Tag Archives: bourbon

​A newbie’s guide to drinking whisky 

whisky and bourbon

My colleague recently asked everyone in the office what their favourite spirit was. I surprised myself by answering ‘whisky’ instead of ‘gin’.

To be honest it’s still a close call (rum is also rapidly climbing up the list) but there’s something about whisky that has me hooked.

I think the first drink I ever ordered for myself at a bar was a JD and Coke at Madame Jojo’s. I ordered it because I thought I looked cool but I didn’t really like it. A couple of months later and my university housemate cracked open a bottle of Jack, which led to me infamously saying ‘it gets nicer the more you drink’ six shots in.

Needless to say I stopped drinking alcohol I didn’t like shortly after, which meant I didn’t touch a drop of whisky until five years later.

It wasn’t until my Dad created a bourbon signature cocktail for a party he was throwing that I ventured back to the stuff. If you’re new to liquid sunshine, here are a few worth trying…

Jim Beam
Bourbon is sweeter and generally more palatable than whisky. I use it in 90% of my bourbon cocktail recipes as it’s reasonable, sweet and even non-whisky drinkers tend to enjoy it.

Woodford Reserve
There are some bourbon cocktails where Jim Beam just won’t do. A good Old Fashioned or Manhattan is made predominantly from bourbon and you need something better than Jim Beam if you’re practically drinking bourbon neat. I like to use Woodford Reserve in my take on an Old Fashioned recipe (and not just because the brand ambassador put my recipe behind the bar at one of my favourite London hotel bars #humblebrag).

Nikka from the Barrel
I’m a sucker for good design and found myself drawn to a bottle of Nikka from the Barrel a few years ago. It’s quite the transition to jump from bourbon to whisky but I found this Japanese whiskey palatable and really started to enjoy it after I’d had it a few times.

Nikka Coffey Grain
The kind folks over at 31Dover sent me a bottle of Nikka coffey grain to try and it’s unlike any other whisky I’ve ever had. It has the same smoothness that I’ve come to expect from the standard Nikka, but you can really taste the coffee. It’s lovely neat as it has a sweet and mellow taste.

Do you drink whisky? I’d love to know your favourite.

31Dover stock a huge range of spirits and wines at the best prices. Best of all they do next day delivery, perfect for us car-free Londoners who don’t fancy schlepping bottles of booze back from Tesco on the day of a party.

Five enticing bourbon cocktail recipes for every occasion

bourbon cocktail recipesFor years I flirted with gin and tequila but as I’ve grown up I’ve discovered bourbon and I can’t imagine going back. I’ll still be sipping G&T’s on a spring day and you better believe that Tequila and Vodka will always have a home on the bar cart, but the spirit I consistently want more than any other is bourbon.

I think bourbon has become a firm favourite because there is literally a bourbon cocktail recipe for every occasion. From a hot toddy to soothe a winter cold to a mint julep on a hot summer’s day, there are numerous bourbon cocktail recipes for every occasion. Every occasion. Not sure how many times I need to write that until I convince you, but I’m going to stop with that because if you’ve read this far you’re probably a die-hard bourbon fan who doesn’t need convincing. Hello, friend.

Bourbon cocktail recipes for every occasion

A refreshing bourbon spiked iced tea

bourbon cocktail recipesIt’s summer. It’s hot outside. All you want to do is cool down on the porch. It’s time to make and enjoy a pitcher of iced tea.

Read more: Bourbon iced tea recipe

When you’re craving mamma’s apple pie

bourbon cocktail recipesWhen you need a slice of mamma’s tasty apple pie, drink your sorrows away (responsibly) with a bourbon cocktail that tastes just like it. Best not served with custard, but who am I to judge. (This recipe tastes much better than it looks!)

Read more: Apple pie cocktail recipe

A grown-up ginger ale float

bourbon cocktail recipesLike a coke float, just with ginger ale instead. And bourbon.

Read more: Bourbon ginger ale float recipe

Doctor’s Orders when you’re under the weather

bourbon cocktail recipesA little recipe I created for when you’re feeling really under the weather.

Read more: Doctor’s Orders recipe

A Hot Toddy on a winter’s day

bourbon cocktail recipeThe ultimate bourbon cocktail recipe? 100% guaranteed to warm you up on the coldest of winter days.

Read more: hot toddy recipe

What’s your favourite bourbon cocktail recipe?

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Doctor’s Orders at South Place Hotel bar

south place hotel bar london

Woodford Reserve bourbon masterclass at South Place Hotel bar London


I have some super exciting news… A cocktail recipe I created is going to be on the menu at a real bar!

Seriously, a real bar guys. One with more bottles of alcohol than you can imagine and really comfy seats and one where people may even pay money to drink my drink.

For a girl who grew up creating some seriously weird concoctions in her kitchen this is kind of a big deal. Just think Mum and Dad, all those times you painfully sipped mocktail after mocktail led to this. That hybrid of golden syrup, orange juice, coke and lime cordial was totally worth gulping down.

A month ago I was invited to a Woodford Reserve masterclass at the South Place Hotel bar. Obviously I’m going to enjoy any evening with bourbon as the focus and I had a really lovely time. We all had the opportunity to go away and create our own take on a classic American cocktail and I’m pleased to say that my creation, a little number called Doctor’s Orders, won.

The prize is a place on the menu at the South Place Hotel bar in London, a rather swell place close to Liverpool Street station. I’m not sure when the cocktail will go on the menu but when you see photos of me ordering cocktail after cocktail on Instagram you’ll know it’s available.

In the meantime feel free to make it yourself at home!

Thanks (again) to Woodford Reserve, Stir PR and South Place Hotel bar for the opportunity and for giving me a ‘fact that nobody knows about you’ answer I can use in every awkward team building exercise for the rest of my life.

P.S. you might like this London cheesecake recipe

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Doctor’s Orders: an Old Fashioned recipe

old fashioned recipe

UPDATE: I won! You’ll be able to order your very own Doctor’s Orders bourbon cocktail at the South Place Hotel bar in the near future. More details here if you’re interested!

For years gin was my tipple of choice. Gin and Tonics, gin and elderflower cocktails, gin in teacups… I was your walking talking gin-lovin-early-twenty-somethin gin stereotype, and it was great.

Then two years ago something magical happened. I discovered bourbon, and I’ve never looked back.

Sure, I’ll have a G&T on Christmas Day. Perhaps even in a beer garden in the height of summer. But when it comes to what I really want to drink and making my own cocktails, it’s bourbon all the way. Whether it’s a hot toddy in winter or a bourbon ginger ale float in the summer (or neat in a good glass just about whenever) I can’t get enough.

A few weeks ago I joined some fellow bloggers and bourbon enthusiasts for a Woodford Reserve masterclass at South Place hotel with Tom Vernon, Woodford Reserve’s ambassador (best job ever?).

woodford reserve south place hotel

Aged for seven and a half years on average, Woodford Reserve is one of my favourite bourbons to drink. It has cherry and caramel undertones and is on the sweeter side of the spectrum, which I think makes it a great introductory bourbon. I get a hit in the back of my throat just smelling the stuff.

old fashioned south place

On the night we were treated to an Old Fashioned which went down oh so perfectly on a Monday night. Afterwards we were told to think about our own cocktails, and were given an opportunity to get our own bourbon cocktail recipe served at South Place hotel.

So here’s my shot. I’ve reimagined a classic American bourbon cocktail and created my very own Old Fashioned recipe. It’s called Doctor’s Orders and I hope it will make you feel better. Even if you’re already feeling pretty good.

Doctor’s Orders: an Old Fashioned recipe

A traditional Old Fashioned recipe features sugar, bitters, orange and bourbon. Today I’m switching the sugar and orange for honey and lemon, two magical ingredients that perk you up when you’re not feeling your best.

If honey syrup sounds complicated, it’s not. Just mix equal parts of honey and water over a low heat and let cool before adding to the cocktail.

You could switch the angostura bitters for your own homemade lemon bitters, but after experimenting I decided not to. The lemon should slice through the sweetness of the honey but shouldn’t be the focus of the drink.

I also tried using a honey liquor that we had in the cabinet, but decided against using it. For me an Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail that can be rustled up anywhere as everyone should have access to the ingredients. Most people don’t have honey liquor at home so for me that was a deal-breaker.


Woodford Reserve bourbon
Angostura bitters
Honey syrup


Mix a single measure of honey syrup with a small squeeze of lemon in a glass. Add a couple of drops of bitters and a double measure of bourbon. Top with a small handful of ice cubes. Stir gently and garnish with a slice of lemon.

Thanks to Woodford Reserve and Stir PR for a great night, and good luck to all the other bloggers participating! Can’t wait to try making all of your cocktails.

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Bourbon ginger ale float recipe

Bourbon ginger ale float recipe

It’s Friday, hurrah! I finally went back to work yesterday after four months off working from home. It was great to see everyone back in the office and reclaim my desk – and finally slather my hands in my favourite hand cream! However my ankle has swollen to twice its usual size which made the walk home quite painful – and naturally my mind wandered to distract myself…

It’s taking me twice as long as usual to walk anywhere and all I could think about on my walk home from the station was making myself an icy cold coke float and listening to the Juno soundtrack (The Kinks, Mott the Hoople and Velvet Underground – yes please). But I took one look inside my fridge and realised that we had no coke. Which I should have realised because we never have coke. And then I saw a bottle of ginger ale I bought last week. And then (is the suspense killing you yet?) I thought ‘wouldn’t bourbon go well with ginger ale and vanilla ice cream?’

So I tried it. I created my own superbly simple, quick and easy bourbon ginger ale float recipe. It’s perfect for a hot summer night like tonight. Cold, refreshing and delightfully warming too, all at the same magical time.

Any other suggestions for coke float alternatives? The wackier the better.

 Bourbon ginger ale float recipe


  • Bourbon
  • Ginger ale
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Sprig of mint (optional)


Scoop a generous amount of ice cream into your favourite glass. Pour over a measure or two of bourbon and slowly top with ginger ale, making sure it doesn’t fizz over. Top with a sprig of mint, your prettiest straw and enjoy. Preferably in the garden. As the sun goes down. With the Juno soundtrack playing in the background. It really is the perfect way to start the weekend!

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Bourbon iced tea recipe

Bourbon iced tea recipe

I remember drinking iced tea for the first time on holiday when I was seven. It was cloyingly sweet and I loved it. Since then iced tea has always been a treat – anything with that amount of sugar needs to be enjoyed in moderation.

As I’ve grown up I’ve shied away from sugary iced tea. All you can really taste is the sugar and I’d like to taste some tea please, thank you very much. Every summer I play around with my iced tea recipe and this year is no different.

For tonight’s Friday night cocktail I decided to keep it simple. I removed an cold jug of iced tea from the fridge, picked a sprig of fresh mint and grabbed a bottle of bourbon and some honey from the cupboard (I should really keep my bourbon and honey in the same cupboard. It would make making Bourbon iced tea in the summer and a hot toddy in the winter that little bit quicker…). And there you have it. A delightfully simple bourbon iced tea recipe.

Bourbon iced tea recipe

  • 3 tea bags
  • Half a lemon
  • Fresh mint
  • Bourbon
  • Honey

Boil water and allow to settle. Place tea bags in jug and add the boiled water. After five minutes remove tea bags, add a handful of fresh mint and a generous squeeze of honey. Add the juice of half a lemon and chop the remaining lemon peel into four chunks and add to jug. Allow to cool completely.

Put a handful of ice cubes in each glass and add a single measure of bourbon. Top with iced tea and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprig of fresh mint.

Friday night cocktail recipes: hot toddy recipe

Hot toddy recipe

It has become a tradition on a Friday night to try out a new cocktail recipe. After a long week at work it’s nice to take a break with a cocktail before it’s time to cook dinner, and I love nothing more than to take inspiration from cult classic (yes, really) the Gilmore Girls. If Friday night cocktails at home are good enough for Lorelai and Rory, then they’re good enough for me.

This week I wanted to try something warm and comforting so I knew this was the week to find the best hot toddy recipe. According to Felicity Cloake, the expert on making the ‘perfect’ everything, a hot toddy is practically medicinal: 

“The heat, spice and sweet and sour flavours apparently all encourage – and I’m sorry, there’s no nice way to say this – mucus production, discouraging the advance of those pesky bacteria and viruses, while the booze helps you sleep. (In moderation, of course. All things in moderation.”

I scoured the Internet for the best hot toddy recipes and they all contained a long list of ingredients. There is no doubt that using all these ingredients will create a better hot toddy, but the Friday night cocktail isn’t about making the best something possible. Friday night cocktails are about creating something delicious using the ingredients you have in the house already and as quickly as possible.

With that in mind my Friday night hot toddy recipe includes the ingredients I had to hand last night. If you have cloves and fresh ginger to hand and them in at the brewing stage. No bourbon? Try rum instead. Lemon and ginger teabags not in the cupboard? A normal teabag will do. Let me know how you make yours and how it goes!

Hot toddy recipe

Ingredients (for one):

  • Single (or a double, I’m not judging) shot of bourbon
  • Half a lemon
  • Lemon and ginger teabag
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Generous squeeze of honey
  • Boiled water


  1. Brew the lemon and ginger teabag in a jug of boiling water (just enough to fill your glass to a drinkable level).
  2. Cut a slice of lemon 1cm thick and put to the side. Squeeze the rest of the lemon into the jug.
  3. Add a cinnamon stick to the jug and gently stir. Leave for 5-8 minutes.
  4. Squeeze honey into the bottom of your hot toddy glass. Strain your boiling water mixture into the glass and stir until the honey dissolves.
  5. Pour in your shot or two of bourbon and stir.
  6. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a cinnamon stick.
the blues kitchen bourbon

The Blues Kitchen, Camden

The Blues Kitchen is a fun place to grab some American food for dinner, and they have a huge choice of cocktails you can wash it down with. Their sweet potato fries are delicious – as are their bourbon based cocktails. They also accept tastecards, but be prepared to spend any savings you make on food on more cocktails – one is never enough when they taste as good as they do.

The Blues Kitchen is in Camden (North London), and they have live music playing several nights of the week. It can get pretty loud so go earlier rather than later if you want to get a good chat in with your dinner dates.

I might be wrong (we tried a few different drinks that night) but I think the image below is of bourbon, soda and lime. Which is delicious.

the blues kitchen bourbon

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