June 3rd, 2010
A Bulleit Bourbon silver julep cup
Few things are better than a long lunch on a weekday afternoon. If you’re exceptionally lucky, you might be sipping from a mint Julep expertly prepared, served in an ice cold silver julep cup, piled high with crushed ice, slightly sweet, with just enough bourbon to put a smile on your face and richness to your laugh. You’d be even luckier if you spent this extended power lunch in the presence of the man responsible for the bourbon. A gracious southern gentleman who’s family began making bourbon in his home state of Kentucky in the 1800’s. That is just how we spent a sunny Wednesday afternoon in May, with Tom Bulliet, owner and voice of Bulliet Bourbon.
Bulleit Bourbon founder, Tom Bulleit!
As smooth as his family’s recipe for frontier whiskey, Tom regaled us with stories of the whiskey trade, the new found interest in small craft bourbons and ‘not taking a bigger piece of pie, but making the pie bigger,’ a business model that makes him as humble as he is humorous. (Yes he’s friendly with all the neighboring bourbon houses and they get along “smoothly”!)
From the classic medicine bottle design by northwest ‘s own glitterati designer Steve Sandstrom in Oregon , to the smooth liquor just under the cap, to the philosophy that tradition of great bourbon doesn’t stop at the bottle but continues on with each bartender behind the bar, Mr. Bulliet embodies the modern philosophy of spirits and spirit culture.
The rebirth of Bulliet bourbon follows closely the rebirth of American Cocktail-ing as he resurrected his families recipe in the mid 1980’s, when spirit culture could be said to be at its lowest point. By the 1990’s Bulliet joined Seagram’s and was given the resources to handpick ingredients to truly honor his family’s longstanding dedication to tradition. About this time a stirring of bartenders were turning back the clock and rediscovering a history nearly lost in pre-mixes, modern technology, and watered down expectations. As these barmen ignited a revolution in cocktails, Bulliet was there to regale the rebirth.
As for lunch, the south Lake Union Daniel’s Broiler spoiled us with a fabulous lunch paired with a sampling of cocktails made of course with Bulliet and some of Daniel’s house made bitters, which we tasted as well and are quite delightful. Beside the mint julep we sampled a wonderfully balanced Manhattan, dryer in flavor as Bulleit contains the highest percentage of rye in the bourbon family. My favorite cocktail of the day was what Mr. Bulliet referred to as the B.L.T – Bulliet, Lemon, and Tonic. Since Bourbon is not often paired with tonic it was a pleasant departure from bourbon and soda and a richer flavor than your usual Gin.
It is a rare delight to soak up the afternoon sipping cocktails, but even more so in the company of such a charming, intelligent and dedicated figure. If you’ve never tried Bulleit, indulge yourself. The next sunny day you find yourself wet at the whistle, pour a nip over ice top it with tonic and a squeeze of lemon and watch the leaves dance in the afternoon sun. You deserve it.
Cheers with a Bulleit-made Manhattan!