Drink of the Week: Blackberry Whiskey Smash


Hands down, this is my new favorite whiskey cocktail! Growing up in North Carolina, picking blackberries off the vines around my Papaw’s farm, and with whiskey being my first spirit love, this cocktail is a nostalgic nod to my Southern upbringing.The Whiskey Smash was invented in 1862 by "Professor" Jerry Thomas, who by many, is considered the father of American mixology. Traditionally, the cocktail is Bourbon whiskey, mint, simple syrup, & lemon. Sounds delicious enough? Now just imagine with fresh, juicy blackberries muddled in. It’s a dream come true.

The recipe:

  • 1.5 oz Bulleit Rye

  • handful of mint leaves

  • 4-5 blackberries

  • ¾ oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

  • ½ oz agave nectar

  • splash of club soda, if you like

Gently muddle blackberries with mint leaves, agave, & lemon juice. Fill your glass with ice. Top with Bulleit Rye. Give it one or two firm shakes, no need to get jiggy with it. Top with soda or serve as is. Garnish with a few mint leaves.

Posted on February 28, 2014 .

Laurie's Whiskey Pick: Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Rye

Ahh Willett...memories. From my first try of the Pot Still years ago to other whiskies Rowan's Creek & Noah's Mill, the Willett family has always been one of my sentimental favorites. And their Single Barrel Rye is not something to be missed. Downside? Not much is made, and it's hard to find, but if you can get your hands on it, DO. 

Not messing around at 110 proof, this whiskey means business. Loads of spice alongside toffee, honey, sweet candy, white pepper, & oak. As the initial alcohol burns off (or your nosehairs) aromas come shining through. Fans of rye whiskies seek this rarity out.  A perfect fall-winter sipper.

Also check out their website with their other brands, history, & delicious recipes at:



Posted on October 23, 2013 .

Laurie's Whisky Pick: Tobermory 10

History buffs & Scotch lovers listen up! If you don't know Tobermory yet, it's time:

Located on the Isle of Mull, Tobemory is the only distillery on the island AND is the oldest commercial distillery in Scotland, built in 1798. A touch of history: First settled in 3000 BC by Neolithic farmers, the Isle of Mull has seen everything from Spanish galleons being blown up in it's bay to the yacht of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert to acting as a naval base during WWII! If islands could talk...

With over 215 years of experience under their belt, these guys know something about making exceptional Scotch. The 10 has no caramel added, and the taster gets the truest sense of aroma and flavor from the Tobermory.  

Tasting notes: Marine aromas of seagrass and salty air (making this girl dream of far-off bluffs and windswept beaches), alongside white flower, ginger, white peach, & lightly toasted oak. The palate is smooth, refined, and natural, making this an elegant choice anytime. Absolutely lovely.


Posted on October 11, 2013 .

Drink of the Week: The Cherry Bomb

Tired of the same old Mimosa? The Cherry Bomb is beautiful, sophisticated, and delicious. The bomb in the cherry? Luxardo cherries, which might just be one of the greatest things on Earth.


Posted on October 11, 2013 .

Laurie's Whiskey Pick: Bulleit Bourbon

One of my favorite intro Bourbons for whiskey neophytes! Easy & incredibly smooth, this is how you get people loving Bourbon and wanting to explore more. 

Made in the 1830's by Augustus Bulleit (who later mysteriously vanished!), Bulleit was revived in 1987, and has risen to be one of the most popular Bourbons on the market. With a high rye content (95%), Bulleit has that wonderful grainy spice, yet is ultra smooth. Look too for notes of caramel, orange peel, vanilla, and a touch of toffee. This is my favorite Bourbon for Mint Juleps. Come to think of it, it is pretty darn fine for a lot of craft cocktails out there. 



Posted on October 2, 2013 .

Laurie's Whisky Pick: Monkey Shoulder

Think you don't like Scotch? Like so many drinkers I talk to, you might be thinking, "Scotch is too peaty, it's too lean, it's too _____(fill in blank)." I've even heard, "My wife won't drink it" or "women don't like Scotch...do they?"  I hear it all of the time in the restaurant industry. 

I even was shunned yesterday by a Scotch rep (not to be named) in lieu of the male manager present (he didn't even acknowledge my presence), because apparently I, the woman, couldn't possibly know anything about whisky, right? :)

Instead of getting angry, I just laughed it off. His loss.  Back to the whiskey.

This is YOUR crossover Scotch. I promise: 



Monkey Shoulder: 

Three single malt whiskies go into the blend, Glenfiddich, Balvenie, & Kininvie. Dangerously smooth and easy drinking, (Bourbon drinkers love it too) this Scotch is fantastic in a mixed cocktail or enjoyed on its own. A great intro whisky for those still not sure they like Scotch. With notes of peach, honey, vanilla, toffee, & spice, it's a must try.


Posted on September 18, 2013 .

An Unexpected Thrill: A Distiller's Masterclass with Patron Tequila

One of my most unexpected and greatest spirit-based thrills this year was attending the exclusive Patron Masterclass in San Diego. It was a full-day event, starting with a morning of tequila knowledge endowed by the El Consejo Regulador del Tequila, followed by an exam with diploma conferring my learned knowledge about tequila, a delicious buffet lunch, and finally a tasting to remember for a lifetime.

It was our great honor to be led through our spirited journey by distiller Francisco Alcaraz, who designed the copper stills Patron uses instead of the more efficient, yet less flavor inducing column stills. 

In addition, Patron does not use the large steam baking autoclaves, but instead employs the traditional small capacity brick ovens, again for greater flavor extraction. Environmental tree-huggers like myself might be surprised and happy to learn that this world-famous distillery was the first "green" company in Mexico, recycling 100% of their waste, turning leftovers into mulch and fertilizer, using reverse osmosis to turn the sludge from the distillery into potable water, and using recycled glass for their bottles.

So let's get to the tequila, shall we? 6 tequilas, in the order we tasted:

PLATINUM: This 3 times distilled tequila is rested in open-air oak tanks for 30 days. Incredibly smooth. Notes of citrus & pepper, light & fresh agave, and gentle notes of wood and vanilla. Exceptionally drinkable.  $200

SILVER: 2 times distilled, in comparison to the Platinum, Silver has much more fruitiness present, with citrus, agave, pepper, spice, and earthy notes. It's sweeter than the Platinum, and rougher around the edges, with a more intensified burn, and a longer finish, what Francisco calls the "agave kick."

REPOSADO: aged for 2 months, with just a hint of colors, around half is put into oak barrels. Easy-going with notes of citrus, lime specifically, agave, oak, light floral, vanilla, and honey. 

ANEJO: aged for 1 year, the Anejo is the straw color of a Chardonnay, with more intensified aromas and flavors. Smooth and sweet, with vanilla, spice, oak, golden raisin, and a hint of citrus. You can feel and sense the building of what's to come...Now come the big dogs.... 

BURDEOS: What I am about to write here, I do not take lightly...I have never had the experience with a spirit EVER, that I am describing now. A tequila that was so clean and pure that it had no associated liquor buzz, yet so flavorful and aromatic it could rival the greatest small batch Bourbons or single-malt Scotches in the world. The Burdeos is aged for one year in used American whiskey casks, then 10 months in French oak barrels, then finished for 2 months in First Growth Bordeaux wine barrels (he was not allowed to tell me which chateau, even though I pressed.) It was one of the most magnificent things I have ever tasted.  

Although it is in fact a tequila, this spirit effortlessly undulated in character somewhere between a wine, a whiskey, and it's true nature. Sure, there are spirits that will take on character traits from another, but this was something altogether different. 

Notes of grape must, tobacco, sweet vanilla, spice, oak, and golden raisins all mingled together beautifully. It was amazing, and at over $500 retail a bottle, most probably, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

PIEDRA: Employing the ancient tradition of the Tahona, the Piedra, an Extra Anejo, is 2 times distilled, and spends a minimum of 3 years aging. It was undoubtedly a great honor to sample the Piedra, which is not even available in the United States retail market yet! The polar opposite of the Burdeos, the Piedra is spicy and bursting with flavors. Sweet aromas of coffee, chocolate, and vanilla meet a palate of earth and spice. Employing new American and new French oak, the Piedra is for the traditional tequila lover, those who love the spice and earth, yet with breathtaking refinement.   At close to $400 a bottle, it is definitely not your everyday drinker, and made for an exceptional ending to bar none, my best tequila experience in over 15 years. Thank you Patron.


Posted on August 21, 2013 .