Yankee Bourbon started in 2014 as Bourbon in the Boroughs, a blog exploring the rise of bourbon in New York City. A relocation to Philadelphia resulted in a time out on the New York-based blog, but an opportunity to learn about craft distilleries in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Now, Yankee Bourbon will go beyond New York for a look at bourbon and whiskey in the northeast.

Custom cocktails at Craftbar

Custom cocktails at Craftbar

When my friend Megan mentioned that her friend, a bartender at Craftbar, had offered to make custom bourbon cocktails with us, I didn't hesitate to say yes. I usually drink my bourbon neat, but enjoy a creative, well-crafted cocktail.

After Thanksgiving weekend, we met up with Lio at Craftbar. Lio has been a bartender at Craftbar for three years, and has four cocktails on the bar menu. The drinks, like the restaurant, center around seasonal ingredients.

Lio started by talking to us about what we were looking for in our custom cocktail.

"When we're trying to figure out what the customer wants we start with questions like 'shaken or stirred?' and 'sweet or sour?'" Lio said.

He then suggested a drink he had been working on lately: a twist on an old fashioned using clementines, which are in season, as well as cranberry bitters. The Amarena cherries used as garnish are delicious and taste like cherry jam.

There was much debate over the name and we may have had a little too much fun with it.  "Clemen-Old-Time" was tossed out, as was "Who Ya Calling' Old Fashioned?"  The winner: "Oh My Darlin'"

Oh My Darlin'

  • 1 Comptoir du Sud sugar cane cube

  • Cranberry bitters

  • Bulleit

  • Clementine slice

  • Orange peel

  • Ice

  • Amarena cherries

First, pour two to three dashes bitters over the sugar cube until it is soaked and red. Put a Clementine wheel in the bottom of the rocks glass, add the sugar cube, and muddle only the inside of the Clementine wheel, so that it retains its shape.

Add 2 ounces of bourbon, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add ice and stir until the drink is cold.

Garnish with orange peel and two Amarena cherries.

Bars to cure the winter blues

Bars to cure the winter blues

Remembering New York

Remembering New York