The holidays are nigh. Perhaps you’re laying out the welcome mat to play host. Maybe you already made the trek and are kicking up your feet in the warm glow of an iPad as you desperately try to escape the delights of family time.
It’s always my hope that you will be thankful for having read these articles, so in the interest of priming you for maximum gratitude I shall get down to business. You may need to get to a liquor store before they close for the holiday, after all. Far be it from me to deprive the corner store.
Two Ways to Play with Berentzen’s Apple Bourbon
I was casting about for something vaguely autumnal to drink not long ago, and feeling uninspired. One of the perils of writing for a liquor column is that your old standby might be elbowing out your enthusiasm for a new and interesting drink to showcase for your audience. This is admittedly a minor peril, far outweighed by the perks of having a platform to share your bibulous bloviations.
To wit: I was approached by a representative of a company I had theretofore never had the privilege of encountering. Berentzen USA has recently entered the U.S. market in a big way, after a long history (est. 1758!) of producing fine fruit liqueurs in Europe. The company graciously offered to send me a bottle of their new product, a blend of their apple liqueur and bourbon. They call it “Bushel & Barrel.”
As a man with Kentucky ancestry, I must confess that treating bourbon in this way strikes me as something akin to blasphemy. But as I am also well along the way towards being a degenerate hedonist, I took them up on their offer without a moment’s hesitation.
The bottle arrived in good order, and was promptly sampled. Made with straight bourbon that has been aged for two years, Bushel & Barrel comes in at 30 percent alcohol by volume, with a prominent flavor of apples and a heavy sweetness. It can be sipped on the rocks, which for me was almost like drinking a hard cider. It’s surprisingly tasty and incredibly smooth. If such a thing as a “flavored whiskey” market must exist (as indeed it must, for which I blame women), then it is best that entrants to it be of good quality. Berentzen’s Bushel & Barrel passes the test, as it exceeded my expectations in quality and drinkability.
It’s also fairly mixable. Let’s explore a few options for drinks.
Bushel & Barrel & Ginger
- 2 oz Berentzen Bushel & Barrel apple bourbon
- 2 oz Fever Tree ginger beer
- lime wedge
This is an easy one, well-suited to serving an assembled group of relatives in various states of, ahem, togetherness. Build the drink in a rocks glass with ice. Add the apple bourbon, then the ginger beer. Squeeze the lime wedge into the drink, and give it a quick stir with a swizzle stick.
The use of ginger beer with this recipe is rather important, as your standard ginger ale will not be sufficient to counter the sweetness of the Bushel & Barrel. I experimented with the mix, and found that adding more ginger beer completely overpowered the apple and whiskey flavors. I recommend making it at a 1:1 ratio, perhaps adding a half ounce more ginger beer according to your tastes. If you prefer it on the sweeter side, back off the ginger beer by a half ounce and garnish with an apple slice instead of a lime. With a decent ginger beer and some citrus from the lime, the sweet liqueur contributes to a balanced, seasonal cocktail.
Berentzen Washington Apple
This next cocktail suggestion is also fantastically simple, which could be a boon if Uncle Jim needs to be hurriedly distracted from musing about Uncle Jennifer’s surgical history while you’re waiting for dinner to be served.
The Washington Apple is a cocktail that is typically made with whiskey, cheap neon green sour apple schnapps, and cranberry juice. With Berentzen’s Bushel & Barrel, you can substitute the first two ingredients for a fun little beverage. Served on the rocks, it’s easy drinking and may help to mellow a brewing family squabble. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 oz Bushel & Barrel
- 4 oz cranberry juice
- apple slice for garnish
- fresh cranberries (optional)
Add to a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with the slice of apple. Give it a stir and serve quickly.
If you’d prefer to cut the sweetness (even with cranberry juice, it is still very sweet), try muddling some fresh cranberries in the bottom of the glass before adding your ice. The tart cranberry does a lot to cut the sugary taste, which I believe is the name of the game when mixing with this spirit.
I sampled quite a bit of the Bushel & Barrel, so much so that it was nearly all gone by the time I got around to writing it up. There’s a lot of potential for its use in other cocktails, perhaps as a less hard-hitting substitute for Apple Jack. It’s worth it to pick up a bottle and experiment on your own, or to simply enjoy it for its own sake.