According to popular old boy’s club websites the proper way to drink bourbon as a beginner is to take something sweet like Maker’s Mark and put it on ice, swirl it with ginger ale, or drink it neat diluted with a tad bit of water until you get used to the taste and can move up to more manly applications.
My history with bourbon dates back to one torrid June afternoon in high school when I skipped last period class with some friends and we raided a parental liquor cabinet for booze. Choosing bourbon, which we knew nothing about, to mix with our lemonade and cokes, seemed like a wise choice at the time. But by the end of that afternoon of getting waterlogged in the pool and nearly heat stroked by the combination of alcohol and sun, I spent the next twenty five years trying my hardest not to even get a whiff of the stuff.
Considering I am female and not all that interested in the wood oak-paneled and brown leather-chaired dens of the male hair-on-the-chest drinking traditions as well as a lifelong rebel, I decided to take cues from the Cute Gardener who also beats to his own drum and dive into the start of my own bourbon affair by sipping it straight up. You see, after nearly two years of watching the CG enjoy a disk of imported dark chocolate with a swish of bourbon as the perfect nightcap, I was inspired to try my own taste of the buttery caramel colored liquor. It didn’t seem to smell like lame teen drunkenness to me anymore from the bottom of my honey’s glass but depending on the version being tried each night ranged from deep oaken barrel aromas to the kind of belly warmness that comes alongside a fire in the snow.
The moment that sealed the deal for me though, in my newfound bourbon lust happened over a tub of freshly churned, Whole Foods honey-roasted peanut butter. I learned that there is nothing in my nightcap world so far that tastes quite as exquisite as dark chocolate dipped in gourmet peanut butter, then into a pile of cacao nibs for crunch and then into the mouth washed down by a swirl of bourbon. All the tastes melt together into a hot swath of nuttiness and down into the belly where another fire is struck of its own.