How is the best of the best determined? Let’s take a cocktail for example. The definition of a cocktail (wait I need to look this up) is “an alcoholic drink consisting of a spirit or several spirits mixed with other ingredients, such as fruit juice, lemonade, or cream”. Isn’t it nice that Coke or Pepsi was not included in that list of "other ingredients"? I think so.
Do I claim to be an expert on cocktails? Absolutely not! Do I enjoy trying new cocktails to see what great concoctions mixologist come up with? Well who doesn’t, (mother please don’t answer that one, I know we had that conversation already 😊). By the dictionary’s standard a cocktail is a beverage that is mixed with a spirit or several spirits. In the past, I thought my favorite cocktail was whiskey neat, but now after reading the definition, that is not classified as a cocktail. So sad.
I recently heard a term the other day, it was “two-part cocktail”. I felt ignorant but I had to ask what was a “two-part cocktail”? You can find them, they exist in some run-down dives that carry the 4Js (Jim, Jack, Johnny and Jose). Mix that whiskey/bourbon with a Coke and guess what you have a two-part cocktail. Not that I don’t know my cocktails, but who makes a two-part cocktail in today’s society. A long time ago I was told that if you pay $40+ for a whiskey, why in the world would you mask the flavor with a Coke. Does that mean that Jim, Jack and Johnny are bad tasting, absolutely not, but I think it was the easiest way for many to be able to drink whiskey in the 80s and 90s and that is a two-part cocktail.
Back to the question at hand, what makes a great cocktail? Who has the authority to determine what makes a great cocktail. There is no one, you get to decide! That is the best answer I have heard all day. Now some of the names for cocktails are a little bizarre and I am not sure why people choose to down grade the cocktail or the spirit. A good example that I just saw on a website was a “Blow Job”. Can we just assume that a guy was not getting any at home andhad to find a way to drown his sorrows, so he created this concoction to make himself feel better. That is the story I am going to stick with. I am sure that this is a great drink/shot and is probably enjoyed by many but I am sorry I will not be ordering a “Blow Job” in my future.
What about the classics. A Manhattan, a martini, an old fashioned. They role off the tongue like butter. My favorite as most of you know is the old fashioned. I have seen this cocktail done a number of different ways but what makes it the “right way”? Technically there isn’t one that I am aware of. However, I do cringe when I see bartenders crush (muddle) an orange and cherry in my drink. By doing that you just took up 2 ounces of my cocktail with a beaten piece of fruit. NO muddling! I prefer simple syrup in my cocktail over the crushed sugar cube, either way you will get some sugar water in your system, so to each their own. Bitters are important. Most don’t think so, but the wrong bitters could make or break your cocktail. There are so many flavors to choose from too. Side note: At one time, I was on a HUGE plum bitters kick (thanks Montana) for my old fashioned. Then of course you have the whiskey/bourbon and I am a BIG whiskey/bourbon fan.
I am always intrigued when I ask people what spirit they use to make an old fashioned. Some choose Tin Cup then make it Smokey and add candied bacon (to hide the flavor maybe, I am not sure). Some choose a bourbon like Markers Mark, now in my personal opinion a bourbon (being made with so much corn) is already sweet enough. If you are looking for a super sweet drink apply your favorite bourbon. My go to, well since you asked.. it is a good rye whiskey. Doesn’t have to be a fancy rye, but a rye with a peppery finish that stands up against the sweetness of a simple syrup and balances for a great cocktail. The right bitters pulls the drink together and the garnish of a Luxardo cherry is just what it needs. Another side note: Some mixologists like to use a good orange bitters for the cocktail and treat the glass by rubbing an orange peel on the rim of the glass. Pretty fancy if you ask me, but it definitely makes that orange flavor pop. There are lots of ways to change up a classic to make it fit your palates desires, so take your best shot.
As for other cocktails, I leave that to the mixologist’s imagination. Fruit smashes, Manhattans, sours, martinis, mules, the possibilities truly are endless and very tasty. One of my favorite cocktails I had recently was a Whiskey Sour (Prohibition Style) from the Whisk€y Bar in Fort Collins, CO. When I asked our fabulous mixologist Sam, what makes it prohibition style? He said, “more whiskey”! Now that is my kind of cocktail.
This year I am going to be investing in some of our craft distillers barrel programs. So what does that mean… well laying down a chunk of change for a spirit that will sit in a barrel for at least two years and produce approximately 250 bottles (depending on when it is time to pull the barrel). Interesting part about this is the following:
I would like for you to be a part of the experience and the investment. This spring I will be looking into barrel programs across the country. By the Summer of 2019, the investment will be made for up to 5 barrels to be made on behalf of OWP and friends (other investors). Barrel sizes and bottle yields will vary on the size of the barrel. Bottles will be split evenly among the investors, when the spirit is ready to be bottled.
Stay tuned to OWPs website for more information on this program.
When I was born, oh so many years ago, my father wrote out a list of names for me. I still have that list and I am not sure how princess got on there (I am so far from being a princess). He had quite the list of names and out of all of them, I think BillyJo fits just fine.
When my children were born, I named both of them. Their father really did not have a say in it and I knew exactly what their names were going to be when I found out I was pregnant with both of them. Yes, the rumors are true I did name my daughter after a witch, from the popular tv show, Bewitched. Samantha Stevens was great and that was that. My son, well I named him after my father, well as close as I could get. My father was born in the 30s so it was popular to name your children after birth stones and flowers. My father’s name is Garnet, so my son became Garrett. Both children have very strong, and long names (you are welcome), in my opinion. So where is this going, yes right, I am having difficulty naming my third child, aka a distillery.
When I started my web site it made sense to call it One Woman’s Perspective, because that is really what it is, my perspective. When I was writing up the business plan for my class it was easy to go through a list of names for this make-believe concept. But, this is real for me and finding a name that would stand up and be bold against the Stranahans, Woods and Laws (all last names of the original distillers); and let’s not forget all the great names that are about a person’s life like 2 Bar (named after the family ranch), OOLA ,Two Bitch (named after their dogs) or Bear Creek (named after the high school the owners attended). All of these names have some significance in the owners /distiller’s lives.
This has been the toughest task for me to come up with. I was so sure that I knew what I would want to name my next child (the distillery), but it doesn’t seem like it will stand up against some of the great names that are already on the shelf. My place holder in the business plan is being held by Still Werks. The unfortunate thing is that Weld Werks (brewery in Greeley) might send out a cease and desist letter for using Werks in the name and being so close to their establishment. So, what is a good strong name that will stand out on the shelf and make an impact in the craft distilling world? My list a lot like my father’s list for me has possibilities but nothing is starred as “the one”.
What do you foresee as the next craft distilled spirit name that will be on the shelf? You can leave comments below.
My family asked me the same question that I get a lot from strangers, “BillyJo, why did you choose whiskey as your hobby?”
Around 2009ish, I was introduced to the craft whiskey scene (only thanks that man will ever receive from me). I attended a tour at a Colorado distillery and fell in love with the process to make whiskey. Like most it was a shock at first to see that the same grains that make a cereal can be turned into a distilled spirit. On this same visit I learned how to properly nose a whiskey and taste it. I learned to never put a cola product with my spirit unless it is God awful and I learned that I had a new passion in my life to seek out greatness in the whiskey world and the scavenger hunts began.
Five years later, I was going through my divorce and just lost half of the whiskey collection, which is like losing any other major asset in one’s marriage. I was devastated (about losing the whiskey) and knew I needed something in my life to change my tune. Shortly after, an individual, sat me down and told me that I need to do something for myself, she told me to get a hobby. A hobby, really, I have tried hobbies in the past and they never seem to stick, but she was right I needed something that I could call my own. So, I started to think about what is a hobby that is strong enough to stick around in my life, and last longer than my marriage. This hobby needed to be outside of my kids, school and work life, so after thinking about it for a moment, I chose whiskey. Whiskey provides… a warming sensation…an experience…unique flavor and if it does not work out in in the first few minutes you can put it back on the shelf with no real regrets.
When I went back to this person and shared my idea about my hobby, I think the impression was I would be some kind of collector and have a few bottles of some very special spirits. I can remember, like it was yesterday, getting my year-end bonus three years ago and wanting a new pair of tennis shoes and a tasting of Pappy Van Winkle 23 year. I paid $185 for that pour and was so excited to try what people thought was the best whiskey out there. Oh, how things changed.
Three years later, I have my own review site, over 300 bottles of some very special spirits and a slight reputation. Good reputation I think, at least for the moment.
Three years ago, after starting my hobby I created the One Woman’s Perspective website and started getting my feelers out into the distilling world. I have met some fabulous owners/distillers, from around the country and I share my experiences as I go, but that was not enough. Last year I put a small book together highlighting the craft whiskey industry in Colorado (my home), which is available on my site (I know, my own plug, jeez).
This year I started to take classes on how to make beer. Yes, beer. Lucky for me the instructors have allowed me to tailor my projects for whiskey instead of beer. I have made my own malt whiskey (with the assistance of Colorado Whiskey Guy) and by the summer of 2019, I will have my Certificate in Applied Brewing (yes, it is a thing). Now I am putting together a business plan to co-own and operate a distillery. When I talk to people about my plans, I ask, did they think it would ever go this far? They tell me they saw it from the beginning. Now you are all caught up!
Views, thoughts, comments and experiences are all mine, which includes all of the grammar/spelling errors. I do not claim to be an English major only needed an outlet to share my experiences.