The ‘Smash’ is in effect a Julep on a small plan.”
– Harry Craddock, The Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930
What is a smash? It sounds fun! According to cocktail lore, it is essentially a julep. Sooo…spirit, sugar, water, mint and ice. A smash usually uses fresh, seasonal fruit. Muddled or…smashed, as it were! Some smashes have other herbs instead of mint, like basil or sage. The Chipotle Cherry Bourbon Smash uses neither fresh fruit nor green herb, buuut here’s another thing about a smash: it’s a pretty flexible drink! And as we head into the cooler seasons, I wanted to experiment with the basics of the smash cocktail using ingredients that you can find all year round, preserved fruit and hot sauce! And whiskey, of course! Plus chipotle peppers, preserved cherries and bourbon just SOUNDS like a mashup that needs to happen. Here you go!
Instead of fresh cherries, I thought it would be fun to use cocktail cherries. Not the chemical laden, neon colored kind that have given cocktail cherries a bad rap. Oh, those little sugar bombs are still everywhere (check out pretty much any chain restaurant bar’s garnish caddy), they are pretty pervasive. But now we have some beautiful options, often infused with brandy or bourbon. Mess Hall Cocktail Co. is making some lovely preserved cocktail cherries at the moment. They source their cherries from farms near their home in Chicago, Illinois and then steep them in sugar and spices and a good amount of bourbon. YES, PLEASE.
I’m not going to admit what a revelation it was when I found out that chipotle peppers are just smoked, dried jalapeño peppers. Wha?? I guess this is common knowledge?! And makes total sense. Because…look at them! I suppose I found this so surprising because they are so much less spicy than their fiery cousins. Their distinct smoky quality is treasured for packing a flavor punch to so many dishes. But ever since I tried Tabasco’s Chipotle Sauce I wanted to use it in a cocktail.
This one is far less spicy than their Original Red Sauce and is a little less acidic. It has that dark smoky flavor distinctive to chipotle peppers and just a few dashes work beautifully with Mess Hall’s sweetened cherries. It also highlights the barrel aged wood smoke in the Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon that I used. DREAM TEAM!
Another nice thing about using these preserved cherries is that you don’t need to add any additional sugar. The cocktail cherries lend just the right amount of sweetness. If you’d like it a little sweeter, you can always add a teaspoon of the syrup from the cherry jar.
Chipotle Cherry Bourbon Smash
1.5 oz Bourbon (Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon works well with this)
5-6 cocktail cherries (Mess Hall Cocktail Co)
1/4 oz lemon juice
2 dashes Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
Muddle cherries, lemon juice and Tabasco in a rocks glass. Add bourbon and ice. Top with seltzer and give a stir. Garnish with cocktail cherry.
Sponsored: This post was made possible by TABASCO® in conjunction with the TABASCO® Tastemakers program. This is the third cocktail in a series of posts that feature the Tabasco Family of Flavors in cocktail recipes. As always, all opinions are my own!