Classics like the martini and the Manhattan are certainly delicious cocktails for any gathering, but to really impress your guests this winter, why not try something a bit more creative? All over the country, craft cocktails are a big hit, with clever bartenders creating never-before-seen combinations of flavors and ingredients, and we’ve got a pair of delicious and seasonally appropriate bourbon recipes you can use to upgrade your drinks this year.
Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey marries the modern cocktail revival with the decades of tradition behind American whiskey. It’s aged at the legendary Stitzel-Weller Distillery just outside of Louisville using a unique solera barrel aging system that blends bourbons aged as long as twenty-one years in oak. The company’s name refers to the two parts of an old-fashioned skeleton key—the blade shaft and the ornate bow-shaped handle—and was inspired by Stitzel-Weller’s iconic Five Keys symbol, found throughout the distillery. The five keys represent the five components of crafting bourbon: grains, yeast, fermentation, distillation, and aging.
Blade and Bow offers gentle fruit notes and warming winter-spice flavors, which make it an ideal base spirit for any seasonal cocktail. Two of the finest mixological minds in the cocktail-crazy town of Charleston, South Carolina, created signature drinks featuring Blade and Bow for this cold-weather season.
At the Macintosh, the freshest and most seasonal ingredients are the focus of both the food and the drinks. Bar manager Megan Deschaine brings a culinary mind-set to her cocktails by incorporating unexpected spices and exotic ingredients. “I like bourbon as a category. I drink it a lot,” she says. “The joke is that it’s a Kentucky hug—you feel it from the inside out.”
Blade and Bow makes an ideal “Kentucky hug” to power Deschaine’s Cable Knit cocktail. “I was shooting for that soul-warming type of drink,” she says, “like a cable-knit sweater, that thing you break out on the first crisp day of the winter.” Besides bourbon, the drink also incorporates rich cream, spicy cardamom bitters, citrusy and herbal Licor 43 from Spain, and yerba mate, a caffeinated tea-like drink popular in South America. “I started drinking yerba mate a few years ago as an alternative to coffee, and in the winter, I realized it had a lot of the same characteristics as chai tea, so I added cream and spices,” Deschaine explains. “Bourbon has a great structure and backbone—lots of vanilla and baking spices from the barrel—so it was the perfect base spirit.”
Deschaine’s Cable Knit has a name inspired by the character of the cocktail, but sometimes a drink’s name comes first. That’s the case with the Roy McAvoy by Teddy Nixon, manager at the whiskey-focused Charleston hot spot Bar Mash. “I’m a golfer, and the first thing I thought of when I heard the name Blade and Bow was an iron—the blade of a golf club,” he says.
And so, Nixon knew he had to name a drink after one of the movies’ most iconic Southern golfers, Kevin Costner’s character in Tin Cup. “We had a place on our menu for a boozy cocktail that was stirred and strong but still easy-drinking,” he says, “and after that, this just came from us playing and experimenting with stuff we had behind the bar.” The Roy McAvoy combines Blade and Bow with a touch of rich and molasses-y rum, and three mixologist-favorite liqueurs: floral and spicy Amaro Montenegro, bitter and herbal Fernet-Branca, and the cognac-based Giffard Banane du Brésil banana liqueur. “On paper, it sounds really weird, but there are a lot of spice notes in there, and the banana works great in lieu of a sweetener,” Nixon says. “People are scared of ‘boozy’ stirred drinks, but the right balance can be quite approachable and even refreshing.”
Creating original cocktails is all about uniting flavors, and Blade and Bow offers lots of the toasted-grain, vanilla, and spice notes that go perfectly with other seasonal flavors. This year, you can elevate the drinks at your parties with one of these recipes, or take inspiration and experiment to make your own!
by Megan Deschaine, The Macintosh
2½ parts Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
1 part Licor 43
3 parts brewed yerba mate tea
1 part cream
Splash of simple syrup (1 part sugar, 1 part water)
2 dashes of Scrappy’s cardamom bitters
Garnish: Black pepper
Add all ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper.
by Teddy Nixon, Bar Mash
3 parts Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
1 part Giffard Banane du Brésil banana liqueur
1 part Amaro Montenegro
Splash of Fernet-Branca
Splash of Cruzan Black Strap Rum
Garnish: Grapefruit twist
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a rocks glass filled with a large ice cube. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.