Louise Leonard is a chef, food personality, stylist, booze lover, and bon vivant who was crowned the winner of Season 2 of ABC’s prime time hit, The Taste. In addition she and was a food stylist for Emmy-award winning Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, MasterChef, The Chew, Access Hollywood, and Next Food Network Star. Louise joins Spirits of Whisk(e)y with food pairings and suggestions to go with the highlighted whiskeys or brands that we feature in our podcast.
Based on the cocktail Old Square that Simon Brooking told us about, I would pair it with a bitter chocolate chile de arbol truffle. The cocktail has smokiness, orange and sweetness, like something I would want after dinner, which is the perfect time for a truffle.
The second cocktail he spoke about was the Blood in the Water. For this one, I think it would pair nicely with some sort of grilled fatty fish, like salmon or black cod and serve it with a caramelized fennel tomato compote. Grapefruit and fennel are delicious together and the fattiness of the fish could stand up to the whiskey.
Based on the tasting notes of The Edge of the Burnhead Wood, I think a good snack to go with this expression would be a crostini with chevre or goat cheese, sliced figs, some good olive oil and fresh chevril on top.
Brenne single malt transports me straight to a Parisian park lush with flowers, where I want nothing more than to sip this while nibbling on a wedge of Triple Crème Brie and Fresh Cherries.
I’m combining Pappy and Co. Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup and Aged Pepper Sauce to make a fun glaze for Oak-Fired Chicken Wings. Sweet, spicy and smoky - all you need is a nip of whiskey and you’re set.
George Dickel Bottled in Bond is quite special and it deserves to be paired with a lush dessert, like Chocolate Ganache Pecan Pie. Oh and a heavy stream of the Tennessee Queen herself, Dolly Parton, on the turntable.
I love that Stranahan’s is the same guy that started Flying Dog Brewery, who I love, so why not pair their OG Rocky Mountain Single Malt with Beer Battered Fish and Chips with Malt Vinegar. If I could hit the slopes in Colorado and have this upon entering the chalet après ski, I*d be one happy gal.
Stranahan’s Diamond Peak has such rich butterscotch notes and vanilla from the oak barrel that I*d love it with a homemade Apple Pie with Sharp Cheddar, which is a nod to my Wisconsin roots. The bite of pepper from the whiskey and the cheese are like a match made in heaven.
Since Jill is originally from Texas, I figured I would pair her bourbon with a warm Queso Dip. Oregon has such great creameries throughout the state, so why not use a local cheese, such as a sharp cheddar and add in some pico de gallo. The sweetness from the bourbon and the spice from the chiles work really well together.
Hallman Rye - I'm thinking a Rye Smash cocktail paired with Soy Glazed Grilled Mackerel and a Pineapple, Radish and Cucumber Salad would be just what the doctor ordered on a sunny day at the beach in Oceanside, CA. Mackerel has such great fat content and the rye and lemon in the drink would really cut that well for a great pairing.
Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond has such a classic bourbon profile that I decided to pair it with a modern take on Burgoo, which traditionally is a mixed bag stew with anything from possum to squirrel to pheasant, thickened with potatoes and vegetables. My version includes venison, lamb and chicken for the meat, yellow eyed peas, corn and mustard greens for the veg and topped off with a mint chimichurri.
A rye Manhattan is truly one of my favorite cocktails so I would make one with the Catoctin Creek Rye and sip on it while munching on some Devils on Horseback, which are blue cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon that will certainly draw out any sweetness and woodiness from the whiskey. This pairing screams 60s cocktail party!
Chicken Cock Rye
I love the idea of a Chicken Cock Rye Julep paired with arguably Louisville's most famous sandwich, the Hot Brown, which is an open face turkey sandwich with mornay sauce and topped with tomatoes and bacon. It was created at the Brown Hotel in 1926 for guests enjoying some late night music and dancing, and is still a signature dish of the hotel and a Derby Day favorite.
Chicken Cock Bourbon
I am pairing this bourbon with a classic southern Fried Chicken, but adding a twist by serving it with Orange Chile Crisp, which is a lovely condiment of fried orange rind, shallots, garlic, chile flakes and a host of other spices. The sweetness from the bourbon is going to play so nicely with the salt, fat and heat from the chicken!
I knew when I tasted Uncle Nearest 1856; I wanted a pairing that would play with the up-front spicy notes while also complementing the fruity, sweet undertones. Something salty, sweet, spicy, and completely unpredictable. And I like my bourbon in the morning, so how about French Toast with Pepper Jelly, Stone Fruit and Crispy Country Ham! Anyone who has ever lived or spent time in Tennessee knows the glory of cured country ham and to me the best is Benton*s, so find yourself some and you will thank me later.
I have the perfect use for Traverse City Whiskey Co. American Cherry Edition. Farmer's Cheese Blintzes with Sour Cherry Flambé. Ultimate brunch food right there! - Chef Louise Leonard
I made an Old Fashioned with the Heritage Dual Barrel in orange extract casks and I was thinking the thing that was missing was a big plate of fried fish. Specifically, the fried perch or walleye you would find at a supper club in the middle of Wisconsin that hasn’t remodeled since 1954, for Friday Night Fish Fry. You also eat the fried fish with potato pancakes and apple sauce. Don’t ask, it’s a regional thing. There is no specific reason for this pairing, other than nostalgia for my home state; though a true Sconnie would scoff at the notion of using bourbon instead of brandy. But this here is a whiskey show, so there.
Understanding that Tracie Franklin's spiced tincture would be a most badass edition to a cocktail, I wanted to figure out another application for it. I've used various bitters to add intrigue to ice cream, so that's what I did here. I added a few drops of this tincture to coconut ice cream, which could also be complemented with a bitter chocolate sauce or fresh, ripe mango. The heat from the Trinidadian scotch bonnet chilies, Szechuan peppercorns and warm notes from the allspice and cinnamon play with the cold, creamy coconut ice cream in a spectacular way.
Glaswegians are known to batter and deep fry just about anything, which I greatly admire when it comes to booze snacks. To pair with the Glengoyne 12, I'm doing a riff on a Roll and Fritter, which would normally be a chunk of battered and deep fried potato on a roll. Carb on carb- yes please. My version replaces the white potato with sweet potato, has an apple cardamom chutney and the roll is doused in honey. A funky, fun sweet treat to enhance some of those caramel apple notes in this whiskey!
A crucial detail I was fixated on with the Tamdhu 15 was figuring out a pairing to play up the distinct Spanish sherry oak cask notes. So why not make a tapa? Speyside is known for their lobster and langoustine fisheries, and one of my favorite Spanish snacks is Langostino a La Plancha. It's a simple preparation of grilling the langoustines, and dousing them with a good olive oil, lemon and sea salt. I like to skewer them with padron peppers, which works really well with the crisp fruit notes from the whiskey.
Barrell Craft Spirits - Dovetail
Since the Barrell Dovetail is finished in rum, port and cabernet barrels, I'm pairing it with a variation of the French classic, Duck L’Orange. The gaminess of duck works exceptionally well with fruit, honey and red wine. I would certainly use some of the bourbon in the dish, along with oranges, rosewater, honeycomb and red wine vinegar.
I'd be remiss if I didn't pair the Still Austin Straight Bourbon with barbeque. Some of the best I've had is in Lockhart, about 30 miles south of Austin, and specifically a giant smoked beef rib from the original Black's BBQ. No finer pairing than perfect smoked meat and a straight bourbon.
Teeling Small Batch
I was really inspired by this whiskey highly in part of the final resting in rum casks. So I figured I would use it to make a Cocktail Soaked Cornmeal Cake. I love the idea of mixing a bit of the whiskey with rum and some fresh citrus to soak the cake and then topping it with fresh whipped cream and tropical fruit. Not a pairing you would expect with an Irish whiskey, but one that I think would pleasantly surprise you.
Hotaling Old Potrero Rye
I first tasted the Old Potrero back in the early aughts at my local pub, which was a haven for craft beer lovers. The fact that Anchor Brewing had made this spirit was a huge bonus for all us hop heads. Years later and under new ownership, I'm pleased to say that this whiskey still does it for me. My pairing today can't really exist because I simply want to enjoy it with a pint of fresh old-school Anchor Steam and good conversation. However, I think you couldn't go wrong giving props to the city on the bay with a nip of the Old Potrero, a pint of beer, and a steamed Dungeness Crab and Garlicky Drawn Butter.
Obviously I'm pairing this American single malt with Snake River Farms Waygu beef. And specifically a nice marbled tomahawk steak cooked over an open fire in a beautiful setting. I'm also drooling at the thought of cooking some potatoes, fresh rosemary and garlic in beef suet to accompany the steak.
Frey Straight Rye Whiskey
I am in love with this sustainably farmed, ground-to-glass straight rye whiskey. To pick up on some of the spicy notes in the whiskey, I thought Id pair it with a whole fried Rainbow Trout with a Herbed Chili Ginger Vinaigrette. Since Lake Tahoe is nearby and that region is home to great fishing, it only seems proper to celebrate the local specialties. The vinaigrette brings a spicy, fresh zing to balance everything out.
Words From Weezy: Botanist Gin
(made at the Bruichladdich Distillery in Islay)
Gin is high on my list of favorite liquors and the 22 botanicals in the Botanist Gin made it such a unique spirit. To play up the water mint, wild thyme, and white clover represented in the gin, I am pairing their Bees Knees Cocktail with Seared Scallops and Yuzu Kosho, one of my favorite condiments on planet Earth. It's a fermented seasoning with yuzu peel, chilies and salt, and is absolutely phenomenal on scallops.
Words From Weezy:
Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake
Guess what, I'm going out on a limb and suggesting you pair this whiskey with, wait for it... cake! And specifically an Old-Fashioned Butter Cake. It is a simple bundt cake of very basic ingredients, but a glaze made with A Tale of Cake that is poured onto the cake when it's still warm from the oven, sets an entirely different tone for this granny classic. And of course, double down and enjoy the cake with a nip of the whiskey in your coffee for an ultimate afternoon pick-me-up!
Words from Weezy
Wheel Horse Bourbon
One of the best winter food offerings in Los Angeles is tamales. I mean, I actually refer to it as TAMAL SEASON. We can get them year-round, of course, but I happily partake in the Mexican and Central American tradition of making and eating them in cooler weather, especially during the holidays. I even think a lovely way to spend Christmas would be enjoying Wheel House Bourbon with a pork-filled, chile verde-topped tamal. You might also leave that combo out for Santa next Christmas Eve...or maybe you already do!
Makers' 2020 110
I feel very fortunate to ring in the new year with a taste of this exceptional whiskey. The pronounced vanilla and caramel notes has me thinking this would be a great whiskey to sip while enjoying a simple dessert of various cheeses like gruyere, camembert and Roquefort with perfectly ripe pears and a homemade pecan sage brittle.
Clonakilty Single Grain
I'm pairing this exceptional single grain Irish whiskey with one of my favorite and simplest to prepare fish, skate. You will see skate listed on menus as a skate wing because the fish has two magnificent wings on either side of a cartilaginous section running down the center of its body. Pan-fried Skate with Brown Butter and a Wild Greens and Strawberry Salad - all local food products to perfectly compliment this whiskey.
Pinhook Tiz Rye Time
Since this whiskey is 95% rye, I immediately wanted to play that up by pairing it with Pumpernickel Tea Sandwiches with Lox, Cream Cheese and Dill, which would also be a perfect snack to enjoy while watching the horses.
Cascade Moon Edition 2
To honor the limited editions from George Dickel, that in their accurate words are *as mellow as moonlight*, I felt it only right to make a timeless and traditional New Year's Day dish of black eyed peas, though of course I have to put a twist on it. I'm making Black Eyed Peas with Smoked Ham Hock, Greens, Cornmeal Dumplings and Chile de Arbol Salsa. I can easily imagine eating a big bowl of this on a blanket outside under the moonlight with a fat glass of Cascade Moon to wash it back.
Dickel Single Barrel
I love the flavors of molasses, treacle and sorghum and that was one of the first notes I picked up on this whisky. So I immediately thought about roasting a small game bird over an open fire, could be quail, squab, cornish hen or duck and glazing with molasses, orange, ginger and bourbon. Id serve it with a mash of yams, butter and miso and some garlicky mustard greens with a good amount of red wine vinegar. This would be exceptional with the Dickel Single Barrel on the rocks or as an Old-Fashioned.
I was skeptical of this whiskey and mostly because I was wondering if it would actually taste like what it advertises. Sometimes *pickle-flavored* products, be it potato chips, nuts, candies, etc., taste of vinegar but often miss the mark on the pickling spices. I'm happy to report that this whiskey really does taste of pickles! So I decided to use it in my Weezy's World Famous Bloody Mary. My mix includes the usual suspects of tomato juice, horseradish, Worcestershire, lemon, black pepper and a few secret ingredients. The kicker with this cocktail is that I pickle all the fun garnishes with produce from my garden, such as radishes, carrots, cucumbers, okra and green beans. And of course, because I am from WI, a Bloody Mary isn't complete without a skewer of cheese and sausage and a beer back!
The dried fruit, honey and apple notes of Glendoyne 21 has me craving a big wedge of a creamy, slightly stinky blue cheese, potentially swathed in a layer of buttery puff pastry and served with fresh, ripe apples, and the whole lot drizzled with honey and fresh thyme. This could be dessert, yet this could also be a midday treat after a long walk through the Highlands.
Wyoming Private Stock Whiskey
I would love to sip this whiskey while eating a bison burger smothered in a mild gooey cheese, something like a Havarti, with caramelized onions to bring out the sweetness of the spirit, drunken sautéed mushrooms, a few sprigs of arugula for a peppery bite and a nice grainy mustard. All this sounds about right after maybe riding horses and watching the sun go down through Bighorn Basin
The Busker Triple Cask
I am pairing this wonderful whiskey with Irish Soda Bread French Toast with Fresh Fruit and Hard Cream. Make your favorite soda bread recipe and turn it into french toast the next morning - don't forget to add a proper glug of whiskey to the batter - and top with your favorite fruit and whipped cream made with another glug of whiskey. Then add more whiskey to your coffee - noticing a theme here? It's that day of the year when all this makes sense. Sláinte!
Widow Jane American Oak
Brooklyn’s in the house! Widow Jane exemplifies the Brooklyn mentality of keeping it local, sourcing pure limestone mineral water from the Rosendale Mines, about 100 miles north of the city. The limestone from these very mines helped build such famous structures as the Brooklyn Bridge, the base of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Grand Central Terminal. That being said, I'm keeping it local using the Widow Jane American Oak in a Brooklyn Mule cocktail featuring Pickett's Ginger Syrup, not only because it's a Brooklyn company, but also I go way back with the Pickett brothers.
TX Straight Bourbon in PX Sherry Cask
For the TX Straight Bourbon aged in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, all I could think about was flan. I would flambé some stone fruit such as cherries, plums and apricots and serve them with a perfect Spanish flan. This decadent dessert would pick up the caramel and candied nut notes from the bourbon for a perfect after-dinner treat.
Pike Creek 10 Finished in Rum
Paired with Mofongo with Fried Chicken Skin, Charred Pineapple and Pickled Habañero Onions.
Cotswold Dry Gin
Paired with Homemade Potato Chips, Lavender Citrus Creme Fraiche and Caviar
I simply cannot think of a better food to pair with a Taiwanese whiskey than a pork belly bao. For those of you who haven't yet experienced the glory of such snack, it's a steamed bun that is stuffed with pork belly that’s been braised in a mixture of a rice wine, soy sauce, and Chinese five-spice powder and topped with crushed peanuts, pickled mustard greens, and cilantro. The sweetness of the pork picks up a bit of the vanilla in the whiskey and it is a serious match made in heaven.
All ideas above are work product of World of Weezy™, 1st Reel Entertainment™ and the Center for Culinary Culture™ and cannot be republished without permission.