The cocktail happy hour is growing in popularity. While vodka was making a surge shaken not stirred and mas tequila is used for the quick shots it is bourbon that should be making your mouth water. This amber liquid made in the USA is more than just an old fashion cocktail. the history of bourbon, the possibilities the liquor offers, should stimulate your taste buds to want more. Here is why. Remember always drink responsibly.

History of Bourbon

The history of bourbon like most histories is a little cloudy. Some believe that the name derived from the Tarascon brothers arrival in Louisville from Cognac, France. They began shipping local whiskey down the Ohio River to #new orleans.

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People then began asking for the whiskey they sell on Bourbon Street. But then again in 1823, Dr. James C. Crow developed sour mash at the Pepper Distillery. The Pepper Distillery is now the Woodford Reserve Distillery. And the method developed by Dr. Crow, of recycling some yeast for the next fermentation changed the way most bourbons and Tennessee whiskeys have been produced since.

What is known is that when the 18th Amendment was passed prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcohol, the government issued 10 licenses to produce whiskey for medicine. Only six were activated, one produced Woodford Reserve Bourbon on the site of the prohibition era distillery today.

So whether it was the brothers from France, or Bourbon Street New Orleans, or Bourbon County Kentucky, in 1964 Congress passed an act declaring bourbon "Americas Native Spirit" and the country's official distilled spirit.

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This is when current regulations defining what can be called bourbon whiskey were established.

Six Standard Rules of Bourbon

There are six standard rules for alcohol to be considered a bourbon

  • must be made in the United States
  • must be aged in new charred American white oak barrels
  • must be at least 51 percent corn
  • must be distilled at less than 160 proof (80 percent alcohol by volume)
  • must be entered into a barrel at below 125 proof
  • can have no artificial coloring or flavor

To be labeled straight bourbon whiskey must be aged for longer than two years. Also when you drink the darker the bourbon the higher the alcohol content.

That's all well and good but how are you going to drink it?

How To Drink Bourbon

When you are having happy hour cocktails there is really no wrong way to drink a good bourbon. But when you want to try something different and smart here are four drinks to get your hands around

Mitch Morgan

1-shot of bourbon served with a piece of fried bacon as a cocktail garnish.

Served in a glass coated on inside with thin veneer bacon grease for those who cannot go without bacon.

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Four Horseman

1 part Irish Whiskey

1 part Scotch Whiskey

1 part Tennessee Whiskey

1 part Bourbon

Served over ice or for the bold served neat as a shot.

Remember it was named after the four horsemen of the apocalypse for a reason.

Amber Moon

3-oz Bourbon

1 raw egg

Tabasco

Crack an egg into a tall glass with yolk unbroken.

Pour in bourbon

Add Tabasco to taste

This can also be used as a hangover cure when moderation is not the case the night before is not the case.

Old Fashion

1.5 oz Bourbon

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

1 Sugar Cube

Place sugar cube in 8 oz glass

Saturate with bitters

Add dash plain water

Muddle until dissolved

Fill with ice cubes and whiskey

Garnish with orange slice and cherry

This is a classic. We know that classics never go out of style. And if by chance you happen to be in Denver Colorado, the Hard Rock Cafe in Denver serves a Smokin' Old Fashion, where they smoke the glass and then go classic.

So now you have your drinks, what bourbons do you use?

Bourbons to Try

Old Forester Prohibition 1920

Old Forester was one of the six distilleries allowed to keep making whiskey for prescription drinkers during Prohibition. They have recreated that recipe for a special release.

High West Bourye 2017

High West won 'Distillery of the Year' from Whiskey Advocate. Bourye is a blend of bourbon and rye aged 10-14 years.

Bookers 2017- "Tommy's Batch"

From the folks at Jim Beam, this special batch has a dark and nutty taste with a slight caramel and roasted vanilla notes.

Michter's 1010 Year Bourbon

Drink neat you will be glad you did.

While 95 percent of bourbon comes from Kentucky, if you want to venture outside the comfort zone here are some brands that will make you bourbon ventures worthwhile.

Bourbons Outside of Kentucky to Try

  • Garrison Brothers Bourbon out of Texas
  • High West American Prairie Bourbon from Park City Utah
  • Hudson Baby Bourbon delivering from Upstate New York
  • Breckenridge Bourbon flowing out of Breckenridge Colorado

Easy Jack Daniels Lovers

#Jack Daniels is not a bourbon, it is a Tennessee Whiskey. Jack Daniels's is dripped slowly through 10 feet of firmly packed charcoal, made from hard sugar maple before going into new American charred oak barrel for maturing.

This is the main difference, Tennessee whiskey must be filtered through sugar maple charcoal.

So now you know, cheers drink up and experience the delicacy of a true American spirit, have some bourbon.