Thanks to the awesome whiskey community and the generous folks at Beehive Bitters Company, I was able to try something new and fun on Instagram this past week. When Beehive Bitters recently released their Bourbon Barrel Aged Caramelized Orange bitters, the idea suddenly came to me: why not host an online cocktail challenge? Has it been done before? I like whiskey. I like cocktails. I like Beehive Bitters. It seemed like a sound idea to me, so I got in touch with Mike D’Amico, the founder of Beehive Bitters, and pitched it to him. He loved the idea and we quickly worked out the specifics. Here’s what we came up with…
Contestants had one week to post a recipe on Instagram. On Wednesday, March 16th I reviewed all of the submissions and selected the three that piqued my interest the most and had ingredients that I could actually procure in time for the tasting portion of the competition. I announced the three finalists on Instagram and then proceeded to shop for lots of ingredients. I had the whiskey portion covered, of course, and I already had a full set of Beehive Bitters in my bar, but I was a little short in the liqueur/mixer department. On Saturday, March 19th, my wife and I made all three cocktails and selected our favorite. The results are posted below.
The winner received a full set of Beehive Bitters, which includes lemon, lime, spiced orange, coffee & cacao, and the brand new Bourbon Barrel Aged Caramelized Orange bitters. A nice addition to anyone’s home bar, in my opinion.
- Must include unflavored whiskey (no Fireball!!)
- Must include citrus bitters: lemon, lime or orange
- All other ingredients must be something readily available at average liquor stores and grocery stores.
The Final Three Contestants
@ttrippel13 – “First Love’s Flip”
1.5 oz bourbon
0.5 oz grenadine
0.5 oz simple syrup
0.25 oz lime juice
0.25 oz lemon juice
few dashes of orange bitters
Dry shake all ingredients for 30 seconds. Add ice and shake again. Double strain and enjoy!
@timmergund – “Middleman”
1.5 oz rye
3/4 oz Velvet Falernum
3/4 oz fresh Lime juice
3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
2 dashes orange bitters
Shake and strain and serve with lime wheel garnish
@hjsewell – “North Beach Cocktail”
1 1/2 oz Old Grand-Dad Bourbon
1/2 oz coffee liqueur
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz vanilla syrup
2 dashes orange Bitters
Stir and serve over large ice in rocks glass with orange twist
Cassie and I had a great time tasting. I think we had too much fun, actually. Cassie ended up bowing out during the 3rd round, only taking a few sips of that last cocktail. Me? I powered through, and then some. I’m a champ like that. Haha! Here are some brief notes from the tasting…
@ttrippel13 – “First Love’s Flip” – I had a little trouble with the execution of this one. I tried multiple times, but I just couldn’t get the nice foam layer. I did the dry shake as vigorously as I could, but the pressure kept forcing the shaker apart and it was making a mess. Maybe it’s my shaker and/or my poor technique. Anyhow, egg white foam issues aside, this was a tasty cocktail. It was tad too acidic for my tastes and it was pretty sweet. I would’ve liked to taste the whiskey a bit more. It’s amazing how much the 120-proof Knob Creek was tucked in there. We enjoyed this cocktail, but it was our least favorite of the three.
@timmergund – “Middleman” – Very easy cocktail to make, assuming you have the Velvet Falernum available. This is a very refreshing cocktail, with a great minty, herbal vibe. Cassie was even picking up some rosemary notes. I decided to go with the 2-year Willett rye because I think younger ryes hold up well in cocktails; however, in this case, I could barely tell that this was a whiskey cocktail. Despite that, it’s an excellent cocktail and is very well balanced. I even made one for my 22-year-old stepson, Jake, and he loved it.
@hjsewell – “North Beach Cocktail” – Another easy cocktail to make, once the vanilla syrup is prepared. This is a deep, rich cocktail with an excellent finish that goes on and on. Lots of flavors to pull out. Very complex! This is definitely a whiskey cocktail.
All three recipes were great. Thanks to @ttrippel13, @timmergund and @hjsewell for your submissions. After careful (and drunken) deliberation, we selected @timmergund’s “The Middleman” cocktail as our favorite. It was tough to pick between “The Middleman” and “North Beach Cocktail”. Both were excellent, but “The Middleman” was just so well balanced and refreshing. Well done @timmergund!!
We received over 10 recipe submissions, which was great. I was actually a little worried at first that we wouldn’t get any submissions and my first cocktail challenge would be a big flop, but I’m relieved that it wasn’t the case. In the end it was really difficult to choose just three recipes. They all sounded great and I wanted to include them all, but, for the sake of the contest, I had to narrow it down to three. I was having so much fun preparing and drinking the final contestant’s cocktails, and got pretty damned sauced in the process, so I thought it’d be even more fun to make some others. Why not, right? The following are the three additional recipes I made. All were delicious and you should give them a try.
@puttrickmartin – this one technically didn’t meet the “citrus bitter” part of the challenge, but I just had to give it a try. I had all the fixins already, so why not? 🙂 I did have to substitute Son of Bourye for the Bourye, though.
2 1/2 oz High West Bourye
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
4 drops coffee & cacoa bitters
Mix, strain, and garnish with orange peel and add a splash of Creme de Cacao
@katekettner – “Burnt Sienna” – I like to have recipes that I can easily throw together, and this seems like an interesting combination of an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan, and I like the idea of brown sugar simple syrup. I’m glad I made this one. The brown sugar notes are very distinct and pair well with the bourbon. It’s a tasty one, indeed!
2 oz Elijah Craig Small Batch
1 oz brown sugar simple syrup
1 oz sweet vermouth (Kate uses Niolly Prat, but I used Antica Formula)
2 dashes Beehive Bitters Spiced Orange Bitters
Mix ingredients and strain. Garnish with cherry and orange peel.
@billalex70 – “The Toronto” – Aside from @losfl’s Jack Daniels, Coke and Lime Bitters submission (thanks buddy ;)), “The Toronto” was the most basic of all the recipes submitted, but I like that about it. Figuring that this cocktail recipe could help me kick my bottle of Crown Royal rye, I decided to give it a shot. Without the help of cocktails, that bottle will likely sit on my shelf for a long time. Dammit Jim Murray! The first and last time I buy a bottle based on your reviews. Luckily it only cost me $24.
2 oz. Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye
1 tbsp maple syrup
4 drops orange bitters
Stir. Add large ice cube or sphere, and garnish with a Luxardo cherry.
We really did have a lot of fun with this. Thanks to everyone that took the time to submit recipes, and thanks again to Beehive Bitters Company for contributing to the prize package. If I had the means, the time and the ingredients, I would’ve made every single recipe that was submitted. I plan to hold more of these competitions in the future. The next time around the prize package is gonna be even sweeter, and I’m going to allow for more time between the selection of the three finalists and the actual tasting, so I have plenty of time to procure any exotic ingredients if necessary. We may even host a small tasting party for our friends to increase the number of judges and increase the amount of fun. I have lots of ideas cooking in me brain! In the meantime, be sure to give all of these cocktails a try. They are quite tasty. Cheers y’all!!