OnMilwaukee.com and Maker's Mark® have partnered for a special promotion all October called "Paint The Town Red." We selected 10 of Milwaukee's best mixologists, asked them to share their trademark bourbon recipes, and now, we're giving you a chance to vote for-- and win $50 from -- one of their respective bars. Our job during this month was fun, too: we sampled each of the cocktails and are happy to tell you all about them.
To enter to win, just click here and vote for your favorite recipe. And make sure to visit these 10 bars and try these most unique of Maker's Mark cocktails, too. You'll be glad you did!
2 parts Maker's Mark Bourbon
2 teaspoons Fernet Branca
1/4 parts fresh Orange Juice
1/4 parts fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 parts rich simple syrup (2 parts Demerara sugar to 1 part water)
3 Mint leaves
Mint sprig and blackberry for garnish
Muddle the blackberries and mint leaves in shaker. Add all other ingredients except garnishes. Add ice. Shake. Double strain over ice in an old-fashioned glass. Skewer the blackberry with the mint sprig for garnish.
Daniel Dufek's "Blackberry Smash" wasn't exactly my favorite of the cocktails in terms of taste, but in a different way, it was my favorite overall.
You see, Dufek is a career mixologist who approaches cocktails like a chef approaches food. He experiences with sophisticated flavors and unusual liquors, and in turn, devises drinks that are meant to be appreciated rather than devoured.
Case in point: this drink literally changes flavors as it moves through your mouth. The interplay between the Italian bitters, the mint (which exudes its oil when Dufek slaps each leaf between his hands) and the blackberries creates a complex taste that isn't overpowered by the strong influence of bourbon. And that's saying something.
In other words, you wouldn't sit down and order round after round of the "Blackberry Smash," but you'd sip it, marveling at the delicate balance and intricate explosion of taste ... and wondering why all your drinks aren't made with such tender-loving care.
Smash is the perfect verb to describe this drink, really, and in the eternally cool basement of Hi-Hat, you can just sit back and imagine yourself in a different place with this most unique of throwback cocktails.
Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.