One can never quite know exactly what it is that resurrects something from the past, but bourbon – the famed American whiskey – has risen from the ashes and been “made great again.”
Surely the popular TV series Mad Men has contributed to its resurgence – the “Mad Men Effect” – where men were men who drank manly drinks called the “Old-Fashioned”, but whatever the reasons involved, the rise of the “golden age of bourbon” is an undeniable reality.
The New York Times writes and quotes drinks author Robert Hess: “Like an artifact from a lost, great civilization…‘[t]he old-fashioned has been a touchstone of the cocktail movement [for] the last 10 years.’”
Fortune Magazine reports that, in 2000, there were just 24 bourbon craft distilleries across America; today there are more than 430. “This is probably the best time to be in bourbon since Prohibition”, says Tim DeLong; and Eric Gregory: “Bourbon is not just a drink anymore but a part of [a] culture.”
And The Associated Press writes: “This is a renaissance we haven’t seen in generations, and possibly in the entire history of our signature spirit.”
Perhaps Donald Trump – whose slogan rings “Make America Great Again!” – should travel to Louisville, the heart of Kentucky’s bourbon county, to adopt this most authentic American drink with a rich American history as the official drink of his campaign.
Indeed, as Fortune writes, “people are flocking to Kentucky to experience bourbon in its native habitat,” where it has emerged as a “global force” and become one of the “state’s most prized economic engines.”
It is with this in mind that we share below a recipe for bourbon slush, a recipe with a bourbon-vinaigrette dressing, some interesting bourbon facts and even a bourbon drinking song.
Here’s to making bourbon great again!
2 cups tea
1-2 cups bourbon (depending on how strong you would like it)
1/2 – 1 cup of sugar (we used 1/2 cup, however we would suggest more if you tend to like your drinks on the sweeter side)
1 cup good quality orange juice
1 cup Nantucket Nectar Lemonade (or another good quality lemonade)
Bring two cups of water to a boil, add two tea bags and let steep for five minutes. Let tea cool slightly and then in glass bowl combine tea, sugar, bourbon, orange juice and lemonade and stir thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and put in freezer. Freeze for 4-5 hours or until it becomes a thick slush. Serve in glass cocktail tumblers with a sprig of fresh mint.
Note: Enjoy your bourbon slush while listening to an old blues song, “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”, written by Rudy Toombs and recorded by Amos Milburn in 1953; the song was made especially popular by John Lee Hooker in 1966 and George Thorogood in 1977.
Spinach Salad with sliced pecans, lamb bacon, Clemson blue cheese and bourbon vinaigrette (taken from Chef Edward Lee’s cookbook, Smoke & Pickles)
Ingredients for salad:
8 ounces Lamb Bacon, cut into small cubes (note: we used regular bacon)
8 ounces spinach
½ cup pecans
1 green apple, cored and cut into matchsticks
1 breakfast radish, sliced into thin rounds
4 ounces Clemson blue cheese or other mild artisan blue cheese, crumbled
Ingredients for Bourbon Vinaigrette:
¼ cup bourbon
¾ cup olive oil
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. maple syrup
¼ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
To make the vinaigrette: start by pouring the bourbon into a small saucepan and bringing it to a boil over medium heat. Be careful, because the alcohol in the bourbon could ignite. If that happens, to tamp out the flame, simply put a tight-fitting lid over the pot – the lack of oxygen will suffocate the flame; remove the lid after a few seconds. Boil to reduce the liquid to about 2 tablespoons. Transfer the bourbon to a ramekin and refrigerate until well chilled.
Combine the olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in the reduced bourbon. Keep refrigerated; bring to room temperature when ready to use.
To make the salad: put the lamb bacon in a small skillet and cook, stirring, over medium-low heat just until it becomes crispy on the outside, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel to drain what little fat will render from the bacon.
Combine the remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl and add the lamb bacon. Toss gently with the bourbon vinaigrette and serve immediately.
Do you know the “Six Standard Rules” for a spirit to be considered bourbon? It must be…
- Made in the Unites States
- Aged in charred white oak barrels
- 51% corn
- Distilled at less than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume)
- Put into a barrel at below 125 proof
- No artificial coloring or flavor
Why does Kentucky make good bourbon?
It has excellent quality limestone-filtered water; the state’s extreme weather patterns is also thought to contribute to prime bourbon-making conditions
Bourbon got its name from…
Two men known as the Tarascon Brothers who arrived in Louisville from Cognac (south of France) and began shipping local whiskey down the Ohio River to New Orleans. In the 19th century, New Orleans entertainment district was “Bourbon Street”, where all of the bars were. People started asking for “that whiskey they sell on Bourbon Street”, which eventually became “that bourbon whiskey.”
(Note: the above facts were taken from Smithsonian article listed below)
For further information on bourbon, check out the below articles:
- “Where Bourbon Really Got Its Name and More Tips on America’s Native Spirit”, Smithsonian.com, June 2013
- “The Billion-Dollar Bourbon Boom”, Fortune Magazine, February 2014
- “Old-Fashioned or Newfangled, the Old-Fashioned Is Back”, New York Times, March 2012