Feature: Happy Hour

Happy Hour: A Drink for an Old Fashioned Girl

Bourbon doesn't need much in the way of embellishment.

By , Contributor


I have a little ritual on Fridays. I like to come home at the end of the day and celebrate/acknowledge/kick the ass of the working week by relaxing with a drink. Sometimes I like a cocktail (and my husband makes a pretty mean margarita), but sometimes simplicity is best. At times like that, I usually reach for the bourbon.

Bourbon is a type of American whiskey made mostly from corn; its name derives from Bourbon County, Kentucky, the region with which it is historically associated. As with many regional products, there are federal laws that regulate where and how bourbon is made. For example, in order to be called bourbon, the whiskey must be made from a grain mixture comprised of at least 51% corn; it must be no more than 160 proof (80% ABV); it must be aged in new, charred oak barrels.

old-fashioned-0609-lg.jpgThere are other regulations too, and the ones I've mentioned apply to bourbon made for consumption within the US. Bourbon made for export may not be made according to these same standards. Kentucky holds an annual Bourbon Festival to promote the appreciation of this most American of spirits and there are websites devoted to educating the consumer.

So how should you enjoy your bourbon? Well, that's really up to you. Most serious connoisseurs would argue in favor of enjoying it neat (in my experience, few serious drinkers of whiskey use ice) or perhaps with a few drops of water (my personal preference). But you can use bourbon in a variety of cocktails too, and most makers' websites have recipes if you're in need of inspiration.  

Perhaps the best known bourbon cocktail is the Old Fashioned (and if you watch Mad Men regularly, you've seen Don Draper make this one). The most basic recipe is this (and it doesn't get much more basic):

In an old fashioned glass, muddle a cube of sugar, a dash or two of bitters, and a teaspoon of water. Add two ounces of bourbon, ice, and stir. Garnish with a cherry.

One variation includes adding an orange slice to the glass with the sugar and the bitters and muddling together; another variation adds an ounce of soda for fizz; and some people like to substitute simple syrup for the sugar cube to eliminate the possibility of undissolved sugar at the bottom of the glass.

As always, let your personal tastes and preference be your guide, and remember always to drink responsibly.

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Lisa McKay is the executive editor at The Morton Report.

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