The Best Whiskey Cocktail I’ve Ever Had


The Best Whiskey Cocktail I’ve ever had occurred about a year ago and this just goes to show that the best cocktail you’ve ever had doesn’t have to be complicated or contain multiple creative ingredients. But the perfection and simplicity, along with presentation can just make it for you.

My buddy David Danielson is the Executive Chef for Churchill Downs and he was asked to appear on Live TV and make a Mint Julep. Now the Mint Julep is about as Kentucky and Derby as you can get with a bourbon cocktail, but it’s really not a hard drink to make…it’s essentially bourbon and water right?! But you don’t want to mess that up on National TV…and this drink is really about the presentation and the confidence in building it.

So David asked me to help him with his presentation skills for the camera, so I immediately said, “meet me at the Silver Dollar (in Louisville, KY) and let’s have Susie (Hoyt) there show us how it’s really done.” As we all know Susie is one of the best, and she showed us how to not muddle the mint, but to spank it and “wake it up” and then use a bar spoon to rub the oils around the inside of the mint julep cup to deliver the aromatics of the mint to the whole drink. Then after she put the sugar and bourbon (it was a Heaven Hill Kentucky classic, J.T.S. Brown) she topped it all off with crushed ice, and overfilling it snow cone style, and then adding more “wide awake mint” to the ice cone, and of course the straw.

It was then that Ernest Tubb came on the turn table then with Walking the Floor Over You, and Susie and Larry (Rice) invited Chef David behind the bar to make a couple Mint Juleps. It doesn’t get much better than that,! When everything comes together, your surroundings, the people, the drink, the music…it just tastes and feels better! I’ve had some great bourbon and whiskey cocktails in some of the top cocktail bars all over the world, but on that night, at that time and place, that was and still is the Best Whiskey Cocktail I’ve ever had!

About bernie
-Whiskey Professor for Heaven Hill -2009 and 2012 Icons of Whiskey Award Winner - Whiskey Ambassador of the Year US and Global

4 Comments on The Best Whiskey Cocktail I’ve Ever Had

  1. Hi. I like your latest blog post. I’m a big fan of whiskey in general. So much so we’ve started sourcing and aging coffee beans in whiskey barrels. Any chance you would be up for reviewing our coffee for your blog readers? I can send out some free samples to you. Awesome site by the way.

    Let me know. Thanks.

  2. Murrell Kinkade // May 31, 2015 at 11:30 pm // Reply

    I am sorry but to ruin a perfectly good bourbon that way is a sacrilege in my mind. Bourbon and water, bourbon on ice okay. Neat is better but the other gunk, sorry Professor Lubber but I cannot do it.

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