I ran across this drink while trying to figure out what to do with my newly created coffee liqueur.
The Revolver was created by Jon Santer of Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco. The next time I happen to be in San Fran, I will definitely be stopping in. I’m not exactly sure how the drink came about, the inspiration behind it and what not, but if you’re out there Jon, would you care to comment? Otherwise I shall be forced to come up with an outlandish story…
The recommendation is to use a rye-heavy bourbon such as Bulleit, Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare. Honestly, I think, any bourbon would probably work, but the rye edge gives the drink it’s spicier character which balances the rich sweetness of the liqueur and helps to bring out the earthy coffee tones. You could use Tia Maria (that’s what Jon used) or other coffee liqueurs, if you did not make your own. For the bitters, I used Scrappy’s Orange Bitters which have a bright, sharp zip to them. Fee Bros would be a second choice. Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6 would work, too, but think the fresh orange quality of those other bitters helps tie the drink together more so than the spicier Regan’s would.
2 ounces Bourbon
1/2 ounce Coffee Liqueur
2 dashes Orange Bitters
Combine with ice in a mixing glass and stir, about 40 revolutions.
Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel, flaming optional.
I tried one version of the Revolver with a flamed orange peel and one without. The caramelized sugars of the peel brought out the creamy caramel notes in the liqueur and bourbon which nicely smoothed and rounded the flavors.
The ashiness of the coffee liqueur still came through (see coffee liqueur #1). It wasn’t undrinkable or anything, but I felt that it took away from the sweet balance in the drink. A round 2 with the coffee liqueur is going to happen. And soon.
To compensate for the ashy liqueur I made:
The Revolver 2.o
2 oz Bourbon
1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur
1/2 tsp Sweet Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
3 dashes Orange Bitters
2 Orange Peels
One of those orange peels was added to the mixing glass along with the vermouth and bitters. I gave it a light muddle, to press out the oils, not to pulverize.
Then added the bourbon and coffee liqueur, filled with ice and stirred. Strained out into a cocktail glass and garnish with the other orange peel, which got a little flame treatment as well.
The goal here was to better utilize the coffee liqueur I made by boosting the sweetness and the orange-y essence. Taking a note from one of my favorite cocktails, the Manhattan, I felt the vermouth would provide enough sweetness while contributing to the overall complexity of the drink. It is a small enough addition to almost fly under the radar, but large enough to move the drink in the direction I wanted it to go.
The muddled orange peel and additional dash of bitters were enough to successfully connect with the hint of orange peel in the liqueur and to really make the aromatics pop.
I think succeeded in making the other elements of the drink more diverting and only, lightly masking the ashy finish. There was an awkward bitterness in the finish, not ashy, but distracting. Still not quite there.
24 hours later – I made both of these drinks again, just for the photos… This time we liked the first rendition of the Revolver better. The ashy quality from the night before was more subdued. Not really sure why. The first time through we used Bulleit and this second time we used Eagle Rare. That might have made the difference. I also did a better job on flaming the peels. On version 2.0, that odd bitterness was still there like a sore thumb. We found it more unpleasant then the new, less ashy version of 1.0.
Let’s revisit this when the new coffee liqueur is ready.