The Airedale

Q: Bourbon or Rye? A: Both!

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This is the cocktail for my purist friends who don’t like cocktails. It’s more pure than a mint julep with a subtle and complex flavor. I can’t remember how I found this one, but it’s a signature cocktail from a Denver restaurant which I normally wouldn’t repost but this one is sincerely special. I was initially skeptical due to its simplicity and the insistence on including grapefruit oil twice during the mixing. Usually I would say that such fussiness was all about show, but in this case the grapefruit oil adds an essential nose, and perfectly complements the Aperol. Same with the demerara syrup – it’s a richer flavor than your usual simple syrup and adds depth to the bourbon. In my tastings, I didn’t have actual demerara sugar, so I used ½ part light brown sugar with ½ part natural palm sugar to 1 part water and boiled in down in just a few minutes. I’m sure you could use any natural cane sugar or turbinado and add a bit of brown sugar to give it a more robust molasses flavor, but the key is to only add that tiny bit. You don’t want this too sweet.

Like all good cocktails, especially those involving whiskey of any sort, it’s only as good as the liquor that you start with. The original recipe calls for 90 proof Weller’s bourbon and 100 proof Rittenhouse Rye, but I have never seen or tried Weller’s, so I used a local cabernet cask finished bourbon from Taconic distillery (also 90 proof). The idea is to have it at 95 proof and get a nice balance between the spiciness of the rye and the smoothness of the bourbon, or so the creator says. Again, I was skeptical, but the “proof” was in the distinct flavor of this well balanced blend. The best part was the grapefruit oil expressed from two large peels. I’m a huge fan of grapefruit flavor in general, and vodka infused with grapefruit peels is one of my absolute favorites. Aperol is also a favorite that has that same wonderful citrus body to it. All in all this is a really complex and subtle yet strong boozy drink that will satisfy the most stubborn bourbon drinkers as well as the most finicky cocktail snobs. Just make sure you follow the details below and do it right!

  • 1 ¼ oz. bourbon

  • 1 ¼ oz. rye

  • ¾ oz. Aperol

  • half bar spoon demerara simple syrup

  • grapefruit oil from two 6″ long peels

Mix bourbon, rye, Aperol and sugar syrup with ice. Twist one grapefruit peel over the ice. Stir and strain into tumbler with one large ice cube. Twist 2nd grapefruit peel over and then wedge it between the ice and glass.