It isn’t just Ke$ha putting whiskey in her water bottle. This caramel-colored classic is a favorite of Americans and alcohol drinkers all over the world. Brought to Ireland around 1000 AD by monks who learned distillery in the Mediterranean, the word “whiskey” literally translates to the “water of life.” We’ll drink to that.
But a night on the town is not the only reason to indulge in some amber-colored delight! In fact, every accomplished chef probably has a bottle or two stashed in their ingredient closet. Whether the evening calls for some Irish coffee or a delicious flambe, here are some tips for cooking with the water of life:
- When cooking with alcohol, anything put on high heat for a long period of time will cause most of the alcohol to evaporate. For this reason, most recipes that include whiskey will call for it at the end of the recipe.
Fun Fact: Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Pure grain alcohol will boil at approximately 173 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Since most of the alcohol will burn off, it is not necessary to use the good stuff. Save your top of the shelf stuff for next year’s Christmas party and opt to cook with something a little more budget-friendly.
- If you’ve got a bottle of bourbon in your closet, it can be used as a substitute for whiskey. The conversion is ounce for ounce.
Fun Fact: Though they are similar, not all whiskeys qualify as bourbons. Bourbons are widely distributed in the US and have a noticeably sweeter flavor than whiskey. The sweetness is caused by the use of corn in the mashing process.
- In general, darker alcohols tend to pair better with darker meats (and vice versa). Keep in mind that as a grain whiskey it does not have the smoky, earthy undertones of Scotch due to a lack of peat used in the malting process. It is a sweeter alcohol great for use in dessert flambes.
- Worried about serving a dish with alcohol in it to a child? Don’t worry, most recipes that call for cooking with whiskey typically use a small amount that is spread over a large amount of food. But for peace of mind, monitor your pours accordingly.
Fun Fact: Many foods with a high sugar content (like fruit) have naturally-occurring alcohol in them already.
For more cooking tips like these, check out “Cooking With The Moms” podcast.