Spring Cocktails from “The Bourbon Country Cookbook”

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New Southern Entertaining: 95 Recipes and More from a Modern Kentucky Kitchen by David Danielson and Tim Laird

The Bourbon Country Cookbook is the ultimate guide to modern Southern entertaining through a collection of accessible recipes developed by the executive chef at Churchill Downs and the chief entertaining officer of Brown-Forman.

Releasing just in time for the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby, The Bourbon Country Cookbook is a pure celebration of the culture and history of Bourbon Country. This full-color cookbook includes more than 90 recipes organized into nine chapters of Southern fare including cocktails; small bites; brunch; pickling and preserves; vegetables; grits, grains, pastas, and breads; fish; meats; and desserts.

We found three classic spring cocktail recipes perfect for groups of any size – The Mint Julep, the Bourbon Peach Cooler, and the Kentucky Mule. Preorder your copy of “The Bourbon Country Cookbook” today – or try one of these recipes at home today with your favorite Bourbon!

Our Signature Mint Julep

The julep is a classic example of a cocktail with history. It is thought to have been created on a horse farm in the late 1700s. Farmwork was very laborious and took a toll on the body. There were no over-the-counter pain relievers at the corner drugstore back then, but there was a lot of whiskey. The whiskeys at that time didn’t taste as good as they do today. So, with the help of a little sugar and mint, the “medicine” went down easier. The muscles would relax and it was then time to get back to work.

They called this remedy a “Morning Bracer.” At the end of the day, one would also need an “Evening Bracer.” The cocktail then went on to become a refined drink of the South, now synonymous with the first Saturday in May and the running of the Kentucky Derby. Our julep uses a mint simple syrup, which is quicker than muddling and makes the drink easy to make for several people at once. We use Woodford Reserve bourbon, the official Bourbon of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. You can adjust the sweetness by adding more or less simple syrup.

1 oz Mint Simple Syrup
2 oz Woodford Reserve
1 Sprig Mint, for garnish

Fill a tall glass or julep cup with crushed ice. Add the syrup and then the Bourbon. Top with more crushed ice, add a sipping straw, garnish with the mint, and serve.

Bourbon Peach Cooler

Fiddle-dee-dee! Nothing says “Southern” like the combination of peaches, iced tea, and bourbon. All you need is a front porch. The peach brings out the fruitiness of the bourbon and adds a delicate sweetness.

1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1/4 ounce peach schnapps
2 ounces peach nectar
1 ounce unsweetened iced tea
1 dash peach bitters (optional)
Peach slice, for garnish

In a shaker filled with ice, combine the bourbon, schnapps, peach nectar, iced tea, and bitters, if using. Shake the mixture vigorously and strain it into a tall glass with ice. Garnish with the peach slice and serve.

Kentucky Mule

This is the Kentucky cousin to two cocktails—the Moscow mule and the Dark and Stormy—made popular with ginger beer, which is much spicier than ginger ale. The Moscow mule, traditionally served in a copper mug, is made with vodka, ginger beer, and a squeeze of lime. The Dark and Stormy hails from Bermuda and combines Goslings dark rum, ginger beer, and lime. Our version uses bourbon (of course), which again is the perfect canvas to spotlight the delicious taste of ginger.

1 1/2 ounces bourbon
3 ounces ginger beer
Squeeze of one lime wedge (about 1/8 tsp)
Lime wedge, for garnish

Combine the bourbon, ginger beer, and squeeze of lime in a rocks glass filled with ice. Stir the mixture, garnish with the lime wedge, and serve.