Whenever someone asks me to say something good about 2020, my reply is, “I learned a lot about making craft cocktails.” And I’m only half joking. In February, before the pandemic began, my husband, on a whim, bought me a copy of the cocktail recipe book Shake, by Eric Prum and Josh Williams. That book changed our lives. We began consuming amazing beverages made with fresh ingredients, while trying new combinations and pairings of flavors. Once we were in lockdown, we were able to look forward to trying something new each night—it did wonders for our mental health. After we worked our way through Shake, we started to explore other cocktail books in our library. We learned so much about the classics, new twists, modern concoctions, and the various elements used to create them. I am so excited to begin sharing what I have learned with you.
One of my favorite discoveries in our drinking adventure is a potent cocktail called the Bardstown, which is named for the Mecca of the Bourbon industry: Bardstown, Kentucky. This drink, made up of apple brandy, rye whiskey, orange liqueur, and orange bitters, screams fall, but is equally enjoyable during the cold winter months, or any time of year, for that matter.
1 1/2 cups 100-proof apple brandy
1 cup 100-proof rye whiskey
1/2 cup triple sec
1 Tbsp orange bitters
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp water
Orange zest for garnish
Combine the apple brandy, rye whiskey, triple sec, bitters, and water in a quart-sized mason jar or 1-liter swing-top bottle. Chill in the freezer at least 1 1/2 hours before serving.
To serve, gently shake the concoction to combine. Pour into chilled coup glasses. Rub each piece orange zest gently between your fingers to express the oils, run the zest around the rim of each glass, then place one piece in each drink as garnish.