You all might not know this about me, but I really enjoy sports. College basketball is one of my favorite sports, and as such I’ve been rather pre-occupied watching/having a mental breakdown during these NCAA Tournament games. In a surprise to many, my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, is in the Final Four this year. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
One of the many great things about big sporting events is the social opportunities it portends for unattached viewers. My favorite part of the Super Bowl is the beer my friends bring to the party and the buffalo chicken dip that my fiance makes, because the Eagles will never play in that game.
The Final Four offers up the same chance for you, the impartial observer, to get your drink on with friends and not even care if Wisconsin wins or loses by 30 and you never hear from me again. I’ve taken a look at all of this year’s competitors and chosen a drink based on something about the team. I’ve set them up against each other, and it’s up to you to pick the actual winner of this year’s Final Four based solely on cocktails.
Our first match-up pits the heroic, brave, noble, strong, and attractive Wisconsin Badgers against the dastardly, pitiful, Justin Bieber fan Kentucky Wildcats. Please don’t let the adjectives describing each team influence your decision. This is merely an unbiased journalist reporting the facts. Let’s get to the strengths and weaknesses of each team.
You can’t think of the Bluegrass State without immediately thinking of, well, bluegrass music I suppose, but really the correct answer is bourbon. There is a Bourbon County in Kentucky where all bourbon in the world is made (note: this is not true, but it would be cool if it were) and true bourbon, by law, can only be produced in the United States (USA USA USA!). Some popular bourbons include, Maker’s Mark, Bulleit, Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, Elijah Craig, Evan Williams, and probably some other guys’ names that start with “e.” There is probably no more classic cocktail made with bourbon than the Old Fashioned, and that’s what we’re going to make for this Final Four of Cocktails.
Recipe: 2 oz bourbon (I prefer Bulleit), small splash of soda water, four dashes of Fee Bros. Bourbon Barrel Bitters, and if you have the capabilities, a bar spoon full of bourbon smoked sugar. Put the sugar in the glass, and then the soda water followed by the bitters and stir to combine. Add the two oz of bourbon and a large “glacier” ice cube. Stir for 15 seconds. Garnish with an orange swath that you spray over the cocktail. Drink and enjoy.
The state of Wisconsin is a drinker’s paradise. Booze is cheap, drunk driving is the third most popular sport behind the Packers and drunk calling a cab (seriously, don’t drive drunk), and cheese curds are a great hangover cure. When most people think of Wisconsin, they think of beer. Lots of beer. Miller, Pabst, Milwaukee’s Best, and then actual good beers are (or were) brewed in Wisconsin. A lesser known fact about Wisconsin is that the residents LOVE brandy. While bar-tending in Wisconsin, I was told a story (that I choose to believe) about Korbel distillery in California. According to legend, they have two loading docks for their brandy, one for Wisconsin and one for the other 49 states in the union. That kicks ass. A lesser known fact about me, while bar-tending in Wisconsin I assumed that an Old Fashioned was made with brandy and that people who drank it with bourbon were weird. TO THE BRANDY OLD FASHIONED RECIPE!
Recipe: sugar cube, soda water, cherries, oranges, 2 oz. Korbel brandy (duh), Angostura bitters. First off, drop the sugar cube, two cherries and two small orange slices into your glass. Next add 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and a splash of soda water. Muddle that shit up. Add ice and the 2 oz. of brandy and then the hard part. Do you want it “sweet” or “sour” or “both?” For sweet, add 7-Up; for sour, add sour mix; for both, add a little of, you guessed it, both!
Make both recipes and have a good ol’ fashioned old fashioned off! Our second match-up pitting UConn versus Florida will get going tomorrow and will definitely involve someone wearing jorts.