5 Days of Cocktails – Day 4: Bourbon Sour

Out of all of our Christmas cocktails this week, I think the Bourbon Sour is the most decked-out for the holidays. Sit this drink in front of one your guests and the others will certainly get jealous when they see the attention given to its pretty snowy top, swirled with amber bitters.

Bourbon Sour

Underneath this meringue-like blanket is a drink that’s gently spiced from bourbon and enlivening on the palate thanks to a burst of freshly squeezed lemon juice. It’s a flashy cocktail for those that appreciate some extravagance around the holidays.

A good sour is essential to any cocktail party menu. They’re a crowd pleaser and understandably so as they offer a satisfying balance between refreshingly tart and lightly sweet. They’re great for people that don’t enjoy the harsher edge certain spirits have, providing a pleasant and smooth sip. The real trick is to get the snowy layer of froth strong enough to hold the shape of the bitters when they’re carefully dropped on top. Getting it right comes down to when you add the ice to the shaker. Pre-shaking without ice helps to combine the ingredients and the egg white. A final vigorous shaking with ice, aerates the white enough that it pours out silkily on the surface of the cocktail.

Bourbon Sour

Bourbon Sour

makes 1 cocktail

2 oz bourbon (I use Bulleit)
3/4 oz lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 egg white
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

In a cocktail shaker combine the bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds, add ice and shake again for 20 seconds or so to create a good, sturdy froth. Pour into a chilled coupe glass and add two drops of Angostura on either side of the drink. Using a skewer, drag the bitters through the froth in a circular motion to achieve a marbled effect.

Simple Syrup

makes 500ml syrup

250ml cold water
250g granulated sugar

Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring a little to ensure the sugar dissolves evenly. Once the sugar is fully dissolved, remove from the heat and cool. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

5 Days of Cocktails – Day 3: Widow’s Kiss

Let things get weird with an old flame at the holiday office party as you sip this one under the mistletoe. The Widow’s Kiss is an old cocktail but those just learning to drink can take comfort in its gentle, supple, and smoothly spiced aromas. What’s old is new again and with its generous doses of herbal liqueurs and French brandy, you’ll feel first-class as you lean in for another nip of this feisty elixir.

Widow's Kiss

Make no mistake, this is a hard edge cocktail but it’s subtle undertones of apple, honey and saffron add the allure of a feminine touch.

Cocktail recipes are regularly adapted depending on the personal preference of the mixer and the drinker, and as such, you may find countless variations for the Widow’s Kiss. The standard from what I can tell, includes Calvados, Yellow Chartreuse, and Bénédictine. Almost always, these three ingredients are represented in different proportions. Though I love herbal liqueurs, Bénédictine included, I thought I’d like to provide a variation that leaves it out and replaces it with Green Chartreuse, partly because I’m on a bit of a Chartreuse tear, but also because I thought it’d be nice to provide an option that doesn’t have you stocking your bar with ingredients you’ll seldom be using. Green Chartreuse is more powerful than the Yellow both in flavour and in alcohol – I love it but sometimes it doesn’t love me back – and thus works as an adequate substitute for the Bénédictine.

The orange peel garnish is another variation and completely optional. In the winter and especially around Christmas, I like the flavour an orange peel provides in my drink and if you wanted to go all out for your party, you could flame it as directed below.

Widow's Kiss

Widow’s Kiss

makes 1 cocktail

2 oz Calvados
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
orange peel, for garnish (optional)

In a mixing glass filled with ice, add the Calvados, Yellow and Green Chartreuse, and bitters. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Rub the orange peel around the rim of the glass before tossing the peel in the drink.

If you wanted to get a bit showy, you could flame the orange peel by pinching the peel above the drink while holding a match close to it, creating a quick and dramatic flame as the orange oils catch fire before hitting the drink.

Mad Men Office Party

Huge thanks to the hilarious Sara Hennessey for taking on the persona of the Widow’s Kiss for us! You can check out Sara’s tour schedule here. Go see her live! She’s a terrific woman!

Sara and the Nutcracker