Brandt’s Billables

1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey <Rittenhouse>
3/4 oz Chocolate Liqueur <Godiva>
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
Few dashes Angostura bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


An interesting thing has happened since I started this blog.  When I go to people’s homes for a get together, whether it’s just a few people or a large family gathering, I often become the defacto bartender (first world problems, amirite?).  I mean, I get it, and I certainly don’t mind it.  However, usually I end up working with unfamiliar inventories of varying sizes, and will resort to making things up on the fly.

Such was the case this past weekend when I was in NJ for Rosh Hashanah.  We were at Mrs. Muddle’s uncle’s house, who just so happens to have an amazing bar.  And I’m not talking about the contents, which we’ll get to in a second, but the actual bar itself.  Look at this thing!

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Needless to say, I hopped back there and started digging around to see what I was working with.  The standard base spirits were all present — gin, vodka, whiskey and tequila.  Things got interesting when it came to the liqueurs.  Grand Marnier and Amaretto were some of the more common ones I found.   However, farther back things got a little weirder with stuff like Frangelico, some Schnapps, and Godiva Chocalate liqueur (we’ll get to this last one in a second).

When it was time to start making drinks, I had all the tools i needed, except for a jigger or measuring cup.  I had to improvise and grabbed a shot glass, working on the assumption that a standard shot glass is 1.5 oz.  To keep things simple, I stuck to a 2:1:1 ratio for most of the drinks.  That way measuring only required a half or full pour.

I made a few Bay Breezes to get my bearings, but then I really started exploring the depths of the bar, which is when I found the aforementioned Godiva chocolate liqueur.  Towards the end of the night I wanted something both stiff and dessert-y.  Godiva liqueur to the rescue!  I also grabbed some bourbon and Grand Marnier and got to work.

There is an underlying lusciousness to this drink, no doubt from the Godiva.  All the other flavors float on its velvety waves.  As chocolate coats the tongue, malts and caramel from the whiskey burst through.  Orange melds with the chocolate for a citrusy sweet sip.  Finally the bitters add a little cinnamon kick on the swallow.

While the Billables was pretty tasty in its original bourbon based incarnation, I wondered how it would work with rye.  When I got back Boston, I made that version and was pleasantly surprised.  The grainy spiciness held up even better to all the sweetness from the chocolate and orange-brandy flavors from the liqueurs.  A more complex, interesting drink indeed.

The name came from Lacey’s uncle, who is a doctor.  Anyone with a doctor in the family knows that anytime you see them, there is always some medical question that needs answering.  Her uncle, Brandt, is always joking that anytime he gives his professional advice in a social setting, that still counts as billable hours.  As a thank you to providing an awesome setting for family gatherings and letting me root around in his bar, I named the drink in his honor.

So next time you find yourself in unfamiliar territory, don’t be afraid to pull out some weird bottles and start experimenting.  Keep things simple by sticking to one or two templates, and pull on drinks you already know are proven winners.  Who knows, maybe you’ll stumble upon one or two things worth making again.

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