Booze-soaked bluegrass, could there be anything more befitting for this time of year, on this plot of land? San Francisco is finally warm, if only for the week, so enjoy it while it lasts. Sit on your front porch (read: stairwell or fire escape), whip up a naturally-infused whiskey cocktail, then listen to the rough and tough Americana songs of Oakland's own, Rhubarb Whiskey. Or you can check out the band live this Friday, Sept. 23 at the Plough and the Stars.
With harder-edged takes on folk, it's got the auditory sensation of dragged chains through fiddle, railroad spike on accordion, ominous train horns a-coming through the fog, perked up with plucked mandolin. A jug in hand seems almost mandatory at this point. For Maximum Consumption, I asked Rhubarb Whiskey – which includes Boylamayka Sazerac, Emchy, and Sizzle La Fey – to pair their songs (all of which you can hear on their Bandcamp page) with the appropriate whiskey. They did me one better and gave helpful explanations, and a recipe for their specially concocted namesake recipe at the end.
Track: “We All Come to the Same Place” paired with Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey
Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey – sweet smooth with some hints of caramel and smoke on the finish – it sounds like roughing it, but really it's all about the most sweet and comfortable moments.
Track: “Whiskey Neat” paired with Jim Beam Rye
While this song about trying to get with a girl at a show but getting into a fight instead even mentions 18-year-old scotch, it's really more of a rough and tumble Jim Beam Rye sort of feel. Spicy, pissed off, and feeling like you're gonna have a good time raising hell with your broke-ass friends.
Track: “Bears in the Lot” paired with Wild Turkey
This song also name checks a booze but this time it hits the nail on the head – if you're stranded and heartbroken in an Alaskan bar with rogue bears, it has to be a Wild Turkey night.
Track: “Night Jasmine” paired with Sazerac Rye with Fee Brother's Rhubarb Bitters
This murder ballad set in a Louisiana swamp has to have the dark liquid vice of Sazerac Rye Whiskey with the sour seedy and slightly sweet undertones from Rhubarb Bitters. While the whiskey is upfront, smooth, and mysteriously seductive, the rhubarb undertones will pull you into the bitey lusty flavor – and you know that while the drink is tasty it's going to be a dangerous night.
Track: “Whiskey in the Afternoon” paired with Bulleit Rye
This song is all about what happens when the drinking gets away from you. When the heart of the song is about having your whiskey all day long, we have to speak from the experience of the recording itself and go with Bulleit Rye.
Track: “Go Away” paired with Jameson
A sweet and true love song about drinking on the beach, hopping trains, and stowing away on ships. It's gotta be Jameson for this one. The booze had to travel to get to the wayfaring lovers but it keeps 'em warm and cozy while they're barreling forward on those windy boxcars.
Track: “Sorrows Drowned” paired with Maker's Mark
This was the first song the band ever wrote. Dark, drunken and pissed off it's the song you stomp and slur along to at last call while you're finishing that last Maker's of the night and still just wanting one more.
Final note from the band:
“Lastly of course we have to get to the name Rhubarb Whiskey itself. We love to play music, make food together, and we hella love our rye whiskey, so as soon as the band was formed we knew that we needed to channel our inner boozahol super powers and come up with somethin' special.”
Adding, “Since Emchy is a big fan of cooking rhubarb pie she went ahead and tried making some rhubarb simple syrup. Add that to some rye whiskey with an ice cube or three and you've got yourself a Rhubarb Whiskey.”
Rhubarb Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup peeled and chopped rhubarb
Boil 1 cup of water, add 1 cup sugar, stir until sugar is completely dissolved, add 1 cup coarsely chopped and peeled rhubarb, lower water to a simmer, let simmer covered for one hour. Put into glass mason jar to cool and then refrigerate. Let sit at least one hour (a full day is better for flavor).
Once your rhubarb simple syrup is cool, add one part syrup to two parts rye whiskey (brand of your choice but don't go too high end, that insults the whiskey and brings bad luck -- we suggest Beam Rye or Makers if you need to get a little fancy). 1-3 ice cubes recommended. Now put on your favorite murder ballads album, drink up, and be careful -- it goes down a little too easy.
Record Release Party
With Rhubarb Whiskey, 5 Cent Coffee, and Plasterkatz
Fri/23, 8 p.m., $10
The Plough and the Stars
116 Clement, SF