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
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: