A Honey & Thyme Whiskey Sour Recipe

Oaky, sour, tart, creamy, and extremely sippable the classic whiskey sour recipe is a near-perfect drink. This version adds a few tweaks for the sake of variety. It starts with making a honey simple syrup - one of my favorite ways to sweeten cocktails, avoid processed sugars, and reap some of the benefits of honey. 

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Cheater Mint Juleps

Mint Juleps get a lot of hype come Derby time in May, but the combination merits a longer summertime run, especially when mint is rampant. It’s an icy, refreshing flavor made for grilled pairings, days by the pool, a beachy nightcap, or simply a sipper while watching the fireflies.

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Cheers to the Weekend: Nectarine Thyme Whiskey Cocktails

Hey! Hi! Hello! It's time for another installment of Cheers to the Weekend, when we chat life over wine or cocktails. This weekend, I'm serving up Nectarine Thyme Whiskey Cocktails featuring a whiskey that made my pals at Pennsylvania Libations rave (PA Libations is a must visit if you're in Pittsburgh): Manatawny Still Works' Keystone Whiskey. 

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Spiced Whiskey in a Custom Labeled Bottle for the Whiskey Lover

Take a long look in a full-length mirror. Does your neck lurch forward? Do your shoulders slope to one side? When you see yourself in photos, do you think, “Damn girl, stand up straight,” only to realize you were standing at your straightest? Then you, my friends, might need a doctor… a spine doctor!

Spiced Whiskey in a Custom Labeled Bottle for the Whiskey Lover // www.WithTheGrains.com

The above was my scenario. My many years of hunching over a drawing board, crouching over photo sets and then slouching into my computer had caught up with me- in a gnarly way. These poor posture habits had longer lasting and riskier effects than simply making me look slouchy in photos. We pay so little mind to our spine, and yet our very health and our very lives depend on its maintenance.

Spiced Whiskey in a Custom Labeled Bottle for the Whiskey Lover // www.WithTheGrains.com

Lucky for me, chiropractics found me. The Urban Farmer’s brother once wanted to be a medical doctor, only to realize the main stream medical system doesn’t prioritize health and prevention, focusing rather on fixing. In chiropractics, he discovered the fundamentals and a means to helping people live their best lives. He found a world in which health, nutrition and fitness combined to serve people, so he devoted himself to the spine and became Dr. Alex Pattison. I believed his words and explanations, but more than anything, I believed the way I felt within a few adjustments.

Spiced Whiskey in a Custom Labeled Bottle for the Whiskey Lover // www.WithTheGrains.com

If this sounds preachy, I can’t help it. When I find something good, something I believe in, I want to share it, want to sing it like Julie Andrews on those Austrian hills. Chiropractics often get a bad rap, as a scam or hoax, but I know Alex as a family member, as a doting father, as a loyal friend and as a doctor. I know him to be incredibly informed and earnest in his pursuit to make our city a healthy one. I also know Alex to be a whiskey aficionado. 

Spiced Whiskey in a Custom Labeled Bottle for the Whiskey Lover // www.WithTheGrains.com

This past Christmas, I drew Alex’s name from the hat for the family secret Santa. Rather than simply giving a bottle of whiskey, I played my graphic-designer-boyfriend card (did you know the Urban Farmer is also a design wiz?) to create a custom label to celebrate his love of whiskey and his devotion to spinal health. Introducing Doc Pattison’s Miracle Elixir

Spiced Whiskey in a Custom Labeled Bottle for the Whiskey Lover // www.WithTheGrains.com

To personalize the bottle even more, I concocted a Spice Infused Whiskey, a fiery flavor reminiscent of a fireball, derived from our forefathers.

Spiced Whiskey in a Custom Labeled Bottle for the Whiskey Lover // www.WithTheGrains.com

Below you’ll find the historical reference for this “receipt,” as it was called in the day. (The “Dulcify” step is my favorite!) You’ll also find the modernized version, designed to be fun and not kill you, by Steven Grasse, author of Colonial Spirits: A Toast to Our Drunken History, and the man behind Art in the Age, a personal favorite of mine. So toast some spices, toast a glass, find yourself a chiropractor, and let’s all toast to health and longevity!

Here’s to you Doc Pattison!

p.s: If you’re interested in creating a custom bottle design to give as a gift, get in touch!


Spiced Whiskey
from Colonial Spirits: A Toast to Our Drunken History

The Historical Recipe

Take of cinnamon, ginger, and coriander seed, each 3 oz. – mace, cloves, and cubels, each 1 1/2 oz.- Add 11 gallons of proof spirit, and 2 gallons of water, and distil [sic]; now tie up 5 oz. of English saffron, – raisins (stoned) 4 1/2 lbs.- dates, 3 do.- liquorice root, 2 do.- Let these stand 12 hours in 2 gallons of water, strain, and add it to the above. – Dulcify the whole with fine sugar.

-From Five Thousand Receipts in All Useful and Domestic Arts
by Colin MacKenzie, 1825
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Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche

If only it were possible to have conversations with myself, both past and future, without the burden of mental illness. When people utter the word “cool” in a sentence with my name (not a brag, more of a statement of disbelief), I wish I could bring young Quelcy into the fold, with her cumbersome backpack and pre-algebra stresses and general obsessive bookishness. “Hey you, LOOK! Someday, somehow, this will all pay off.” Similarly, I’d summon that Quelcy who worked a job she grew to abhor.

Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche // www.WithTheGrains.com

That Quelcy found a solace and creative outlet in baking, in trying new recipes and techniques, all while tinkering with a new camera. That Quelcy would walk into my dining room, judging the updates with her eyes (as always), and say, “Oh, you’ve paired down the collections a bit. Good for us, but why aren’t you hosting a brunch today?”

Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche // www.WithTheGrains.com

Current me would justify past Quelcy’s poignant observation. I’ve managed to steer myself to this magical overlap, where people pay me to play with food and flowers and gatherings, but somewhere in that process of leaving the job I hated, and fuzzing the line between work and play, I forgot to slate days to bake just for me or to host friends in my home just for fun. In short, I forgot that weekends even existed.

Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche // www.WithTheGrains.com

I was due for a reminder, so I treated myself to one of those expensive recipe compilation magazines, those textured pages just dripping with sweetness set against dark fabrics, etched slate and cold, crisp marble. Then I sank into my couch, nestled under the warmest of plaid blankets and made a weekend plan. In the simplest of approaches, I began with the first page, which just happened to boast many of my favorite flavors paired together: chocolate, pecan, bourbon and pie crust.

Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche // www.WithTheGrains.com

As winter finally made herself known, and the darkness set in oh so early, I sequestered myself, by my own freewill, in my kitchen, where I embraced the full process of baking and playing with food… simply because that’s what I really love to do, and I needed the reminder.

Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche // www.WithTheGrains.com

Even if you don’t play with food and flowers and gatherings for a living, the holiday season can taint baking and cooking with a hint of stress. Dinners and holiday parties put schedules and deadlines on creative outlets, and in the process, they can suck some of the joy from kitchen escapes.

Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche // www.WithTheGrains.com
Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche for a Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart
Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche // www.WithTheGrains.com
You’ll want extra bourbon to serve with this Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart

Maybe there’s a future iteration of me, who could join current me and past me in the dining room, and hopefully tell us both that she figures it out, she finds more ways to balance paying bills with feeding our souls (after all, she will be the older, wiser one). In the meantime, I’m letting my inner crazy attempt to steer me toward more balance and simpler baking joys, and I hope you find the same outlets during the crazy of the holidays. 

Here’s to [some semblance of] sanity!


Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche
Adapted from Bon Appétit

About this Recipe: By reducing the sugar in the crust, using raw cane sugar, maple instead of processed sugar and corn syrup, and an extra dark chocolate, my adapted version allows you to enjoy the winning trifecta that is pecan, chocolate and bourbon without that “I feel my teeth rotting” sensation. In my zeal, I accidentally skipped adding chopped pecans to the filling, but I left that part in the instructions, so do as Bon Appétit says and not as I do. I was also a little over zealous with the chocolate (as per my usual). The Bourbon Crème Fraîche has a thick and fluffy texture, almost like a non-melting ice cream- win win!

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