We’ve had a strangely odd spring-like winter this year but that didn’t stop me from enjoying a few winter worthy cocktails. With our brief winter coming to a halt this week, I wanted to share a tempting bourbon cocktail that I indulged in these past few months. Now, I’m not one to put silly names to drinks of my own creation so I’m not quite sure what the hell you would even call this concoction but I can tell you a Whisky Sour with Spiced Red Wine Syrup is a beautiful blend of winter flavors.
In my mind, the flavors of bourbon and wine absolutely would never blend well together but my ignorance was quickly proven wrong with the first cocktail I had at The Theodore, a local Dallas restaurant. It was an enticing and impressive cocktail called The Badlands created by Kyle Hilla (I can attest that any cocktail this man makes is fabulous) and it’s a heavenly take on the whisky sour. The Badlands begins with a shaken blend of bourbon, cognac, lemon, and simple syrup served over an ingenious frozen sphere of red wine infused with mulling spices. It’s an absolutely beautiful and poetic work of art and if I could afford it I’d be at that bar every night with one in my hand.
One night after a grueling photo shoot that started at 8am, I had a terrible craving for the distinctive flavors that The Badlands created and was trapped in the house because I had a long night of editing ahead of me. This craving had to be quenched so I did what any hard working American does, and that was to do my best to rip off someone else’s creation for my own benefit…and I was too lazy (and incredibly tired) to travel for a cocktail that night. Into the kitchen I went with a dry bottle of red wine, ginger, spices, and bourbon. First, I created a red wine simple syrup by simmering sugar and wine then added ginger, star anise, allspice, cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns, and lemon and orange zest. After it cooled, I mixed it with bourbon and lemon juice and had a delightfully drinkable cocktail.
Lightly sweet with a balanced sour, this whisky sour with spiced red wine syrup deliciously combines the smooth warming flavor of bourbon with a beautiful blend of mulled red wine and it’s deceptively tempting. Is it better than The Badlands at The Theodore? Oh hell no. It’s not even just as good. That cocktail is insanely enjoyable and is on another level on another planet but it is absolutely delectable and I can make it in my pajamas — A win in my book. Hope you enjoy.
Lightly sweet with a balanced sour, this whisky sour with spiced red wine syrup combines the smoothness of bourbon with a spicy blend of mulled red wine.
Spiced Red Wine Syrup
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled
- 6 strip orange zest
- 4 strip lemon zest
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cardamom pods
- 3 whole allspice
- 2 star anise pods
- 2 cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
Whisky Sour with Spiced Red Wine Syrup
- 2 ounces bourbon
- .75 ounces spiced red wine syrup
- .5 ounces fresh lemon juice
- 1 strip orange zest
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine all ingredients for the red wine syrup. Bring to a low boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Once cool, strain solids from wine. Makes about 2 cups and can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 1 month.
In a rocks glass, stir together bourbon and lemon juice. Fill glass with ice and poor red wine syrup over. Garnish with orange zest, if desired, and serve.
by Meredith Steele
A true whisky sour is shaken with ice and strained into an ice-filled rocks glass. This is completely acceptable, the colors are hard to beat that the bourbon and wine create when not shaken.