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02.27.10 by  

Whiskey on Wheels. Let’s Rye and Roll.

Why Happy Hour in front of the sideboard when you can make cocktails come to you — it’s the perfect incarnation of the term “lounge.” This DIY cart is stocked with mixers, spirits and all the accoutrements you need for inspiring mixology on the fly.

The only thing better than stocked bar of spirits is one that travels with you. We love the idea of a DIY party cart that roams, even if it’s just from your sideboard to your chaise. These mix-and-match pairings are the perfect recipe for a good time, whether you’re mixing Manhattans, Sazeracs or a lowball neat with your favorite smoke.

Stock the shelves with this and more:

whiskeys.

Have at least one stellar option on hand (read: hidden somewhere in house) for whiskey buffs who know what they're sipping.

Have one or two ryes and one or two bourbons so you can mix-and-match flavor profiles and personal taste. Our picks:

Hudson Manhattan Rye. New York in a bottle. Small batch, smooth, fiesty. Seemingly exclusive and unattainable at first, but once you get to know it, it’s quite accessible and even charming. And it just feels right ordering rye from the city that created its namesake cocktail.

Rittenhouse 100. Add Bottle in Bond to your cart and hide the 21- and 23-year-old versions for sipping when the guests are gone. The combination of rich, buttery, sweet, and spicy makes it drink like a patisserie in a studded bottle. Surprisingly smooth and perfect for mixing in cocktails that need a kick.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac. At 130+ proof, this rye-baby leaves you and your taste buds cross-eyed. It’s got an intense, warm, candied tingle that makes you feel safe and nice just before burning a synapse fire right across your tongue straight to your brain. We’ll take two.

Old-school whiskey bottles and decanters give your party that naughty Prohibition feel (for more authenticity, serve directly from your bathtub or a washbasin on the front porch).

Stranahans Rocky Mountain Whiskey. We know what you’re thinking: What do they know about making booze in the mountains. We say, what else is there to do? These cats prove a great spirit can come from anywhere, even your bathtub or the front porch (which incidentally is not where Stranahans is made). The production process makes this one-part scotch-like and one-part bourbon-esque, sort of. Try for yourself.

Willett Single Barrel Whiskey. This is what happens when a French brandy maker with a 400-year history of spirit making dabbles with bourbon. It’s complex and creamy with an evolving taste that reminds us a little of what Kentucky what would taste like if bottled — leather, tobacco, cedar with warm notes of vanilla and custard.

Woodford Reserve Bourbon. Approachable, smooth and made for mixing. This brand lacks the heavy spice and wood notes of some bourbons, which makes it ideal for riffing into cocktails. And because it’s so smooth, you can’t get creative with the garnishes, mixers and infusions (think ginger, cinnamon, melon).

infusions.

We vote yes. Stone fruits and nuts made interesting additions. Toss some chestnuts, pecans, peaches, cherries or walnuts in a jar, add bourbon or rye (we like Buffalo Trace bourbon with walnuts and Rittenhouse rye with cherries). Seal and let sit for two weeks.

vermouth.

Have a selection of sweet and dry vermouths — this is a low-investment way to change the experience. Aficionados will argue all day long about perfect versus imperfect manhattans, the proper ratio of spirit to vermouth, bourbon versus rye. In the spirit of creativity, we say, let your taste buds be your muse (and if someone judges for your uncultured choices, take your Pappy and go home).

Have a stash of fresh fruit on hand for mixing. Store-bought bottles of juices will hijack the taste of your drinks.

bitters.

Yes. On the radar? Celery, grapefruit, and rhubarb.

syrups.

Homemade simple syrup should be cost of entry. (It takes longer to order online or grab it off the shelf than it does to make it at home.)

citrus.

Our new favorites are tangerines and grapefruit, although orange and whiskey are like mother’s milk, but less creepy if you’re over 18 months old.

sipping whiskey.

If you can add two for dessert, we like these two bakeries in a bottle: Wild Turkey Honey and Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or (which is scotch but we’re bending the cart rules).

Nope that's not a maraschino cherry. Well, not really. It's a bottled option, marinated in whiskey. Off-roaded condiments add another twist to your sip and make a great pick-up line: "Is that a whiskey-soaked cherry in your glass or are you just glad to see me." Okay, not all of these lines are guaranteed.

presentation uppers.

Sure, you leave out the bottles, but we like to pimp out the cart with bottles, carafes and tasting glasses. Appetizer picks and garnishes — all good. After all, a sideboard on wheels is more of a long-term investment in happiness and entertainment.

recipe cards/books.

Outfit your cart with one or two bar books for inspiration, or cards with your favorite recipes.

4th Regiment

Our newest rye fixation. Totally old school. A cool mind bend for Manhattan lovers.

  • 1 part rye
  • 1 part sweet vermouth
  • Dash Angostura bitters
  • Dash orange bitters (we like Regan’s thanks to its cinnamon-clove kick)
  • Dash celery bitters
  1. Stir over ice, strain into a martini glass or coupe.