Kick off your weekend with a drink that makes use of what's in season right now: ripe, plush apricots. This muddled cocktail, inspired by the classic whiskey smash, calls for just four ingredients: apricots, whiskey, lemon, and agave. Dare we say it's, well, a smash? See how it's done, and then print out the recipe so you can make one for yourself.
This garden-to-glass cocktail pays homage to what I consider to be the most underrated Spring fruit of all time: the apricot. There's only a short window of time in May when these stone fruits are ripe, plump, and bursting with sweet juice; after that, they turn mealy and flavorless. Make the most of their short-lived season with a cocktail that highlights the fruit's floral, honeysuckle-like flavor. This tipple, which is inspired by the classic whiskey smash, calls for just apricots, agave, lemon, and bourbon. Got four ingredients and five minutes? Then make the apricot smash.
Headed to the horse races this weekend — or just looking to cool off? Then settle in with a frosty mint julep. It's a drink that's perfectly balanced: it's sweet, clean, and potent all at the same time. Although it involves crushed ice, it's an easy cocktail to make at home. Watch the video now to see how it's done.
Until I read Imbibe by David Wondrich, a wonderfully nerdy book about the history of boozin', I thought an old fashioned was bourbon served over ice, sugar, bitters, and a muddle of oranges and maraschino cherries. But turns out, that fruit-laden recipe is pretty much the antithesis of what an old fashioned cocktail was intended to be.
When bartenders first started serving cocktails, they were ridiculously simple: some type of spirit (usually bourbon or gin), gum syrup, bitters, and a shaving of nutmeg. But by the 1870s, so many variations had been introduced — the "fancy cocktail" with curaçao, the absinthe "improved" version — that purists wanted a return to the original formula. Hence, the old fashioned cocktail, with the slightly fancier lemon peel taking the place of nutmeg. To get the recipe, read more
While I most often associate bourbon milk punch with holiday festivities, Winter months are always an appropriate time for this slushy, granita-like cocktail made with milk, bourbon, and powdered sugar. In Louisiana and Mississippi, households pride themselves on bourbon milk punch recipes. There are arguments about whether you should use vanilla ice cream or whole milk and if the punch should have bourbon or brandy. The recipe varieties are endless; my mom even admits to making diet milk punches with her friends using skim milk and Sweet'n Low.
The following is my favorite milk punch recipe, made with whole milk and bourbon. The whole milk gives it enough creaminess and body, and the vanilla and nutmeg make me nostalgic for a snowy Winter day. The best part is you can control the sweetness of the beverage as well as the strength. Just remember, as the milk punch freezes, it won't be as sweet as it is in liquid form. Due to the bourbon, the milk does not completely freeze, and the frozen punch can be easily scraped into a slushy cocktail. Do as the natives in New Orleans, and drink this cocktail during brunch on Winter days.
Combine two Mardi Gras traditions into one cup: king cake and bourbon. This bevvy, or alcoholic beverage, is essentially a bourbon-vanilla milkshake. Cinnamon, almond, orange, and creamy vanilla are the main flavors, inspired by king cakes, or a ring-shaped cake eaten during Mardi Gras that is covered in white glaze and garnished with purple, yellow, and green sprinkles. Can you see the resemblance in this cocktail?
If you're wondering what's the deal with the little plastic baby garnish, it's a Southern/Gulf Coast tradition that a tiny plastic baby is inserted into the king cake for tasters to find it. Whoever does has good luck for the year and must host the next party.
Here's an inspired idea: if you plan to make a large batch of this cocktail for friends, say, using one gallon of ice cream, then pour the cocktail in a large pitcher and stir the plastic baby into the pitcher, so one lucky imbiber will end up with the baby in his or her glass. Just be sure to warn friends beforehand that there might be a plastic object in the glass, and encourage them to use straws to prevent any accidental swallowing!
Inspired by Bourbon House's King Cake Bevvy
Bourbon King Cake Bevvy
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1-3/4 ounce bourbon
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 ounce orange juice
Purple, yellow, and green sugar sprinkles, for garnish
Tiny plastic baby, for garnish
- Blend ice cream, bourbon, cinnamon, almond extract, and orange juice in a blender until smooth. Pour in a glass and garnish with sprinkles and plastic baby.
Makes 1 cocktail.
Bourbon is experiencing a resurgence as of late. The American-made whiskey isn't just for cowboys or businessmen anymore. If you're curious as to what makes bourbon bourbon, here's the 411 for your 101:
- During the late 18th century, European settlers in America started making whiskey using corn as the main grain (since it was so readily available). These early producers aged the corn whiskey in oak barrels, keeping in line with traditional whiskey making. Because corn is a sweet grain, bourbon tends to be a sweet whiskey with oak, toast, vanilla, and toffee flavors.
- The American-made corn whiskey became known as "bourbon," because it was first made in the original Bourbon County of Virginia (present-day Kentucky). Even though bourbon technically can be made anywhere in the US, the Kentucky area is hailed for its incredibly pure, limestone-filtered water, which naturally removes any metals and minerals that could affect the way the bourbon tastes. About 97 percent of bourbons are made near Bardstown, KY.
- To this day, the US government regulates that bourbon must be made in America from at least 51 percent corn. The rest is malted barley and a flavoring grain — either wheat or rye. It has to be distilled at no higher than 160 proof and must be aged in new, charred-oak barrels for at least two years (to be considered "straight" bourbon). No additives are allowed (not even to change the color), except for pure water to bring down the proof; the bourbon has to be bottled at least 80 proof.
- Lately, bourbon makers are offering small batch or single barrel bourbons for a heftier sum. Small batch bourbons (a term coined by Jim Beam in the '80s) are made by mixing bourbon from several different barrels (though from the same batch) before bottling. For larger distilleries, this could equate to hundreds of barrels. Single barrel bourbon is made from bottling one single cask (aka barrel) of bourbon. The bottle of the bourbon will have the barrel number on the label to distinguish it.
A few weeks ago, I went to Rich Table in San Francisco to taste several Knob Creek bourbon cocktails. Upon arrival, the bartenders served up glasses of a sparkling bourbon cocktail. Typically, I'm a bourbon or a sparkling wine drinker, but never had I seen the two twirled in one glass. I had a lot of doubts at first, mostly because I'm a purist and I prefer drinking a straight bourbon or a straight sparkling wine; however, the cocktail intrigued me.
The end result reminded me of a carbonated old fashioned, and I enjoyed it so much that I sought to re-create it. There's a woodsy, spicy flavor from the bourbon, but all potential heaviness evaporates due to the crisp bubbles from the sparkling wine. If you're the type who forgoes a Champagne toast in favor of a stiffer drink, then this sparkling cocktail may be the perfect compromise.
Keep reading to see the sparkling bourbon cocktail recipe.
What better way to commemorate Bourbon Heritage Month than with beautiful bourbon cocktails we can't help but love? Whether you're partial to a classic old-fashioned or you'd like to take a twist on tradition, we've got you covered; you'll think you're in Kentucky with these delectable bourbon delights. Here are five recipes to get you started.
Forget the sweet scent of a fig-and-honey-infused pillar candle. When it comes to favorite fragrances, the rich scent of bourbon is high on my list. So it's no surprise that I'm seriously crushing on B. Light Design's Bourbon Lamp.
Ben explains, "[The] Jar Lamp is made with an oak base. The oak comes from an old bourbon prefermentation vat. A smart man convinced me to leave the base unfinished . . . when the bulb heats up and the jar is removed, the smell of bourbon fills the air."
Check out more of Ben's lamps on Etsy.