How do you Like your Bourbon?
How do you like your bourbon? That is a question that I ask at every tasting event that I host and one that provides many different answers. In short, the correct answer is to drink bourbon the way you prefer. In many ways, it is the same answer to the question frequently asked of me of what is your favorite bourbon?
When I am asked the question “what is your favorite bourbon?”, I always answer in the same way which is to reply “the fifth one.” All joking aside the reality is that people should drink what they enjoy without concern of whether the bourbon is on someone’s top ten list or whether Bourbon Experts on High rates it a 12.9. Drink bourbon in the way you enjoy it.
I have grown to enjoy my bourbon neat. No ice, no water, and no mixers allow me to enjoy the nuances of any bourbon I try. It is especially true when I sample something new for the first time so that I can enjoy the spirit the way the distiller intended.
However, I have grown to truly appreciate a well-made bourbon cocktail, especially when created by a bartender that embraces his or her craft. One example is the first Kentucky Mule I had ever tasted. The recommendation came from a fellow customer and native Kentuckian who mentioned to me that our favorite bartender Tom made the best Kentucky Mule. A Kentucky Mule consists of bourbon, lime juice, and ginger beer. Some people garnish it with a sprig of mint, but I enjoy it either way. Tom told me the secret was the proper brand of ginger beer and I believe him.
Perhaps the most famous bourbon cocktail is the Mint Julep. For anyone who has spent time watching or attending the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs knows that the Mint Julep is a Kentucky treasure. Each year more than 120,000 are served at the racetrack during derby week. A Mint Julep is made up of mint, bourbon, simple syrup, and crushed ice. Many people argue about the proper way to prepare this iconic cocktail, but the key appears to be the muddled mint. Spearmint is often used throughout the southern United States to create Mint Juleps.
Another bourbon cocktail worth mentioning is the Bourbon Sour. Typically made up of bourbon, lemon juice, sugar, and garnished with an orange slice. Many are prepared with pre-mixed sour mixes, but this is another experience that merits a bartender that strives for the best. Remember to enjoy your bourbon in the best way possible: slowly with good friends!