Bourbon Cocktail: Roots and Earth


I've been watching the most recent season of Mind of a Chef, which splits between Chef Lee of 610 Magnolia Restaurant in Kentucky, and Magnus Nilsson of world renowned Fäviken.

Ed Lee is contemplative and conscious curator of his cooking process, understanding his cultural roots and creating a new philosophy based on the colors and memories of his life in New York, a Korean descendant, and a transplant into the soil of his adopted home of Kentucky. His is a path of constant evolution and reflection, of pairing flavors along the latitudes of Seoul, Kentucky, and New York. 

Nilsson is much more present, constantly searching for inspiration in the remote stark beauty of rural Sweden, filling his senses with all the sights, smells, and textures of nature, and letting himself give into the process of creation, nerves alive with an electric wonder, understanding the pieces will come together in their own time and harmony. Nilsson is a medium of serendipity, of a time and place that is fleeting but beautiful in the way a snowflake is beautiful , existing briefly under the right conditions, then gone.

Both Showcase bourbon. Lee devoted an entire episode to the spirit, while Magnus highlights it in a brief 5 minute segment, where he creates a cocktail that evokes the smell of opening a beehive in the spring while the bees inside are happily buzzing away. This cocktail was inspired by Magnus recipe, his attempt to capture the essence of a moment in all the aspects of color, sight, smell, and texture into a vibrant and liquid narrative. 

While at my Local Trader Joes, I noticed some peaches on sale, the tagline accompanying said "Last of the season". My recipe is an attempt to celebrate the end of a season, by going back in time to the beginning of the harvest. The finished cocktail brings notes of deep earth and and the budding grassiness of unripe peaches yet to be picked from the tree. For the honey in there, its surprisingly not sweet, because it's balanced by the salt, balsamic, and bitters. It really pulls out the musky smoky earthy notes in the Bourbon . Unripe peaces soaked in balsamic counter the dark bourbon with a bright grassy acidity, which never lets itself be pickled by the bourbon as their firm unripe flesh keeps absorption to a minimum. I added some aloe vera juice because I recently found it had a pleasant herbal sharpness to it - another note of fresh leaves, which acts a much more subdued and controllable tonic water. The pinch of salt to on portion is a nice touch, as every time you put down the glass, a little will randomly fall into the cocktail, changing the flavor as you make your way down the glass, much like the changing seasons ripen a peach. 

Recipe: Roots and Earth

(Note: all items except bourbon were purchased from my local Trader Joes)

-2 ozs Bourbon (I used WIllet pot still Reserve)

-2 tsps Honey 

-3 dashes Angostura Bitters

-1/4 unripe peach (sliced and cross sliced)

-Balsamic Vinegar

-1 oz Aloe Vera juice (pure, not the sweet kind in the green bottles)

-Pinch coarse sea Salt


Pour bourbon, spoon in and stir honey until completely dissovled. Add bitters. Take a the 1/4 peach, slice into 4 pieces length wise and score perpendicular along length. We want to expose as much surface area to the balsamic. Take the pieces and lightly smash in your hand. Place peaches in a small bowl and douse with a few dashes of Balsamic Vinegar and let sit for a minute. take one of the soaked peach slices and moisten inner surface of glass and rim. drop in peach slices. Add two ice cubes, stir, top with Aloe Vera juice, garnish one part of edge with pinch of sea salt, to make a small mound.