If last week’s cocktail nightmare was a doozy, then this week’s is a… doozier?  I’m not really sure.  This week there are two cocktails in the Burlington Free Press’ normal cocktail column.  Both are abysmal.  I’m here to make sure there are decent alternatives available to anyone who actually enjoys drinking.

The first is the Killer Mark, a woefully imbalanced bourbon sour made with honey and “premium bourbon”: Maker’s Mark.  Let me be clear about this.  Maker’s Mark is not a premium bourbon.  It costs about $22 when it is not on sale.  It’s not, you know, gross (ok, it is gross), but the Times, in 2007, specifically noted that it failed to come close to “worth buying” in their tasting of 25 bourbons.  They even liked Wild Turkey, famous as the poison of choice for Hunter S. Thompson, better.  To call Maker’s Mark premium is to flout your ignorance of the last 15 years of whiskey’s (especially American whiskey) renaissance.

The Killer Mark also has the misfortune to call for 4 oz of bourbon to the juice of 1/4 lemon (probably about 1/3 oz) and 1/2 oz of honey.  This is a drink for when you want the bartender to hold your keys.  But the idea of honey, lemon, and bourbon does bring to mind the Bee’s Knees, mentioned last week, which is a gin sour with honey.  Would it work with bourbon?  I don’t see why not.  Let’s add a couple drops of cinnamon tincture (to make cinnamon tincture, infuse vodka with a few cinnamon sticks for a week) for seasonality and call it a day.  And please, if you’re trying to impress someone, use an actual premium bourbon, like, you know, Jim Beam Black.

Killer Bee’s Knees (see what I did there?)

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz honey
  • 2 dashes cinnamon tincture
    Shake well over ice.  Strain into cocktail glass, garnish with a brandied cherry.

The second, creatively called the Bloody Vampire, is worse than the Killer Mark.  At least the Killer Mark had the decency not to use Framboise and apple vodka in the same drink.  Once again, ugly echoes of the Cosmo come back to haunt us: vodka, red fruit liqueur, cranberry juice.  Now it’s “seasonal” because it has cider in it.  Jesus.  You’d think that if someone were naming a drink a Bloody X, they’d have the good sense to slip something spicy and tomato-y into it, but no.  May as well call it “Sex and New England”.  Not only that, but you’re to fit 5 oz of liquid, plus melted ice, into a “martini glass”.  No wonder the Killer Mark called for 4 oz of bourbon; someone’s playing with the big boy glasses again.

I’m going to assume that the theme here is meant to be “apple”.  Because I refuse to make a drink on the theme of “appallingly sweet”.  So here’s one that I made up a while ago: it’s full of apple and spice, perfect for fall evenings.  It’s like the cocktail version of mulled cider.

Pomme de Vert

  • 2 oz apple brandy
  • 1 oz apple cider
  • 1/2 oz green Chartreuse
    Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and float a star anise on top.

Again, Vermont?  No problem.