Editor’s Note: This article was provided to us as a sample review by Brown-Forman. This in no case, by our editorial policiesinfluenced the final result of this review.
An after-work cocktail is a beautiful thing, but for those inexperienced in making a drink, it can be a daunting task. This is where cocktail syrups tried to enter the market. Often aiming to reduce prep and the need for fresh ingredients, cocktail syrups offer an add-on alcohol recipe to make you and your guests something fun. Woodford Reserve has partnered with Williams Sonoma to create a line of cocktail syrups that aim to do just that. This product line currently includes three flavors of cocktail syrups; a Mint Julepa old-fashionedand one Whiskey Sour.
I’ll start by being very clear, I’m a cocktail snob. Having worked as a bartender in two different countries and in exceptional cocktail programs, I have developed a knowledge of the taste of a classic. These syrups are far removed from the classics whose name they bear. That’s not to say they don’t have a place in the market, it just won’t replace your favorite bar serving up the real thing. The advantage of them lies in their stability, these syrups are shelf stable and can be stored in the refrigerator ready to use much longer than the ingredients you would normally use.
To make them, I used the instructions on the bottle. Overall, I found these instructions led to a drink that was less than the size of a normal cocktail. I made all of these drinks with Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and I think they suffered. Woodford is not something I reach for when making a cocktail due to its lighter, smoother flavor profile. When making cocktails, you want bold flavors that resist dilution and add something to your drink. Woodford takes a back seat and often requests heavily modified recipes so the whiskey can still pass.
The Mint Julep tastes artificial, reminding me of Trident’s spearmint gum. The Old Fashioned might be popular in some areas, reminding me more of a Old Fashioned Wisconsin Brandy what I would do on a regular basis. It was like drinking sweetened whiskey with fruity notes. The Whiskey Sour was my favorite, but I had to distance it from my idea of what a Whiskey Sour should be. This is a mixture of whiskey and sour, not a Whiskey Sour. The sour ended up being a jumble of flavors that didn’t integrate and just lacked the brightness of a cold drink.
The above paragraph makes it sound like I hate this product. But let’s be clear, I tend to hate all cocktail syrups. They are cheap imitations of something that only takes a little more time and effort to make. But I also see where it can be useful. With the bottle designed for 32 servings, if you have a large group of people that you need to make drinks, these will do the trick. These are easy recipes to scale up to make a big batch in one go. The flavor profile isn’t great, but it will appease the masses.
Review: Williams Sonoma Woodford Reserve Cocktail Shakers
Details: 16 oz bottle, 32 servings, $19 per bottle, available at Williams Sonoma
Prints: By working with these syrups, I saved time on making my drink. This puts making a cocktail more on par with the time it takes to make one at the bar. All the preparation is done and all you have to do is mix the syrups with the whiskey. However, with a little effort to make juice and simple syrup, I am able to produce a much higher quality drink with cleaner and brighter flavor profiles. For me it will always be worth that extra bit of time and money for a cold drink.