Marion Collins Cocktail (aka The Toughest Guy in the Room)

Marion Collins Cocktail Header Image

If you look at flavored whiskey reviews on this site, you’ll find few compliments. So let it be with great fanfare that I announce that Eastside Distilling’s Marionberry Whiskey is the best flavored whiskey I’ve ever had.

This is not say I love it, but it’s better than all the cherry or cinnamon flavored chemical/medicinal monstrosities out there. My biggest problem is that it’s only 60 proof. Marionberry (not to be confused with the late former D.C. mayor of crack smoking fame) is a blackberry cultivar and as such is tart. Tartness means you need to add sugar for balance. Adding fruit and sugar turns the whiskey from spirit to liqueur.  Continue Reading →

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Exploring Private Barrel Selections with Nasa Liquor

Exploring Private Barrel Selections with Nasa Liquor header

Disclaimer: A sample of Four Roses Single Barrel and Smooth Ambler Old Scout Private Selection bourbon were provided to us by Nasa Liquor for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow Bourbon & Banter to review the booze with no strings attached. Thank you.

“It was like staring down a bourbon tsunami. I couldn’t make a decision or move my feet from sheer awe and fear of making a bad decision.”

That’s how one of my friends described his recent experience visiting a liquor store. He had gone in looking to buy a bottle of whiskey for a house-warming gift. A simple task he thought. He wasn’t prepared for the reality of today’s bourbon market.

Liquor store shelves are flooded with new bourbon brands seemingly every week making it increasingly difficult for consumers to make a decision. Don’t get me wrong. Choice is good but when taken to the extreme it can be paralyzing. Add in the fact that many of these new brands have questionable, yet enticing, back-stories and it quickly becomes dumb luck for many people to pick a bottle with actually decent juice inside.

I can only imagine what happens after someone’s fallen victim to sexy labeling and shitty bourbon more than a few times. I suspect many return to their “safe” bourbon and give up on trying something new. Others will attempt to keep an open mind but every trip back to the “bourbon tsunami” results in unnecessary stress and anxiety. Being gun-shy about a bourbon purchase is no way to live one’s life.

If you’ve ever found yourself in or want to avoid this situation, I suggest you explore your favorite store’s private barrel selections.

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What I Learned From Dinner With Jim Rutledge

  • Four Roses Dinner with Jim Rutledge
    There's no better sight than a bunch of Four Roses standing at attention.

Last week Bourbon & Banter had the honor of hosting a Four Roses bourbon tasting dinner with Jim Rutledge as our guest of honor. Before his arrival at dinner, I was like a child at Christmas–eagerly awaiting Santa Claus to come down the chimney. I had met Jim on several occasions, but couldn’t help but be excited that he was coming to St. Louis to spend some time with the local Bourbon & Banter community. There was no doubt in my mind it was going to be an amazing evening.

Upon arrival guests were treated to one of Juniper’s signature cocktails, a local riff on a Presbyterian featuring Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon, Big O Liqueur, ginger beer and lime juice. Drink in hand, everyone met Jim before dinner and engaged in some banter with other guests. Once seated for dinner, Jim began by sharing a detailed overview of Four Roses’ history in the US and how he became involved with the brand during his years at Seagrams. As each dinner course was presented by Juniper’s chef, Jim provided an overview of each Four Roses bourbon paired with it. Over the course of the evening we sampled Four Roses Yellow Label, Small Batch, Single Barrel and a special private selection single barrel chosen by Juniper. (Special thanks to Juniper for extending an amazing offer on bottles of their selection for our guests.)

Throughout the evening Jim spared no details in answering questions and educating us on all things Four Roses. While I was already familiar with much of what Jim shared, there were some interesting nuggets I wrote down to  share with our readers. Continue Reading →

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Mint Julep Recipes From Bulleit & Wild Turkey

The Kentucky Derby is just days away. It’s time to stock up your bar, purchase some extra bottles of bourbon and of course, time to find a great Julep recipe to share with your guests. To help you with the latter we’ve compiled a few recipes below from our friends over at Bulleit Bourbon and Wild Turkey. Of course if you already have a favorite recipe feel free to share it with us in the comments. We’re always looking for new recipes to share with our friends. Have a great Derby Party everyone!

The-Queens-JulepThe Queen’s Julep

Recipe by Punch Room Head Mixologist Bob Peters


  • 1.33 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
  • 0.5 oz. simple syrup
  • 0.5 oz. Fernet Branca Menta
  • 8 fresh mint leaves, muddled

Muddle mint leaves in a shaker. Pour Bulleit Bourbon, simple syrup and Fernet Branca Menta into shaker with ice and shake. Double strain and pour over crushed ice in a julep cup. Garnish with fresh mint sprig.
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