Maybe it’s because I’m a lawyer, or just a nerd, but I let out a squeal of delight when I discovered that the Haus Alpenz and High West teams joined forces to create nine cocktails named after Supreme Court Justices for their suite — dubbed the High West Haus — at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic Industry Invitational this year.
High West is based in Park City, Utah, and when it launched in 2007 it became the state’s first legal distillery since the 1870’s. They produce a variety of small batch whiskeys and vodkas, including their Campfire Whiskey, touted as “is the world’s only, and possibly first, blend of Scotch, bourbon and rye whiskeys;” the American Prairie Reserve, a bourbon that they created to raise awareness of the American Prairie Reserve in northeastern Montana; and the Vodka 7000’ Peach, a vodka made with collaboration with a peach grower in Roy, Utah, the town that neighbors Brigham City, Utah, home of an annual peach festival.
Haus Alpenz specializes in bringing forgotten or lost spirits back to life. By recreating old formulas, spirits of the past are resuscitated for today’s tippler. Many recipes date back to the early 19th century and are still going strong today. Although these two spirits portfolios are wildly different, they play quite well together in the glass.
Like the nine members of our highest Court, the cocktails they created are straightforward, powerful, and no-nonsense. Each is an elegant 50/50 split of a High West spirit and a Haus Alpenz spirit — providing a springboard for experimentation for the professional or home bartender. Drinks comprised of equal parts, aside from being simple to remember, serve as a launching-off point for recipes. Replace one spirit with something similar — a bourbon for a rye — and you’ve got a different drink. Split one of the halves into two to bring more complexity into the equation. Tweak the proportions — 60/40 instead of 50/50 — and see where that takes you.
When I asked for the “Sonia Sotomayor,” Haus Alpenz Brand Representative Jake Parrott patiently explained to me that these drinks weren’t named after the current justices, but after former Justices, each of whom sat in a different Supreme Court seat and had a somewhat goofy or somehow relevant name. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase lent his moniker to a lush mix of equal parts High West American Prairie Reserve Bourbon and Cocchi Vermouth di Torino with an orange peel garnish, the Harlan Stone is a refreshing blend of High West 7000’ Peach Vodka (a stone fruit — get it?) and Cocchi Aperitivo Americano Rosa with a squeeze of lemon, and the Byron “Whizzer” White” is a spicy combination of High West Rendezvous Rye and Cocchi Barolo Chinato with an orange peel. My favorite was, of course, the Potter Stewart, if only for the explanation alone: High West Campfire, Bonal Gentiane-Quina and an orange peel. “I can’t define a good cocktail, but I know it when I see it.” Justice is served.
Photo Courtesy Ron Delete, http://lushangeles.com/