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Happy Bourbon Day, You Judgmental Bastards


Late Wednesday afternoon, it came to my attention that June 14th is National Bourbon Day.  What a spectacular opportunity to celebrate a uniquely American tradition of craftsmanship, ingenuity, and capitalism.  However, the truth is, I’m not a bourbon guy.

I want to be a bourbon guy.  I desperately want to be.  My neighbor sports a collection of cool bottles, with interesting labels, full of nuanced brown liquid.  He is VERY proud of his collection, and always ready to share a snort.  He also loves to talk about bourbon.  Pappy this, Buffalo Trace that, a little chocolate in this one, kind of a smoke flavor over there, and a lot of fruit notes over here.  Can you taste the wood?  Isn’t this one smooth?  After months of Bourbon 101 and lots of nips of the good stuff, I consider myself dangerous enough to know the difference (in name, not blind taste test) between Blanton’s and Jim Beam, and even know the basic concept of “all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.”  I exhaust my knowledge pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, I still have not acquired the taste for bourbon, let alone the passion.

New Wave Mixology

But I really like to celebrate things.  So, late in the evening on National Bourbon Day, alone (because none of my bourbon friends were sufficiently committed to the holiday), I made an Old Fashioned.  Not an Old Fashioned like you find at swanky cocktail bars, or even a chain restaurant where a self-respecting bartender is mixing the drinks.  I very heavily modified the recipes I found online.  When I was finished stirring, it looked terrific and tasted sweet and delicious and made me proud to be supporting bourbon on its big day!  I didn’t have bitters, and poured the cherry syrup with a heavy hand. I like cold drinks, so I added a lot of ice.

If you’re keeping score, I think I violated just about every rule of bourbon right there!  I sent a picture of my concoction to a couple of friends to see if they too were celebrating.  Immediately, questions about the health of my female parts and inquiries about how much Hawaiian Punch my recipe called for flowed in.  One friend went so far as to send a picture of a big bottle of Woodford Reserve, in case I was confused about what bourbon actually was, I guess.  To hell with these critics . . . I sipped my mostly red drink that I garnished with a juicy orange slice, read my book about Abe Lincoln, and celebrated.

Their Old Fashioned

My New Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 3 dashes bitters
  • Sugar cube
  • Club soda
  • Big ice cube
  • A lot of ice
  • 3 parts bourbon
  • 1 part grenadine
  • Half an orange slice

With time, my palate might get more refined and my thirst for quality, crimson grenadine might be quenched, but until then, I think I’ll drink what I like, the way I like it, which in reality is almost always a cold, hoppy beer!  Happy National Bourbon Day, America!