, there’s more than one way to make a Singapore Sling.

And that’s another problem with this cocktail. It’s just never the same drink in two different locations. Finding a favorite version would be a lot easier if there weren’t so many ingredients to assemble. Now, I’m not saying you should ignore any cocktail that has more than a few ingredients, but if you are in a hurry, it’s probably not going to be your first choice. The traditional recipe is a combination of gin, Dom Benedictine, Cherry Heering, Cointreau, lime juice, fresh pineapple juice, grenadine and Angostura bitters. It’s not impossible, but how often does anyone have fresh pineapple juice anyway? Now, normally I’d be excited about the opportunity to use some homemade real pomegranate grenadine, but there is a real risk of ruining this drink with too much syrupy sweetness. Imagine my surprise when I found a version that not only leaves out the grenadine, but drops the pineapple as well!

This version of the Singapore Sling is found in the pages of Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s excellent Beachbum Berry Remixed, a revised compilation of tiki drinks from his two successful books in one volume. Some of you might argue that the pineapple juice is what gives this drink the foamy head and that it’s an essential flavor element. Well, I am not here to argue, but but I gotta say, I am a lot more likely to make this drink in it’s less complicated form than I am to carve up a fresh pineapple in order to conform with tradition. Besides, I like the flavor of this version because it has a nice balance without being overly sweet. Do what you like, especially if you have a pineapple and some pomegranate grenadine, but I’m saving mine for another time and making this version from now on:

Singapore Sling
from Beachbum Berry Remixed
2 oz gin
.5 oz brandy
1 oz Cherry Heering
.5 oz Benedictine
1 oz fresh lime juice
1.5 oz club soda to top

Add all ingredients except the soda to a shaker. Fill with ice and shake until thoroughly chilled. Strain into a tall glass of ice. Add soda to top and garnish with an orange wedge and a sprig of mint.

Summit Sips – Drink of the Week: Singapore Sling

Supposedly, July 27th was National Scotch Day. I know it’s not the most popular holiday, but the timing was pretty good (it was a coincidence, really) for describing the Scotch tasting event last week and for featuring the Blood and Sand cocktail the week before. I thought about selecting another Scotch drink this week but I decided it was time to move on. That’s when a friend of mine finally tracked down some Cherry Heering and made the Blood and Sand. I wondered if perhaps there were other readers looking for additional ways to use cherry brandy, so I thought I would feature the Singapore Sling.

It can be a delicious cocktail, depending on the recipe you use. That said, it’s just as easy to make one taste awful. Part of the problem is that like a lot of cocktails, the original recipe was lost and this has caused many enthusiasts to experiment with ingredients over the years. It’s certainly considered a classic, dating back to the early twentieth century when it was created at the Raffles Hotel Singapore, but it disappeared around 1930. The official “restored” version was supposedly discovered on an old bar napkin and pieced together based on bartender memory, but not everyone agrees that it is the proper recipe. Another drink called the Straits Sling is a close match, and more than a few cocktail historians think this might actually be the real recipe. Whatever you want to believe, one thing is absolutely clear—right or wrong, there’s more than one way to make a Singapore Sling.

And that’s another problem with this cocktail. It’s just never the same drink in two different locations. Finding a favorite version would be a lot easier if there weren’t so many ingredients to assemble. Now, I’m not saying you should ignore any cocktail that has more than a few ingredients, but if you are in a hurry, it’s probably not going to be your first choice. The traditional recipe is a combination of gin, Dom Benedictine, Cherry Heering, Cointreau, lime juice, fresh pineapple juice, grenadine and Angostura bitters. It’s not impossible, but how often does anyone have fresh pineapple juice anyway? Now, normally I’d be excited about the opportunity to use some homemade real pomegranate grenadine, but there is a real risk of ruining this drink with too much syrupy sweetness. Imagine my surprise when I found a version that not only leaves out the grenadine, but drops the pineapple as well!

This version of the Singapore Sling is found in the pages of Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s excellent Beachbum Berry Remixed, a revised compilation of tiki drinks from his two successful books in one volume. Some of you might argue that the pineapple juice is what gives this drink the foamy head and that it’s an essential flavor element. Well, I am not here to argue, but but I gotta say, I am a lot more likely to make this drink in it’s less complicated form than I am to carve up a fresh pineapple in order to conform with tradition. Besides, I like the flavor of this version because it has a nice balance without being overly sweet. Do what you like, especially if you have a pineapple and some pomegranate grenadine, but I’m saving mine for another time and making this version from now on:

Singapore Sling
from Beachbum Berry Remixed
2 oz gin
.5 oz brandy
1 oz Cherry Heering
.5 oz Benedictine
1 oz fresh lime juice
1.5 oz club soda to top

Add all ingredients except the soda to a shaker. Fill with ice and shake until thoroughly chilled. Strain into a tall glass of ice. Add soda to top and garnish with an orange wedge and a sprig of mint.

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