We always try to incorporate rhubarb into our diet when it’s in season. An easy way to get rhubarb flavor in cocktails is to use Rhuby, a liqueur from Sweden, which is featured to great effect in the strawberry rhubarb fizz cocktail.
Strawberry Rhubarb Fizz
1 oz. Rhuby
1 oz. Bourbon
1 oz. Strawberry juice
1 Tbsp. Lemon juice
Combine first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to mix, then strain into a lowball glass with ice and top with ginger beer. Garnish with a lemon twist.
This cocktail is so delicious that we couldn’t stop exclaiming about it for several minutes after first tasting it. The Rhuby gives it an earthy tartness, which is brightened by the lemon juice, and balanced by the sweet strawberry juice. We used a higher proof bourbon, which we thought worked well because with only one ounce, you have to make it count. Don’t use a wallflower bourbon.
This drink reminded us a bit of an amped up strawberry rhubarb smash. Our strawberry juice was particularly seedy, and if you don’t do look forward to straining a million seeds, this drink could be modified to use strawberry-infused bourbon.
Even though yesterday’s nightcap was partially on Rhuby’s tab, we will always review products honestly. Contrary to popular belief, free drinks don’t automatically taste better.
Continuing our Cynar kick, we decided to try a variation of a classic whiskey sour.
Cynar Bourbon Sour
1 oz. Bourbon
1 oz. Cynar
1 oz. Lemon juice
½ Egg white
¼ oz. Maraschino liqueur
¼ oz. Agave nectar
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
This cocktail is interesting because the Cynar adds more bitterness than a sour typically has, but the egg white froth helps to smooth everything out. This may be the most Cynar we’ve ever put in a cocktail (the usual amount is half an ounce or so), and we have to say we like it. The taste lingers for a while after each sip.
Inexcusably silly name aside, this cocktail from Matt Biancaniello in Imbibe is enjoyable on a sunny day and combines one of our favorite liqueurs, Cynar, with bourbon.
California Bubble Bath
2 oz. Bourbon
¾ oz. Lemon juice
¾ oz. Lavender simple syrup
½ oz. Cynar
Mix bourbon, lemon juice, and lavender syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass and float the Cynar on top.
Lavender Simple Syrup
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. Sugar
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. Water
1 Tbsp. Dried lavender
Boil water in a small saucepan. Add lavender and remove from heat. Let it steep for 15 minutes, then add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved, about three minutes. Strain into a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator.
This is a nice, aromatic drink. Our Cynar didn’t float very well because the ice got in the way, but imagine how enticing the artichoke, lemon, and lavender aromas are together. And let’s not forget the bourbon. We used a higher proof bourbon so that it wouldn’t get lost in the other strong flavors, and it worked out well. It tastes like a more complex whiskey smash. This is a very well-balanced drink that we will return to several times throughout the warmer months.
Everyone’s going to be drinking mint juleps this weekend to celebrate the Kentucky Derby, and as much as we enjoy the classic, sometimes it’s nice to mix it up a bit. We chose to try a variation from Food & Wine that sticks close to tradition with one addition.
Blackberry Mint Julep
¼ cup Blackberries
2 Tbsp. Mint leaves
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1½ oz. Bourbon
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously to extract juice from the berries and oil from the mint. Strain into a lowball glass (or a julep cup if you have one) with ice and garnish with mint and a blackberry.
This is a lighter twist on the classic because the addition of blackberry juice decreases the alcohol by volume. The blackberry goes very well with the mint, which adds the coolness that makes the julep so well loved. We chose to use a higher proof bourbon so that the spirit’s spiciness wouldn’t get overwhelmed by the sugar. If we were to make this again, we would probably reduce the amount of sugar to one teaspoon.
For another take on the mint julep, try mint julep ice cream, and here’s the recipe for a delicious pie traditionally served around the Derby weekend.
We’re still very much intrigued with mixing absinthe into our bourbon cocktails. Our latest experiment is the Waldorf, which has an interesting history. On his site, Barry Popik compiled numerous variations of the Waldorf. Most of those cocktails noted that the absinthe would take over, so we kept that in mind while mixing our cocktail. Our Waldorf most closely resembles this one.
2 oz. Bourbon
¾ oz. Sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
In a mixing glass, combine bourbon, vermouth, and bitters with ice. Stir until mixed well. In a cocktail glass, add enough absinthe to coat the glass. Spin the glass to coat the sides, then dump the excess. Strain the other ingredients into the cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist (optional).
Absinthe experiment success! We were actually more concerned with the vermouth content, since sweet vermouth is definitely not our favorite flavor. The Waldorf is very balanced though. The spiciness of the bourbon (we used Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve) and the absinthe rinse complement the good parts of the vermouth while mostly removing the aftertaste we don’t like. The Waldorf is a strong, spicy cocktail that we recommend highly.
Now that the sun is shining on a semi-regular basis, we are excited to get back into light warm-weather drinks. The bourbito has been on our radar since the fall and now seems the perfect time to give it a try.
3 oz. Bourbon
1-2 Orange slices with rind
4-5 Mint leaves
Splash Club soda
Place orange slices and mint leaves in the bottom of a highball glass or medium Mason jar and muddle gently. Add the bourbon and club soda and stir to mix well. Add a generous number of ice cubes and garnish with fresh mint if desired.
This drink is super refreshing. Orange and bourbon are well-known accomplices, and the mint oils add a cool, tingly feeling. The club soda adds a nice touch of carbonation. This is a recommended drink for weekend afternoons.
We’ve been thinking a lot about Cynar lately and how it pairs so well with bourbon. This recipe is a variation on a manhattan, a classic bourbon cocktail.
Game Set Match
2 oz. Bourbon
½ oz. Cynar
½ oz. Sweet vermouth
4 dashes Bitters
2 dashes Orange bitters
Stir all ingredients together with ice for about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry and lemon twist.
This cocktail is well balanced with enough bitterness to satisfy sophisticated palates. The orange bitters are the key to brightness here, and if you’d like more, feel free to dash a couple more times than called for. We used a lower proof bourbon as directed in the original recipe so that the whiskey didn’t overpower the more delicate vegetal notes of the Cynar.
One of the most important thing we’ve learned since we’ve been writing this blog is how to make an old fashioned. Once you’ve found the technique you most prefer for making an old fashioned, not only can you mix one up for yourself any time you like, but then a whole world of cocktail possibilities opens up. There are a ton of delicious cocktails that are slight variations of the old fashioned. We’ve made quite a few ourselves: the beer fashioned, the Courting Rachel, and, one of our favorites, the apple pie old fashioned. This time we’re making the vanilla bean old fashioned from Tasting Table.
Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned
2 oz. bourbon
1 Tbsp. vanilla bean sugar
3 dashes orange bitters
To make vanilla bean sugar, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 whole vanilla bean (pod and everything, cut into 1-inch pieces) in a food processor and pulse until the vanilla bean is completely ground and the sugar is a fine powder. The leftover sugar can be used as you would use normal sugar.
Many people like to make an old fashioned a certain way, so this part may vary a bit depending on your preferred mixing technique. Combine vanilla bean sugar, bitters, and a little bit of water in an old fashioned glass. Muddle until the sugar dissolves. Add a large ice cube or ice ball, then add bourbon. Squeeze an orange peel over the drink, wipe the inside of the glass with it, and drop into the bourbon.
This is a delicious variation of an old fashioned. The vanilla bean sugar makes it a little sweeter than normal and gives more complexity to the bourbon. We used Baker’s in our cocktail so the high proof spice would complement the vanilla texture and flavor.
We’re always up to try a new whiskey sour recipe. This one is from Jeffrey Morgenthaler via Saveur.
Whiskey Sour with Marmalade
2 oz. 100-proof bourbon
1 oz. Lemon juice
1/2 oz. Simple syrup
1 tsp. Orange marmalade
1 Egg white
3 Dashes Angostura bitters
Combine bourbon, juice, syrup, marmalade, and egg white in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Add bitters and using a toothpick, swirl into frothed whites.
This cocktail is super smooth and the orange marmalade adds a bright juiciness. I was a little unsure at first because I thought adding such a gooey, sweet product might be a disaster, but actually it mixed in well and wasn’t overly sweet. The bitters floating on top help balance the drink. We didn’t have exactly 100-proof bourbon, so we used the closest thing we had, which is 107-proof. It worked well.
Spring finally arrived in New England this weekend, which means we were able to get outside and enjoy a little bit of sunshine. Also, baseball season started last night and kicks into high gear today. All of this means you should have a nice springtime cocktail to accompany all your springtime activities. The Rivington Ride (adapted from Saveur’s Rivington Ride recipe) might be the perfect drink to welcome the warmer weather.
2 oz. Bourbon
½ oz. Orange liqueur or triple sec
Dash of orange bitters
Combine bourbon, orange liqueur, and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a highball glass with crushed ice. Top with a splash of club soda and garnish with an orange peel.
The Rivington Ride is a nice, easy-to-drink cocktail that would successfully accompany any attempt at relaxation. There’s so many orange ingredients that it can overtake the bourbon, but the combination of the orange and club soda lightens up the drink, making it more warm-weather appropriate.