The Perfect Blend: Unveiling the Bourbon Renewal Cocktail

The Extraordinary Mixologist, Jeffrey Morgenthaler

Jeffrey Morgenthaler is no ordinary celebrity bartender. While many renowned mixologists have transitioned to bar ownership or become brand ambassadors, Morgenthaler stays true to his craft by actually working behind the bar. With extensive experience tending bars ranging from dive bars to sports bars, Morgenthaler is not just a cocktail aficionado but a skillful bartender in the truest sense.

Unlike other famous cocktail figures, Morgenthaler still works regular shifts at his own bar, Pacific Standard in Portland. He’s the kind of bartender who can make appearances on late-night TV shows and then return to his bar a few days later, engaging with customers and concocting their favorite drinks. In his illustrious career, Morgenthaler has made significant contributions to the cocktail world, including popularizing both barrel-aged and bottled carbonated cocktails. He has also served as the lead judge for the San Francisco Spirits Competition and authored two books.

The Noteworthy Creation: Introducing the Bourbon Renewal

One of Morgenthaler’s most notable creations is the Bourbon Renewal. This classic cocktail, consisting of bourbon, fresh lemon juice, creme de cassis, and bitters, first originated in 2001 at the Bel Ami Lounge in Eugene, Oregon. It’s important to note the timing here: back in 2001, when the cocktail renaissance was still in its infancy, Morgenthaler was already utilizing fresh lemon juice and perfect balance to create simple yet elegant cocktails that would stand the test of time.

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A Jazzed-Up Whiskey Sour

Imagine the Bourbon Renewal as a jazzed-up version of a Whiskey Sour. By adding a dash of creme de cassis and bitters, this cocktail takes on new dimensions, reminiscent of Dick Bradsell’s Bramble and the timeless New York Sour. The inherently delightful qualities of a Whiskey Sour are enhanced by the tangy cassis, which adds a refreshing and juicy twist. It’s the ideal drink to combat the scorching heat of summer while tantalizing your taste buds with its seamless fusion of flavors.

Bourbon Renewal Cocktail

Crafting the Perfect Bourbon Renewal

Making a Bourbon Renewal couldn’t be simpler. Just combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously for six to eight seconds. Strain the mixture over fresh ice into a rocks glass and garnish with a lemon wheel or a couple of juicy blackberries on a pick.

Now, let’s delve into some notes on the ingredients that will help you perfect your Bourbon Renewal:

Notes on Ingredients

Bourbon: When it comes to bourbon selection, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. While sweeter bourbons like Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, and Four Roses Small Batch work wonderfully in this cocktail, spicier options such as Old Forester, Bulleit, or Wild Turkey 101 also shine. Ultimately, choose a bourbon that suits your personal taste preferences.

Lemon Juice: As always, fresh juice is paramount to achieving the best results. Keep in mind that the measurements for lemon juice may seem slightly unusual. Morgenthaler’s original instructions, dating back to 2004, call for a slightly larger amount of lemon juice than the standard 0.75 oz. This discrepancy arises from the challenge of adjusting the sweetness level to match a reduced lemon juice quantity effectively. Feel free to experiment with these measurements as you see fit, knowing that the cocktail will be delicious regardless of the exact ratios.

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Simple Syrup: To prepare simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. If you use hot water, this process should take approximately 30 seconds. Without hot water, allow for around five minutes. Keep your simple syrup refrigerated, and it will remain usable for up to a month.

Creme de Cassis: Fortunately, we now have an array of delectable creme de cassis brands to choose from. While Lejay is a personal favorite, Mathilde, Giffard, and Massanez are also excellent options. Explore different brands and discover your preferred creme de cassis, which not only contributes fruity flavors but also imparts a tart edge and acidic tension that other berry liqueurs, such as creme de mure or Chambord, lack.

Angostura Bitters: In the Bourbon Renewal, Angostura Bitters play a crucial role, adding a touch of spice to bridge the gap between the fruitiness of the liqueurs and the oaky notes of the bourbon. Angostura Bitters are specifically recommended, and it’s advisable to follow that guidance. However, even without bitters, the cocktail will still be delightful. Nonetheless, having a bottle of Angostura Bitters on hand is highly recommended for any aspiring mixologist.

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge and taste for a Bourbon Renewal, it’s time to unleash your inner bartender and treat yourself and your friends to this remarkable cocktail. Remember, nothing beats the authentic expertise and craftsmanship of a true bartender, and Morgenthaler’s Bourbon Renewal exemplifies these qualities to the fullest.


Join us at Hook’d Up Bar and Grill and explore our wide range of handcrafted cocktails, expertly crafted by our skilled bartenders.