On one of my first trips to Louisville with The Beau, several years ago, we discovered a fantastic restaurant called Doc Crows. It was there that I tasted my first Kentucky Colonel cocktail. And in fact, it’s the only restaurant I’ve come across that knows this drink and offers it on the menu.
I’ve always been more of a gin girl, but over the years my love of bourbon has grown. These days when not opting for my favorite gin martini, I always prefer a traditional Old Fashioned or a Kentucky Colonel–though I usually have to make the latter myself when at home.
In honor of Independence Day today, and in honor of America and why not– American Bourbon–I’m reposting my recipe for this fantastic drink.
Oddly enough, this cocktail combines bourbon with the herbal French liqueur containing Angelica, Hyssop and Lemon Balm, along with supposedly 24 other plants and spices, created in a French monastery by Benedictine monk Don Bernardo Vincelli, early in the 16th Century.
No one is 100% accurate on the history of the Kentucky Colonel, but it supposedly dates back to at least 1914 when it appeared in a bartending manual.
Clearly America was a nation well before this delicious drink appeared. And I suppose if I wanted to be truly patriotic I would pour myself a delicious glass of wine, in honor of John Howland, my relative who after one too many fell overboard on The Mayflower. Obviously he was rescued or I wouldn’t be here today, but in his honor and of the journey to North America, perhaps a glass of red wine is more deserving.
Still, nothing feels more American than a delicious glass of bourbon, even if it is mixed with French liqueur. Then again, if history serves me well, a small toast to The French is in order for their help during the Revolutionary War.
And, it seems random to toast the Fourth of July with such a drink, until I remember a bit of history. On September 3, 1783, the US, Great Britain, France and Spain met in Paris to sign the Treaty of Paris. Several months later on January 14, 1784, the Treaty was ratified, right here in Annapolis, Maryland.
As a toast to our forefathers and the founding of our country, the good ol’ Treaty of Paris restaurant was built at the top of Main Street in Annapolis. Who knew that generations later the restaurant would serve as the proposal spot for my parents, and the scene for The Beau’s and my rehearsal dinner. And so perhaps something with a French flare is in order.
Now you may be thinking, “Who cares about the Treaty of Paris, because hello, America became a country in 1776, not 1784?” I’m not going to enter into a history lesson today, after all, it’s the 4th of July. And, if there’s one thing America is all about today, it’s drinking too much, eating too much, and setting fire to millions of firework contraptions, guaranteed to injure a good number of reckless people.
Still, it was in 1776 that we signed the Declaration of Independence–thus, declaring our independence–but not until 1784 that American sovereignty was officially recognized from the Atlantic Coast, west to the Mississippi River.
Regardless, today is a day for celebrating. And, when I think about all the horrific tragedies in the world–from human trafficking in third world countries (and you know, down the street at the BWI Airport), to crimes against children, the NRA, to those tortured everyday by the Taliban and ISIS, to a great number of real-life inspired Law & Order SVU episodes that will forever haunt me at night, to everything Donald Trump says about women [and in general], to a great number of horrific crimes against humanity–I must take pause to be thankful today.
And though at the moment this is starting to feel like a Thanksgiving Day-Why I Am Thankful-Post, I think we must all take a moment to say thanks.
For today I am thankful. I am thankful to live in a country where I can vote and where I have a say. Granted most of what I say is about healthy eating and etiquette, but I like to think that with each blog post, I either brighten your day, or remind you to send a Thank You note, or RSVP on time.
I am thankful for my beautiful daughter who, if I correctly protect her, will live a happy and healthy life, free from bullies and glass ceilings.
And, I am most importantly thankful to live in a country where I know this to be true.
So today I urge you to raise your glass of wine, or bourbon and French liqueur and say, “‘Merica, you rock!”
- 1-1/2 oz Bourbon
- ½ oz Benedictine
- 2-2 splashes of Orange Bitters
- Lemon peel, for garnish
- Combine first two ingredients in a cocktail glass over ice.
- Splash with some bitters and top with a twist of lemon. Enjoy!