This bourbon thyme cocktail recipe is my new favorite. I have not always been a bourbon person. To be honest, I think my love for bourbon came after I became a parent. Coincidence? You decide. Seriously though, I have probably come to appreciate bourbon more in the past year through experimenting with various recipes (Brown Butter Old Fashioned or Bourbon Apple Cider anyone?) that have proven that bourbon is more versatile than I expected. Given my new love, I was thrilled to receive a bottle of Elk Rider Bourbon from Heritage Distilling in Gig Harbor, Washington. Any day that involved a bourbon delivery to your front door is a good day. Am I right?
When I try new spirits, I like to first sample them on their own or mixed into simple, familiar cocktails. For example, when testing a new gin, I like to make a classic gin and tonic. I think that cocktail can tell a lot about the quality of the gin because it is vulnerable. In the correct amounts, tonic water and lime juice cannot cover up the herb notes in gin. If they do, something is wrong with either the gin or the proportions. But I digress. Back to bourbon...
I tasted Elk Rider Bourbon straight without ice to start. I was struck immediately by the smooth, sweet taste because I am often a little shocked at my first sip of any spirit straight up. Next, I added a tiny splash of water which can help the flavors bloom a bit. It was lovely. Drinkable with just the right amount of alcoholy bite and sweet nuttiness.
Once I had a good feel for the flavor of the bourbon, I started brainstorming what I could mix with it to make a refreshing spring cocktail. As with many of the recipes I develop, I found my inspiration by simply walking around the grocery store. After grabbing two bags of Meyer lemons and some beautiful fresh thyme, I knew exactly what I wanted: a bourbon spiked Meyer lemonade. Yes and yes.
Feeling inspired by the pleasant flavor of the bourbon and the Elk Rider story (which I've included below because I think it's great) I came home to mix up this delicious, spring-weekend-worthy cocktail. It's perfect for bourbon lovers who are looking for a way to extend the season for this spirit into warmer months. If you're not a bourbon fan, this will work beautifully with vodka or gin as well.
Here's a little bit about the inspiration behind the Elk Rider series from Heritage Distilling:
"The idea and inspiration for the Elk Rider™ line of spirits comes from our female founder. Her ancestors were some of the first settlers in the Lake Quinault and Queets River area in the late 1800′s in what is now the heart of Olympic National Park. While homesteading with a family of 17 children these early pioneering family members broke and tamed wild elk. Their feats were legendary for miles around. The elk became so popular they started to be used in parades in southwest Washington and Portland. The best part is we still have the family glass negatives to prove it."
"Every Spirit Has a Story," What's Yours?
*Full disclosure: I was given products from Heritage Distilling to use for Set the Table cocktail recipes. My opinions are 100% my own.
- 2 oz Elk Rider Bourbon
- 2 oz Meyer lemon juice
- 2 oz water
- 1 oz honey-thyme simple syrup
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup water
- 5 or 6 thyme sprigs
- Fill a cocktail glass with crushed ice.
- Combine the bourbon, lemon juice, water, and honey-thyme simple syrup in a shaker filled with ice.
- Stir until thoroughly combined.
- Strain into prepared cocktail glass, garnish with a thyme sprig, and serve.
- Combine the honey and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Add the thyme sprigs and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Remove the thyme sprigs and pour into a jar. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
If you can't find Meyer lemons, you can use regular lemons. The result will be a bit more tart but still delicious!