You know how every once in a while a cocktail just comes out right the first time. And this was one I wasn't really looking for. I had a standard Manhattan recipe, but we've always got an open bottle of Johnny Drum, so I wanted to see how it matched with the vermouth I had open - Cocchi's Vermouth Di Torino. To match with bitters, I stood in front of the bitters box in the bourbon cabinet and alternatively nosed the Johnny Drum and the bitters until I found two that matched. And Oh, My God.
This Manhattan is perfect for me. It's got a great balanced of sweet from the vermouth and bourbon nose and taste. The bitters heighten all the baking spices I get from the bourbon. It's so good members of my family who never drink Manhattans will ask for this one any time they visit.
I'll add the batch instructions at the end. In case you've got a Manhattan lover who needs a gift.
The Contessa's Manhattan
2 oz Johnny Drum
1 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
5 drops Woodford's Sorghum and Sassafras bitters
3 drops Old Forester's Bohemian bitters
Garnish: orange peel and/or cherry
Add the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until well-chilled and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an expressed orange peel and/or cherry.
The Contessa's BATCHED Manhattan
2 cups Johnny Drum
1 cup Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
35 drops Woodford's Sorghum and Sassafras bitters
20 drops Old Forester's Bohemian bitters
1/2 cup water
Pour ingredients into a 30 oz container, stir and place in the fridge until well-chilled. I keep a bottle in the fridge for those last minute visitors needing a cocktail. Mix for a house-warming or hostess gift for those bourbon-lovers in your house. This makes 8 cocktails.
PSA: Keep your Vermouth in the fridge at all times!
Ever had a whiskey you just knew you had to put into a cocktail? That's how I felt about Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey when I tried it. We'd gone into the Village Anchor for an anniversary dinner and got there early enough to have a few cocktails and talk to the bar manager. He let us try a sip of Skrewball. All I could think of was getting that in a cocktail that made me think of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Now, this isn't my final draft of the cocktail. I still need to figure out a way to get the grape jelly taste in there without using actual jelly, but this was a damn good cocktail. Not pretentious, not anything you'd find in a fancy place, but it's a fun front-porch on a warm night kinda cocktail. You can thank me later.
Pb & J
1 oz bourbon
1 oz Skrewball peanut butter whiskey
1 T grape jelly at room temperature
1 dash of black walnut bitters
Place ingredients in a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake. Strain into a rocks glass filled with large cubes of ice. Garnish with a strawberry or just a swipe of grape jelly on the rim. Enjoy.
Even though I live in Bourbon Country, there are a surprising number of non bourbon drinkers. To that end, I wanted to make a cocktail that had some bourbon in it, but was approachable to the non-bourbon drinkers. It was going to be a hot day, so I wanted a cocktail a little lower in proof, so used lower proof ingredients and added lemonade to keep it low even after adding a 90 proof bourbon.
I was in a rush to get to the party, so only have this picture of my picnic batch presentation. If you're the host, simply dress it up in a beautiful pitcher with lemon and orange slices.
I Fall to Peaches (single)
1 oz bourbon
1 oz peach liqueur (I prefer Giffard's it's more expensive than peach schnapps, but there really is no comparison here.)
1 oz peach mango moonshine
2 dashes orange bitters
2 oz lemonade
garnish - lemon wheel or peach slice
Combine ingredients except the lemonade in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass with ice and top with two ounces of lemonade.
Party Batch - DRANKS! - I Fall to Peaches
1 cup bourbon
1 cup peach liqueur
1 cup peach mango moonshine
16 dashes orange bitters
2 cups lemonade
1/2 cup water (used to dilute it as mixing over rocks does when building a single cocktail)
Combine all ingredients in a large container - at least 50 oz - and stir well. Chill for at least two hours before serving. If you're going to be serving in a fancy pitcher, float lemon wheels and thin peach slices or orange wheels on the top.
This will make anywhere from 8 to 12 cocktails, depending on the pours and how thirsty your guests are. Non-bourbon drinkers will fall for this, as the bourbon taste is not strong underneath the peach and mango.
Tiki drinks always have a lovely balance of sweet and sour, and when you use fresh juices it can make the entire drink glow. Bourbon isn't quite sweet enough to carry a tiki drink all on its own, and I wanted to have that molasses, sweet sugary rum flavor to bolster the drink. I decided to go up on the bourbon proof, to give it a little more bite than a typical tiki drink, but I kept the substitutions simple. You'll want to make two of these at a time.
1 oz Appleton Rum
1 oz Maker's Mark Cask Strength
0.75 oz Lime juice
0.75 oz Orgeat
0.5 Trader Vic's Macadamia Nut liqueur
1 barspoon St Elizabeth's allspice dram
Garnish: mint sprig
Squeeze the lime wedge in the bottom of a mixing tin and drop in. Add the other ingredients and fill with ice, Shake until the outside of the tin id ice-cold. Double strain into a tiki glass filled with ice and garnish with a mint sprig.
One of my favorite things to do is just create a riff on an Old Fashioned on the fly. I'm a big fan of porters and stouts and I love that deep, bitter coffee taste - it almost tastes ashy. But I had a request to make an old fashioned with an orange flair. So I added some vanilla coffee syrup I'd found out at a farmer's market. This is one of my top five cocktails I've ever put together. It's simple, balanced and intriguing.
2 oz New Riff rye
0.5 Solera blood orange liqueur
0.5 German vanilla coffee syrup
1 dropper coffee pecan bitters
Garnish - cherry and orange twist
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until well-chilled and pour into a rocks glass filled with large ice cubes. Garnish with a cherry, and/or twist. Cheers!
While I'm largely a whiskey girl, I do love a good Negroni, so I looked up what I had on hand I could build into a solid Negroni and came up with this. I'm currently in love with Nolet gin with it's rose notes. I didn't want the Campari to overwhelm the Nolet since I find it's a little delicate for a gin, I didn't use a straight 1:1:1 ratio.
1 oz Nolet
3/4 oz Campari
1/4 oz Solerno Blood Orange liqueur
1 oz Vermouth di Torino
Expressed orange peel
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and ice. Strain into a chilled rocks glass with a large cube of ice. Express an orange peel over the top and rub the rim. Sip and savor slowly.
The New Orleans Bourbon Festival blew me away. And, having a crew of 50 or more Bourbon Women made it like a reunion. I can't wait until next year. While traipsing around the French Quarter we would up in one of the oldest bars in the area, the Absinthe House. It had a delectable list of absinthes, and if my check liver light hadn't already been on, I would have stayed the entire afternoon. My Mom was with me on her first trip to New Orleans. She ordered an Absinthe Frappe, a light, airy, minty absinthe drink. It was fun and refreshing, completely unexpected.
So, when we got back to Kentucky, I decided to see if I could recreate it. It is so simple and easy, and it is a perfect refreshing summer drink. But I'll be honest, I won't just drink this in summer. This was one of the simplest recipes I came across for it. The crushed or pebble ice is crucial to getting the right light licorice taste.
1 oz absinthe
1/2 oz simple syrup
seltzer water to top
Take a few leaves of mint and rub the inside of the rocks glass thoroughly. Discard the mint leaves. Fill with crushed ice, the absinthe and the simple syrup. Swirl a few times with the barspoon and top with a little seltzer water. Take fresh mint sprig, spank it and tuck it in the cocktail right next to the straw. Enjoy!
Count me in for any classic cocktail that has a whiskey in it. The Paper Plane has equal parts bourbon, lemon juice, amaro and Aperol. In my version, I used Averna amaro rather than the traditional Amaro Nonino, so I had to cut back a bit on the lemon juice. Since Michter's is a lower proof bourbon that also factored in that decision. Lemon easily overpowers whiskey at that lower proof. With a 100 proof or higher Paper Plane, you could probably keep up the equal parts ratios.
But, here's what worked with my Michter's:
3/4 oz Michter's bourbon
3/4 oz Averna Amaro
3/4 oz Aperol
1/2 oz lemon juice
Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake until the outside is frosty-cold. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish, if you like, with a lemon peel. Cheers.
I finally broke down and bought a bottle of Ancho Reyes. I have been sipping on wonderful cocktails with this ingredient for over a year and I needed to add it to my collection. My very first attempt turned out to be a keeper. The heat and spice of Ancho Reyes paired with bourbon and chocolate bitters in a magical way.
Xocoatl Old Fashioned
1.5 oz Old Forester Rye
0.75 Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey
0,5 Ancho Reyes
1 dash chocolate bitters
2 dashes smoked chili bitters
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir until well-chilled, Strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with your favorite old fashioned accoutrement.
Enjoy the heat and smoke!
There are days when I want two different cocktails, but can't decide between the two. Occasionally the answer is to combine them. I had been wanting a tiki-style drink but was also thinking about how much better bourbon was than rum in combining with citrus. So I decided to create a tiki riff on the whiskey sour. Tart, sweet, strong on the whiskey, this drink has lime, blackberry and orgeat backing up a bit of Old Forester
Tiki Whiskey Sour
2 oz Old Forester 100 proof Bourbon
3/4 oz orgeat
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz blackberry syrup
1 egg white
Spritz of your favorite bitters
Combine ingredients in a mixing tin an add ice. Shake until well-combined and extremely cold.. Your hands should ache after about 30 seconds of shaking. Try to make it to 60 if you can. Double strain into a chilled martini or coupe glass. Garnish as desired. Try to sip slowly, this one will sneak up on you with the smoothness the egg white and orgeat add.
Heather Wibbels is a cocktail enthusiast who spends her time thinking about cocktails, researching cocktails and making cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location.