We recently returned home from a trip to the UK, where the summer has been defined by an extended heatwave and low rainfalls. The fields, normally so green, were markedly more brown (so much so that they’re revealing buried archaeological features), so whenever we encountered wildflowers, we made an effort to stop and appreciate them. The nodding pink heads of rosebay willowherb, one of the few flowers to really appreciate and thrive in the heat, were everywhere bordering the country lanes we drove down. We also saw amazingly beautiful heathers blanketing the high coastal hills of Exmoor.
It was such a contrast coming home! Not only had the weeds almost taken over, but our tomatoes were ripening, the sweet autumn clematis had burst into flower on the fence, and, most happily of all, monarch butterflies were feasting on the milkweeds that had seeded around our front gate. Also waiting for us on the porch: bottles of Brown Sugar Bourbon from Heritage Distillery for us to try. We couldn’t wait to start experimenting, and we already had inspiration for the cocktail’s ingredients from our floral herb garden.We’re no strangers to Heritage Bourbon’s whiskies – their straight bourbon has starred in classic evening cocktails such as the Manhattan and Old Fashioned, and a whisky variation on a Moscow Mule. We’ve enjoyed spending time with their Brown Sugar Bourbon, too, and so were delighted to get another chance to try it out. You can sip it neat or over ice, just like an unflavored whisky – you’ll pick up cinnamon in the nose right away, and the warmly-spiced brown sugar hits you with the first sip, nicely balancing the smooth blended whisky flavor. When we were deciding how to use it in a cocktail, we knew we wanted to play to the strengths of those sweet caramel notes while pairing them with some acidity – and a whisky sour-based drink ticked all the boxes. A basic whisky sour uses whisky, lemon juice, sugar, and optionally egg whites. Since we’re using brown sugar bourbon, we opted not to add extra sugar, but did infuse some extra sweet and herbal flavor using elderflower liqueur. The other herbal component is a couple of sprigs of thyme, rolled between the hands to release its aromatic oils. Everything gets shaken together, then shaken again with ice, and strained into chilled coupe glasses. Serve them with a twist of lemon zest and a spring of fresh thyme. So we present to you: The Monarch. A cocktail with a flowery heritage … and a little help from Heritage Distilling.
- 2 (3-inch) sprigs fresh thyme, plus one for garnish
- ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 ounces Heritage Brown Sugar Bourbon
- 1 ounce Elderflower liqueur (recommended: St. Germain)
- 1 egg white
- Garnish: 2-inch lemon twist and thyme sprig
- Rub 2 thyme sprigs in your hands to release the oils and add it to the shaker along with the lemon juice, bourbon, elderflower liqueur, and the egg white (don’t add ice yet). Seal the shaker and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Add ice, seal again, and shake for 7 to 10 seconds more to chill. Double strain the cocktail through a fine-mesh strainer into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and a sprig of thyme.