Peggy Noe Stevens, the first female master taster in the bourbon industry and founder of the Bourbon Women, put together a special dinner for the Bourbon Women Siposium and asked yours truly to create a couple of cocktails for the gathering.
The theme of the gathering was "Noe Boundaries" and Peggy wanted to highlight bourbon and entertaining. Bourbon women love to entertain and share their love of the whiskey spirits, so I wanted to create two different cocktails. One that would be approachable for non-bourbon drinkers and one that whiskey lovers would enjoy.
For the first one, I wanted to create a cocktail that wasn't too difficult to put together, but one that was beautiful when served. I love the summer flavor of blackberries and wanted to pair that with the aromatics of basil, which is getting to the end of its growing season right now.
I put together a blackberry basil simple syrup, added some lovely Michter's bourbon (the sponsor of the dinner and one of my favorite distilleries ever), a little lemonade and topped it off with peach and black walnut bitters. Since we're doing this for a party, I've put together the cocktail recipe as a batch for 8 servings. This is not a strong drink, and isn't bourbon-forward, but it's an easy sipper and low enough in alcohol to be a session cocktail.
Berry Fine (Batched for 8)
1.5 cups of Michter’s bourbon
½ cup of blackberry simple syrup (add basil for aromatics)
16 dashes black walnut bitters (2 tsp)
24 dashes peach bitters (3 tsp)
½ to ¾ cup water
32 oz lemonade
Combine ingredients in a large pitcher, punch bowl or urn (at least 1.75 quarts or 54 ounces). Float large decorative ice cubes to keep it chilled and serve over ice. Garnish with fresh basil and fresh or frozen blackberries.
I'll talk about the second cocktail in the next post!
Blackberry-Basil Simple Syrup
1.5 cup sugar
3 cups frozen blackberries
2 sprigs of basil
1/4 cup water
Combine ingredients in a saucepan and cook until the blackberries until thawed, soft and very juicy. Simmer once it starts to boil for 10 minutes. Add the basil leaves and let the syrup cool for 20 minutes. Strain the blackberries out, pressing on them to get as much juice out of them as possible. Let cool and store in a bottle in the fridge for one to two weeks. If you add a bit of vodka to it you'll extend the shelf life considerably.
***** Save the strained out blackberries! Use them to top vanilla ice cream and it'll taste like you're eating blackberry cobbler! *****
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.