Bourbon whiskey has a storied, often apocryphal history, with interesting main characters, complex governmental regulations and a variety of subtypes, each with their own flavor profile. I'll tell a bit of this story, along with some tips for finding and recognizing older or important bottles of Bourbon on liquor store shelves. ;
A lot of foundational stories are only to be taken at face value. And yet there’s a deep history of pioneer families who started out making whiskey as part of the homesteading experience and with enough generations, some of their descendants are still manning stills throughout Kentucky.
While the main focus here will be on Kentucky Bourbon whiskey, much of this information applies to other grain whiskies made in other states as well. Delicious rye whiskey abounds, and a few intrepid people make spirits from wheat or other exotic grains.
So pour a glass of the stuff and sip it as you read.
I am not rating the posted cocktail, since I adjusted this from the 1937 Cafe Royale Cocktail Book ratios because I know the period cocktails often run a bit sweet with intense liqueur flavor. I used 2 oz Tanqueray, 1/2 Strega, 1/2 Noilly Prat Extra Dry, 2 dashes Regan's orange bitters, orange twist. This worked for my palate and I would rate it a 4, still substantial sweetness, but showcasing the herbal/botanical character of the Strega (which is similar to the Basque liqueur Izarra Jaune which I am fond of, a bit less sweet than Yellow Chartreuse, with more herbal character.) I will probably try this again with the Izarra to compare.
For the longest time, I thought this and the Little Giuseppe were a jab at Giuseppe Gonzalez but Stephen Cole attributes the name to a chef friend of his with the genesis story involving, "One night an Italian chef I knew came into the bar for a drink. I thought he'd like a Cynar Manhattan."