Some people will tell you that bourbon is a fall drink, best consumed in warm, dark bars during sweater weather. I'll tell you they're all wrong — bourbon, my sweet whiskey love — can and should be consumed during all seasons. Pair it with bright grapefruit in the winter, or use it to spike your Arnold Palmer in the summer, but whatever you do, don't make it the pumpkin spice latte of your liquor cabinet.
But I get it: It's warm, carmel-y and comforting and pairs beautifully with fall flavors. It's far from a seasonal drink, but fall is showcase season for bourbon. Light up your fireplace (or turn on your sad apartment LED jack-o-lantern), bust out your cardigan and celebrate the best time of the year for bourbon with brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.
- 1.5 ounces bourbon
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar cinnamon simple syrup (ingredients and instructions below)
- honey and brown sugar for glass rim
- splash of club soda
- 3 dashes citrus bitters
BROWN SUGAR CINNAMON SIMPLE SYRUP
Simple syrup is as foolproof as it is delicious. For this French toast inspired iteration, you'll need:
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2-4 cinnamon sticks (depending on how cinnamon-y you'd like your drinks)
Add the brown sugar and water to a small kettle and stir until combined. As you wait for the mixture to boil, slice your vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. When the mixture boils, add the vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks, reduce heat and stir until you no longer see sugar crystals and your house is filled with the scent of sweet syrup-y goodness. Cool before adding to your cocktails. You can use the fridge or freezer to speed up the process if you're feeling impatient. If you have leftover syrup, you can store in a clean jar with tight-fitting lid in the fridge. I've kept simple syrup this way for months before, but eventually it will get moldy, so keep your eye (and nose) on it.
- Rim a small glass with honey by placing a drop on your finger and dragging it around the edge.
- Sprinkle a small plate with brown sugar and roll the glass rim in it until coated.
- Add 2 tablespoons simple syrup, bourbon and ice cubes to the glass and stir vigorously.
- Add a few dashes of citrus bitters (I used orange) and a splash of club soda to taste.
- Garnish with cinnamon stick and serve.
Text © Theresa Berens, photos © Katie Currid.