If 2014 wasn’t whiskey’s year, it wasn’t for lack of trying. It seemed like everyone was drinking whiskey, from old Uncle Harold down to the hipsters at the latest trendy bar. For cocktail fans weary of the never-ending parade of vodkas in increasingly off-the-wall flavors, this has been a relief. At the same time, this change comes with its own issues, not the least of which is this: with all these whiskeys to choose from, how do you decide?
Fear not, help has arrived in the form of a new book, The North American Whiskey Guide From Behind The Bar, by Chad Berkey and Jeremy LeBlanc. Berkey is the manager of Aero Club Bar in San Diego, which possesses one of the largest collections of whiskey to be found in any bar in America – over 900 different kinds. Aero Club also has the distinction of being named as one of America’s top bars by Maxim. LeBlanc is senior bartender and head mixologist at Altitude Sky Lounge in Sand Diego, which Conde Nast named as one of the top 10 roof bars in the world. It’s safe to say these gentleman might have a passing familiarity with whiskey.
Don’t let the guide’s mild-mannered exterior fool you. This book is packed full of information – explanations of the various types of whiskeys covered, delicious cocktail recipes, a whiskey taster’s bucket list, even a whiskey and cigars pairing chart. And that’s not even including the reviews of more than 250 whiskeys.
Did you just stop and say, “Wait – 250 whiskeys?” The answer is yes, more than 250 whiskeys. Bourbons or Canadians, rye or corn, wheat or malt, the list seems almost endless. The sheer number might even be a bit intimidating, but the guide’s layout is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Each listing has such basic details as variety, proof, and price range. Listings also include a summary of each whiskey along with a fun fact that make the book an enjoyable read rather than just a place to check a rating.
Not that these are ‘just’ ratings, mind you. Besides the basic score of one to five propellers, each listing includes comments from the bartenders that had the monumental task of tasting each of the entries. With the comments and a related whiskey list for each, The North American Whiskey Guide goes beyond just assigning a number and can actually help you find whiskeys similar to ones you know you like. Comparisons of that sort can go a long way to removing the uncertainty of buying something new.
Whether you’re searching for a gift for the whiskey fan in your life or looking for a new addition to your own cocktail library, The North American Whiskey Guide is just the ticket. And while you’re waiting to get a copy for yourself, why not try out one of the featured cocktails?
Aero Whiskey Sour
Yields 1 cocktail
2 slices lemon
2 oz. Fighting Cock Bourbon
1/4 oz. egg white
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Cherry, for garnish
Cinnamon, for garnish
Muddle the lemon in a shaker, then add the bourbon, simple syrup and egg white. Dry shake vigorously, then add the ice and shake vigorously again. Strain over ice in a rocks glass, and garnish with a dash of Angostura Bitters, a cherry and a pinch of cinnamon.