We sent Deputy Editor Amanda David to try out one of the interactive experiences at the Bulleit Frontier Bar at Flat Iron Square; a guided whiskey cocktail tasting led by Bulleit ambassador Leon Shepherd, served alongside a specially curated food pairing menu from Mother Clucker.
So if you are (like me, before this tasting) a bit vague on whisky - whiskey? - terminology, here's a quick rundown:
Whisky (without an 'e') is from Scotland, whiskey is from America; a good way to remember this is that if you need an 'e' to spell the country, you need it in the word too.
Mash bill - the mix of grains used to make bourbon (usually corn, rye, wheat and malted barley)
Bourbon - a type of whiskey that can only be made in America, is made with a mash bill that has at least 51% corn and is aged in a new oak barrel
Rye - made like bourbon, but with at least 51% rye in the mash bill
We tasted cocktails made from Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye. Bulleit Bourbon has an unusually high rye content at 28%; Bulleit Rye has a massive 95% rye and only 5% malted barley in the mash bill, giving it a real frontier feel. Tasting these neat, the rye whiskey had significantly bolder notes of pepper and spice whereas in the bourbon they were softer and smoother, with the same honey and vanilla tones - all great flavours to play with in cocktails.
Our first pairing was the Cluck Bun & Cajun Fries from Flat Iron Square residents Motherclucker, served with a Bulleit Rye Pineapple Skies made with Bulleit Rye and a house-made sherbert, shaken with maple syrup and topped up with a pineapple soda. This was one of those dangerously delicious cocktails that is fruity, refreshing and deceptively easy to drink, a world away from the stuffy, serious reputation whisky can have; in my head I was transported to a sunny beach bar and could happily have ordered a jugful. The food pairing was beginning to look like a very good plan.
The next cocktail was a Bulleit Cherry Mint Julep, made with Bulleit Bourbon, fresh mint and soda, balanced beautifully by a dash of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur. Our knowledgeable and fabulously entertaining host, Leon Shepherd, talked us through the steps of each cocktail as he made them and explained what each spirit, modifier and ingredient brought to the finished drink, which was fascinating. (Also, I love these tin mugs - how cool are they?)
This was paired with Halloumi Bites (buttermilk dipped and twice-fried, like their chicken) & Tater Tots. I would like it to be known that I am fully behind the current tater tot trend; in terms of Things That Make a Potato Good to Eat, they tick an awful lot of boxes.
The final pairing was Buttermilk Chicken Strips and Sauces with a Bulleit Coconut Fat Washed Old Fashioned. This was a clever and really well-rounded, modern version of the classic smoking-room cocktail, updated for the hip, edgy twenty-somethings packing out the Bulleit Frontier Bar behind us. The coconut infusion came through surprisingly well and, along with the intriguing addition of chocolate bitters, added an unexpected twist to an old favourite; I think I prefer this to the classic.
Click here to book the Taste Experience for yourself: Taste Experience Booking Page
For more information about the Bulleit Frontier Bar at Flat Iron Square, visit.flatironsquare.co.uk or pick-up a bottle to enjoy at home on Bulleit.com and follow the party on social with #BulleitFrontierBar @FlatIronSquareUK.
If you want to delve deeper, the Bulleit website has a whole section on food and cocktail pairings, with recipes for both - check it out here.
[Items in this article may have been gifted to Chatting Food. No financial payment has been made to feature in this article, and entries to the feature are made independently by members of the Editorial Team. This page contains affiliate links and we may receive a small commission for purchases]
Deputy Editor, Chatting Food London: Amanda David
Freelance food writer, copywriter and blogger Amanda David is dedicated to sharing news about London’s restaurants, bars, events and general wonderfulness. It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it.
She has also just launched a new website, A Cook's Bookshelf, reviewing cookbooks old and new, with side-by-side photographs of recipe illustrations next to her home-cooked version.
Follow Amanda at:
Instagram: @LondonGAT and @a_cooks_bookshelf