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The Wonderful World of Whiskey

February 19, 2013
Shooters Wood Fire Grill remains a favorite Rapid City restaurant among locals. Savory food, great service, and a full bar that is sure to satisfy a well deserved happy hour, are all available at the Rapid City restaurant. Whiskey is among the many spirits offered at the bar; however, a small guide to what a whiskey entails may help the decision process on your next order go a bit more smoothly.

Whisk(e)y

Whether you prefer whiskey (the general spelling for Americans and Irish) or whisky (our fellow Canadians, Scots, and Japanese prefer this spelling), whiskey drinkers come in all sorts. Some casually order a whiskey and coke to wash down a bad day. Others demand their whiskey to be savored as a single-malt in specific glassware. 

Whiskey sits in a class of its own, with a history extending back hundreds of years. In 1994, whiskey celebrated its 500th anniversary of production in Scotland, it was used as currency during the American Revolution and granted as a medicinal property during prohibition and sold at drugstores. Today, bourbon whiskey is recognized as America's official distilled spirit. 

The complexities of whiskey vary. While all whiskey is made from fermented grain mash and aged in wood barrels, the type of grain used and aging process varies. Barley, malted barley, corn, wheat, rye, and/or malted rye may all be used to produce the distilled beverage. 

Whiskey is essentially distilled beer. The major difference between the two is that beer brewers add hops, which are bitter and balance out the sweetness. Whiskey goes through an oak aging process that balances the flavors, while distilling increases the alcohol content, preserving the whiskey.

All bourbons are a whiskey; however, not all whiskeys are bourbon. Americans hold the namesake for true bourbon, while whiskeys are made in many countries across the globe. 

Straight Whiskey

The United States follows strict requirements in regards to the production of straight whiskey. The grain formula must be 51% corn and cannot be distilled higher than 80% alcohol by volume or go into a barrel for aging higher than 62.5% alcohol. Straight whiskey must be aged in new charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years. 

Straight whiskey is a key component in American blended whiskey, containing at least 20% of straight whiskey. Other countries, such as Canada, Scotland and Ireland, do not commit to such strict requirements.
[caption id="attachment_57" align="alignnone" width="500"]Choosing the best whiskey can be mind boggling. With so many choices, start small and work on refining your taste buds. Choosing the best whiskey can be mind boggling. With so many choices, start small and work on refining your taste buds.[/caption]
Bourbon Whiskey

Bourbon Whiskey is strictly American and must be a grain mix consisting of at least 51% corn. The fermenting process is often done by mixing in mash from an older fermenting batch, a process called sour mash. It must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol and aged in new charred oak barrels. Straight bourbon must be aged at least two years with no additional color, flavor or spirits added to the beverage.

Rye

Rye whiskey has a noticeably fruity and spicy flavor compared to bourbon, which tends to be sweeter and full bodied. By law, United States Rye is required to be made from a mash no less than 51% rye. Canadian Rye is not always predominately made from rye mash, as the corn to rye ratio may be as high as 9:1. 

Regional Whiskey

Several regions own a claim to fame when it comes to whiskey. The majority of the world's whiskey is distilled in 7 different regions:

Tennessee Whiskey
Irish Whiskey
Kentucky Bourbon
Scotch Whiskey
Canadian Whiskey
Japanese (disputed by some)
New Zealand (also disputed by some)

Color

The deep caramel color of the best whiskey is due to the aging process in oak barrels. Deeper colors generally indicate a well aged whiskey. Younger whiskeys haven't had enough contact with the barrel and lack the darker caramel colors that older spirits possess. Due to the lack in color, younger whiskeys may include added color to retain the desired color. 

Whether you prefer a nice glass of Scotch, a Jack and Coke, or Jim Beam and water; whiskey and bourbon drinkers have one thing in common: loyalty to their brand. There's something to be said about how brand preference generates personal style, all while sipping on a trademark spirit. No matter what your style may be, whisk(e)y and bourbon drinkers are in a class of their own.

Stop by Shooters Wood Fire Grill, a favorite Rapid City restaurant among locals, and enjoy the best whiskey with friends and laughter over a well deserved happy hour.
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Quick and Easy Meals: Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

February 7, 2013
As soon as five o'clock rolls around and the time clock is punched, the day almost seems to be beginning once again. Gathering the family, planning a dinner, making a dinner, cleaning up and prepping the kids for bed is additional work on top of the traditional 8-5 work schedule. Somewhere in the mass confusion, a recipe falls on your lap, creating a moment of helpful bliss. Thankfully, dinner can be quick, easy, and delicious. 

A long time family favorite is Macaroni and Cheese. It's savory, hearty, and a winner at every dinner. Gone are the days of Macaroni and Cheese in a blue box, these are the days of homemade Mac made with love and cheese…lots of yummy, delicious cheese

Credit for this recipe is given to Ree Drummond, with a few alterations, and includes fifteen minutes for preparation and 20-25 minutes for baking. You will need the following ingredients on hand: 

• Macaroni Noodles — 4 cups
• ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• 2 tsp of dry mustard (or more if you like the taste)
• 1 pound of grated cheddar cheese
• 2 ½ cups whole milk (the richer the tastier!)
• 1 beaten egg
• ¼ cup butter
The following measurements are guidelines. Add more if desired.
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ tsp seasoned salt
• ½ tsp black pepper


[caption id="attachment_38" align="alignnone" width="336"]Want to get a little creative? Stuff a mini pumpkin with the mixture and crumble some breadcrumbs or crush some candied walnuts on top. Bake as usual. Voil ! Want to get a little creative? Stuff a mini pumpkin with the mixture and crumble some breadcrumbs or crush some candied walnuts on top. Bake as usual. Voil ![/caption]

Begin by cooking the macaroni until it is firm (cooking them firm allows the noodles to be baked without becoming overcooked).  Drain the macaroni. In a separate bowl, beat the one egg. 
 
Grab a large pot and melt ¼ cup butter while slowly sprinkling in 4 tbs. flour. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat for five minutes to be sure it does not burn. This mixture creates a roux. A roux is used as a thickening agent and will create a savory effect to the Macaroni cheese sauce.

Pour in the whole milk and dry mustard and whisk this mixture for 5 minutes. It will become very thick. When you think you have done it wrong because it isn't thickening, keep mixing. It will thicken. Once thickened, reduce heat.

The next step is where the beaten egg makes its appearance. Take about ¼ cup of the sauce you have created and slowly add it to the beaten egg in a separate bowl. This will slowly bring the egg up to temp without cooking it into the mixture. Pour this mixture into the sauce and whisk until completely combined. 

Next come the delicious goodness that will warm your soul: cheese. Cheddar cheese should be the base; however, if you'd like to kick it up, consider mixing in a little jalape±o or buffalo cheese. 

Pour all of the cheese (with the exception of ½ cup) into the sauce. Stir until melted and turn off heat. 
Add salt, pepper and seasoned salt. 

Toss in the macaroni and stir all the ingredients together. Place in a casserole dish and top it off with the rest of the unused cheese. Pop it in the oven for 20-25 minutes. 

For those with an adventurous taste bud, get a little crazy and add some chipotle powder, green chili powder or even a dash of hot sauce. If your diet is lacking greens, toss in some veggies for a cheesy veggie macaroni and cheese. Need a little protein? Add a savory touch and brown up some ground beef and add it to the dish. Options and alterations are endless and are sure to please the pickiest of all family members. 

Don't have ingredients on hand or want to take a break? Consider the top choice among Rapid City restaurants, Shooters Wood Fire Grill. Our exceptional service, delicious food, and family friendly atmosphere make Shooters Wood Fire Grill a local favorite among Rapid City restaurants.
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right on the north side of West Main Street.

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