Cookies and bourbon always amaze me in a pairing, and we have that in a glass with this Shortbread Earl Grey Old Fashioned. One of the things I love best about whiskey it its ability to absorb the flavors in an infusion. For this cocktail, I use Earl Grey simple syrup and bourbon infused with shortbread cookies. Instructions and recipe for the infusions available at my Stop Everything and Make this Cookie-Infused Bourbon article.
My best friend loves tea and all things British, so when I put together this shortbread cookie-infused bourbon I knew to pair it with tea flavors for her. A couple of bags of Earl Grey tea later I had a simple syrup and a plan for Kate’s cocktail.
The resulting cocktail tastes creamy, buttery, and rich. It’s sweet and filling with the buttery aftertaste of a great shortbread. Garnish with a shortbread cookie and you’ve got a cocktail food pairing in a single glass. I may or may not have had it as a dessert tonight.
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Why These Flavors Work in an Earl Grey Old Fashioned
Cookies like shortbreads pair exceptionally well with whiskies because they retain notes of vanilla, baking spices and nuttiness inherent in bourbon’s aroma and flavors. Because they are so creamy, shortbread delivers something to the cocktail that’s often missing: those creamy, fatty notes less common in bourbon.
Yes, there are bourbons I would describe as creamy, but it’s not an exceptionally common descriptor. Now that we’re facing more bourbon scarcity than we’ve had in decades, the creaminess found in older bourbons isn’t as common. Great bourbon often takes 6 to 10 years to mature in the barrel. So, keeping up with consumer demand has meant releasing younger bourbons while distillers play catch up with the demand.
Earl Grey, with its notes of bergamot, adds herbal/floral notes to the cocktail. Those lovely bergamot notes from the simple syrup and bitters counteract the sweetness added into the cookies by the shortbread. I used both an Earl Grey simple syrup, made from a strong cup of tea, and Earl Grey bitters from 18.21 bitters out of Atlanta.
While you can make this Earl Grey Old Fashioned without Scrappy’s lavender bitters, it’s not nearly as interesting in terms of interplay of flavors without it. The lavender bitters are more floral and apparent on the nose of the cocktail. They’re the first layer of aroma that you get as you bring the cocktail up to your nose and it ties to the bergamot and plays against the richness of the buttery shortbread.
So get out your mason jar and make a batch of the shortbread-infused whiskey. It might take a day or two but this cocktail is worth it. Creamy, floral and herbal all at once in this cocktail, I now need to infuse another batch for more experiments.
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Earl Grey Old Fashioned – ‘Earl’y to Rise
- 2 oz shortbread cookie-infused bourbon*
- ½ oz Earl Grey simple syrup**
- 7 drops Scrappy’s lavender bitters
- 12 drops 18.21 Earl Grey bitters
- Garnish: shortbread cookie and lemon/orange peel
- Combine bourbon, simple and bitters in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir until well chilled and strain into a rocks glass with a large rock. Garnish with a cookie and citrus peel.