I’d like to take a moment to make a promise – I WILL write an article about a cocktail featuring a base spirit other than rye or bourbon. Sometime soon, just not this time. This time, we’re going to mix up a drink called the Bleu Saddle. It’s a bourbon based cocktail with Averna, Benedictine, and lemon juice. It’s a cocktail that I think appeals to a variety of palates – not too boozy, not too sweet. It’s a sour, but it’s a little more robust than a classic whiskey sour.
The name for this cocktail was a customer collaboration. While tasting it, they described it as being rugged, and used the word “dusty”. (I think they meant deliciously dusty.) And since we use a French liquor in this cocktail, the Bleu Saddle was born. Parfait!
The Bourbon – Typically when making a cocktail with citrus, I try to use something a little softer, in order to pair with the citrus without being overwhelming. Buffalo Trace is a 7 year old bourbon, 90 proof, and works really well in cocktails. It isn’t something I’d choose to drink on its own, but for this cocktail it’s perfect. This whiskey is known for it’s sweeter notes of toffee, vanilla, oak, and anise. It’s a whiskey that is sharp at the beginning, plateaus into a spicy but smooth middle, and finishes soft and sweet.
Averna – This spirit belongs to a group I consider to be bartender favorites. Possibly because it’s delicious in just about anything you pair it with – it plays well with others. Averna is herbal, a little bitter, and has a viscosity to it that is smooth and silky. A traditional drink of Italy, it is a part of the amaro family. Amaros are classically used as a digestif, meant to sip after a meal. In the Bleu Saddle, it provides structure and body that makes the cocktail stand out from other citrusy bourbon cocktails.
Benedictine – Finishing out this cocktail is Benedictine. It’s an aromatic herbal liquor, hailing from France. It’s known to be made from a secret recipe, only given to three people at one time. It’s protected, and sacred. Made from 27 plants and spices, it adds a lighter and sweeter element.
- 2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
- .75 oz Averna
- .50 oz Benedictine
- .50 oz lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in shaker, add ice, and shake. Double strain into a chilled coupe, and garnish with a bourbon cherry.
- 2 cups bourbon (I use our well bourbon, Ancient Age. You don’t need anything fancy.)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 – 3 orange peels
- 2 – 3 cinnamon sticks
- ½ pound cherries (pitted or not, we source local cherries that have pits)
Heat bourbon in a pot over medium with orange juice. Once it reaches a simmer, slowly stir in sugar using a rubber spatula. Add the cherries, cinnamon sticks, vanilla, and orange peels. Allow to simmer for 7 minutes, then remove from heat. Let cool, and place cherries & juice in sealable containers. I remove the orange peels and cinnamon sticks, because I don’t like the cherries to be overly flavored by the cinnamon.
If you’d like to skip the kitchen and buy cherries, you can always go with the good ol’ standby, Luxardo Maraschino Cherries. They’re much sweeter than the recipe above, but they’re delicious.
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About the Author: Ashley R. is Bartender in Boise, Idaho. She’s known for challenging traditional expectations regarding what a cocktail should be, and having an intuitive understanding of the way flavors interact.