As a big lover of whiskey and cocktails, bourbon cocktails have a special place in my heart. Bourbon has certain specifications to be classed as Bourbon, for example; it must be at least 51% maize and must come from Kentucky. There are a great many Bourbon’s out on the market, each with their own flavour and distinctive character. But enough history, let’s try some cocktails!
The original whiskey cocktail, the Old Fashioned. There have been references to this cocktail as early as 1806 as the ‘Bittered Sling’, comprised of spirit, sugar, bitters and water. Over time, recipes were created and it improved as it passed from Europe to America and so on, hence the change of title to the ‘Improved Cocktail’. However, it now has its place in history as an Old Fashioned.
Any Old Fashioned must be stirred, as you want to retain all the characters from the spirit, sugar and bitters. Not only will this control the dilution, but it keeps the colour too. If we really think about it, an Old Fashioned is; whiskey, sugar, bitters and ice, and yet it remains as relevant and a classic. I use bourbon, Angostura bitters and sugar syrup. Sugar syrup cuts the prep time in half, however if you want more of a traditional classic, use sugar and water.
Strain over cubed in a Hobster glass and garnish with an orange zest!
Originated at the Manhattan Club (ironically) in New York as early as the 1870’s, was made with; whiskey, vermouth and bitters. To be honest, not much has changed since then hence the high honour of being a classic. A personal favourite of mine, it is sweet, smooth and must be made perfect.
When I say perfect, it must be balanced between dry and sweet. In a Bourbon Manhattan, we’re using Bourbon, two types of Vermouth and Bitters. First, start off with a Chilled Martini glass, no one likes to drink a cocktail out of a warm glass. This cocktail is also a stir.
Garnish with a Cherry!
This is basically the cousin to the Manhattan with a twist. Everything stays the same, however we are introducing Maraschino into the mix. This will make it sweeter and stronger.
Now for a twist! The signature drink of the Kentucky Derby is fresh and has been a favourite of the South of America since the 18th Century. Unlike the other cocktails in this list, this is served in a Julep tin, and Bourbon is the only liquid used.
Bourbon Mint Julep
First, slap the mint into the Julep tin, this will release all the oils and extracts out, giving it that refreshing taste and delightful smell. Next, we add in crushed ice and pour the ingredients on top. We want to churn the cocktail in order to dilute it, without making the mint bitter. You can tell it is ready once the tin is frosted on the outside. Then we crown it and garnish with a Mint Sprig!
New Orleans’s version of the Old Fashioned, the Sazerac has been around since the 19th Century, and is named after a Cognac, Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils. More modern versions of the cocktail use rye whiskey, different bitters, sugar and absinthe. So let’s try a Bourbon version.
Another stir, very similar to an Old Fashioned, again we use the same glass and ice. We stir all the ingredients, minus absinthe, and strain into the glass. Then, add a few drops of absinthe into the glass. Garnish with a lemon zest, squeezed over the glass!
Another interesting one, and the only hot cocktail here! The Hot Toddy is the grandfather and classic of hot cocktails. It has one job; to warm you up! This has helped me on many occasions from; hangovers, colds, and freezing nights. Next time it gets cold, get right up to a fireplace with a Hot Toddy, nothing like a bit of warmth and comfort!
Bourbon Hot Toddy
For the other cocktails, we chill the glass in order to make every sip the best as possible, so for a Hot Toddy we want to do the opposite. Fill your choice of mug with boiling water and let it stand for a minute. Grab your lemon twist and stuff with the cloves. Empty half of the mug, then refill with fresh boiling water. Add all your ingredients and give it a good stir, then enjoy!
The Whiskey Sour dates back to the 1860’s, however the British Navy had been drinking something similar before that. Out on the high seas, sailors needed to combat Scurvy by consuming lemons and limes, also water was not always dependable. Then in time, with the combination of sugar and water, we start to reach the cocktail era. There are references to the Whiskey Sour, the first coming from 1862 ‘The Bartender’s Guide: How To Mix Drinks by Jerry Thomas’.
Bourbon Whiskey Sour
You’ll find various recipes that either use Egg White or not. The main use of Egg White’s is to add viscosity as well as to sweeten the cocktail. Also, when we shake a cocktail, not only are we rapidly chilling the drink, but we de-sweeten it.
So add all your ingredients into a shaker and shake it hard. Strain into a Rocks glass over cubed ice and garnish with a lemon and cherry!