Category Archives: Bourbon

The Recoil

Long work days during summer mean when I finally get home, I’m feeling more exceptionally lazy than usual.  So for cocktails, that calls for simple classics that I can make in my sleep.  Either that, or those kind of drinks you see being made in the background scenes of Mad Men where ladies with curves and men in suits casually slurp down tall ice-filled glasses of hooch and soda – highballs.

This one isn’t so much a Don Draper-esque classic highball as it is a modern riff on a whisky buck, but I’ve still got last night’s episode of MM on my mind so pardon my tangential wanderings. (And Ms. ChinaNob and I agree – more Joan is always a good thing.  I believe Ms. ChinaNob’s exact words were “how can she NOT give you a woody?)

Anyways, Mad Men got me thinking of the Moscow Mule, created in the 1940s, which combined vodka, lime and ginger beer in an ice-filled copper mule cup. It is credited with playing a large role in shifting American liquor tastes from gin to vodka, a shift that started in the 1950s until the early 1960s, at which point, the Mad Men timeline picks up.

Which brings me back to the ginger ale, citrus and liquor of the buck or mule.  Bucks are a breeze to make and highly forgiving of just slapping one together with eyeballed measurements.   The real danger is how easy they go down – you can quickly knock a few of these back over a summer BBQ and before you know it, you’ll understand its name.

1.5 oz bourbon
0.5 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
0.5 oz lime juice

Shake with ice until frosty & strain into Mason jar filled with ice. Top with ginger beer.

Recipe courtesy of Bloodhound.

Whiskey Sour

I used drink these a lot in college, back when drinking involved hole in the wall bars in Boston – in the times not only prior to the modern speakeasy, but before Ferris Bueller’s wife ordered her first cosmo.  Drinks came in three varieties – beer, shots of straight liquor, or poured drinks that involved combining hooch with either electric yellow “sour mix” or something squirted out of a bar gun.  These were not cocktails so much as alcohol delivery devices.

Which is a real shame, as the era of the artificial sour mix often has scared people off from some simple, but classic and tasty cocktails.   Sours are one of the core types of mixed drinks, from which we get, for example, the Daiquiri, the Sidecar and the Margarita.  Booze, fresh citrus and sugar – you can’t get any simpler than that.  From that formula, you can easily riff in various directions to add some complexity to your sour.  One common modifier to this classic formula is the use of a raw egg white.  The egg white doesn’t add any flavors, but it does substantially alter the mouthfeel, giving the drink an added volume and fullness that transforms the drink into something that makes it quite hard to avoid tossing back several in short order.

Whiskey Sour

2 oz. rye or bourbon
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
2 barspoons egg white

Combine in dry tin and shake to emulsify. Add ice, shake and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry.

Port Light

Rain, rain go away, come back some…well drat, we’ve had a drought here in the Bay Area for going on three years now.   I can’t just wish away the rain now that we finally have a normal (read: totally wet) winter.  This would all be perfectly agreeable as it would ordinarily mean fresh powder in Tahoe for me to enjoy Year Two of “Dave Learns to Ski” – a perfect winter.  But I’ve been saddled with a  seriously tweaked hamstring from an old injury which has left me hobbling around with a newfound appreciation for disabled ramps.

So until I get my two left feet back, I’m stuck starring out the wet, drippy  windows, daydreaming about sunshine and tropical beaches.  As I can’t quite hop on the next plane bound for Hawaii – at least not yet – I’ll have to rely on Trader Vic to help me imagine myself  in a Hawaiian Tropic ad.

1 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz passion fruit syrup
3 tsp grenadine*
1 oz Bourbon

Blend with 1 cup crushed ice for 5 seconds and pour into collins glass or nautical tumbler. Add more crushed ice to fill.

Recipe courtesy of A Mountain of Crushed Ice.

For the grenadine, I combined the recipe from Tiare above with Jeffrey Morgenthaler.  Take a couple of pomegranates and use a juicer or reamer to grind the heck out of it to extract as much juice as possible.   Strain through a seive or cheesecloth.  Measure juice and combine with equal quantity sugar and two or three hibiscus flowers.  Warm (but do NOT boil) in a microwave to dissolve sugar.  Let the flowers steep for an hour.    Finish with a dash of orange flower water and bottle.

Petruchio & Bardstail

Aperol, Aperol, Aperol! I’ve gone a little nuts for this sweet little aperitif from Italy.  Aperol was originally made by the Barbieri company in Padua, but has since been added to the Campari family of products.  It dates back to 1919 and includes a number of herbal components including bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb and cinchona.  Its flavor profile is sweeter and less bitter than Campari with a pleasant, almost floral, orange taste and half the proof.  It makes for a good entry into this glass of aperitifs, especially for folks who might find Campari too bitter.  Plus, it just rolls off the tongue!

Aperol, Aperol, Aperol!

Petruchio and Bardstail


2 oz. gin
1 oz. Aperol
dash of Laphroaig scotch

Stir with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist.


1 1/2 oz. Maker’s Mark bourbon
1/2 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/4 oz. Aperol

Stir with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel.

Courtesy of Robert Hess.

The McGriddle

At some point in the last few years, the country seems to have waken up out of its misguided The Other White Meat silliness and rediscovered that pig plus fat equals transcendent tastiness.  Heritage hogs, Italian lardo, the return of lard in pie crusts, pork belly on the menu of high end establishments, bacon dancing the tango with chocolate… You just knew at a certain point someone was going to ask themselves, “I wonder if I can get pork fat into a bottle of booze?”

Of course, since this is America (Fuck yeah!), the answer is “Yes, you can!”  The technique is fat-washing , a means for infusing the flavor of a fat into a liquid while leaving behind the greasiness.  The alcohol is infused with a liquid fat for a period of time to extract the flavor, then cooled in a freezer to solidify and strain out the fat.  For a bacon-infused bourbon, the recipes I have found call for between 1 – 3 ounces of rendered bacon fat, which is achieved easily by cooking approximately a pound of bacon and reserving the rendered fat.  (For the cooked bacon, well, eat it!) Once the fat has cooled, but still remains in liquid form, add the fat to a 750ml bottle of bourbon.  Allow the fat and bourbon blend to steep for about four hours or more, then put it in a freezer overnight.  The next day, strain out the bourbon through a fine sieve and cheesecloth.  Bottle and refrigerate.

A bourbon on the sweeter side is recommended such as Bulleit or Four Roses, as a longer aged bourbon with strong oak or smoke tones would crowd out the bacon flavor.  Also, use a good quality, strong-flavoured bacon.  For mine, I used a combination of applewood smoked bacon and Bulleit.   For the first drink with it, I went a little nuts and tried a cocktail that mimics the flavor of a McGriddle.  I found it tasty, but others might find it merely odd.  A more straightforward presentation would be PDT’s Benton’s Old Fashioned with bacon bourbon in place of the rye and maple syrup subbed for simple syrup.   Next infusion experiment: Hot Buttered Popcorn Rum!


1  1/2 oz. bacon bourbon
1 oz. whole millk
3/4 oz. Grade B maple syrup
1 whole egg

Combine with ice and shake hard.  Strain into glass.  Garnish with bacon salt.*

* I had no bacon salt, so I used some ground cinnamon.

Courtesy of Todd Thasher of Restaurant Eve & PX.

Kentucky Woman

Its turned into summer and that brings the hankering for floral, fruity digestables.   I made a batch of lavender syrup a few weeks back and came up with a Lavender-Ginger Collins that was quite tasty.  However, I had a pile of leftover dried lavender even after making the syrup.  So what to do? The answer, of course, was to make more syrup!  This time, a honey-lavender, with a tasty drink courtesy of Liquidity Preference and Mixology Monday.  It was both refreshing and addictive.

Kentucky Woman

1 3/4 oz. bourbon
1/2 oz. lavender-honey syrup
1/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters

Stir with ice and pour into cocktail glass.  Garnish with lemon peel.   (although I bet a sprig of fresh lavender would be pretty sweet…)

Mint Julep

I feel a classic kick coming on.  Last night it was Manhattans.  Tonight it was “what to do with the leftover mint? Juleps!”  Not that I am complaining mind you – I always love a good excuse to thwack a bag of ice with a rolling pin.

Mint Julep

8-10 mint leaves
2 oz. bourbon
2 tsp. simple syrup
a whole mess of crushed ice

Put mint leaves in bottom of highball, double rocks glass, or if you are special – a silver julep cup.  Muddle gently to release mint oils.  Add simple syrup and a little of the bourbon.   Swirl around.  Cover with crushed ice.  Pour rest of bourbon on top of ice.  Stir gently.  Add more crushed ice to make a mound.  Garnish with large sprig of mint.  Add a short straw or two.   Sip like you have an obsession with seersucker, magnolias and the Waffle House.

Raspberry Flip

Another one from Jamie Boudreau, this one sounds good for summer berry season.   Having made flips before – my favorite being a rye flip – I was suprised at how light it tasted.  Its possible I overshook this one, leading to a wee bit over-dilution.  The framboise I used was Aqua Perfecta, a completely divine ambrosia, but also quite delicate.  It might require a more intensely sweet liqueur like Chambord.  This calls for further experimentation…

Raspberry Flip

1 1/2 oz. bourbon
1/2 oz. raspberry liqueur
6 raspberries
1 whole egg
2 dashes peach bitters

Combine all with ice and shake like the dickens.  Strain into coupe and garnish with raspberries.

Four O’Clock Shadow

4 Oclock Shadow

Saw this one on the menu at the recently revamped 15 Romolo in North Beach.  (Great little watering hole.)  I jotted down the ingredient list on the trusty iPhone and made a best guess as to the proportions, using a basic whiskey sour (sans egg white) as the baseline.  Next time I think I will pull back a little on the lemon juice and let the bourbon and Benedictine play a more forward role.   Still, a nice little tipple.

2 oz. bourbon
3/4 oz. Benedictine
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
dash of peach bitters

Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass.