We were recently invited to return to the renovated and lovely Woodcroft Hotel for a Whiskey Masterclass. The first of a hopefully ongoing series of masterclasses here as other premises in the group have been running them with good success. When I heard about this event I was beaming from ear to ear because I also found out it was being paired with their American food. I have sampled these manly meat monsters before and thus was extremely excited.
We were greeted by the friendly staff and upon arrival given bourbon with ginger ale and lime. I wish every greeting happened this way with handshakes and cocktails passing around in bliss. It went down a treat and I love ginger ale anyway with the spicy kick at the back of the throat.
Our eyes fixed upon the canapés being served which was Ceviche Petuna. Tasmanian Salmon placed on a crispy corn tortilla and drizzled with chipotle.
I do believe this was the first time I had raw salmon with chipotle and it really worked! Then Chef Brett Tilley chirped in and told us it had been caught this morning. I wanted to give him a slow clap but deemed it odd and inappropriate. I thought I would be polite and take one….I took five by the end of it.
After licking my fingers clean of chipotle we were given Buffalo Fever. This is not a medical condition referring to any metamorphosis into a half man/half beast abomination but a cocktail with Buffalo Trace bourbon and Fever-tree cola. The cocktail was at a good level in sweetness and tasted natural with a hint of bourbon on the pallet. This would be great for those of you wanting a milder cocktail.
The whiskey expert began his talk and gave us commentary on what we were drinking. He was very knowledgeable and knew every answer to questions asked. We were given Buffalo Trace neat and asked to smell and sample it with no mixers. I won’t go into the details on what was discussed as if knowledge is power then I would love for you to become empowered yourself in the whiskey glory at the next master class.
No southern American meal would be complete without a good Gumbo and that is what we received. This was a chicken and corn gumbo that screamed New Orleans which was perfect for a cool autumn’s night. I do like my gumbo with a bit of spice so next time I may ask for it to have more fire for my belly. It was served with a couple pieces of toast to soak up every drop of that tasty gumbo sauce.
This was coupled with a one of the best whiskey cocktails on the night “The Bourbon Sour”. It was an overall agreement that this was the drink that had people’s lips smacking and taste buds tingling. Such a smooth well balanced drink and they had nailed what is required of a good bourbon sour. Also it had a cherry in it too for a little more excitement!
We had a demo from the expert on how to make it with the portion being 3 bourbon, 2 lemon juice and 1 syrup. So remember it is 3-2-1 then bourbon sour time!!
The main is what I had been waiting for because any time the words BBQ platter are uttered, written or even thought of, my stomach grumbles with anticipation. We were plated up pork belly, lamb shoulder and buffalo chicken wings served with waffle fries, apple slaw and bourbon whiskey BBQ sauce. Now I will note that everyone else received 12 hour slow cooked lamb shoulder but sadly not I. I only found out when I conferred with Ling afterwards to which she replied “oh yes….you missed out”. I thought….I wasn’t THAT drunk! The pork belly was good though I would have loved the skin to be crispier. The buffalo wings are without that tangy, hot sauce you would expect and instead had a spice rub. It was still nice as chicken wings go but my taste buds had geared up for that tangy goodness. The waffle fries were great and took me back to being a young lad at my grandma’s house with those crispy yet fluffy potatoes treats. The apple slaw did its job on keeping the mouth fresh whilst devouring this meaty platter. Now the absolute hero of this platter was the bourbon BBQ sauce. I told Chef Brett Tilley to bottle this and sell it as it was amazing! I caught one guy running his finger across his plate just to have a little more of that heavenly sauce.
Another demonstration took place on how to make a Manhattan and we were told it was classed as a celebration drink mainly aimed at women. I also like to celebrate so I partook in drinking it no matter my gender. This one was quite strong and I am sure I could run my car on the fumes alone. There was some pyrotechnics going on with this drink so I won’t ruin the surprise but was very entertaining!
The final dish was here, a dessert of Churros served with fresh strawberries and chocolate bourbon sauce. I made a rookie error here and was too greedy with my strawberry dipping before the churros. I still had a couple of churros left after greedily consuming all my sauce. This mattered not as the churros by themselves were good, with that cinnamon sugar coating giving me fairground food memories. The chocolate sauce was very rich with a smooth bourbon aroma which I loved.
The final matching drink was the Sazerac. Served in a chilled glass with an Absinthe rinse. This also consists of Rye bourbon, bitters and lemon to finish. The only shame was to see the Absinthe used in the rinse being thrown away as I would have happily volunteered to be the bin! It was a lighter and pleasant drink that matched the dessert quite well and finished off what had been a very memorable and informative night.
There will be another Masterclass coming up soon though the exact dates are not confirmed. It may be even be tequila next! This time around it was $59 per person and included 4 courses matched with 4 whiskey cocktails and a guest expert sharing the secrets of the trade. Bookings are essential and I would be hounding The Woodcroft Hotel to put you on their mailing list so you find out first.
We would love to thank the Woodcroft Hotel team for a great night and being such great hosts!
Also, I am serious about Chef Brett Tilley bottling that sauce! Share that treasure with the world!
Disclaimer: Foodie Ling were invited as guests of The Woodcroft Hotel