When you love someone, there are some little things you just find dear. For example, someone I’ve loved for years recommended a cocktail to me, and it quickly became one of my favorites.

I called him one night while he was hanging out in his bedroom in San Francisco, drinking a cocktail he was very proud of. By the time our conversation was over he had consumed at least three of these babies, and though his words may have been slightly slurred, they were still as lovely as ever: honest, real, and slightly inebriated.

Do I talk a lot about getting drunk in this column? Yeah, well, it IS the Synthesis.

I finally got the chance to taste the famous “Bulleit Bourbon and Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew” cocktail. It tastes like something you’d pay 16 bucks for in the city. But if you make it at home, you’re probably hovering right around four to five bucks a pop. You could keep it super simple with only Bulleit and Reed’s Extra, but we recently had some fun tweaking it with orange zest and locally-made Aged Citrus Bitters from Five by Five Tonics.

The Reed’s is perfect because it has wonderfully bitey ginger flavor, and is sweetened with honey and pineapple juice for a great roundness that sugar alone just wouldn’t offer. When you mix that with the fantastic flavor of Bulleit Bourbon made from limestone-filtered water, and aged in charred American oak barrels…jeez. It’s refreshing and sweet and punchy and great for summer.

For a delicious twist to round it out, the Five by Five Aged Citrus Bitters—with their small-batch craftsmanship, attention to detail, and the flavor of aged tangerine peel—adds that high-end cocktail element. Finishing with fresh orange zest brings balance to the bitters and compliments the lemon and lime in the Reed’s. Dang.

Here’s the quick and dirty version:

1. Fill a pint glass halfway with ice

Pour the Bulleit over ice until it just covers the top of the cubes

Fill the glass the rest of the way with Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew

Add one or two dashes of Five by Five bitters (to taste)

Stir

Top with a bit of orange zest

To class-up this cocktail a bit more, make it in a martini shaker and serve it in a martini glass rimmed with orange-infused sugar. To make this, you’ll need:

1 large orange, or 2 smallish ones

2 cups sugar

Remove the zest with a microplane or a citrus zester. Transfer the zest to a food processor, and add 1 cup of sugar. Pulse it for a couple of minutes until the zest has become fine and is fully incorporated into the sugar. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in the second cup of sugar. Spread the orange sugar on a baking pan, and let it sit at room temperature until dry (about 1 hour).

I have a feeling this cocktail would go to new heights with hickory-smoked brown sugar and orange zest. Oh, fun in the kitchen! Enjoy!

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Jen Cartier misses Chico! However, she has taken to the great beyond (er...The Bay Area) to be some kind of chocolate maven while simultaneously figuring out how the hell to navigate her long-ass work commute, and still kick ass at raising three munchkins, loving one soon-to-be husband, and keeping one rascally Brittany Spaniel in the damned yard. She loves Nutella, red wine, and American Spirits. She takes her dog along on runs to wear him out (sometimes he shits in someone else's yard - bonus!) and also to balance her own general consumption of all the fine tasty things life offers, ciggys included. Follow her blog at riceflourmemoirs.com