Bourbon Sours

For some time bourbons became my favourite strong alcohol I’m used to utilize in cocktails.

I think the perfect companion for bourbon is fresh orange juice possibly with lime juice or syrups to bring sweetness and sourness to the balance. I’ve knew it from my own experience but later I’ve got that this combination is well-known so I’ve ended my attempts to find a perfect recipe and started to search for the known mixologists’ cocktails.

Soon I’ve found three wonderful cocktails – Bourbon Cooler and Eastern Whiskey Sour in «Thinking Bartender» book by George Sinclair and St. Nicky Sour at Cocktail Chronicles website.

St. Nicky Sour, as Paul Clark said in his post, is the creature of Jeff «Beachbum» Berry, a specialist in tiki drinks culture. And George Sinclair calls Trader Vic (Victor Bergeron) an author of Eastern Whiskey Sour.

Bourbon Sours

Two my bourbons comparison was another object I pursued. It was Basil Hayden’s, a wonderful whiskey of Jim Beam premuim bourbons line, and Old Virginia Straight Bourbon, little known but definitely not bad whiskey.

I didn’t compare these bourbons neat but explored how they work in cocktails like that I mentioned above.

Basil Hayden's Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Recently I’ve used both Basil Hayden’s and Old Virginia (and Knob Creek, to be precise) in various straight-up cocktails and found that Old Virginia isn’t as bad as cheap (one Basil Hayden’s bottle costs as much as five Old Virginia Bourbon bottles). So it was too interesting for me to compare them in rather simple cocktails with a large quantity of bourbon.

Bourbon Cooler

  • 60 мл bourbon,
  • 15 мл fresh lime juice,
  • 30 мл fresh orange juice,
  • 2 dash Angostura bitters.

Build over ice in a tall glass, top with sparkling mineral water, and then stir.

I’ve just omitted water and served the cocktail in rock glass.

Bourbon Cooler

My experiments resulted in sharp, sour and a bit tart drink with pronounced dry wood aftertaste. Tartness and sourness were everywhere – in palate and aftertaste so it looks like only whiskey and lime juice were used. Ounce of orange juice added some sweetness but overall impression was clear: Bourbon Cooler is good refreshing drink but here is definitely no place for subtle Basil Hayden’s aroma. Old Virginia was OK but it is Knob Creek that can control this cocktail’s sourness and add light vanilla and spice notes to the aftertaste.

Eastern Whiskey Sour

  • 60 ml Bourbon,
  • 20 ml fresh lime juice,
  • 30 ml fresh orange juice,
  • 10 ml Orgeat syrup,
  • 10 ml sugar syrup (or rock candy syrup).

Shake with ice, then strain into an ice filled glass.

Eastern Whiskey Sour

This cocktail’s proportions and ingredients are very similar to Bourbon Cooler. The difference is in syrups appearance, and one of them, orgeat is the most promising component to mixing with whiskey and orange juice.

Here the sugar did its work. With well-balanced sourness, bourbon flourished with vanilla and prune (Old Virginia) and with dried fruits and hints of spices – cloves, vanilla, cardamom (Basil Hayden’s). Orange juice added its fresh and sweet flavour so the final picture was outstanding.

Finish was a match for palate – noble oak, orange zest with touches of lime and almonds.

Definitely Eastern Whiskey Sour is my choice. I love its sweet taste with well-balanced sourness and pronounced whiskey features.

St. Nicky Sour

  • 60 ml bourbon,
  • 25 ml fresh-squeezed orange juice,
  • 15 ml fresh lemon juice,
  • 10 ml orgeat.

Shake with ice and pour into an old-fashioned glass.

St. Nicky Sour

Despite lesser sweetener quantity, this cocktail appears as sweetest one. Probably the point is that lemon juice substituted for lime.

Lack of sourness didn’t harm the taste. A light bitterness on the swallow caused by combination of wood, almonds and zest flavours worked extremely well with the sweet orange. Also that delicate bitterness was in aftertaste, somewhere beyond vanilla and orange juice. Dry finish with hints of oak and spices completed the picture.

I think this cocktail isn’t good refresher but perfect when you want to drink something sweet, strong and spicy after dinner. Undoubtedly whiskey reigns here and discovers how much sugars it got from charred oak barrels.