Swig & Swill

NYE Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler

Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler - perfect for New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve presents the perfect opportunity to break out a little sparkling wine and create some festive cocktails. The folks at Serious Eats had the right idea and created a pretty tasty looking roundup of sparkly cocktails. Here at the Westervin’s, we decided to take their Sparkling Bourbon Pear cocktail and bump up the winter (it’s not that cold down here in Arkansas, so we need something to remind us it’s winter, right?) with some cranberries. Despite the maple syrup, which is added to the purée, this isn’t an overly sweet cocktail. The lemon and cranberry really give it a nice tang, which along with the champagne makes for an easy drinking sipper.

Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler - Westervin


A bubbly punch cocktail for New Year's Eve: The Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler from Westervin

ingredients for the Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler - a perfect NYE cocktail

For the Purée:

  • 2 bartlett pears, cored and sliced into eighths
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh juice, from two lemons
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Large handful of cranberries
  • 1 tsp clementine zest
  • 1/2 tsp grapefruit zest
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

For the Bourbon Cran-Peary Mixer:

  • 1 cup roasted pear puree
  • 2 cups WL Weller Special, or Bourbon of your choice
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

To Serve:

  • 2oz Bourbon Cran-Peary Mixer
  • Ice
  • Sparkling wine
  • Cranberries and ground clove to garnish

roasted pears for the Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler Cocktail from Westerivn


Preheat oven to 400F.

Arrange sliced pears on parchment lined baking sheet.

Combine cranberries, 1oz water, citrus zest, and ginger in a small ramekin.

Place pears and cranberries in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, until the pears are a bit caramelized.

Allow to cool and then place in blender with 2.5oz of lemon juice and a dash of ground cloves. Purée well.

Combine 1 cup of purée with 2 cups of bourbon and 1/2 cup of maple syrup. This is your mixer.

To create your cocktail, fill a rocks glass with ice, add 2oz of your mixer, and fill with champagne. Garnish with cranberries and ground cloves.

Adapted from Serious Eats

The Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler Cocktail - Westervin

Fine Fixin's

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

bourbon chocolate pecan pie

When we eventually made it back home after visiting Woodford Reserve, we didn’t just sit around drinking. We started baking! Here’s a great recipe we tried for a bourbon-y chocolate pecan pie from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie


1 dough / crust
2 cups pecan halves, toasted
3 large eggs
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

If you’re starting with pie dough, dust a work surface with a sprinkling of flour. Unwrap the ball of chilled dough and put it directly on the work surface.

Roll out into a 12-inch round.

Transfer the dough to a pie dish and carefully work it into the pie dish, folding any overhang under and crimping the edge as you go.

Wrap and freeze the crust until firm, about 2 hours or up to 3 months.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Coarsely chop 3/4 cup of the pecans. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until combined. Add the corn syrup, sugars, butter, salt, vanilla, and bourbon. Whisk again until combined. Stir in the chopped pecans and set the filling aside.

Spread the chocolate chips evenly along the bottom of the frozen pie shell.

Slowly pour the filling on top of the chocolate chips.

Arrange the remaining 1 1/4 cups pecan halves on top of the filling.

Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, then cover the edges of the crust loosely with aluminum foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Test the pie by sticking a knife in the center of the filling. If the knife comes out clean, the pie is done. If the knife comes out with clumps of filling sticking to it, bake for another 5 minutes and test again.

Cool the pie on a wire rack and serve.

Featured, Out & About

Dollymoon: Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve

I bet you thought we were done talking about our Dollymoon, huh? Well guess again! We had enough fun to fill a million blog recaps!!! But don’t worry–we’ll just boil the rest down to two more posts.

bottles of Woodford Reserve bourbon

After bidding farewell to Gatlinburg and Dollywood, it was on to Louisville. Along the way, we passed through Bourbon/horse country, which meant we had to make at least one quick stop for a distillery tour.

Woodford Reserve building

We chose to stop in Versailles, Kentucky to check out Woodford Reserve because it was pretty easy to get to while still seeming pretty rural.

Woodford Reserve barrels and chocolate bourbon

Overall, Woodford is a pretty small operation, and we got to see most of it. They were fermenting a chocolate rye while we were there, which smelled amazing. I can’t wait to try some…in five or so years when it’s ready.

Woodford Reserve distillery tour

Past the fermentor tanks were the three stills, which are from Scotland.

Woodford Reserve limestone building and bourbon barrel tracks

We saw that after the spirits work their way through the stills, they are barreled and rolled along a track to the aging warehouse.

barrels of Woodford Reserve bourbon

I think the aging warehouse may have been our favorite part. Just upon walking into the warehouse, you’re overwhelmed by the sweet smell of the aging Bourbon. In a good way.

Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels

bottling bourbon at Woodford Reserve distillery

And after checking out the bottling process, we got to sample some Woodford and have a Bourbon Ball. Thanks Woodford!

free chocolate bourbon ball and shot of Woodford Reserve bourbon

Swig & Swill


Seelbach Cocktail

With the Kentucky Derby just around the corner, it’s not too early to dust off your mint julep recipes to make sure they’ve still got it. What’s that? You’re afraid you’ll catch mint julep fatigue before the big day? Never fear. Just work the classic Seelbach cocktail into your derby repertoire. The Seelbach was created in 1917 at the famed Louisville hotel of the same name. If you happen to like manhattans and champagne more than mint, this may end up being your derby cocktail of choice.

  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
  • 7 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • Champagne

Add all ingredients except Champagne to a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir and strain into a coupe and top with chilled Champagne and a lemon peel.

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A Westervin Wedding, Swig & Swill

Swig & Swill: The Perfect Lu

Jed, the groomsman, helps wedding-goers Brandon and Alana at the bar. { photo by Sarah Hughes }

{ photo by Soraya Rowley }

Lynne & CC enjoy carefully crafted cocktails { photo by Sarah Hughes }

Layet, Scott & Soraya { photo by Grandma Jane }

Layet, Sarah & Brian { photo by Sarah Hughes }

So we had a pretty great time at our wedding and one of my favorite parts was how much our friends were willing to help out. A prime example was the bar. While Sarah and I procured all of the alcohol and came up with recipes that could be built in a single glass, we hadn’t made all of the garnishes and syrups, or totally thought through the best way to arrange everything. Luckily, our friends (especially Jed and Ben) stepped up in a big way, slicing oranges, juicing limes, and making grenadine. The result was amazing.

The Bar { photo by Soraya Rowley }

CC, Meredith & Jim, Sarah, Matt, and Alana { photo by Grandma Jane }

Here’s another one of the suggested cocktails we had–this one might be my favorite. It ends up looking like ice tea, but don’t be fooled.

The Perfect Lu

start with 1/2 glass of ice
2 dashes angostura bitters
2 dashes celery bitters
1/2 oz. honey syrup
1 oz. dry vermouth
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1 oz. bourbon
enjoy with a slice of lemon

Adjusted from the Perfect Louis

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Swig & Swill

Swig & Swill: Chicago Sidecar & Allspice Dram pt. 2

After you’ve agitated the rum allspice concoction for 10 days, you’ll need to strain all of that allspice out. It’s probably easiest to run it all through a coffee filter. As with most homemade libations that you have to strain, make sure you press on the spent allspice to extract as much flavor as possible. Once you have your strained allspice rum, you’ll need to make a 1:1 simple syrup with brown sugar (simmer a 1:1 mixture of sugar to water in a small pan until it is clear and not cloudy). Let the syrup cool off, combine it with rum, and pour it into a bottle. It will probably taste pretty rough at first, so you’ll want to let it sit around for awhile. Paul Clarke recommends 30 days or so.

There you have it! Allspice dram. A pretty straightforward liqueur that is perfect for the season, and considering it’s use in tiki drinks, it’s probably pretty good in warmer months, too. All you really need to make it yourself is time. Of course you can always buy St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram at your better equipped liquor store. In any case, you may be wondering what kind of cocktail this could possibly be used in? Well, luckily for you, I’ve got just the thing.

Chicago Winter Sidecar

1.5oz Bourbon (preferably something higher than 80 proof)
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
.25 oz pimento dram
1tsp honey (adjust to taste)
egg white
2 dashes of coffee bitters

Add all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, fill with ice. Shake and strain into a coupe glass (champagne saucer). Garnish with a lemon twist and maybe a few allspice berries. If you feel a bit squeamish about the raw egg white, the drink will work perfectly fine with out it–you’ll just loose a bit of texture. This recipe builds upon the Black River Sidecar.

The Chicago Winter Sidecar is really good. I think it’s one of two whiskey-based drinks that Sarah actually liked (the other being Paul McGee’s Gristmill at The Whistler), both of which have a dose of allspice dram. So if you don’t happen to be very fond of whiskey or find yourself hanging out with someone who ‘hates the stuff,’ you might suggest a cocktail with a little bit of dram: a miracle cure for the whiskey averse.

Swig & Swill

Swig & Swill: Dead Bastard

vintage photograph of hawaiian tiki festival

{ Tiki Gardens Postcard from Greg Tykal }

With the revival of vintage tiki drinks and the opening of bars like Smuggler’s Cove in SF, Rum seems to be set for a big decade. For our party a little while ago, I used Joe Scialom’s recipe for the

Dead Bastard (via TraderTiki):

  • 1/2 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz Brandy
  • 1/2 oz Bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Rum
  • 1/2 oz Rose’s lime juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 4 ounces of chilled ginger beer

Shake Gently with 1 cup Crushed Ice, pour into Goblet or other large vessel.  Garnish with whatever the hell, it’s dead and doesn’t care.  I used a whole lime.  It’s a big drink.

To really hammer home the deathly theme of the drink I used Bulleit Bourbon, and Death’s Door Gin. If anyone happens to know any death themed Rum or Cognac, please let me know.