Introducing Melissa Alexander

Melissa AlexanderToday we’re super pleased to announce that Melissa Alexander will be joining the Bourbon & Banter team as a regular contributor. Melissa made her B&B debut last week with a post titled, “Bottled In Bond: A Brief History”.  That post received nothing but positive feedback from our readers and has been shared over 232 times. Not a bad start at all.

Here’s a little more information about Melissa:

Melissa is an aspiring bourbon historian who began her romance with bourbon the night of her 21st birthday. She is studying for her Master’s in History at the University of Cincinnati, and works at Historic Locust Grove in Louisville where she contributes to their hearth cooking, distilling, and dairying demonstrations. In her free time, she enjoys stitching reproduction historical garments for living history events, and, of course, spreading the bourbon gospel to anyone who will listen.


Please join us in wishing Melissa a warm welcome and make sure to follow her on Twitter as well at @aglassofhistory.

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Can I Get You a Drink?

The Vandano Variation Cocktail Photo

When welcoming guests into your home, nothing says “I’m glad you’re here” quite like a cocktail. It shows you care and want them to have a good time.

After taking coats and accepting any gifts (the best guests bring gifts), the first thing I do is offer a drink.  It doesn’t need to be fancy; a simple highball will suffice.  But if you’ve got the ingredients, the tools and the know-how, it could be transcendent.

My house cocktail blends two of my favorite classic cocktails: the Manhattan and the Sazerac. I originally came up with a similar drink using Cocchi Americano in place of sweet vermouth. (Much later I found it to be a close relative to both the Waldorf and the Satan Cocktail.)

The Vandano Variation

    • 2 oz rye whiskey (Bulleit or Rittenhouse)
    • 1 oz sweet vermouth (Dolin or Cinzano)
    • 1 dash Angostura bitters
    • 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
    • Absinthe or Pastis

Spritz* a chilled coupe with absinthe. Stir rye, vermouth and bitters with ice and strain into coupe.
Garnish with twist of lemon peel.

*I say spritz the glass because I find the “swirl and dump” method of coating a glass to be wasteful and absinthe ain’t cheap. I recommend picking up a Misto or other food grade sprayer giving the glass a quick half second blast.

It’s simultaneously sweet and spicy, bright and dark. I’ve had at least one guest say, “I wish I could drink these all night.” I do too.

So, what’s your house cocktail? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try yours if you try mine.

It was good to see you again and thanks for the gift.

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Four Roses Tournament: A Story of Bourbon, Banter & BBQ

We’d like to wish everyone a very happy National Bourbon Day! To celebrate we invite you to watch our video about a recent Four Roses tasting that we were lucky to be invited to here in St. Louis. You’ll learn a little bit about Four Roses, why it’s always better to drink with friends and discover where you can get your hands on a killer bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel Private Selection.

Pour yourself a drink and spend a few minutes with us as we celebrate National Bourbon Day!

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Bottled In Bond: A Brief History

Gooderham & Worts Distillery Engraving Illustration

Note: This post is courtesy of Melissa Alexander a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati and a bourbon history enthusiast. Please let us know what you think of Melissa’s debut post as we’d love to have her as a regular contributor to Bourbon & Banter.

During your last visit to Ye Olde Liquor Store, you might have noticed a couple of bottom-shelf bottles sporting a fancy, old-script tag: “Bottled-in-Bond.”  The bottle might claim that the whiskey is exceptional, full of heritage, made according to an old, forgotten tradition.  Companies such as Heaven Hill, Barton, and Jim Beam have revitalized the century-old tradition of bottling in bond, but what brought this century-old practice back into the forefront?

Fly back in time to the late 19th century, when the whiskey market was more unregulated than you could even imagine.  A rivalry for the record books emerged between straight whiskey distillers and whiskey rectifiers.  Rectifiers, much like Non-Distiller Producers today, purchased distillate from other sources; they then aged it (for dubious periods of time), potentially tinkered with the finished product by adding flavoring or coloring, and bottled it at varying proofs under names such as “Fine Old Bourbon”.  While a number of rectifiers produced honest-to-goodness whiskey, producers of knockoff bourbon flooded the market with their cheap, easy-to-produce whiskey and made it extremely difficult for straight whiskey producers to gain a foothold, and even forced many into bankruptcy. Continue Reading →

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