Whisky or Whiskey—What do you drink?

Bourbon is a kind of whisk(e)y, and whisk(e)y can be spelled two ways. According to The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook, the term is an English word of Celtic origin that comes from “uisce beatha” in Gaelic and “usice beatha” in Irish and is equivalent to “eau de vie” in French or “aqua vitae” in Latin. All of those terms mean “the water of life.”

1887How someone spells whisk(e)y has a lot to do with where the beverage is made, where the person’s family comes from, and what tradition he or she is trying to follow.

There is Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey. As Scots moved to Nova Scotia (New Scotland), they brought with them the technology to make a distilled beverage and the whisky spelling to go along with it—the reason why all Canadian whisky is spelled without the e.  In the U.S., family origin comes into play when determining the spelling of this spirited beverage. There’s Makers Mark and Old Forester whisky and Jim Beam and Old Rip Van Winkle whiskey. In any case, all four of these are considered bourbon and can technically be made outside of Kentucky, even though this drink is most widely known as native to the Bluegrass.

Below are two bourbon cocktail recipes Albert Schmid included in his book The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook!

The Most Famous of All Kentucky Breakfasts

  • 1 steak
  • 1 quart bourbon whiskey
  • 1 man (you can substitute a woman)
  • 1 dog

The man throws the steak to the dog and drinks the bourbon.

“This is an old joke, but it is true that many years ago hard liquors were consumed at breakfast time. In fact a “cock tail” was originally a morning drink.” – Schmid

Bluegrass Breakfast

Here is an example of a “breakfast” drink combining bourbon with several items that people associate with breakfast. This drink uses the process of “muddling” fruit to extract the juice and flavor from the fruit for the drink. Muddling is crushing the fruit with a small bat-shaped tool. The back of a spoon will work if you don’t have a muddler.

  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • Half a lemon, sliced
  • 6-inch sprig of fresh rosemary
  • Ice
  • 1/4 cup Kentucky bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

In a 16-ounce glass (or Boston shaker), place the blueberries, lemon, and rosemary. Muddle these ingredients until juicy. Add ice, bourbon, and maple syrup. Shake until cold and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish by putting on the edge of the glass a blueberry with a tiny sprig of rosemary sticking out.

For more bourbon cocktail and food recipes sign up by 1 pm on Friday, May 17 for your chance to win a copy of The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook!

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