Cocktail Hour: The Florence Kentucky

Florence Kentucky

In Cincinnati, bourbon is the default cocktail mixer. Our friends in Louisville, Kentucky are just a short trip down the highway. Louisville is the home of bourbon and we can get a great selection of the stuff just over the river. I saw a recipe recently and decided to take a twist on it…

I’d read this fun article over on Serious Eats by Elana Lepkowski that introduced The Bitter Irishman. The basic idea is that you pair a nice whiskey with an Italian kind of drink called Amaro, which tends to be sweet, bitter and full of herbs. Think of amaro as kind of like red vermouth – it’s not often the star of a drink, but it lends a delightful presence to other spirits.

Elana’s recipe called for Bushmill’s 10 and Averna. I had Heaven Hill and Meletti in the cabinet. When you’re trying a cocktail, I highly suggest taking the pattern of it and adapting it to what’s on hand. How’d that work? Pretty well, actually. I mixed an ounce of each. The Meletti was a bit sweet for me, so I think I’d do 1.25:0.75 oz ratio of bourbon to Meletti next time. Heaven Hill is a criminally cheap 6-year bourbon with rich spice to it. A good sipping whiskey that you’ll never feel guilty about mixing. Averna is an amaro that’d work great here – I had a mini bottle of it in the cabinet and made side-by-side cocktails to try (for science, etc). I’d prefer Averna but we can’t get full size bottles of it around here… yet.

The Florence Kentucky

1oz Bourbon
1oz Amaro
Juice from half a lemon
1/4oz simple syrup (if you’re using Meletti, skip this part)

Shake and serve in a martini-style glass or serve over ice if you’re in a lingering sippin’ mood.

(Apologies to Elana for killing her recipe!)

And the name? Well, since it’s a combination of an Italian liqueur and a Kentucky classic, I called it the “Florence Kentucky.” If you’ve had the pleasure of driving south from here, you’ve doubtless seen this:


Happy sipping!