“I’m a Kentucky girl born and raised, so I’ve been around Ale-8-One all my life,” says Stacie Stewart, general manager at MilkWood in Louisville. “But I also grew up very strict Southern Baptist, and cocktails were not something we did.” Stewart may now be one of the city’s top mixologists, but her love of the uniquely local ginger-and-citrus soda remains. Ale-8-One is less sweet than most sodas, making it especially cocktail-friendly: “You can use any base spirit with Ale-8-One and it’ll enhance them without overwhelming the flavor,” Stewart says. Her drink, The Commonwealth, will be the flagship cocktail at Whiskey Dry, a new bourbon-focused bar Stewart is set to open in Louisville this summer with the owners of MilkWood. It pairs a fine Kentucky bourbon (naturally) with Ale-8-One, a little coffee, a little sorghum syrup, and a simple homemade black pepper tincture that adds a sharp spice but is entirely optional.
Kentucky’s Ale-8-One Gets the Cocktail Treatment
Makes 1 Cocktail
A sweet and spicy drink loaded with Bluegrass State flavor
Photo: Margaret Houston
1.5 oz. Angel's Envy bourbon
0.25 oz. Strong brewed coffee
0.25 oz. Sorghum syrup
0.25 oz. Black Pepper Tincture* (optional)
2 dashes bitters (Woodford Reserve Sassafras & Sorghum is best, but Angostura will work)
2 oz. Ale-8-One
Garnish: Lemon twist
Black Pepper Tincture
4 tbsp. Toasted black peppercorns, lightly crushed
6 oz. Vodka
0.25 oz. Honey
Add all the ingredients except the Ale-8-One to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top with the Ale-8-One and garnish with a lemon twist.
For Black Pepper Tincture:
Stir together all the ingredients until the honey dissolves. Let stand 2 hours, and strain before using.
Recipe from Stacie Stewart of MilkWood in Louisville, Kentucky.