Saturday, February 11, 2012

What's In Your 12 Bottle Case? Bill Buitenhuys



Bill Buitenhuys is a full-time wine and cocktail enthusiast and an occasional system engineer in Arizona. You can usually find him sitting on a bar stool or creating small batch, handcrafted bitters with his wife, Lillian, in AZ Bitters Lab.

Bill approached his list with the glee of a spirits lover combined with the focused attention of an engineer.  He meticulously analyzed his needs and constructed his list methodically so he would be able to satisfy his cravings on that hypothetical deserted island.

And here’s where the shift to mixology is obvious:  Bill is particular about his spirits, but his interest is clearly on how those spirits can be used to create cocktails.  He begins with the cocktails and then chooses his spirits based on those, and arrives at his ‘best possible scenario’ selection. 

Let’s take a look both at his list and his reasoning process for the list:

1.     Sazerac 18yr Rye
2.     Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon
3.     Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
4.     Dolin de Chambery Dry Vermouth
5.     Pernod Absinthe
6.     Hendrick's Gin
7.     Plymouth Gin
8.     Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
9.     Campari
10.  Benedictine Liqueur
11.  Laphroiag 15  Pierre Ferrand Esprit des Dieux 1er Cru du Cognac 
12.  Macallan 25

You’ll note four different liqueurs make the list; all are there to mix with other spirits.  And two gins appear; one gin won’t suffice.

You’ll also note that Islay scotch lovers will be horrified to learn their beloved Laphroiag was knocked off the list for a Cognac---but it did make way for an obligatory brandy, and what a spectacular brandy it is! 

The Cognac That Knocked
Laphroiag off the list
Interesting as well that the final scotch chosen was the Macallan, a non-peated sherry-oak style, over the smoky peat-monster of Laphroiag.  I suspect that would have to do with the greater inherent mixability of Macallan over Laphroiag.  I also suspect that will invite violent disagreement from Islay whisky aficionados, who tend to be outspoken about their drams.

Bill reflected a bit after constructing his list:

“I thought this would be easy. Just list out my favorite drinks, tally the bottles, and be done with it.

I'm assuming that seeing I'm on a deserted island that I'd have all the citrus that I'd want at my ready. Given enough time on the island I could make up some infusions and specialty bitters with some of the native fruits, herbs, and roots as well. I know if I go with classics then I can riff into many directions from there.

The Classic Bijou Cocktail
So I start with the drinks I'd never want to be without: Manhattan (rye, good sweet vermouth), Sazerac (add bourbon and absinthe), that perfect 3:1 Martini (add Hendricks and a dry vermouth), Negroni (add Plymouth and Campari), Aviation (add Luxardo), Vieux Carré (add cognac and Benedictine) and lovely options for Highland and Islay whiskey (add Macallan and Laphroiag).

Wait! I'm already at 13 bottles? A beloved Corpse Reviver #2 would require adding Lillet Blanc and Cointreau. The perfectly balanced Bijou Cocktail would require green Chartreuse. I haven't even begun to go after a nice amaro or that crisp, biting grappa. Rum, vodka, and tequila I could live without if I had to but how can I make a Barnum or a Fairbanks without some apricot brandy? And I still have to eliminate a bottle! Let's see. Deserted island. Tropics. I'm thinking I can do without the Islay malt (*shudder*). Ok, Laphroiag, you're out. That's it. Pack my case. “

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