Keep on hoping…

If you know, you know!

If you don’t then let me explain, briefly. My witty attempt to beguile you may have been lost in translation unless you’re up on semi-recent popular music. The 2015 DNCE song “cake by the ocean”, specifically, is the tune I was referencing.

I have to admit it’s quite a catchy song with the chorus repeating the phrase “keep on hopin’…cake by the ocean.” In fact, it was so catchy that my wife, teen and preteen daughters echoed the tune relentlessly for months. Full disclosure: I too found myself involuntarily singing the addictive chorus, under my breath of course. It wasn’t until my oldest daughter informed us, blush cheeked and giggling, that “cake by the ocean” was a reference to having “relations” on the beach or at least a reference to the cocktail of similar reference (sex on the beach).

A wrinkle, to say the least.

The frequency of the song being blasted throughout the halls of House Bourboneer dwindled after that. Though still making it’s presence felt on occasion, followed by a good chuckle. Mostly when my youngest bellowed the chorus without reservation, not comprehending the true meaning…thankfully.

So, with all that said, this somewhat metaphorical post is not really about a song. It’s about bourbon! More specifically pairing bourbon with food, in this case Jefferson’s Ocean bourbon with a chocolate cupcake. If you don’t see the intended reference of the above picture (cake by the ocean) by now, then I really can’t help you.

For my preference, I wanted to nuance both the complementing and contrasting flavors provided in the bourbon and the chocolate cupcake. Jefferson’s Ocean pairs very well on many levels with the many decadent layers of chocolate in the cake.

The complementing profiles were the sweetness in both. Chocolate for obvious reasons. However, most bourbon boasts ample amounts of vanilla and caramel, not just in the nose but on the palate as well. Oceans initial sip did not disappoint in that regard. Adding slight notes of some citrus and dark fruit. There was a hint of spice which balanced out the predominant sweetness which was not cloying in any fashion.

What was most interesting about the pairing was the contrasting, not complementing, distinction of Oceans finish after a bite of chocolate. There was a spice tone for sure, which made sense considering the bourbon has at least a 20% make up of rye in the mash bill. Most notably, however, was the slight brine profile at the finish. That’s right…brine! So I definitely tasted the benefit of the salty/sweet contrast of the bourbon and the chocolate. I am truly a fan of the salty sweet combo in my food preference so it’s not a surprise I loved this pairing.

For those of you who are not familiar with Jefferson’s Ocean bourbon, after the bourbon is aged in the barrel for 4 or more years it is placed on a ship and aged at sea for several more months. The idea being, to have the barrel absorb the damp, salty sea air while simultaneously having the bourbon inside constantly moving with the roll of the ship to consistently contact more of the charred staves inside the barrel. Therefore offering the unique flavor profile distinct to Oceans.

So next time you pop open a bottle of your favorite bourbon be sure to raid your fridge or pantry. Look for some different flavor profiles that may go well together with the bourbon. Find what goes well and forget what doesn’t. Try Jefferson’s Ocean and a chocolate cupcake for starters and let me know what you think. Cheers!

-The Bourboneer

References: “Cake by the ocean”, DNCE, Republic Records, 2015.

Just Because

Another gorgeous Monday in Flagler Beach. What to do? What to do?…Hmmm. Let’s see…it’s just about 2 pm and, as far as I am concerned, the only responsible thing to do today is to take full advantage of the weather, the view and the time. The weather: upper 80’s and sunny, low humidity and a cooling, gentle breeze. The view: my beautiful wife and daughter on a roof top eatery overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the time…well, when it comes to time, I have a lot more of it these days. The Bourboneer finally retired from the daily grind and planted himself and his family in a beach town in Flagler County, Florida. The visitors and tourists are, for the most part, gone and the local kids are already back in school. I don’t think I’d survive as a kid in Florida with a return to school date of August 10th! What ever happen to going back after Labor Day? I digress. Anyway, I can’t think of a better way to spend an early Monday afternoon. Just because.

At the moment, I don’t quite have my toes in the water or my ass in the sand, I surely don’t have a worry in the world and I definitely have a cold drink in my hand, so life is good today! Anyone want to take a guess what I am drinking? Not going to make it difficult for you. It’s bourbon. Surprised? I know in such a setting the masses would be imbibing vast quantities of chilled fruity or slushy type offerings or even ice cold beer. I understand that decision process and really can’t blame you for the selection. Sounds appropriately refreshing. However, to me, there is nothing more refreshing than two, maybe three fingers, of that delicious brown water, a hint of ginger ale or ginger beer and a perfectly ripe lime wedge served over a few ice cubes. Ahhhh! Hits the spot!

Now if this interests you then you can easily adapt the flavor profile to your liking by experimenting with the bourbon. If you desire a sweeter version, try a wheated bourbon like Makers Mark or Weller. If it’s a spicier selection you crave then go with a high rye bourbon like Bulleit. Any way you choose is the right way and I think you will taste just how refreshing a bourbon can be in such a setting.

Please look past the semi-opaque plastic solo cup in the attached pictures, I promise you can still see (imagine) the deliciousness inside. I had no choice in the serving vessel. Everything was plastic! Oh, and the lime was not very ripe at all. Could’ve sworn it was a lemon. Anyway, you get the idea.


– The Bourboneer

Bourbon Togs!

The Bourboneer has created some unique bourbon T-shirts for your enjoyment. Grab one or all of your favorites. Share with all your fellow Bourboneers. Many more styles to come! (Click on links below for styles).

– The Bourboneer

‘Red Liquor’

red liquor

In 17th century colonial America, rum was the dominant distilled spirit. It was rather easily produced from molasses which came from an abundant Caribbean sugarcane supply. Boston, was the first city in the colonies to distill rum and it was extremely popular. Rum was America’s original distilled spirit one could easily argue. That’s right, despite knowing that bourbon being the federally protected and distinctive American spirit in the 20th century, It wasn’t always that way. Rum was technically first to be produced and consumed in our country. And as The Bourboneer, I have no problem with that. Brandy, which is distilled from fermented fruit, was also very popular. Peach and pumpkin specifically were the most consumed. Pumpkin!?! Ew! Now I do have a problem with that. In no form does that sound appetizing at all.

It wasn’t until the influx of Scottish and the Irish immigrants, in the late 17th century, that whiskey began to take hold in America. There were issues however. Our soil wasn’t very hospitable for the growing of whiskey’s main ingredient, barely. There just wasn’t much of it around. Corn, on the other hand, was everywhere. There was so much corn that once it was harvested the colonists couldn’t consume or sell all of it. Unfortunately much of the crop was susceptible to decomposition and couldn’t be used. Possessing the knowledge of making whiskey, the colonist found it much more beneficial to distill the unused supply of corn instead of watching rot. Ingenious! The corn whiskey could be stored almost indefinitely and of course became a very lucrative endeavor.

As America’s population continued to increase, thirst for the new corn whiskey naturally followed suit. In order to keep up with demand, methods for storing and transporting the whiskey became a priority. Barrels hewn from the bountiful supply of American oak became the custom of choice used to ship the whiskey. Now using barrels was not a new method of storage, not at all, but it was new for the purpose of storing and transporting whiskey. Barrels that held other products like fish or salted meat were often reused to save money. Why spend the money to make new barrels when you could reuse old barrels once used to store other things. However, before the whiskey could be poured into the barrel, the barrel had to be cleaned and free of potential contaminants. Burning or charring the inside of the barrels was the cheapest and most effective method of sterilization. Clearly, there was not a huge demand for a ‘fishy’  palate in the new whiskey. Can’t say I blame them. Now a pork belly (bacon) aftertaste in a whiskey, specifically bourbon…mercy! I might as well have died and crossed over to glory. But I am getting ahead of myself. My apologies.

What soon became very noticeable to whiskey drinking Americans was that their favorite booze, after being removed from the charred barrel, now had color. It was no longer clear. In the barrel, the once colorless corn whiskey absorbed the characteristics from the charred wood and took on a light brown or red color. The properties of the whiskey also became more purified and possessed less bite and less of a sour or acrid taste. This new ‘red liquor’ understandably became a sensation and laid the groundwork from which bourbon got it’s start. The story behind how bourbon got its name, however, is one of lore and for another time. I promise I will write about it soon.

It’s no coincidence today that bourbon color profiles are commonly described as a gradient of the color red. Look at any bourbon review and you will see tone descriptors such as russet, mahogany, burnt umber, amber, chestnut, auburn, tawny and red gold. Red is a powerful color commonly associated with emotion, power, desire, pioneering spirit, ambition and leadership. Sounds perfectly American if you ask me. It’s no wonder why we love our bourbon so much even if on sometimes subconscious levels not commonly realized. Bourbon has redeeming qualities such as character, bourbon can stand alone without mixing, it’s sweet, it’s spicy, it’s full-bodied and is as ‘red’ blooded American as guns, pick-up trucks and BBQ. Can’t say that about vodka. Can’t say anything about vodka really, well nothing positive anyway.

So the next time you pour yourself a glass of bourbon, hold it up to the light and remember the ingenuity, albeit by happenstance, that made our early whiskey blush enough to become what we now refer to as our distinctive American spirit.

-The Bourboneer


Bourbon enjoyed while writing this article: Belle Meade SBW, 45.2% ABV or 90.4 proof, Aged 5.5 – 7.5 years. Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, Nashville, TN.

References: Whiskey A Very Peculiar History: “Meanwhile in America…” Fiona McDonald. Salariya Book Co., Ltd 2011.

A Resolution

If you’re like me, you love to walk into a new liquor store and gaze wide-eyed down the aisles stocked full of glistening bottles (of bourbon particularly). It’s a rush for the senses. All those choices. The anticipation. What’s new? What’s marked down? What will entice my palate today? Is this a day for multiple purchases or merely a reconnaissance mission for future visits? Clearly, it’s more than an errand for me. It’s an event!

With joy abounding what could pull the plug on my excitement and drain the hopes of such an anticipated shopping experience?…Bullet-proof, plexi-glass vault style enclosures! That’s right these…

Screen shot 2014-02-15 at 10.18.15 PM

Look, I completely understand why these obnoxious partitions are in place. I get it…they serve the purpose of safety, security and the protection of merchandise. However, they are, in my opinion, an eyesore and a bit ridiculous. Granted, I’ve not seen such an array (above) in any of the liquor stores near me but I did have the unfortunate experience of patronizing a store, locally, that had all of their spirits behind the counter and, yes, behind bullet-proof glass. The wine and mixers were out in the open for all to peruse, but the good stuff was behind the intimidating plexi-glass wall of doom.  Dumbfounded and taken aback I pondered “Where am I?…What is going on around here?” I actually became obstinate. “How dare they?”  Don’t they know that I can’t shop in such an environment. It’s unfortunate that even in semi-rural Maryland such precautions need to be in place.

You see, I can’t just gaze at my bourbon through a hazy plastic wall. Much like a bibliophile needs to hold a book in his hands, feel the thickness of each page, I need to hold the bottle, feel it’s weight, pore over the label. By no means do I want to continually request the clerk to hand me a different bottle every five minutes because I can’t make up my mind. Most of the time there is a language barrier and, to no fault of their own, they have no clue on how to be helpful in answering any of my questions, should I have any. Frankly the whole process is annoying and I am not the only one who thinks so.

In 2017, a Philadelphia councilwoman introduced a bill requiring the complete removal of the bullet-proof glass partitions from beer-liquor-deli establishments in the city. The councilwoman cited “we want to make sure that there isn’t this sort of indignity, in my opinion, to serving food through a plexi-glass only in certain neighborhoods.” Good for her! I agree totally. And her use of the word indignity is spot on. That’s how I felt. However, her bill has been met with much backlash…and I see why. As I mentioned before, those partitions are there for a purpose. Those stores provide a service to their communities and the partitions provide a continuance of the stores ability to serve their communities. But it doesn’t mean that I have to like it or support it.

So, my resolution is to simply not patronize the establishments that armor up with these bullet proof partitions. Honestly, this is not a referendum on the stores in particular, it’s more of a preference for my sake moving forward. I am The Bourboneer and I clearly have a problem (more of a specific taste) when it comes to buying bourbon. But I’d be willing to believe that most of you who love bourbon as I do, would care to only visit those establishments who don’t segregate their spirits from their consumers. Am I wrong?

Anyway, happy new year and may you partake in your favorite spirit (as long as its bourbon) from any establishment you’d like. I am just here to offer my beliefs and recommendations as The Bourboneer. God bless!

-The Bourboneer

Bourbon enjoyed while writing this article: Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut, 50% ABV or 100 proof, Aged 5-6 years. James Beam Distilling Co., Clermont, KY.

References: Daily Wire:“Philadelphia City Council Votes In Favor Of Looking Into Banning Bullet-Proof Barriers From ‘Beer Deli’ Stores in Dangerous Neighborhoods.” Frank Camp, , December 15, 2017.