A Bourbon Sour with a Twist

Makes 1 drink

A very Southern cocktail

Photo: Andrew Sherman

Sometimes, you really can drink your troubles away. Or at least some of them. For chef Dean Neff, of PinPoint restaurant in Wilmington, North Carolina, trouble came with an over-delivery of an unfamiliar ingredient. “Last year, we had buckets of local holy basil,” says the chef, who builds his menus from local farmers’ bounty. Sweet, subtly medicinal holy basil—or tulsi, a sacred herb in India—isn’t the variety you’d use for a pesto or a pasta sauce. “It smelled like bubblegum, and we weren’t quite sure what to do with it,” he says. At the same time, the former chef de cuisine at Rhubarb in Asheville was facing down flats of in-season muscadines and scuppernongs. So he and his fiancée, pastry chef Lydia Clopton, came up with a sensibly Southern solution to the seasonal abundance: Add bourbon. Musky and herbal, the cocktail they created is a local favorite that’s on the menu again this year. “You get that kind-of-bubblegum flavor with the sweet grape,” Neff says. “When you taste the drink, it’s a flavor you’re familiar with, but you’re also like, ‘What is that?’”

Neff’s home cook–friendly version of the recipe substitutes holy basil tea for the fresh herb. You can find the tea at your local Whole Foods or health food store. While you’re there, pick up some muscadines, too—once a farmer’s market oddity, they’re now widely available in Southern grocery stories in early fall. If you prefer not to blend and strain the grapes yourself, you can even buy bottled muscadine juice.


  • Holy Muscadine Sour

    • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon (Neff recommends Bulleit)

    • 2 oz. fresh muscadine or scuppernong juice

    • 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice

    • 1/4 oz. Holy Basil Simple Syrup (recipe below)

    • 2 dashes orange bitters

  • Holy Basil Simple Syrup

    • 1 bag holy basil tea (Neff recommends Organic India Tulsi)

    • 2 cups sugar

    • 1/4 tsp. grated orange zest


  1. For the drink:

    In a cocktail shaker, combine and shake all ingredients. Strain over ice and garnish with an orange twist, basil leaves, and sliced muscadines or scuppernongs.

  2. For the simple syrup:

    In a small saucepan, heat 2 cups water to a low simmer and remove from heat. Steep tea for 3 minutes and remove. Add sugar and orange and stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Pour through a fine mesh strainer and chill. (Makes 2 cups)

Cocktail recipe from chef Dean Neff of PinPoint restaurant in Wilmington, North Carolina.