Category Archives: bourbon

Dragonfly

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Watermelon and bourbon is not the kind of combo that sounds as if it will work – and yet it does, beautifully, in this celebratory drink that showcases notes of vanilla, chocolate and toffee offset by a good balance of ripe sweetness and refreshing tart notes. These go down a treat on a hot day – and they’ll disappear as fast as their namesake, so consider making a whole jugful if you’re serving them to a crowd.

INGREDIENTS

125ml watermelon puree (to make it, just blend chunks of seedless watermelon together until they’re liquified)

5 fresh Thai basil leaves

30ml sugar syrup

7ml lime juice

45ml bourbon

GLASS

Old-fashioned or tumbler

METHOD

Muddle the basil, sugar syrup and lime juice in a mixing tin. Add about 6 good chunks of ice plus remaining ingredients and shake vigorously. Pour the whole lot, including the ice, into the glass. Garnish with a basil leaf if desired, and serve.

RECIPE BY

This delightfully refreshing, addictive drink is from Asian Cocktails by Holly Jennings and Christine LeBlond (Tuttle, 2009), which, curiously, seems to feature lots of cocktails inspired by Asia but none from any Asian bars. Perhaps that’s because back when it was published, the cocktail craze hadn’t hit Asia? There are definitely truckloads of great bars there now – if you’re ever in Singapore, say, then check out Library, while over in Myanmar there’s the lovely Gekko.

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Doctored Pimm’s

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A few weeks ago I foolishly attempted to provoke the weather gods into providing Melbourne with a sunny day by offering them a Sergeant Sunplash. It seems they listened, because today they turned their full vengeance upon me with a horrific heatwave, and I am now trying to placate them with a different offering: a Doctored Pimm’s.

Pimm’s, as you probably know, is a gin-based liqueur. Versions based on other spirits are sometimes also available, but most people are familiar with ‘Pimm’s No.1 Cup,’ the gin-based one that gets abbreviated simply to Pimm’s. It’s terribly British and traditional, dahling, and in my terribly traditional extended family it’s made with equal parts Pimm’s, lemonade and ginger beer, garnished with mint, a strip of cucumber peel and an orange slice, and drunk only on Boxing Day. And you do NOT fuck with this tradition. I once tried cutting the oranges into segments instead of slices. What was I thinking?! (Given it was Boxing Day, I was probably thinking, ‘My God I need a drink.’) That was more than a decade ago and I am still hearing about it.

So I am going to blame the heat for this deviation from the norm (and hope the family don’t read this): the Doctored Pimm’s has bourbon in it, and mandarin vodka, and really not very much actual Pimm’s in it at all. It’s about as far as you can get from a proper Pimm’s and still have Pimm’s in the title, really. It’s light and refreshing and tastes a bit like a cross between Fanta and a mint julep, which sounds disgusting but tastes quite nice. It’s the kind of thing you drink when it’s stinking hot and you don’t have enough bourbon to make a decent julep, or the ingredients to make a decent Pimm’s, or the energy to trundle down to the shops to buy either of those things. It’s a good way to use up the dregs of several bottles that somehow always seem to be taking up space on your bottle shelf. Look, it’s cold and wet and vaguely alcoholic, and right now that’s good enough for me!

INGREDIENTS

30ml bourbon

15ml Pimms

15ml Absolut Mandarin

15ml sugar syrup

10ml lemon juice

good dash of Angostura Bitters

soda water, to top up

orange slice, to garnish

mint sprig, to garnish

GLASS

Old-fashioned

METHOD

Half-fill the glass with ice. Add all the ingredients except the garnishes and stir. Garnish, hope your family isn’t watching, and drink to your non-traditional heart’s content.

RECIPE BY

This one was created out of sheer desperation by the 52 Cocktails crew.

 

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Whisky Sour

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For years I’ve been making whisky sours ‘the wrong way,’ using a bastardised version of a recipe from Shaken: 250 Very Sexy Cocktails (Murdoch Books, 2004) and not really caring because the people who matter most (ie my drinking buddies) love it. For the record, the recipe in the book is:

INGREDIENTS

45ml rye whiskey

15ml Cointreau

15ml lemon juice

15ml sugar syrup

maraschino cherry

GLASS

Tumbler

METHOD

Shake all ingredients (except the cherry) in a cocktail shaker that’s half-full of ice. Strain into the glass and garnish with the cherry.

I’ve always omitted the cherry (it’s odd how as soon as I buy a jar they, er, disappear) and used bourbon instead of rye, for reasons that are lost to the mists of time but basically involve a combination of ignorance (‘Is rye whiskey the same thing as bourbon?’) and convenience (‘I don’t know but we have bourbon so let’s use that instead’) that, fortunately, had a good result (‘Oh, this? This is a house whisky sour. You can only get this at 52 Cocktails HQ…largely because no-one with half a brain would ever confuse rye and bourbon.’*). It’s a jelly-bean-sweet concoction that bourbon-lovers love, even if it is a bit unorthodox. I’ve been making it for so long now that it deserves its own name – Bourbon Sour would be the logical choice, especially now that I’ve finally got around to making an actual whisky sour with actual whisky. Logic would dictate that to do so, I’d simply use the recipe above, but hey, logic has never been my strong point – especially after a few Bourbon Sours. And so I used a recipe from a Dan Murphy’s** catalogue to make my first Whisky Sour using, well, whisky. As you’ll see, the recipe is quite different to what I usually make – here it is.

WHISKY SOUR

INGREDIENTS

60ml whisky (I used Johnnie Walker red label)

15ml sugar syrup

25ml lemon juice

20ml egg white

maraschino cherry, to garnish

GLASS

Old-fashioned/tumbler

METHOD

Add all ingredients except the cherry to a shaker, and shake until the egg white is frothy. (This is often called ‘dry-shaking’ because, unlike most cocktail recipes, it does not involve ice. Not yet, anyway. Dry-shaking helps the egg white to go frothy. But how does the drink end up cold, you ask – read on.) Add a good scoop of ice and shake well. Strain into a glass that’s half-full of ice, garnish with the cherry and serve.

THE VERDICT

This is completely different to the Whisky – OK, Bourbon – Sour that I usually make. It’s light and fluffy, nowhere near as sweet and, curiously, lacks the punch of flavour I’m used to. It’s still a damn good drink, though, with a cloud-like texture that makes it more of a dessert cocktail than a pre-dinner drink.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…

Naturally I couldn’t help but make this cocktail with bourbon instead of whisky, just to see what would happen. And what happened was, I ended up drinking two cocktails that were pretty good, all the while thinking how much I preferred a good old House Bourbon Sour. Lesson learnt: when in doubt, er… make lots of cocktails.

*Don’t fret – this was a long time ago and I have since learnt the error of my ways. If you’re not sure what’s what, there’s a good article here that explains the difference between scotch, whisk(e)y, bourbon and rye.

**Dan Murphy’s is an Australian chain of alcohol stores, aka my second home.

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Whisky Smash

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Hulk Smash!

And Whiskey Smash as well, apparently. This is a pretty old recipe – the original appears in Jerry Thomas‘ bartending guide, aka the Bible – and, like the best recipes, it’s stood the test of time. Drink a couple and you’ll be smashed, too.

INGREDIENTS

2 lemon quarters

3-6 mint leaves

45ml bourbon

25ml sugar syrup

2 dashes Angostura bitters

GLASS

Rocks/Old fashioned

METHOD

Muddle the lemon and mint in the base of a cocktail shaker. Add remaining ingredients and a good handful of ice. Shake it, baby, yeah! Strain into a glass that’s half-full of ice, garnish with a mint sprig and serve with a swagger.

TASTES LIKE

A mint julep’s kissing cousin. Lemon and sugar really bring out bourbon’s sweet side – there’s a jellybean-like sweetness going on here – but the mint just stops it from getting too cloying. It’s a good one for folks who want a more mellow side to a julep; those who like strong flavours might find it’s not to their taste.

RECIPE BY

This particular version appeared in a Dan Murphy’s catalogue. (Dan’s is an Australian chain of bottle shops. Although at 52 Cocktails HQ, it’s generally referred to as ‘the supermarket’ since we go there so often.)

 

Bourbon Stone Martini

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Everyone who’s drunk this beguiling cocktail – it’s somehow mellow, sweet and a bit tart all at the same time – has asked two things:

(1) why is it called a Bourbon Stone Martini?, and

(2) can I have another one?

I can’t answer the first question but I can say yes to the second. Especially since, now that I’m giving you the recipe, you can make me one while you’re at it.

INGREDIENTS

45 ml bourbon

30 ml orange curacao or triple sec (I used triple sec; for a good explanation of the difference between them, check out Ten Cocktails, a brilliant book by Alice Lascelles, or read this)

30 ml fresh lemon juice

30ml fresh orange juice

1 tsp castor sugar or sugar syrup (I used sugar syrup as it plays nicely with the other ingredients)

GLASS 

Cocktail

METHOD

Shake all ingredients together with ice. Double-strain into a cocktail glass. (Double-straining gets rid of any fruit pulp. Don’t know how to do it? It’s easy – check out this video for instructions.)

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

You could be stoned, and still get this one right. Maybe that’s how the name came about…

RECIPE BY

The Cocktail: 200 fabulous drinks by Jane Rocca (Hardie Grant Books, 2005) features this and loads of other delish creations.

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Palmetto Cooler

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Tasting a bit like a mint julep but with an earthy undertone, the Palmetto Cooler is a refreshing, reviving drink – perfect on a hot day when you’re feeling like cactus.

INGREDIENTS

60ml bourbon

15 ml apricot liqueur (confession: I substituted apricot brandy as that’s what I had handy. Don’t judge me)

15ml sweet vermouth

3 dashes Angostura bitters

120ml soda water

mint sprig

GLASS

Collins

METHOD

Two-thirds fill the glass with ice. Pour in everything except the soda water and mint sprig and stir. Then add the soda, stir again, and garnish with the mint sprig. (Two lots of stirring helps your drink to chill down quickly, so don’t think you can get away with bunging everything in the glass and stirring only once!)

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Easy.

RECIPE BY
This one’s from The Cocktail Bible by Steve Quirk (New Holland Press, 2010).

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Southern Mint Tea

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On a long, slow, hot day, when all you want is an ice-cold beverage….don’t make this drink. Make a mint julep or a Tom Collins or a Southside – they’re easy and refreshing. Southern Mint Tea – similar to the sweet tea that’s served in the Southern parts of the USA – is easy and refreshing, too, but it takes aaaaaages to make, since you have to wait until the tea is cold – ice cold – before you can serve it.

The good news is, it’s worth the wait. This heady, instantly addictive mixture – not too sweet, not too tannin-y, with as much or as little bourbon as you’d like – tastes like the kind of thing you’d sip while sitting on a back porch in a cane chair overlooking your plantation, fanning your face occasionally as beads of sweat trickled down your face in a somehow alluring, not gross, manner towards your pristine white outfit, just like in all those cliched movies you’ve seen set in the South.

So check the weather forecast, and if there’s a hot day on the horizon, make this recipe the night before. Then you can sit around in your underpants next to the air-con unit drinking and feeling smug, which isn’t the traditional method of drinking a Southern-style ice tea but hey, whatever works for you…

INGREDIENTS

8 cups water

1/2 cup white sugar

8 black tea bags (do not, repeat, DO NOT use Irish Breakfast or Earl Grey or any other fancy tea bags or the flavour will be all wrong)

Juice of 1-2 oranges (I used one-and-a-half)

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

This will make about 2 litres of iced tea, which is about 16 serves. It’s delicious as it is but it seems to be missing something….ah yes, the bourbon. It’s up to you how much you add per serve – I used 45 ml, but you might like to make it weaker/stronger. Don’t use your best bourbon – save that for a fancier cocktail. I used a cheapie and it worked out just fine.
GLASS

Tumbler
METHOD

Boil 4 cups of water and pour into a large bowl or saucepan.

Add the tea bags and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. If your tea bags have those little paper tags on them, you might like to cut them off before adding the bags to the water. Otherwise you’ll end up with soggy bits of paper in your drink. Ugh.

Leave it to steep for 10 minutes, then remove the tea bags.

Add 4 cups of cold water and the orange juice. Chill the mixture in the fridge (you can pour it into a large jug first, or just leave it in the saucepan.)

Just before serving, add the mint leaves and bruise them against the side of the jug/saucepan with the back of a spoon so they release their refreshing flavour.

Half-fill a tumbler with ice, then three-quarters fill the glass with ice tea. Strain out the mint leaves as you go, or leave em in; it’s up to you.

Add however much bourbon you like (as I said, I used 45ml), garnish with a mint sprig and serve.

Store any leftover ice tea in the fridge; it will last for a few days.

If you’re feeling especially hipster-ish you can store the leftovers in a mason jar, like the one below, which has been converted into a cobbler-style cocktail shaker. Bonus: thanks to the in-built strainer, it’s easy to strain out the mint leaves as you pour yourself yet another glass.

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DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

The hardest part is the long, slow wait for the tea to cool. It’s best to make the tea the night before you plan to serve it so the wait isn’t so frustrating (translation: you can let it cool while you’re drinking something else).
RECIPE BY

This Southern Mint Tea recipe is a mash-up of this recipe by The Bitten Word and this recipe by Joy the Baker. So while we’re claiming it as our own, really, we couldn’t have done it without them.

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New Orleans Cocktail

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New Orleans is known for its wild nightlife, live music scene and spicy cuisine, none of which are reason enough for the 52 Cocktails crew to visit. Nope, the thing that most attracts us to Nola is, of course, its cocktails: it’s the birthplace of the Sazerac, home to the Hurricane and the proud host of the annual Tales of the Cocktail festival, in which bartenders, cocktail experts and people who work in the spirits industry gather for five days of drinking (and workshops and classes, most of which also involve drinking) before queuing up for new livers. We’re determined to get there one day; in the meantime we’re going to drink this New Orleans Cocktail, which tastes a bit like a Sazerac without the absinthe – strong, and heavy on the Peychaud’s, the bitters invented by a New Orleans apothecary.

INGREDIENTS

2 ounces bourbon

3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

2 dashes orange curacao

lemon peel, to garnish (optional)

GLASS

Cocktail glass

METHOD

Place all ingredients (except garnish) into a mixing glass that’s half-full of ice and stir well. Strain into the chilled glass, garnish and serve.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Obtaining the ingredients is the hardest part – in Australia, it’s not easy to find Peychaud’s at the shops. We recommend you buy it online from Only Bitters.

RECIPE BY

This recipe appears in The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff (Clarkson Potter, 2002).

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Nectar-ine of the Julep Gods

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There are some things in life that I just can’t explain, such as why my bottle of Crystal Head vodka insists on wearing a pineapple tea cosy as a beanie and why I haven’t, until now, made a mint julep with white nectarine-infused vodka in it. The idea for this concoction came about when, in order to find a really good mint julep recipe, I read loads about juleps, tried a bunch of different ones (it was all in the name of research I swear), and read somewhere that juleps used to be made with cognanc and peach brandy, which is probably why some recipes for modern-day juleps call for peach slices to be muddled along with the mint. Anyway, you’ll hear the outcome of the mint julep research later (hint: the recipe will be in a book, which will be heavily advertised here – after all, what’s a website without nepotism?); for now, you’re probably either wondering why the hell I used white nectarine vodka instead of peach brandy, or you’re wandering off in search of a drink. So I’ll keep it brief: I didn’t have any peach brandy handy. But I did have some white nectarine vodka, which I made last summer. (To make it, slice up some white nectarines, leaving the skin on but removing the stones. Place in a clean jar with a handful of caster sugar, cover the lot with vodka and then store in a dark place for a few months or until you really want to try adding peach brandy to a julep but discover you don’t have any.)
What does adding it to a julep do? It takes the edge off the bourbon, sweetens the drink and lightens it, making it even more perfect for a hot summer day than a regular julep. And it totally counts as a serve of fruit, right?

INGREDIENTS
15ml white nectarine vodka
15ml sugar syrup
60ml bourbon
12-20 mint leaves, plus a sprig or two of mint to garnish
2 drops Fee Bros peach bitters (optional – they add a teeny bit of peach flavour and are a nod to the original recipe)

GLASS
Tumbler or old-fashioned.

METHOD
Place the mint leaves in the glass and pour in the white nectarine vodka and sugar syrup. Stir gently to combine. Add a heap of crushed or cubed ice and stir again. Add the bourbon and peach bitters and stir again. Garnish with the mint sprig(s) and serve.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
If you’ve got the white nectarine vodka handy, this one’s easy. If you don’t, the hardest part will be waiting several months for the fruit to infuse with the vodka, in which case we highly recommend drinking something else instead.

RECIPE BY
This one’s by the clever folk at 52 Cocktails. Enjoy!

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Bourbon Triple Sour

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Some cocktails last through the ages; others die out like the dinosaurs. I’m hoping the Bourbon Triple Sour is in the former category.

The clue is in the title; it’s got bourbon in it, and it’s sour. But it’s a balanced sourness that’s offset by the bourbon’s caramel-ness; and with a gentle orange flavour tying it all together, it’s sort of like drinking citrus cordial for adults. It’s refreshing and tart and tastes way better than it sounds – try it.

INGREDIENTS

30ml bourbon (I used Hogs 3 Bourbon)

30ml triple sec (I used the Marie Brizard brand)

30ml lemon juice

5ml sugar syrup

GLASS

Old-fashioned

METHOD

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker that’s half-full of ice. Shake it. Shake it more. Harder. Keep shaking. OK, you’re done. Strain into a glass that’s half-full of ice. Garnish with a lemon wedge. (The original recipe calls for a cherry and a slice of orange AND a slice of lemon as a garnish. If you want a fruit salad in your face while you’re drinking. go for it.)

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Maybe one degree, since you have to squeeze a lemon. Can you have one degree of difficulty? Gah, I don’t know, I’m not a mathematician.

RECIPE BY

This recipe appears in The Cocktail Bible by Steve Quirk (New Holland Publishers, 2010).

NOTE

One of the good things about this recipe is it doesn’t try to be high-fallutin’. There’s no requirement that you use top-notch bourbon, and it actually calls for triple sec instead of Cointreau (yes, I know the two are different things and have their own qualities, and I know triple sec is pretty damn good in a cocktail, but I’m a snob and still think Cointreau is better). While I’m tempted to try making this drink using, say, Buffalo Trace bourbon and Cointreau, I’m not sure there’s any point – it’s great just as it is. One day I’ll do an A-B test and find out which one is best – it’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it. If you’ve already conducted such a scientific experiment, please let me know the results in the comment section below. Cheers!

PHOTO CREDIT

Gertrude the dinosaur appears courtesy of Make it Wednesday: https://www.facebook.com/MakeitWednesday

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