But whiskey is not always bourbon.
June 14 was National Bourbon Day.
And I missed it.
I've come a long way from those Whiskey Sour days of my twenties. And so has the rest of the country. Bourbon whiskey, named for its birth county in Kentucky, is a special breed of whiskey. To qualify as bourbon, the whiskey must be made in America from grain mash (51% of which must be corn).
There are other federal regulations, too. Such as the one seen in the photo, below...
Fire! Ah, the magic of fire! To be a bourbon, there must be aging for a couple of years in new oak barrels that have been charred - with fire. (Ordinary whiskey can be aged in an old or new, not-charred oak barrel.) The charring - to a depth of 1/8" (it's a controlled burn, after all) - imparts distinct flavor. And some color, too.
I've reached an age when my tribe tends to prefer what you see above - bourbon straight. Maybe on the rocks. But I'm not a fan of straight bourbon whiskey. However, even when I mix a drink, I aim for the favorite brands. There they are, below.
But truth be told, below is what's in the liquor cabinet right now - the favorite of my tribe.
Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey.
Kind of says it all, don't you think?
Since it's Friday, it's weekend-freedom-a'comin' time. Time for some bourbon recipes, don't you think?
From my kitchen and liquor cabinet, to yours.
Better late than never to celebrate National Bourbon Day!
Recipe #1: Classic University Whiskey Sour
Mix 2 ounces bourbon with a teaspoon of sugar (powdered is best, or at least superfine) and 3/4 ounce of lemon juice. Shake really well over cracked ice for a nice frothy sour. Serve straight up or over the rocks, and garnish with a slice of lemon or orange and to make it classic, a cherry. (If you add a dash of grenadine to the sour, it's called a Ward Eight. If you add the white of one egg before shaking, it's a delicious Boston Sour.)
Recipe #2: Classic Mint Julep
First, make a Mint Simple Syrup: Mix 1 cup sugar + 1 cup water and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and put one bunch of mint in the mixture; steep for 15 minutes. Strain into container and refrigerate till cold, about 2-3 hours.
Then, in a highball glass (8-12 ounce tumbler), or a silver julep cup (you can buy them here), place one ounce of the Mint Simple Syrup. Fill with 1 cup of crushed ice, 2 ounces bourbon, and a splash of water. Stir well; add more crushed ice if needed. Garnish with a sprig of mint. Did I hear somebody say horse races? Let me grab my fascinator!
Enjoy! And, always, drink responsibly, peeps.