If you're into thinkin' and drinkin'

Field Trip #2: Billy Sunday


We finally got up the steam to go on another Black Liver Project field trip.  Over a year ago I found an article on unique cocktails in the Chicagoland area. I was immediately smitten. Crazy, exotic, strange ingredients used to enhance the cocktail experience…I was totally all for it.  One such ingredient was ambergris in a whiskey cocktail. That was just alarming enough I had to try it and tell everyone about it.

But we all know how time has a way of slipping away from us.  Before I knew it more than a year went by so by the time I sent the folks a “Let’s do this” message about their whale snot beverage, it was already off the menu.  I was flabbergasted.  How could something so special just fall off the menu! They suggested we come by anyway and try the new menu selections.  I checked it out and it featured ingredients equally unusual for cocktail fare: falernum, goat’s milk, monk’s pepper.  I said, “Why the hell not.”  So I gathered the gang and we went over and tried seven of their wonderful mixed drinks.

Blown away!  Each of these drinks was so unique, such a mastercraft of work, I was impressed with every single one…and some were creations that were total departures from the expected.  If you listen to our conversation as we tasted them you will note that some were bigger hits than others and some of our tasters found the departures from the usual to be too alarming, but by and large we embraced the creativity and skill each brought to the table.  But if you ask me, the guy who has been going on a tour of classic cocktails for a year and a half, I loved what each of these had to offer and would invite even the less courageous of you to give some of them a try.

The Living Proof – I selected it for the Gooseberry soda. Who can turn down a good gooseberry soda?

The Box Lunch – I selected it for the goat’s milk. Never had goat’s milk before; still not sure I can say I’ve had goat’s milk.

The Handle with Care – I selected it for the falernum. This drink was definitely one of the favorites of the table. Don’t let the tequila fool you!

The Walk This Land – I selected it for the monk’s pepper.  A pleasant cognac drink with other subtle flavor playing within.

The Old Ivory Egg – The bartender selected this one for us because I asked which drink on the menu we could not miss. This was the most daring of the set because it reminded more of a cold vegetable consommé – a soup with a kick – and he was right, not to be missed.

The Victorian – Charles was attracted to this one for the bitterness potential. Did not disappoint.

The Old Fashioned – The Billy Sunday version was the best one I’ve had, smooth and classy.

We’d like to thank Alex Bachman for mixing our drinks, Perry Keahbone for being our tour guide and answering our questions for each cocktail, and everyone at Billy Sunday for letting us come over and play!

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