Moonshine! White dog! Rotgut! White lightning! Hooch! Fire water! Mountain dew!
Academically speaking, corn whiskey, made from a mashbill of a government-mandated-minimum 81 percent corn (with rye and malted barley making up the difference) that usually sees the inside of a charred oak barrel exactly never. In other words, it's a sort of bastardized, unaged bourbon (which requires at least 51 percent corn in its mashbill and some time sittin' in charred oak).
On a swing through Kentucky last year, Sean and I sipped some at the Buffalo Trace distillery (aka ZOMG NIRVANA), which hadn't yet started wide-scale distribution of its White Dog (as it was labeled), and in fact couldn't even keep up with demand at the distillery gift shop. I remember it tasting cockily abrasive, running-on-fumes heady, but quite likely that was me letting the liquor's reputation precede itself. It's called "dog" for the same reason it's been called "lightning": because it barks at'cha, when it's not rippin' you to shreds.
Now that corn whiskey has become white-hot, cocktail recipes that incorporate it have started popping up online, which was just what I needed for my reintroduction and de-intimidation: To combine my corn whiskey with even more liquor! (Man, do I sometimes worry I have a problem.) Even better, I loved the sound of this White Manhattan, which I found on a South African online food mag called Spill.
Turned out I liked the taste of it, too -- like, a hella lot -- and, as a nice bonus, the color came out a gorgeous yolky-sunrise shade.
The White Manhattan
(Adapted from Spill)
1 3/4 ounces Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey
1/2 ounce B&B
1/2 ounce Cinzano Extra dry Vermouth
3 dashes Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with a few ice cubes (the larger, the better). Stir vigorously with a bar spoon for about 10 seconds. Pour into a cocktail glass.
I changed two things from Spill's recipe. One, I used B&B instead of just B (as in Benedictine), simply because I didn't have any plain-B in the house. So I had to come up with a Plan B! HA! Two, I used rhubarb bitters instead of orange bitters, mainly because I was worried orange bitters would muddy-up the color.