Bourbon Dinner at Zely & Ritz, Raleigh - Printable Version

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- wondersofwine - 12-17-2008

Attended this event last night (I passed on the tequila dinner where the menu seemed less to my taste.)
Jamie Dement, wife of one of the Zely & Ritz partners, gave background information on bourbon making and the brands we were drinking. I limited myself to a few sips only of the ones served neat, about half the mint julep, and drank all of the old fashioned. I also skipped the final coffee liqueur cocktail because I had to drive back to Fayetteville.

The starter drink was a mint julep which had the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby--Woodford Reserve, 90 proof (which Jamie says means 45% alcohol by volume--you halve the proof number for abv.)
With fresh mint this was tasty although normally reserved for warm weather drinking.

First course was a yummy caramelized onion tart with two cheeses--the local Hickory Grove and Fontina. Tasted like a dish from Alsace. This was served with Basil Hayden's served neat (no ice or other liquid.) 80 proof More rye in this bourbon than in some. Unusual bottle with an "apron and belt." Basil Hayden is one of the small-batch bourbons from Jim Beam and is named after a master distiller from 1796. (The name doesn't refer to basil flavoring.) I enjoyed this limited quantity premium bourbon.

The main course of beef brisket with orange scented roasted sweet potatoes and Dino kale was served with an old fashioned utilizing Maker's Mark Bourbon, 90 proof. The chef used orange zest and chicken starch in the preparation and the brisket was slow cooked over 24 hours--very tender and the orange flavors matched nicely with the orange wedge squeezed into the old fashioned. The mixologist (bartender or boozeologist as he called himself) said it takes a lot of experience to make a really good old fashioned and he is still learning the trick. One diner asked if old fashioned cocktails are a chick drink and got a resounding no from both Jamie and the others.

Third coarse was pork shank risotto with rutabaga finished with Asiago cheese. The pork came from Coon Rock Farm, owned by one of the partners of the restaurant. The chef said the natural sugar from slow-cooked rutabaga led to a certain sweetness in the risotto dish. We had this with Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon served neat (93 proof.) Blanton's is from Buffalo Trace. This one had a bit too much of an alcoholic kick for me (burning sensation on the palate.)

Our wonderful dessert was chocolate bourbon pecan pie with bourbon ice cream. The chef avoids corn syrup and uses honey and molasses, etc. in the pie. I passed up the Godiva Chocolate Liqueur with Knob Creek Bourbon Ball. Knob Creek is another limited production bourbon from Jim Beam.

Jamie said that Bourbon County Kentucky has been a dry county for a long time and these distilleries are from other Kentucky locations. Bourbon County was named for the royal family of France for aid to America.

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 12-17-2008).]