We’re back from Mexico! While I’ve had my fair share of margaritas during the past few days, I’m still going to take a hot sec to tell you about another cocktail. Another fizzy cocktail! Yup, it’s my second “fizz” drink in a month. And I’m not apologizing for it. You see, this one couldn’t be more different from the last one I shared. That’s my justification. Hear me out.
Is it just me, or do fizzy things just seem more fun and fancy? Think champagne. Whenever I drink it, I feel fancy…even if it’s out of a plastic champagne flute on New Year’s Eve. Doesn’t matter. Fizzy = fancy.
I’ve always been a fan of fizzy things. Even though soda was a rare treat growing up, I always felt super special and grown up when it was offered. One of my favorite things to do to this day is to fancy up a glass of water by adding in a splash each of fruit juice and seltzer. And a straw! Gotta have the straw. It makes drinking water so much fun. I’m telling ya, fizz makes me giddy.
Given that, it should be no surprise that I love gin fizzes. I’ve talked about it before here and here, so I’ll spare you this time…but it really does make sense for them to be a fav of mine. It is a FANCY cocktail, no matter how you spin it (or shake it! Sorry…).
Wanting to expand my fizzy cocktail repertoire, I decided to try my hand at a bourbon fizz. Now, I should preface with this embarrassing fact: I usually do not like brown liquor. Like, at all. I die a little bit inside when we’re out at a trendy restaurant on one of our very rare date nights, and the husband orders an exotic sounding bourbon drink made with the tears of fairies or something…and I pick out a oh-so-typical vodka or gin martini infused with elderflower or citrus (#predictable). I want SO BADLY to like the fairy-tear-infused concoction, but I never do. Sigh. I feel so uncultured…or something.
Irish whiskey seems to be the only one that I can really tolerate, but it’s safe to say that I’ve, um, over-tolerated whiskey a few too many times in my past (if you know what I mean). I still drink it from time to time, but it is definitely not my go-to choice like gin or vodka. I so prefer the lighter booze because it’s so much easier to drink. I have to really work a sip of the brown stuff down. And the face I make after said sip is probably hilarious. Many a bartender has probably had a good laugh at my expense. They’re all like “Oh, look, Miss Appletini over there isn’t into the REAL drinks. Surprise, surprise.”
So, this espresso bourbon fizz was a real challenge for me to wrap my head around. But I was determined to share something “grown up” and “sophisticated” to go with my excitement surrounding the fizz (yes, I realize that sentence makes me sound anything but grown up, haha)…and so…I sucked it up and put this recipe together. And guess what? I ended up liking it. Like, a lot. A LOT.
I started out with the idea of fizz. Yup. Needed to happen. But a different kind of fizz. Something darker and more interesting. Enter bourbon. What goes well with brown liquors? Besides vanilla ice cream. And apple cider. Coffee. No. Espresso. And warm sweetness from things like molasses and brown sugar. Yes. This could work.
The result of my brainstorming was so much better than I was expecting. The coffee simple syrup, paired with the spicy, warm bourbon works SO well. It’s slightly sweet, slightly smoky, and very, very smooth going down, which I require. The airy, fun, and FANCY fizz element just makes this cocktail feel a little different. It was one that both my husband and I could (and did!) enjoy. Something sophisticated and manly (hold the fairy tears) with a touch of girly fun.
It was cocktail marriage perfection. If you’re like me and not into the brown booze, give this one a try! I promise that it isn’t overwhelming at all. If I can drink this without looking like I just got punched in the face, you can too!
It’s the perfect drink for this margarita’d-out gal.
For the Coffee Simple Syrup:
- 1 cup brewed coffee
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional, see NOTES)
For the Cocktails:
- 4 oz bourbon
- 1 shot espresso, cooled (see NOTES)
- 2 oz coffee simple syrup
- 1–2 dashes of bitters (I used Peychaud’s bitters)
- 1 large egg white
- Splash of plain seltzer
For the Coffee Simple Syrup:
- Combine the coffee and sugars in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Stirring frequently, bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook for a couple minutes or until the sugars are completely dissolved.
- Remove from heat and then mix in the vanilla and espresso powder. Stir well to dissolve the espresso.
- Cool completely. This can be made ahead and stored in the fridge in an airtight container.
For the Cocktails:
- To a shaker filled with ice, add the bourbon, espresso, syrup, and bitters. Shake vigorously until everything is thoroughly chilled.
- Add in the egg white and shake again for a minute or so. You want the mixture to be really frothy.
- Strain the cocktail into two chilled glasses. Add a splash of seltzer to the shaker and then, using a spoon, gently top the glasses with any residual foam left in the shaker. Serve immediately.
- For the simple syrup, the espresso powder is optional. It results in a stronger coffee taste, which I like. If you don’t have it on hand, though, this cocktail is still plenty yummy without it!
- If you do not have espresso, you can use ¼ cup of strong coffee instead. Just make sure to cool it to room temperature before using.