Cocktail Hour: Crafting the Bourbon Meyer

hodge's picture
November 22, 2012 at 1:34a

CAUTION: "TL:DR" Alert!  If you wish to see the recipe (and bypass the Ohio ties and inherent history of the ingredients) scroll to the bottom.

First off; Happy Thanksgiving, my fellow Eleven-Dubbers.

Urban Meyer.  The name conjures images of football dominance, BCS titles, and one awful night in the Arizona desert (obligatory 2006 reference fulfilled).  But aside from our favorite sporting pastime, what other thoughts does the man stir in the deepest, darkest recesses of our soul?  For me, it’s something primal; an emotion of intense desire that makes my heart leap and my mouth water.  Oh, I think we all know what I’m talking about: cocktails.  That’s right, folks; it’s time for the Bourbon Meyer.

Now, I know that Floridians (see definition #2) have their own version of this cocktail: some unholy mix of sweet tea, bourbon, lemon, and lime.  There’s a few different versions floating around out there, but most seem to follow the aforementioned theme; which isn’t a bad thing, per se, but it isn’t truly representative of our coach’s current employer—or the state from whence he came.  So, through the dusty recesses of my mind I scoured, searching for a perfect blend of ingredients that not only tastes great, but one that also reps our state whilst doing so.  But enough of this flowery prose, let’s get drinking.

The Booze: Bacon-Infused Bourbon

Seriously.  Trust me on this.

Look, I know what you’re thinking, “Ol’ Hodge here’s obviously a bacon fanboy, and is merely trying to insert his obsession into this strictly Ohio-rooted cocktail.”  I can’t blame you for thinking this, because I really do love bacon (as my LDL score can attest); but this is about so much more than my love of fatty pork-belly-based products, this is about the State of Football, damn it!  Truth is, both bacon and bourbon have deep ties to this state, going back almost two centuries.
Upon the completion of the Erie Canal and the introduction of the steamboat navigation to the Ohio River, Cincinnati became one of the most bustling port cities in the country.  Being nestled almost perfectly ‘twixt the Eastern Seaboard and the Mississippi River allowed for the city to become a key trading post as America began to fulfill its myopic desire of Manifest Destiny.  It would be during this time that Cincinnati would adopt its infamous “Porkopolis” moniker, due to the herds of pigs roaming its streets to serve the city’s massive meat packing industry.   Vestiges of this legacy can still be seen today through the Kahn’s and Queen City Sausage companies.

Much less known, but equally important, was Cincinnati’s involvement in the bourbon trade.  Though typically pigeonholed as a German beer Mecca, the city was well-known before prohibition as the Bourbon capital of the country.  In fact, through the sheer amount of low-quality rotgut that came out of the Queen City, “Cincinnati Bourbon” became known throughout the nation as the brand of sub-quality swill.  As the drumbeat of progress marched on—and Prohibition came and went—Cincinnati bourbon production would eventually cease altogether, lying dormant for almost eighty years.

The Fortifier: Bourbon


Panty melter.  You're welcome.  Need I say more?

The Sweet: Cream Soda

IB C You...See what I did there?

Ah, rivalry.  Like it or not, we are intrinsically tied to the fate of our neighbors to the North:  celebrating their every defeat whilst bemoaning their every victory.  Like Harry Potter’s famed nemesis, we mustn’t even utter their name.   Throughout the history of our two famed programs, events such as the Ten Year War, the Snow Bowl, and the Game of the Century spring to the fore; while the same holds true with timeless traditions like Golden Pants, Script Ohio, and the creation of our famed alma mater.  None of these things would have been possible without the team that we despise so damn much, and for that we must accept their place in our history.  And with that justification, we must accept Michigan’s place in this Ohio cocktail.

The first known recipe for this famed vanilla elixir was published by a gent named of E.M. Sheldon in 1852 in a book titled "Michigan Farmer".  It was a far cry from the high-fructose-corn-syrup-laden fizzy drinks of today—requiring a mixture of water, egg, Epsom salts, sodium bicarbonate, cream of tartar, milk, and tartaric acid—but it was the start of something big.  One thing is obvious, though; Sheldon was not an ex-pat Ohioan.  If he were, he’d have patented the recipe, gotten rich, and would be forever remembered as a hero to their “great” state—all to the chagrin of his home state.

The Hint: Maple Syrup

Though the thought of maple syrup may conjure up images of pastoral scenes in northern New England, Ohio’s played quite the role in the development of that sacred maple sweetener.  Long thought to be first discovered by Native Americans, our best guess is that maple syrup’s origins are either from the Iroquois Tribe of New York, or the Shawnee of—you guessed it—Ohio.

The Final Flourish: Apple Brandy

If our first (and best) president knew how to get down, shouldn't you?

Trivia time!  What was the first American spirit?  Bourbon?  Nope.   Rye?  Try again.  Vodka?  Not a bloody chance.  Truth is, if you want to drink our nation’s history—and specifically, Ohio’s, for that matter—you’re best served pouring yourself a glass of Apple Brandy, the direct descendant of the colonial beverage Applejack. 
Back in the early days of the colonies, filtered water was scarce, so booze reigned supreme.  Spirits, specifically those made from easily replenished resources, were the choice drink of the day.  Though the modern American tipple could easily be identified as beer, back then hard cider was the preferred beverage of yore, being easily grown from the local fruit of apples.  The great thing about cider though, aside from being relatively boozy, is that it was also easily distilled into the colonial spirit Applejack.  No, this ain’t your father’s Laird’s; it was a relatively easy-made spirit, accomplished by burying a barrel of hard cider in the frozen ground during the midst of the New England winter.  The diurnal freezing would allow for fractional (aka “freeze”) distillation of the cider, resulting in a 60-70 proof apple spirit.

But how’s it relate to Ohio, you ask?  Well, by no one other than Johnny Appleseed.  Though oft labeled as a conservationist and mere apple enthusiast, Mr. Appleseed was a noted Applejacker.   Truth was, the fruit was far more valuable as a fermentable than as a mere fruit to colonists, and Mr. Appleseed himself was dedicated to spreading the fruit’s utility.  Across Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana he traveled, spreading the gospel of booze along t the way.  What better way to celebrate Ohio’s cocktail than in his name?

The Damn Drink:

  • 5 oz Cream Soda
  • 2 jiggers (3 oz) bacon-infused bourbon1
  • ½ jigger (3/4 oz) bourbon
  • ¼ tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • ½ Tablespoon Apple Brandy (preferably Laird’s 7 Year, not their Applejack—it’s diluted with grain alcohol)

Pour cream soda into old-fashioned glass.  Add syrup and bourbons to shaker with ice, shake, and strain into cream soda.  Float 1/2 Tablespoon of Apple Brandy over top of cocktail.  Serve with a slice of bacon and Buckeye victory.

1 Bacon Infused Bourbon:

  • Render 2-3 oz bacon fat in pan (1-1.5 pounds smoky bacon--try Wright Brand Hickory Smoked or Benton's), and add to open container (mason jar or non-reactive bowl) containing 375 ml Bourbon (I prefer Bulleit).  Let set one to two days in cool, dark place (a kitchen cupboard is fine), tasting until desired flavor is achieved (solid, smoky bacon-influenced flavor).  After desired flavor is achieved, place container in freezer until fat is solidified.  Strain out solidified fat and enjoy!

Just a fair warning: I've had two of these--and a bottle of cider--and I'm already feeling the effects.  Proceed with caution, and GO BUCKS!

Comments Show All Comments

wrockhold's picture

First of all, I'm impressed. What an excellent post. 
I'm already a big Bulleit fan but I plan on making this soon. I'll let you know how it goes. 

jarheadbuckeyefan's picture

wondering how this would taste with bacon vodka? i have a bottle of it lying around the house.  may have to experiment with this....

"The only meaningful statistic is number of games won."~ Woody Hayes

Bucksfan's picture

Thought MediBuck already crafted the Bourbon Meyer on the Live Blog a few weeks back.  Involved iced tea, Meyer's lemon juice (which is prohibitively expensive, I might add), and bourbon.

hodge's picture

Didn't catch that. I'll happily serve as a derivative, then. 

Bucksfan's picture

Ha! Looks like we're going to have several different versions floating around.  To each their own, and Cheers, good sir!  To whatever suits your fancy, or refridgerator.

MediBuck's picture

Hehe, thanks for remembering! I'd actually heard about the Bourbon Meyer back during the dark days when our coach was at Florida and some article mentioned it in relation to the UF-UGA game. Obviously I never drank it then, but gave it a spin once Coach Urbs came to Columbus.

This is the recipe I use:
- 1 part bourbon (I prefer Old Grand-Dad's, but am fine with Maker's Mark)
- 3 parts sweet tea (I make my own)
- 1 dash lemon juice (I'm lucky enough to have a Meyer lemon tree in my front yard)
- Sometimes I'll go 1:1:1 Bourbon, tea, and Coke to get hammered faster, as was common earlier in the season when our D kept giving up big plays. Without Coke is better for sipping.

Hodge, this was a beautifully crafted drink and post (love the photos) and I'll definitely give your version a whirl once I break free from this turkey-inspired stupor I'm in right now.

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

blazers34's picture

The sweet tea version is what they used at UF.  We needed an osu version. Cheers hodge!

cajunbuckeye's picture

What a fantastic read!! History and alcohol, and all in one post. Brilliant!! I will be prepping the bacon bourbon this afternoon. Well played, Hodge. Well played.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

btalbert25's picture

Great read!  I have a friend who has a huge produce farm with an orchard.  They make their own cider.  Well I guess I left it sit in the fridge too long and the stuff went to hard cider on me.  I made my own version of apple jack and it was quite potent and didn't taste very good at all!  Actually, I take that back, I thought about distilling liquor at my house but realized it was bad, so I Imagined that it tasted bad!

NW Buckeye's picture

Hodge,  You are the man!  Sounds a little sweet for my tastes, but I gotta try the bacon infused bourbon.  Should really balance it out.  My favorite bloody Mary is made with bacon infused vodka.  My daughter in law's b-day is next month and the theme of her party is bacon!  One of her friends is making bacon cupcakes.  Our contribution is chocolate covered bacon.  You really have to try that sometime.  It is awesome.  

hodge's picture

It is a bit sweet; and--honestly--my tastes favor toward the stiffer, as well.  In that case, I'd recommend cutting the cream soda with apple cider (2 oz of each)--should add some welcome acid to the drink.  Honestly, I was inspired by this guy's "Boozy Bacon Apple"; and wanted to find a way to make similar flavors shine in a different, yet pleasing, way without stealing his idea.
I think that you mentioned that you're near (or in) Seattle.  I hear tell there's a food truck out there called Skillet that has some bitchin' bacon jam.  Damn near bought it on wine.woot a while back.

rkylet83's picture

Great post Hodge, I'll have to try to make this drink after Coach Meyer crushes Michigan this weekend!

btalbert25's picture

Brady Hoke says why waste good bacon fat on bourbon.  Real men take their bacon grease strait. 

Scott's picture

Well done, Hodge. Have to give this a try.

Class of 2008

BuckeyeBoyer85's picture

I am preparing mine for Saturday. Super excited. Thanks Hodge.

Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Jarrett's picture

I really enjoy reading about these bourbon drinks every week! Even if I don't think I'd like them- it's really cool to see what people do to/with my favorite adult beverage;
Although it may not actually be BACON bourbon- I'm wondering if you used High West Campfire, with it's smoky offerings, it could work?
Although this sounds and looks interesting to me- I'd like something named the "Bourbon Meyer" to be a bit easier and accessible - a drink of and for the common man! And since it's connected to the Buckeye state, and as long as you are infusing things into bourbon...wouldn't something with peanut butter and chocolate be apropos, Ala, the Buckeye confection? A peanut butter syrup, bourbon on the rocks with a freaking Hershey bar in it? JK!
I would not be opposed to trying a bacon infused (sorry- I think it sounds terrible) bourbon drink if someone made it for me, but I don't think I'd do it...between the Bourbon Meyer and bourbon on the rocks - bourbon on the rocks. Plus, I'd like to feel really cool going into a bar and ordering one...which, you probably couldn't get one unless the bar had some of that bacon infused bourbon.
I will call this the  "Bob Brudzinski" since he is one of my favorite Buckeye's. Or, "The Bru."
One part bourbon of choice (I like Buffalo Trace)
Equal part brandy (VSOP Brandy- I've used E&J)
Put in shaker. Shake vigorously for one solid minute, pour into clean glass. OR, mix gently and pour over ice into a small, clean, mason jar. OR, pour in any freaking glass, neat.
Add 2 Maraschino Cherry's after pouring in glass. Go crazy, add some maraschino cherry juice if you'd like, to make it a bit sweeter.
If you see your neighbor from michigan outside raking leaves, blindside him with a full on bull rush from the blind side. OR, after two of these- walk up to him face first, give a friendly wave and then when you're about 10 feet away, charge, and do a full on sternum buster. Awesome....Make sure you stretch first.

"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy." Groucho Marx 


input4u's picture

My father-in-Law and myself are avid conniseuours of bourbon.  I might not have the time or patience to make this.  He is a retired HS school teacher and athletice driector.  I'm forwarding this to him to make for THE GAME...
Great Read....

One Bad Buckeye's picture

I always thought Urban Bourbon had a nice ring to in in lieu of Bourbon Meyer, no?

"I'm One Bad Buckeye, and I approve this message."

hodge's picture

Thanks, everyone, for the kind words; they're much appreciated--upvotes all around!
I've got a few more cocktails I'm working on:  the El Guapo, a smoky margarita riff (there will be mezcal); and Death by Coombs, a potent mix of OYO Vodka and cold-brewed toddy coffee.  Should have a new post up in the not-too-distant future.
Go Bucks, and good imbibing to you all!

Jarrett's picture

Curious about the mezcal- (in Utah) there is only 1 kind available- so I'm curious about any types you may suggest. I'm a huge tequila drinker as well as bourbon but I've always been curious about mezcal, other than eating the worm that is at the end of the ONE kind available here, argh.
Also, just bought my first 5th of Billeit - going to crack it open on kickoff tomorrow.
M Go Blow!  

"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy." Groucho Marx