September is National Bourbon Heritage month all over the U.S. thanks to Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning's declaration in 2007.
Bourbon, not to be confused with whiskey or any other caramel-spirit, is the only exclusively American spirit and it hails from Kentucky.
A little bit of a bourbon newbie? Porchlight bartender Nick Bennett says the spirit has become more versatile over the past 20 years. "It's definitely not just your grandpa's drink anymore," he says. "Everyone drinks it. There are bars dedicated just to serving bourbon."
If you're still a little iffy about trying some brown juice, Wild Turkey master distiller Jimmy Russell, going into his 61st year in the business, suggests asking for a flight to try several different flavors. He also says the best bourbon is aged in a single use barrel from seven to 12 years, which is the Wild Turkey way. "Any time longer than 14 years will have a woody or a smokier taste ... We want that sweet caramelly taste," Russell said.
WhiskyFest 2015 will hit NYC on September 24, during which attendees can sample a variety of bourbons and rye's from all over the world.
Can't wait until then? Here are some cocktails to shake up in honor of the national holiday.
Julep du Monde by Nick Bennett
1 oz. Bourbon (Medley Bros.)
1 oz. Chicory infused Meletti
1/2 oz. Vanilla Simple Syrup
3 Dashes Mole Biters
Glass: Julep Tin
Build all of the ingredients in a julep tin and add pebble ice. Swizzle to mix and dilute. Top with pebble ice to form a mound. Garnish with a bushel of mint.
Cranberry Old Fashioned Cocktail
1 Orange wedge
1 Sugar cube
Dash of bitters
1/4 Cup bourbon
2 Tbsp whole-berry cranberry sauce
Orange slice for garnish
In an old fashioned glass, mash an orange wedge with some sugar and bitters. Fill the glass with ice. Stir in the bourbon & some cranberry sauce, top with fizzy water. Garnish with an orange slice. Cheers!
The Champagne Etoile
1 Cup sugar or 3/4 cup agave
1 Cup water
1 Vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
Bourbon of your liking
Prosecco or sparkling wine, chilled
Lemons, cut into wedges
First, you'll make the syrup. Combine the sugar, water, bean and seeds in small pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature and discard the bean.
For one cocktail, add a shot of bourbon and two tablespoons vanilla bean syrup to a chilled champagne flute. Fill to the top with prosecco. Squeeze lemon juice into glass and drop rind in. Serve.
The 81 Old Fashioned by Franky Marshall
2 oz. Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon
1 barspoon Demerara syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 dash Fee's Orange Bitters
1 dash Regan's Orange Bitter
Stir and strain over ice into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with lemon and orange twists.
The Black Demure by Franky Marshall
2 oz. Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon
1/4 oz. Massenez Creme de Mure
1/4 oz. Cointreau
3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 oz. simple syrup
Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a blackberry.
Spring Old Fashioned by Masahiro Urushido
2 oz. Wild Turkey 81 Rye
1/4 oz. Pineapple-IPA Syrup*
3 Dashes of orange bitters
Combine ingredients. Stir and strain over ice in a double rocks glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist and a pineapple leaf.
*Pineapple IPA syrup
12 oz. Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale
12 oz. White sugar
5 oz. Finely chopped pineapple
Peel of 1/2 lemon
Peel of 1/4 pink grapefruit
Maple Bourbon Cocktail
2 oz. Bourbon, like Makers 46
1 oz. Fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 oz. Pure maple syrup
1-2 Dashes of angostura bitters
Orange peel + maraschino cherry for garnish
Add ingredients to an ice filled cocktail shaker and shake until chilled. Strain into ice filled glass. Garnish with orange peel and cherry.
Strawberry Bourbon Lemonade by The Crepes of Wrath
6 oz. Bourbon
6 Strawberries, pureed in a blender
Juice of 2 lemons
1 Tbsp maple syrup
4 Dashes of Peychaud's bitters
Dash of McCormick cinnamon
Club soda or prosecco, for topping off
Slices strawberries, for garnish
Add your bourbon, pureed strawberries, lemon juice, maple syrup, bitters, and cinnamon to a cocktail shaker and fill it with ice. Shake for 10 seconds, then strain through a mesh strainer into chilled champagne flutes. Top off with club soda or prosecco and garnish with a strawberry.
The Best Bourbon Sour
2 Shots good quality bourbon
1 Shot triple sec
1 Shot cranberry juice
1 Shot fresh lime
Put everything into a shaker with ice. Shake, shake, shake. Serve in a martini or rocks glass with a slice of lime for garnish.
Ginger Beer Bourbon Cocktail
1 Part bourbon
3 Parts ginger beer
1 Lime wedge
Fill glass with ice. Add bourbon followed by ginger beer. Top with mint leaves. Squeeze lime in, gently stir and drink up.
The Kentucky Mojito
1 ½ Shots of bourbon
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp agave nectar
Leaves from two sprigs of mint, torn off the stem
Splash of soda water
Sugar to rim the glass (optional)
Mint sprigs and lime wedges, to garnish
Using a lime wedge, wet the lip of your cocktail glass.
Place the moistened lip of your glass down in a plate of sugar. This will leave you with a sugared rim.
Add your agave nectar and fresh mint leaves to the bottom of your glass.
Add in a couple of ice cubes and muddle everything together until the mint is bruised and becomes fragrant.
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice add in your bourbon and fresh lime juice. Shake vigorously.
Pour your bourbon and lime mixture into your glass containing the muddled mint and agave.
Top off your cocktail with a heavy splash of soda water and garnish as desired with mint and a lime wedge.