Bourbon wouldn’t be bourbon without corn. Literally. American law requires that any whiskey perched alongside the bottles of Maker’s Mark and Buffalo Trace at the liquor store come from a mash that is at least fifty-one percent corn, with a remainder of barley, wheat, or rye. So infusing the flavor of fresh corn into brown liquor made a sort of intuitive sense for Chris Spear, the Frederick, Maryland–based chef and culinary instructor who writes the blog Perfect Little Bites. “At first, I thought I’d just throw some corn into some bourbon and see if I could get the flavor I wanted,” he says. After some trial and error, he added a second step to the process: dosing the whiskey with a little melted butter, which leaves behind a tinge of flavor and a rich, silky texture.
The corn-infused whiskey is tasty on the rocks—or with a cube of corn stock, if you’re simply looking to celebrate the season. But if you’re interested in a mixed drink that’s as unique as its base spirit, Spear devised a Mexican street corn–inspired cocktail, seasoned with lime juice and chili powder, to showcase the infusion. “If you just mix a Manhattan with the whiskey, there’s so much going on that you won’t really taste the corn,” he says.