The year 2021 is still quite young... and 2020 wasn't really fruitful. However even though the title says, 2020 and 2021, this drink took me by surprise and it is easily one of the best drink I have had in a far longer time.
Look - to rating drinks (and compare them with classics like a good Old Fashioned) are problematic to say the least, but this drink is surprisingly simple and incredible good.
Introducing: the Bourbon Horseneck.
I know, you expected more. And let's face it, we are not talking about a normal Horseneck here! First, we are looking at Knob Creek - one of my favorite "every day bourbons". It is very rich, has some caramel, maple syrup and nutty notes.
But what really makes a difference is the ginger ale... my new recipe just remarkable rich and indulgent and there is just no ginger ale on the market which can come remotely close to it.
So- if you want to experience the drink, I am talking about, there is only one way: some hands-on approach.
Black Sugar Ginger Ale
1.2 l mineral water
80 g fresh ginger
130 g white sugar
20 g black sugar
2.4 g citric acid
Caramelize 30 g of sugar and a little water until gold in a pressure cooker. Peel ginger and cut into thin slices and add to the caramel. Caramelize the ginger until the sugar is dark golden and add 200 ml water and add 20 g black sugar. Close the pressure cooker, pressurize it fully and cook on a small flame for 30 minutes. Let the pot cool down and let it depressurize naturally. Strain the liquid and add the rest of the sugar and the citric acid. Add this syrup into a carbonating bottle (I am using Soda Plus) and add ice water and carbonate.
Knob Creek & Black Sugar Ginger Ale (no cocktail bitters needed!)
Add 45 ml Knob Creek to a highball glass filled with large ice cubes and fill up with Black Sugar Ginger Ale.
The drink is easily comparable to an Old Fashioned. Nothing is distracting of the lovely Knob Creek, but the aromas of the black sugar and caramel is complimenting the rich bourbon aromas. And the ginger just gives enough diversity to expand the complexity of the drink, without taking from the straight-forwardness.
Another point is the consistency: because you are making "bulk ginger ale" (at least more than what is necessary for one drink), and prepping it beforehand, the drink despite of its complex ingredients (if you are looking at the sum of ingredients), it is easy to achieve a very high rate of consistency.
There is though a small problem: black sugar! I don't mean brown sugar, black sugar is a specific raw Asian sugar (either way Chinese or Okinawa / Japan). Unlike other brown sugar, you can eat it just like that and it taste like toffee. It is far more mellow than Muscovado or Demerara sugar and at the same time more aromatic. You might find it in an Asian supermarket or on Amazon.
The rest is pretty straight forward - citric acid or lemon salt is nowadays widely available - and a carbonation bottle is necessarily the cheapest device - but let's face it, in the 21st century you might want to add it to your essential equipment... and pst: you could also make a syrup and add club soda. It won't be as brilliantly carbonated but packs pretty much the same punch, when it comes to taste.
Lessons learned out of this adventure: despite drinks become more and more complicated and confused, there is a lot of potential to make incredible drinks, by going back to basics and focus on each and every ingredient.