Saturday, October 24

Drink Spotlight: The Bourbon Renewal

Something of a departure from what I normally spotlight, that is, classic cocktails and the proper way to make them, this drink comes to us from the great Jeffrey Morgenthaler. A bartender by trade, Mr. Morgenthaler has long been a champion against the tide of really awful bartending that has run rampant in the United States since about the mid-80's (when a Tom Cruise movie which shall go unnamed (but sounds an awful lot like the word "mocktail") forever destroyed the classic image of the professional bartender), and has invented several very, very tasty drinks, each being true to what a cocktail was originally. This, along with the Richmond Gimlet, is one of my favorites of his.

The Bourbon Renewal:
  • 2 oz. bourbon whiskey
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. creme de cassis
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • Dash Angostura Bitters
Stir all ingredients and strain into rocks glass full of cracked ice. Garnish with lemon twist.

This is one of those rare whiskey-heavy drinks that probably fits better in the Summer or the Spring than in Fall and Winter. It's surprisingly light and refreshing, which is in no small part due to the cracked ice, which will melt a bit more quickly than the standard cube. The creme de cassis is not something that everyone has in the old liquor cabinet, but it forms a large part of the sweet component in this fancy whiskey sour, and it just works.

Upon further research, it looks like the original garnish is a simple lemon wedge or wheel, which I could definitely get behind, but as I made this one with a twist, here's a bit of bartending knowledge.

How do you make a sweet twist? By far the easiest way is to find yourself a channel knife and go to, though I've seen people with far more skill than I use a paring knife. The important point is this: when you are making the peel, be sure that you are doing it in such a way that the oils that spray out of the fruit are misted over the drink. Without this, you often don't get the point of a twist, mistaking it for something that's just pretty to look at. But when done properly, you'll notice a very bright, sharp lemon component added to the drink, both in taste and especially in the nose. While it's a bit more difficult to differentiate in a drink like this which already has a large amount of lemon juice in it, when done with a drink like a Martini (which we'll get to, don't you worry), it will blow your mind.

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