Suzen was having an event for a culinary organization in our Tribeca space. For her corporate team building events, Suzen is in charge and everything goes very smoothly on schedule. When a culinary organization comes in, and takes over the kitchen, it’s a little chaotic. People chopping, stirring, preparing and talking.
“Can you make a bourbon cocktail?” the event’s organizer asked me.
“Sure,” I said. Then, I thought, 30 people. “How about a punch?” I suggested.
“Fine,” she replied, turning to chop, stir and cook herself.
I found a recipe online, but we did not have many of the ingredients. “Now what?” I pointed the recipe out to Suzen.
“Let’s go to the refrigerator,” she said. Out came frozen lemonade, a bottle of mango juice, and club soda. She put them all in my arms. “Improvise,” she said.
A few minutes later, I said to her, “Try this.”
One lemon later, “How about this now?” I asked her. She took a second sip. “Fine,” she blessed this experiment.
It’s fast, it’s bold and it’s easy to fix. You don’t lose the bourbon flavor here. It is boldly there. But the lemonade and mango make it less striking on the tongue. It’s just richly pleasant. Great to sit and sip. Better with some appetizers. Wonderful with a steak grilled black.
Suzen’s Quick Bourbon Punch
Yield: 1.5 quarts, enough for several thirsty people
- 1 cup bourbon
- ½ cup mango juice
- Juice of one lemon
- 6 ounces of frozen lemonade concentrate, defrosted
- 1 liter of club soda, chilled
Place the bourbon, mango juice, lemon juice and lemonade concentrate in a large pitcher and stir to mix. Slowly add the club soda. Too fast and you’ll generate enough fuzz for a science fiction film.
Stir to mix. Chill until you are ready to serve. Pour into ice filled glasses.
Source: Suzen O’Rourke
Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons is filled lore, facts, and recipes. You’ve seen bitters in stores but now there literally is a blizzard of different bitters flavors out there for you to try. Bitters the book has ideas for using and making bitters, and other things too. Like cherry syrup.
I blogged a couple of days ago about how to make and use that cherry syrup. Brad makes a cocktail he calls a Coxsackie Smash in honor of some Upstate friends combining cherry syrup and bourbon. I made his smash and it was good. But, ah, there’s always a but.
But, I found his proportions [2 ounces of bourbon to ¾ ounces of syrup] yielded a drink that was distinctly a bourbon-dominant beverage. I wanted a drink with no dominant single note. Not bourbon, not cherry. I experimented with proportions and found the combination below to be perfect.
I leave it to you to experiment and generate your own favorite proportions. In his drink, Brad adds sour cherries and muddles them into the cherry syrup. Me, I just use lots of cherry syrup.
Brian’s Cherry and Bourbon Celebration
Yield: 1 cocktail
- 1 lime wedge
- 10-15 mint leaves
- 2 ounces of cherry syrup
- 2 ounces of bourbon
- Ice cubes and cracked ice, too
In a cocktail shaker, put the lime wedge, mint, and syrup. Muddle until the leaves are well smashed and you have aroma ascending to your nose.
Add the bourbon and ice cubes. Shake until strikingly cold. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Add cracked ice.
Adorn, if you wish, with some whole cherries or mint leaves, or perhaps a citrus twist.