BOOK & DRAM
Thus far for The Whiskey Network, I’ve reviewed history books on whiskey and booze. Today, I stray away from history books and introduce Peggy Noe Stevens and Susan Reigler with “Which Fork do I Use with My Bourbon? Setting the Table for Tastings, Food Pairings, Dinners, and Cocktail Parties.” Peggy and Susan are icons in the bourbon industry and have shared some of their vast levels of knowledge with us in their book.
If you’re like me, you enjoy whiskey and occasionally having friends over. If you’re like me, you also don’t know too much about how to make the most of those social gatherings, whether they be big or small. I freely admit that I don’t know much about how to organize and run formal tastings and parties. This book seeks to educate us on how to do it better.
So, what is in the book? The book contains numerous recipes for you to try for your gatherings. These recipes include various food dishes that often include whiskey, as well as tested cocktail recipes. Bourbon-themed recipes are included for hors d’oeuvres, main courses, and desserts. The authors also have a knack for pairing specific foods with specific whiskies. The authors clue you in on which foods and snacks to pair with your whiskies in order to accentuate specific flavors. Perhaps you’ll find it interesting and helpful to get instructions on how to prepare large quantities of cocktails in advance of your party.
The bottle: Old Forester 1870
1870 is named in honor of the year George Garvin Brown first started putting Old Forester into sealed glass bottles.
Straight bourbon. 90 proof. Aged 4-4.5 years in heat cycled rickhouses.
Palate: Dried Fruit. Caramel. Tobacco. Leather.
Finish: Cinnamon. Ginger. Nutmeg.
The authors go into a a lot of detail with suggestions on how to decorate your bourbon gathering depending on time of year or special event. Attention is also given on how you physically arrange the layout of food tables and bar at the gathering. Assuring a proper layout for the event helps keep the guests out of your kitchen and in the area of the home that you prefer. If you’d like to be snazzy and send out RSVP cards for your event, you're provided with some templates.
When it comes to the actual bourbon tasting event, the authors give lots of tips for how to conduct it effectively. You’re provided templates for tasting mats, snack pairings, and types of whiskies to use. We’re given guidance on how to build flight themes and progress through the tasting. The authors discuss the various things to consider during a tasting, such as color, aroma, flavor/mouthfeel, and finish. If you’re a novice as to how to discuss these various things, you’ll get a crash course to get your language and understanding up to speed.
If you’re simply interested in cracking open a few bottles of whiskey with friends without giving it much thought, this book goes into a lot more thought than you’ll want. However, if you’re interested in entertaining and being very intentional about everything you do with your bourbon guests, you’re going to love this book. The contents of this book are not something I’ll want to use every time I have a friend over, but it’s certainly something fun to incorporate every now and then. I urge you to add this book to your bourbon library.