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Basil Hayden’s Holiday Spice Cocktail from Joaquín Simó

Basil Hayden's Holiday Spice Cocktail from Joaquín Simó

by Creative Culinary on December 14, 2012

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!

Basil Hayden’s Holiday Spice Cocktail from Joaquín Simó

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Yield: Makes 2 Cocktails

Basil Hayden’s Holiday Spice Cocktail from Joaquín Simó


  • 4 oz Basil Hayden's Bourbon
  • 1 & 1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 oz Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 oz Amaretto
  • 6 dashes Angostura bitters


  1. Combine Basil Hayden¹s, lemon juice, maple syrup, Amaretto and bitters in a mixing tin with ice and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
  3. Grate a cinnamon stick over the top and add the stick to the cocktail as garnish.

I was provided with a bottle of Basil Hayden’s to sample; all commentary is my own.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 addie | culicurious December 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Yum, this looks great. And you really should come to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail. I’ve been every year for the last four years. You could probably qualify for a press pass with your extensive collection of cocktail recipes. :)


2 Nancy@acommunaltable December 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm

It is finally getting cool here in Southern California and this cocktail sounds perfect for sipping in front of the fire! I love learning about the different spirits and their history – hadn’t heard of this before and will have to search it out!!


3 Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking December 16, 2012 at 9:40 am

Love the look of this cocktail, Barbara! It looks so elegant and easy for any holiday party!


4 Creative Culinary December 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm

It’s a great cocktail; sure to please all; not too sweet or too strong. I would have to say ‘just right.’ :)


5 Rhonda December 16, 2012 at 8:30 am

I know a certain husband that would love to try this.


6 Creative Culinary December 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Would that certain husband be your own I presume? :)


7 john@kitchenriffs December 15, 2012 at 10:22 pm

This is a new bourbon to me – I should check it out. The recipe looks nice – I don’t often use Amaretto in cocktails, but it sure looks like it works here. And using maple syrup instead of simple syrup is a nice touch. Good stuff – thanks.
john@kitchenriffs Most Recent Post: The Grasshopper Cocktail


8 Creative Culinary December 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm

It is nice John; balanced with the lemon juice and bourbon it’s not overly sweet at all…in the vein of a whiskey sour a bit.


9 Paula December 14, 2012 at 3:33 pm

My husband came in while I was reading this. I told him that you write the best cocktail posts with the most beautiful photos. He read this over my shoulder and totally agreed. Neither of us have heard of Basil Hayden’s Bourbon (don’t even know if we can get it in Canada) but we are going to look and if not, hope to pick up a bottle when we are next in the States. Great cocktail Barb, wonderful post.
Paula Most Recent Post: A Special Baby’s First Christmas – Virtual Shower for The Decorated Cookie


10 Creative Culinary December 14, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Thank you SO much Paula…and your hubs too. I seriously was ready for a cocktail that wasn’t sugar filled; this so hit the spot. It’s not ‘just’ a pretty bottle! :)


11 Lindsey December 14, 2012 at 10:48 am

Is there a recipe for this cocktail somewhere? I don’t see it on your post here. Thanks! My husband is a huge Whiskey connoisseur so this is a must try drink for us. I love your cocktail recipes! I made your Caramel Apple Martini at Thanksgiving and thoroughly enjoyed it.


12 Creative Culinary December 14, 2012 at 11:32 am

Something is awry with the system I use for posting the recipes and making them printable; while I investigate I’ve put the recipe on the page in plain text. I upgraded Wordpress last night…seems this particular piece did not like that change. :)


13 Lana @ Never Enough Thyme December 14, 2012 at 7:33 am

I’ve never heard of Basil Hayden’s before but I’ll certainly be on the lookout for it now! It sounds absolutely wonderful. And the packaging is really lovely. Oh yes, and the cocktail…truly wonderful!
Lana @ Never Enough Thyme Most Recent Post: Chinese Chews


14 Judy P December 14, 2012 at 5:36 am

Are only people who have blogs able to access the recipes? I can’t figure out how to find the recipes.


15 Beth J December 14, 2012 at 10:39 am

No, the actual recipe isn’t showing up on the page….


16 Creative Culinary December 14, 2012 at 11:30 am

I did not realize that…I use a system to have those setup with the right formatting for Google and it appears that with a Wordpress update I did last night that it’s not working; I’ve put the recipe in text on the page; thanks for the heads up while I get this corrected!


17 Creative Culinary December 14, 2012 at 11:33 am

Ah…I see there is an issue with this recipe Judy and I misinterpreted your question. I’ve now got it on the page in plain text while I investigate why it wasn’t displaying correctly in the program I use to make them printable.


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