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Chilled Avocado and Cucumber Soup, Crab-Lime Salad

4 portions

For the vegetable stock

    Ingredients
  • 1 cup each diced carrot, celery, leek, fennel, onion,
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 10 pink peppercorns
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 star anise
  • 10 juniper berries
  • 1 tspn mustard seeds
  • 1 tspn caraway seeds
  • 4 qts water

Execution

Sweat vegetables in butter till soft, add water, bring to boil, add in herbs and spices, simmer for 30 min, strain through fine sieve

    For the soup
  • 10 oz cucumber
  • 6 oz avocado
  • 1 oz onion
  • 1 qt vegetable stock
  • 1 tspn chopped chervil
  • 1 tspn chopped chives
  • 1 tspn chopped mint
  • 1 tspn chopped basil
  • 1 tspn chopped Italian Parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Execution

Peel and deseed cucumber, dice up, sprinkle with salt and leave for 15 min to remove the bitter waters, rinse off.

Place cucumber, avocado pulp, herbs, lemon juice in container. Saute onions, add in stock, bring to boil, simmer for 2-3 minutes, pour over cucumber and cover, allow to steep for 1 hr. Puree in blender and strain, season to taste.

    For the crab salad
  • 4 oz jumbo lump crab meat
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime'
  • 1 pinch chervil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch finely diced cucumber
  • Mix all together

TO ASSEMBLE

Arrange 1 oz crab salad in center of soup plate, pour soup around. Garnish with herb sprig

 

Chef Gordon Maybury's, PGA National Resort




You Had Me at Bourbon: Meeting Some of the People Behind the Spirit

Recognized as America's native spirit (declared so by Congress in 1964), everyone tends to have a story or two about bourbon; some good, some bad.

But what about the people behind it and those who work with it? Take a journey to Bardstown, Ky., the Bourbon Capital of the World, home to three of the six distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, and nearby Louisville to meet some people who have a very special insight into a very special drink.

“It makes a difference when you are proud of what you are doing. We are making the best bourbon. I don't think about it, I don't say each morning that I'm going to make the best bourbon today. It just comes naturally. It's in the blood.” Craig Beam, Master Distiller at Heaven Hill.

Craig Beam stands in the middle of the tasting room at Heaven Hill, telling a group a visitors about the importance of yeast used in batches of bourbon.

“If you don't have the yeast right, you can't do anything else. The process starts with the yeast.”

And he knows. The jug yeast that Heaven Hill uses today came from the cooper jug that his grandfather used in 1945. The process is some of the old strain goes into the new strain. (That all-important old strain is kept under lock and key in a 40 – 45 degree cooler. )

Beam then begins to talk about the different bourbons created at the distillery. He's quick to explain the distinctions between 1783 Evan Williams and Evan Williams Single Barrel. While it all may sound like numbers and percentages to a bourbon novice, one thing is certain- it's easy to pick up on his love of the spirit.

And it's no surprise, he says it's “in his blood,” and then laughing, adds, “the last name helps, too.”

The seventh generation distiller points out that he learned everything about bourbon from his grandfather and father, who were “pretty good teachers.” 

But don't think it was an easy ride into his position, though. He started at an early age, doing, well, anything and everything that was related to the distillery. That included from working at the bottling house and stocking cases by hand to taking garbage to the dump to driving the delivery truck. He briefly recalled another year when he and five of his friends cleaned out dilapidated warehouses for the distillery. “A dirty and dusty job,” he comments.

 Today, he wears a lot of different hats at his job. Even though, he has the title of Master Distiller, he says it's a little different here than at other distilleries. In addition to promoting Heaven Hill, he assist in the grain selection (“we still use the same farmers my father did, as well as picked up a few new ones.”), overseas the day to day operation and more. Including trying new things with the bourbon.

“We're always trying new things,” says Beam. “We're pulling out the bourbon at different stages  and tasting it to see how it ages. Another thing we are doing is experimenting with the barrels. We are also testing white corn against regular yellow corn.”

However, when asked about his favorite part of the job, he didn't hesitate in his reply, “The tastings, and meeting people.”

“Bourbon brings character to a drink. People are interested in learning what makes a bourbon a bourbon.” Freddy Noe,  Jim Beam Ambassador.

Freddy Noe is excited, and it's not because Jim Beam is the number one bourbon sold in the world (although that helps). No, he is excited because on October 3, Jim Beam became a stand alone spirits company.

“This gets it back to the way it used to be. It's exciting times for the business.”

He adds bourbon has seen growth around the world, with the cocktail craze spreading worldwide and mixology becoming a big thing.

Great-grandson of Jim Beam, Noe says his role as ambassador is to traveling the world, hosting bourbon tastings and dinners, but most importantly, meeting the accounts. He says he lets them know their business relationship is important in Kentucky. Even though he spends half of the year on the road, he says what he does is just as important as overseeing production at the distillery.

A big part of his jobs is educate people about bourbon.

“It should be smooth, and a pleasant experience.”

He also stresses not to be set in your bourbon. He relays stories about friends who created such drinks as Bloody Beams (spin off of Bloody Mary, using Jim Beam Black and tomato juice) and Sun  Beams (orange juice and Jim Beam.)

A fixture at the Jim Beam distillery since he was “old enough to stand up in the front seat of the car,” he says it's his comfort zone.

“It's been a good ride.”

It says a lot about a product when at its inception Jacob Beam started down the road in xxx and with a single distillery, and today Jim Beam is producing over 6 million cases of Jim Beam White a year.

“We're mashing over 13,000 grains a day at the facility.”

Noe adds, “Bourbon has been here for 200 years, and it'll be here 200 years more and beyond. We have more barrels aging than we have people living in the state.”

Jim Beam isn't resting on their laurels. New products are rolling out, like Devil's Cut. Even though it's new, the idea comes from an old concept, known to many in the area as “sweating a barrel.”

“When you dump bourbon, there's two gallon of it in the wood,” explains Noe. “My dad called this 'soakage.' Back in the day, we rinsed barrels with water to get the barrel whiskey out. We would literally roll the water in the barrel, with the stopper in the barrel, the uncork it and catch the barrel whiskey with a tray or something.”

“Today, with technology, we use 35 gallons of water and a shaker, similar to a paint shaker, to pull the whiskey out of the wood. The whiskey is then filter with water to reduce the six-year-old bourbon to 90 proof.”

The name, Devil's Cut, was thought up by marketing. Noe points out that when bourbon is aging, four percent is evaporate and this is known as the “angel's share.” So, it made since that the bourbon left over in the wood is the devil's share, or cut.

Coming back to speak about the bourbon business in general, Noe says the distilleries are friendly competitors (“can't speak for the sales forces, though.”)

“We're like a fraternity in some ways, and a few of us are related. We are there for each other and help each other out when needed. It's great to have a relationship like that. And we all love our bourbon.”

“The world of bourbon is wonderful. I'm so glad I'm a part of it.” Joy Perrine, mixologist and author of The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book, with Susan Reigler.

It can be funny how things work out.

Joy Perrine didn't begin as a bartender, it sort of happened.

Call it learning-on-the-job experience.

Working as a server in a pizza restaurant on the island of St. Croix, Perrine took over one night when the current bartender and owner got into a fight.

“I had to make a Brandy Alexander, and the owner helped me through the process. He would yell out to me through the little cut window in the kitchen how to prepare the drink as he was making the pizzas.”

And thus her bartending career began, a fitting job for a woman whose family tree includes bootleggers and rum-runners.

Fast forward  through the years, and now Perrine has won numerous awards for her cocktails and been recognized as the Best Bartender in Louisville (she's the bar manager at Equus Restaurant and Jack's Lounge.)

Referring to herself as a mixologist (“one that comes up with new recipes,” is how describes the term), her recipes are influenced by different things.

“A cocktail to me is a drink with two or more ingredients, one being alcohol. It always include a garnish and an unusual glass.”

She adds the cocktail evolution actually began when bartenders decided not to dump out the leftovers in the bottles, but to make it taste better.

She also points out that bourbon cocktails aren't new.

“The two oldest bourbon cocktails are the Old Fashioned, created in Louisville; and the Manhattan.”

As a bartender/mixologist, she has always been fascinated by the taste of bourbon.

“You can pull out all types of flavors, such as grain, rye, brown sugar, molasses and caramel. Those flavors are the ones most familiar with bourbon. However, go deeper into the taste and you can pull out pineapple and coconut. Further into it, a leather taste.”

“That's what is so wonderful about bourbon, not all liquors are like that. Of course, they have their own taste, but not as complex as that.”

And when it comes to making recipes, she enhances those flavors through simple ingredients.

Like with her signature drink, Bourbonball. She says if you remember the bourbon balls your grandmother used to make, forget about those.

“Those were gross, it was the same recipes made with whatever liquor they wanted to get rid of. However, in Kentucky, that's not true. They are the most wonderful things I've ever tasted.”

So she decided to make a drink after it, using all equal parts of Woodford Reserve, Tuaca (Italian vanilla liquer) and dark crème de cacao.

That award-winning recipe and others can be found in her book, The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book. Featuring 100 of her original recipes, including a section on Tiki drinks, the book was published by University Press of Kentucky. Published three years ago, 10,000 copies has sold.

She said she was lucky to get this opportunity.

“They recently published a mint julep book, as well as other bourbon books that were out of print. With the Bourbon Trail, the Urban Bourbon Trail and the Bourbon Festival, they wanted to do a new series. Specifically they wanted a cocktail book, and I was referred to them by a friend.”

“When you're tasting bourbon, you're tasting 200 years of Kentucky history.” Colonel Michael Masters, Kentucky Bourbon Master and author of Hospitality Kentucky Style.

There perhaps isn't a better place to enjoy a bourbon tasting than at  the “Kentucky Home for Bourbon.”

Known as the Chapeze House, the Federalist-style historic mansion in Bardstown was named after Dr. Henri Chapeze, a French army officer in the American Continental Army and later the town's doctor. His grandsons established the Chapeze Distillery in Clermont, Ky., in 1867 and produced Old Charter. The distillery tract is now owned by Jim Beam Brands, and Old Charter remains one of the oldest continuously marketed Kentucky Bourbon brands in the U.S.

The brand is what Colonel Michael Masters refers to as “antebellum bourbon.”

Situated behind the bourbon bar located in the back of the Chapeze House, he tells guests they don't represent one distillery, instead serves only premium, ultra-premium and rare Kentucky Bourbons.

Providing a menu of the different available (you can also build your own), he takes time to explain the nuances of each distillery's brand.

He adds that typical proof for bourbon is usually 86, 94 or 100.

“Scotch stops at 80 proof, while bourbon begins at 80 proof.”

Working down the list, he points out which bourbons work best as cocktail bourbons, those that have specific flavor notes/aromas, ones that are smooth and others that are robust.

When he gets to the Master Distiller's Choice, he recalls a conversation that he had with Elmer T. Lee, Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace.

“I asked him why is a bourbon named after you (Elmer T. Lee) and how is it different or signature. He responded  he gets his bourbon from the 'sweet spot.' So I asked him what that is, and he says he knows where the best bourbons are located in certain warehouses along certain rows and that's where he pulls from.”

He ends his tastings with a Mint Julep, using mint grown from his garden and garnishes the completed drink with powdered sugar.

“Tasting Kentucky Bourbon is an unique experience for everyone,” Masters says. “You should sample the bourbon neat, the way it is. After that, you can add what you want.”

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