A couple of years ago I went on a search for Basil Hayden’s Bourbon; it had been highly suggested as the bourbon of choice for this amazing stuffing. Sadly I was unsuccessful in my efforts to locate it in Denver and managed to make do with another brand but I will never forget that recommendation from a friend. When I was asked if I would like to recreate the Holiday Spice cocktail created for the brand by Joaquín Simó who was just named Bartender of the Year at the industry Tales of the Cocktail Convention held each year in New Orleans, how could I say no?
The recipe for this remarkable bourbon dates back to 1796, when Basil Hayden himself was a master distiller. Hayden was born and raised in Maryland, where he learned to make whiskey from rye. When he came to Kentucky, Hayden began making whiskey from a base of corn, but added a higher percentage of rye than other distillers, resulting in a smooth, mild bourbon that was distinctly his own. The abundance of rye gives it a slightly peppery taste and aroma, perfect for sipping on the rocks but also delicious in a well crafted cocktail.
Aged eight years at a relatively mild 80 proof, Basil Hayden’s has a very broad appeal. The Spirit Journal has said, ‘Basil Hayden’s is one of the best ultra-premium bourbons that you can find. It’s a good example of what a classic bourbon is like. It’s absolutely brilliant.” It’s all true; this is one fine bourbon. I couldn’t help but love the packaging too; check out that metal and copper stamped band that encircles the bottle. Very cool indeed.
Partnering with Basil Hayden’s, Joaquín has created the quintessential holiday cocktail. The Basil Hayden’s Holiday Spice combines the bourbon’s spicy finish with the winter flavors of maple syrup and cinnamon. Joaquín’s expert mixology skills make the cocktail the perfect addition to any holiday party, or a low-key fireside evening. For Mr. Simó, it’s been an unlikely journey from his native Ecuador to the accolades at the Tales of the Cocktail convention. After finishing his degree in English literature and comparative religion at Boston University he found himself working dive bars and rock ‘n’ roll joints before moving to New York eight years ago where he polished his craft.
Known not just for being a master mixologist, Simo’s engaging manner and eagerness to discuss a wide range of topics with patrons shows a genuine hospitality; combined with his skills with a shaker and jigger make this a most relevant accolade. I was excited about this cocktail for a couple of reasons beyond the bourbon too. The ingredients seemed to sing on paper; how could they not be fabulous mixed together? A great bourbon mixed with lemon juice, maple syrup and cinnamon with just a touch of Amaretto and bitters? I knew I would love it before the first taste and I was right. As much as I do enjoy some specialty cocktails over the holidays; many are sweet concoctions and I was so ready for a big girl drink!
I love that this is a great cocktail for all winter long…maybe someone will gift you a bottle of Basil Hayden’s for the holidays..I sure hope so…CHEERS!
I was provided with a bottle of Basil Hayden’s to sample; all commentary is my own.