For the second installment of our craft cocktail series I chose a heavy hitter. Ballyhoo is one of my favorite places to grab a drink, the menu is so simple and the bartenders so skilled. They offer all the classics like an Old Fashioned or a sidecar, but they also have jam sessions, pick a jam and a spirit and they whip something up for you, which is a great change-up from the everyday cocktails. I often go with gin when I have a jam session. It plays well with most of the jams they have on hand, but the bartenders are very helpful in choosing the right jam and spirit combination. Another unique drink choice that I have yet to try is the Tea Party you chose from five types of tea pick a spirit, and they create a drink. However, the purpose of this trip was to sample the drinks our bartender Sarah had created for our featured October cocktails, and she did not disappoint.
For this tasting, we had five people on hand – Mike, Haris, and myself – representing Cavalier and two of Haris’ coworkers – Nicole and Steffanie. The first drink Sarah created was a variation of an Old Fashioned that we are calling the Fall Fashion. We made two variations of this drink, changing only the amaros. For the first drink we used Monte Negro, which was the sweeter of the two attempts.
One note before I post the recipe – ice in a cocktail is just as important as the other ingredients. Most bars, including Ballyhoo, use a KoldDraft machine to create the perfect drink mixing cubes, because bagged ice melts too quickly, diluting the drink more than necessary. For your home bar, boiling the water before you freeze it will remove many impurities, but bag ice works fine for most home bars.
The switch from Monte Negro to Averna created a very different drink. The drink lost almost all of its sweetness and about half of the group agreed that it resulted in a more balanced drink. Sarah described this one as more of a sipper than the Monte Negro because of its bitter qualities. Mike and Steffanie preferred the switch, while Nicole and Haris liked the sweeter amaro. With this one little switch we changed the entire appearance and taste of the drink. Both iterations will be on the menu, so feel free to switch it up.
After we passed around the first drink and sampled it to everyone’s liking, we moved onto the food. While the menu is much simpler than Winfield’s Pub (last month’s featured bar) it is still delicious. Ballyhoo has only one option for a main course, house-made sausage, but damn they do it well, and incorporate many different flavor profiles into their six offerings (a photo of the menu is in the top slider). My favorites are the Short Round and the TJ Dawg, my only complaint would be that the rolls are a little big, but it is required to hold all the sausage and toppings they put on. In addition to the meat sausages, Ballyhoo recently added the Reggie Veggie, a vegetarian option that becomes vegan if you order it without the goat cheese. Sarah, our mixologist and self-proclaimed pescetarian, can now enjoy a sausage with the rest of you meat haters. In addition to the sausages, Ballyhoo offers four choices of sides-soup, pasta, slaw or salad. The kitchen staff creates sides in-house daily and they are often as unique as the sausage. I have yet to order dessert, but I hear it is on par with the rest of the food.
Having had our fill of food we moved on to the second drink. This one took a bit of prep work before Sarah arrived, but it was a very simple drink that tasted surprisingly good to me, because I’m usually not a fan of hot drinks. Prior to the tasting Sarah made about six different butters to add to the drink. We originally started with pumpkin butter, but maple butter won out and once you taste it you will be glad it did.
- 8 oz unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 c. Raw sugar (you can use any sugar, but she found brown sugar too sweet)
- 1/2 c. Pure Maple syrup
- 3 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- Mix all ingredients well and store in an airtight container.
- Any leftovers would go great with toast.
Now that the hard part is done, time to create the drink
A Fuzzy Feeling
- 4 oz boiling water
- 2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
- 1 heaping barspoon of maple butter
- Mix all ingredients and stir until dissolved (longer than you would expect)
- Garnish with dehydrated apple or Cinnamon stick
This drink was a crowd favorite, and we all agreed that it would be a great drink for the colder weather arriving with the fall season. As simple as it sounds, there is a lot going on. Sarah took her inspiration from hot buttered rum, but changed out the spirit to bourbon. Four Roses is an exceptional bourbon for the price and it works very well in this cocktail. The whiskey comes through slightly at the end so you still know that you are drinking, but this goes down very smoothly.
With the mention of garnishes I would be remiss if I didn’t offer a thank you to the bartenders and owners of Lockhouse Distillery for helping us out of a pinch. They provided the apple and cinnamon chips pictured above, and I would be happy to include them in this series if they’d have me. Lockhouse is located just a stones throw from the Ballyhoo and features all New York State products which I believe is unique to their bar.
The most fun I had this week was again in the naming of the cocktails. A special thanks to Lisa from Toutant (December’s choice for this series) for help with the names and the photos, and thanks again to Sarah, and the tasters who showed up to give feedback. Next month we will be at Vera Pizza with Jason (he lives and breathes tequila), so check back in November for that. In the meantime, check the sales and other content on the website or stop by the store for a tasting. As always, all the spirits featured in these cocktails will be on sale for the entire month. Check the sales ad page for prices. In addition the drinks will be featured at Ballyhoo throughout the month of October.