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Three Things We Didn’t Know About Whiskey Cocktails

Inline Text_jayce mcconnell by leslie mckellar
Photo by Leslie McKellar

Whenever whiskey is involved in learning, it doesn’t seem too hard to get people to sign up for a class. And when the teacher is master mixologist Jayce McConnell at Charleston’s Edmund’s Oast, a festive character with a jaunty mustache and encyclopedic knowledge of spirits, people are suddenly “thirsty for knowledge.”

I got the last seat in a recent class (cheers!), and Jayce educated us about whiskey cocktails, using the progression of three beverages to prove his points. To get the full classroom experience, you’ll need to sign up for one of your own sessions, but here are a few tidbits about making tasty whiskey tipples that will have you tempting—and teasing—your friends (whether you decide to employ senseless alliteration or not).

  1. Vermouth should be refrigerated.
    Who knew? Well apparently a lot of people did, just not me. Vermouth is a fortified wine, and it has a shelf life. It also has quality levels, so buy good vermouth and keep it in the fridge. Why have a bottle of dry and a bottle of sweet vermouth? So you can make Martinis, Manhattans, and Americanos, of course.
  2. A Whiskey Old Fashioned doesn’t need a cherry.
    Jayce thinks that if the drink is mixed properly, you don’t need a maraschino cherry to have an old fashioned. “Mixed properly” involves stirring, bitters, paying attention, and no sugar packets, muddled with an orange and cherry like the ones I used to drink as a graduate student. I’m no longer a grad student, and my manhattans now have no cherries.
  3. That canary yellow whiskey sour is no whiskey sour.
    To me, whiskey sours were a last resort at that house party—you know you’ve been to one—where they pile bar ingredients onto a kitchen table. And it was only an option when that kitchen-table-bar was out of club soda (the empty 2-liter bottle still sitting there to taunt club soda aficionados). But a whiskey sour, a real whiskey sour, is a balanced concoction of light frothiness, an airy delight achieved through the vigorous shaking of an egg white.

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