Two “bills” were conceived in a national context: bourbon whiskey and representative democracy.
Both are of ingrained importance to American history and have also had a deep impact on makers around the world.
Approved like America’s Constitution, bourbon must be produced in the United States, containing a mash bill of at least 51% corn, and matured in freshly charred American oak barrels for a minimum of two years – declaring the whiskey as America’s native spirit. And so, we celebrate the (debated and distilled) spirit every September for National Bourbon Heritage Month.
In Philadelphia’s historic Society Hill neighborhood, The Twisted Tail Bourbon House & Juke Joint salutes (all things) Americana – starting with the bar program based around, well, bourbon. There’s an extensive bourbon selection (over 120 bottles) with rotating cocktails and “elevated” whiskey flights; an impressive Owner’s Collection of limited annual releases and one-off expressions; a members-only Bourbon Club for discount drams, and more…
“The original concept was built around a bourbon and blues bar – small, dark, moody…” owner George Reilly shares. However, the quaint location, in which the concept still lies today, was much larger in size – calling for restaurant development. The bi-level space serves Progressive American fare such as smoked wings and shrimp and grits alongside acoustic blues six nights a week.
“Guests join us to enjoy a welcoming and unpretentious dining atmosphere. We offer a social experience with everything that we do and encourage [group] sharing to taste through a greater cross-section of flavors,” Reilly adds. The Chef’s Tasting Menu is a selection of seven assorted dishes from the dinner menu, including small plates, entrées, one side, and a dessert, that is pre-portioned for the table as a banquet feast. Its best paired with a custom three whiskey flight, perhaps one that showcases local whiskey production.
“There are so many great [whiskey] selections these days, in and around Philadelphia, but here [are] my highly recommended local pairings: Kinsey 10 Year American Whiskey; Stoll & Wolfe Rye (Dick Wolfe was the last Master Distiller for Michter’s before they shuttered), and Bluebird American Single Malt, a fast-growing category and probably my favorite of all of them,” he suggests.
As the first World Heritage City, Philadelphia was once the center for (notably rye) whiskey distilling in the states before both taxation and Prohibition ran it out of town. Although, with the resurgence of the brown spirit, the city’s whiskey history and heritage is coming back in conversation and consumption. Today, local whiskey-makers spend serious effort weaving traditional care and craftsmanship with unique mash bills, barrel char, and barrel-entry proof. They can even sell direct from the distillery as well as from up to two satellite locations – thanks to the signed Act 113.
“My background was in wine and cocktails, but I have since jumped right into the deep-end of the world of whiskey (and have become fascinated by it) soaking up all the little nitty-gritty that I can to pass onto interested folks who come to find their next new favorite [bourbon],” Reilly shares.
Every September, the bourbon house turns its two floors into a portfolio whiskey tasting event called Whiskey Bonanza, with free-flowing music, craft competitions, and many rare releases. The barrel-buy program will be back in action, too, to ensure an exclusive expression is available to all.
“[And] as long as people still enjoy drinking bourbon, we will be around to still enjoy serving it,” he closes.
Honey Apple Sidecar
“This is a seasonal fall cocktail for the menu and a spin on a classic cocktail, The Sidecar,” Reilly describes.
- 1 oz. Jefferson Small Batch Bourbon
- 1 oz. Applejack Brandy
- 1/4 oz. Honey Syrup
- 1/4 oz. Lemon Juice
- 1/4 oz. Cointreau
- Sugar in the Raw Natural Cane Turbinado Sugar
- Apple Slice
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Strain into a chilled martini glass with a half raw sugar rim. Top with a half apple slice.