So, you see, the Jim Beam people have been celebrating the fact that September is National Bourbon Heritage Month (declared by an act of congress!) by sending out free high-end booze to people like me. Which is all well and good — very good, in fact, as far as I’m concerned.
There is a small catch, however.
You see, the company line is that the two slow batch bourbons in questions, Booker’s and Baker’s, are not really intended for cocktails. Sure, at 107 proof for Baker’s and a gobsmacking 128.5 proof on my particular bottle of Booker’s, not a lot of people are going to drink this stuff completely straight, but for most serious bourbon drinkers a bit of water or maybe a single large ice cube will do just fine and be dandy and very nice.
Still, this is a cocktail blog and cocktails are what I like. Also, rules are apparently made to be broken and mixologists have, in fact, been using Baker’s, at least, in cocktails. I found this very nice little recipe, credited to Manhattan bartender Dushan Zaric, that was set up for Baker’s but actually works even better for this boozer with the harder edged Baker’s. Also, given recent political events, I kind of enjoy the name. This one’s for you, Mitt.
2 ounces very high proof bourbon
1 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce grenadine (ideally a brand that has some actual pomegranate juice in it)
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/4 ounce of absinthe or, if you’ve got it, absinthe bitters (I don’t!)
1 thin-sliced lemon wheel (garnish)
Combine bourbon, lemon juice, grenadine, absinthe, and simple syrup (you can probably substitute a tablespoon of superfine sugar) in a cocktail shaker. Add tons of ice. Shake vigorously and pour into a chilled cocktail glass or rocks glass. (I used the latter.) Sip, and try not to spill any on your ascot.
Though this drink teeters on the edge of my personal sensitivity towards excess tartness, all that grenadine and simple syrup, plus the natural sweetness of bourbon, turn out to be more than sufficient for counteracting the lemon juice in a productive matter. I should add that most (but not all) recipes call strictly for absinthe bitters, not just absinthe and some seem to imply you should use some kind of super-fancy grenadine.
Well, all I can say is that my drink tasted fine using the cheap-ass absinthe and the more-authentic-than-usual grenadine I happened to have on hand. I might actually be a member of the income-tax paying 53% percent, but I sure as hell ain’t no billionaire.