By Sarah Huether
“I really love whiskey,” says Cody Schilling. When asked his favorite, he answers with an all-encompassing, “yes.” At the first hint of cold, Schilling says he abandons his favorite summertime drink of gin, and pours into his love affair with whiskey.
Pulling inspiration from the seasons, Schilling, Bar Manager and Head Bartender of the Grand Stafford Theater in Downtown Bryan, says he turns to the “warm, earthy” flavors of whiskey and bourbon as fall and winter trickle in. Bartending for nearly 10 years, including a year in Germany, Schilling says he loves “experimenting” and bartending allows creativity.
“You don’t want to cover up the alcohol…you want to know there’s whiskey in your drink,” says Schilling, naming balance as the most important thing about a cocktail. Frequenting Farm Patch, Schilling says he goes to see “what’s fresh,” adding fresh fruit and local herbs to his cocktails such as a Blackberry Rosemary Old Fashioned.
“For winter time, I really like rosemary, cinnamon, cloves…nutmeg,” says Schilling. “Actually use cinnamon stick when you shake it…or a cinnamon sugar rim,” Schilling offered as a way to add holiday flavor to cocktails.
“When it gets really cold, I drink my grandmother’s gluhwein,” said Schilling. A German spiced wine made on the stove, the heated concoction is based in wine and consists of orange juice and zest, cloves, and cinnamon. A cone of sugar, which can be found at Mexican markets, is then soaked in 151 Rum, lit on fire, and “pray you don’t burn the house down,” adds Schilling. The lit sugar hangs over the pot, “slowly sweetening it,” says Schilling.
“Try it at home before you make it for guests,” encourages Schilling. For those entertaining at home, Schilling recommends variations of classic cocktails as a safe bet. “There’s a reason they’re still around,” he says.
Chocolate Covered Candy Cane
– 1 oz Bailey’s
– ¼ oz Rumplemintz
– ¾ oz Dark Crème de Cacao
– Shake and pour into a martini glass
Blackberry Rosemary Old Fashioned
– Muddle together ¼ oz simple syrup, 5-10 rosemary leaves and 2-3 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
– Add blackberries and muddle
– Top with 2 oz of good bourbon
– Add ice and stir until frost accumulates on the outside of the shaker
– Rub rosemary leaves in hand and drop on top for aroma
Gluhwein (German Spiced Wine)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
Zest of one orange
2 cinnamon sticks
Combine and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for ten minutes. Strain.
In another pan warm two bottles of a hearty red wine. Slowly add syrup until you reach your desired sweetness.