A few years ago, around Christmastime, I walked into one of the local San Diego watering holes, intent on some tap-side deliciousness because Christmas beers are where it’s at, you Philistines, and in that town you have a literal shit ton of badassery to choose from.
There was really no reason to use that phrase, “you Philistines”, but in the spirit of my daughter saying inappropriate and incorrect comments, I’m leaving it there. Like Daughter, Like Father.
Anyway, so we stroll in to this joint (which will remain nameless because they actually sell what you’re about to see and I don’t want to get some lame Cease and Desist order that arises out of one someone googling that shit on the internet.)
Anyway, so we stroll in to this joint and Styles tells me, “Dude. Have you had the Holiday Bourbon?”, and while I’m intrigued, I blew it off ’cause I was on a mission for some St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. He, however, created a monster when he asked me to take a moment, here at the beginning of the evening, and just try a bit. If I don’t like it, I can revert to the classics, but just give it a shot god dammit.
Yeah, I liked it.
I liked it so much, that’s all I drank that night. Literally all night. They had maybe a bottle or so left and I think between the two of us Tom and I polished off most of, if not the rest of that batch. SO SO SO delicious!
Not only was I left with the obvious hangover, but with the burning desire to replicate this greatness on my own. It can’t be that hard, I reason, thinking that if someone else can infuse that shit, why can’t I? But it’s not good enough to create my own concoction. No. One must rip off someone else to justify the total endeavor, thus beginning my hunger and yearning for the recipe for Unnamed Bar’s Holiday Bourbon.
Fast forward to last fall, when The Sheriff came to town for some goodtimes visiting. We got to talking about the Holiday Bourbon, because she not only frequents the establishment which sells the greatness, but she knows the bartenders pretty well. We got to shenaniganizing and determined that if she could get me the recipe, I could probably make this shit with some pretty simple ingredients.
Voila! A conspiracy was born!
True to form, Tania fulfills her end of the bargain and ends up drunk-texting me the recipe – from the bar! – after badgering the shit out of her hookup. Well played, Nefarious Sheriff! Grow a goatee soon so you can be Evil Sheriff!
What you’re about to witness is the contents and production of this text, this holy document, electronically seething with delicious badassery.
1. Bourbon: One 750ml size bottle.
You don’t want to use a Bourbon that’s too expensive because, in reality, you’re corrupting and ruining the original flavor. If it’s a great liquor, don’t jack it up. If it’s a $30 to $40 bottle of Buffalo Trace or Knob Creek or some boutique name of some sort, jack away.
2. Apples. One or Two Large Apples per bottle. (Go with two, just to be safe. I recommend this.)
All ingredients are key, but this one is the lynchpin of the flavor profile. Without the right apples, you’re going to get flavorless gruel. I recommend a VERY sweet apple type, like Honey Crisp or Fuji apples, but I’m sure a nice sweet/tart green apple would be awesome, too, I just haven’t tried it yet. The key is to get an apple that has a very powerful flavor. None of this Red Delicious bullshit, ’cause that’s not going to do you a bit of good.
3. Vanilla Bean Pods. Four full-length pods per bottle.
If you can, buy Organic Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. Someone explain to me why they’re called Bourbon Vanilla. Is that because it’s meant to go in Bourbon? I THINK SO!
4. Cinnamon Sticks: Four long sticks per bottle. (Note: Start with less and then taste test as you go. Some cinnamon can be stronger and too much will ruin your batch… if you feel it needs more later on, add another stick and so forth)
Again, if the cinnamon sticks are stale, your shit is going to taste shitty. So avoid the old ones in your grandma’s pantry and go to Whole Foods to pick up some good ones. It’s worth it. Listen, the cinnamon can ultimately make the taste go metallic and you don’t want that: if you’re going to try to impress your friends with your Evil Scientist ways, making sure it doesn’t taste like Lead and Sadness is a good way to go.
Ah, how pretty! (Ingredient ratio not to quantity.)
The easiest part of the process is putting all the business together. The worst? THE WAIT. Lamesauce.
However! It’s worth it. So here’s what you do:
1. Get yourself a resealable jar from the Container Store. You’ll also need a vessel in which to put your Deliciousness, so I’d recommend a 750 ml glass flask or some other decanter. Not including the fact that you want all of your ingredients submerged in the Bourbon, you’re going to eventually make more of this shit, so I’d recommend working with a larger size jar.
2. Slice the apples VERY THIN and put them in the jar. Better yet, get yourself a mandolin and just slice the damned things over the jar and directly into the container. You want the juices. Don’t forget to core your apples, kiddies! We don’t want seeds and poison in our hooch, now!
3. Using cooking scissors, cut the ends from your Vanilla Bean pods directly into the jar which is now full of thinly sliced apples. Now, cut the pods themselves lengthwise so they’re split down the center. You can either place them directly into the jar or cut them in half – your call. If you have a smaller jar, cut the pods; you need them to stay submerged in the liquid the entire time.
4. Using brute force and manliness, break the cinnamon sticks in half while growling and/or grunting. This will make you feel awesome while handling such a non-manly ingredient. Place the broken halves into the jar. Continue grunting. Pelvic thrusts are also appropriate.
YOUR JAR SHOULD NOW CONTAIN:
Sliced Apples, Dissected Vanilla Bean Pods, and Manly-Like Snapped Cinnamon Sticks.
4. Pour the jar of pure, unadulterated Bourbon into the jar, over the ingredients already contained therein. The first time you do this, you may become wistful. The second time you do this, you will rejoice, for you know what’s coming. It’s very much like Buttsex in this way.
5. VIGOROUSLY Shake the Concoction Jar THREE TIMES DAILY for TWO WEEKS. None of this swishing around crap – that helps no one. Grab the jar and shake that bitch like the neighbor’s yappy little dog. Protip: Have the jar waiting for your wife when she opens the shower curtain. 😀
Your pre-straining goo, complete with Straining Tools. The smell is going to kick you in the face.
Typical gestation time is TWO WEEKS, but I’d recommend a tasting after 10 days. For me, cinnamon is a strong flavor and I’m not too keen on a super cinnammony flavor, so I ended up pulling half of mine out around that time. But it’s up to you. If you’re digging the flavor profile, leave it in for another four days and…
Get it now?
Strain that shit into a Flask of Outright Majesty!
Ghetto Setup Straining Tools:
1. Mesh Coffee Strainer.
Yeah, make sure you clean this out nicely. Coffee flavor won’t go with this so well.
Funnels are just cool. Getting to use one for legitimate purposes is even cooler.
Regardless of what tools you end up using, just make sure you have a very fine strainer: during the infusion process, you’re going to have a bunch of vanilla flecks from the bean pods and shake from the cinnamon sticks and you don’t want that business in your glass at the end of the evening.
The Carnage and the Glory
You have one other option here, which is to press the liquid out of the Apple Slices and into the flasks/bottles. The first batch did not include this procedure but the second time was Ivonne’s idea. The apples absorb a lot of the bourbon and we can’t waste it now, can’t we? With the compression, you get a bit of sediment that forms in the bottom of your flasks. If you don’t mind that, awesome. I think it adds a bit more flavor, so I just shake the bottle before I serve myself.
As for serving suggestions, it all depends on whether you like your shit cold or not. Personally, this flavor is BADASS when it’s cold outside and the Bourbon is room temp, giving you that extra sensation of Innard Warming. Depending on the apples you use, it can be sweet, so an ice cube wouldn’t be terrible. However! I tried this with two Whiskey Stones the other day and LOVED IT. So yeah, experiment with temperature, but feel free to drink it straight – my preferred method – or get your loved ones loaded by spiking their Hot Apple Cider with a splash of this jimmy, ’cause that’ll fuck ’em right up.
So what’s next?
For this particular concoction, I think a small – SMALL – amount of clove would be pretty cool, so I’m going to try that with my next batch. Cloves are rough, ’cause if you overdo it, the entire batch could be ruined. At an approximate total cost of $60 per batch, that would be very lame.
But what else do you think would work? Maybe some orange rinds to give it a true Hot Spiced Cider flavor? We’ll see!
Finally, as you spend this winter sitting cozily in front of the fire, sipping the Nectar of God’s Own Teat, thank Tania. Without her nagging and badgering, we’d never have this fine moment together.
Note from Ivonne….
When he’s not at work or pretending to not watch me while I am getting dressed, Josh can be found over on his blog www.hotchunkysalsa.com, which really needs to get dusted off.