As everyone knows I’m not a big cocktail drinker, but when I do find myself drinking one it’s got to be made from bourbon. So when Four Roses invited me to visit a local St. Louis restaurant to enjoy a new craft cocktail featuring Four Roses bourbon and some small plates I couldn’t resist. Here’s the setup…
Local St. Louis bartender , Joel Burton who works at Taste, recently won the right to participate in the finals of the Four Roses Bourbon /Magic City Cocktail Competition against 9 others on June 9th and 10th at the Four Roses Distillery. Should Joe win the competition he’ll walk away with a “ton of cash” (his words) and bragging rights. According to Four Roses a “ton of cash” is equivalent to $5,000.
In chatting with Joel I learned that this was his first cocktail competition and as expected he was as nervous as he was excited about being a part of something on this scale. And although Joel’s only been serving up craft cocktails for a little over a year you’d never know it by watching him work behind the bar. He appears in full command of the bar and easily moves from crafting a drink to conversing with patrons. I don’t see him having any issue dealing with the pressure of the competition.
As we spoke he carefully combined the ingredient’s of his signature drink, the Strawberry Beret, with a strong base of Four Roses Single Barrel. After working his magic he pour it in a glass, garnished with a fresh strawberry and placed it before me for inspection and consumption.
First taste involved a strong burst of fresh strawberries that bordered on being too sweet but luckily pulled back at the last moment. There was also a flavor undercurrent that reminded me of a traditional fruit punch that quickly subsided before it could contradict with the drink’s intended flavor profile.
A hint of ginger was a nice contrast to the sweetness of the strawberries but what I enjoyed most was the big flavor of fresh basil. I’m a sucker for a cocktail that uses basil properly. I’ve been a fan ever since trying out Wild Turkey’s recipe for LiberTea last July 4th. Joel’s use of it in this drink, inspired by a basil and honey on a sandwich he had recently eaten, really put this drink over the top in terms of uniqueness and taste.
And of course, under all of the strawberry, ginger and basil was the robust Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon with its hints of plums, cherries and maple syrup. An excellent bourbon selection to match up with the rest of the recipe.
I very much enjoyed the StrawBerry Beret and would not hesitate to drink it again or recommend it to my friends looking for a new bourbon cocktail to try.
Here’s Joel’s recipe if you’d like to try making the Strawberry Beret at home”
Joel Burton’s “Strawberry Beret” Recipe
- 1.5 oz Four Roses Bourbon Single Barrel
- .75 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
- .25 oz Benedictine
- .75 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1 strawberry
- 2-4 basil leaves
In a shaker combine the Canton, Benedictine, strawberry and basil. Muddle well. Add the remaining ingredients, ice. Shake well, and fine strain into a coupe or similar ‘up’ glass. Add ginger, strawberry and basil garnish.
Joel is heading down to Kentucky today to begin the competition. All of us here at Bourbon & Banter wish him the best of luck as he represents our hometown of St. Louis. If you’d like to learn a little more about Joel you can check out this interview via the RFT.
As soon as we hear the results of the competition we’ll be sure to update this post and let everyone know.
If you’d like to check out the other finalist recipes you can view them on the Four Roses Bourbon / Magic City website.