Carolina Mule – An Adult Beverage Recipe

Carolina Mule my version of the Moscow-Kentucky Mule

Moscow Mules are all the rage apparently. Copper cups, vodka and ginger beer with a bit of lime. I was reading one of my cooking magazine (I forget which) and I came across a Kentucky Mule. Basically they replace the vodka with bourbon. Anyone who knows me, knows very well that if bourbon is involved, I’m in.

I got to thinking (very dangerous), what if I switched up the ingredients a little and used some local products. I give you the Carolina Mule.

In my Carolina Mule I use bourbon from a local distillery called Six & Twenty. They have a very cool back story involving Issaqueena, a Choctaw Native American maiden. The particular version of bourbon was their 5 Grain whiskey that uses all local grains.

Blenheim Ginger Ale is stuff of South Carolina legend. I’m not sure if you can get this stuff anywhere but the south. There are three flavors that are distingiushed by the color of the cap on the old-school looking bottles. The #9 has a white cap and is a diet version. We like to pretend that this one doesn’t exist. The second is #5 and it has a gold cap. This one will test you pretty good. The third is Old #3 Hot and it has a red cap (actually, it is sort of pink). This one is my favorite and it will BLOW. YOU. UP. It is like drinking pepper, super spicy, and burns your throat as it goes down. Seriouly, when you first try it you’ll be like, “Why?, Why would you do that?”. Soon… you’ll crave that burn, you’ll need that burn and you will be addicted. I’ve heard stories of people driving hours and buying cases of this stuff.

My Carolina Mule has bitters in it. Why? Because I made them. My wife gave me a kit to make my own bitters. I made two kinds, one had a high proof bourbon as the base, the other had Carolina White Lightning (moonshine). I’m not going to say where the moonshine came from, as it might get members of my family in trouble. Let’s just say, this stuff is legit, not that low proof crap they sell in liquor stores and mass market. BTW, if it is sold in a store, it ain’t moonshine. Anyway, I made the bitters with citrus. They are potent to say the least. I understand that you all won’t have Carolina White Lightning citrus bitters, so use what ever bitter you like or leave them out.

I further modified the Moscow/Kentucky Mule versions by adding ginger infused simple syrup. In the south, we like things sweet and just a little bit of the syrup topped the drink off in a fantastic way. For the final southern touch, I used a frozen Mason Jar instead of the traditional copper cup.

So to sum up, this is my version of a Kentucky Mule’s version of a Moscow Mule. It did turn out very nice.



  • 2.5 oz Six & Twenty 5 Grain Bourbon (or your favorite bourbon)
  • 1-2 dash Carolina white lightning citrus bitters
  • .5 oz ginger infuezed simple syrup
  • 1 lime
  • 1 sprig mint
  • 1 bottle Blenheim Old #3 Hot – Red Cap Ginger Ale (ginger beer works well too)

  1. Add the bourbon, bitters, 1/2 the juice from the lime, ginger simple syrup and a few mint leaves in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to combine.
  2. In a frozen Mason jar, glass or copper cup add ice and strain in the contents of the shaker.
  3. Fill the glass with Blenheim Ginger Ale.
  4. Garnish with mint and lime and enjoy (responsibily, this stuff packs a punch.
Carolina Mule – An Adult Beverage Recipe

Roasted duck, caramelized sweet potatoes, watercress, green apple “kimchi” with a bourbon-maple gastrique

Roasted duck, caramelized sweet potatoes, watercress, green apple "kimchi" with a bourbon maple gastrique

This. Was. Amazing. One of the best things I’ve made in awhile.

I’ve talked about Dudley’s on Short in Lexington, KY. I actually had a VERY similar meal there which I blogged recently (Roasted Duck Breast and Dudley’s on Short). My comment was that it might have been a little sweet for my taste. I also want a little heat in things I make.

My wife doesn’t like duck (or rabbit or beef tongue…). So I either eat it at a restaurant or make it while she is out of town. This weekend she was away on business, so I decided to recreate the Dudley’s meal I had.

I basically made the same meal but here are my tweaks. I did NOT peel the sweet potatoes and it worked out great. The peels got a little crunchy which added something missing from the Dudley’s version. I added more watercress because I like it. Instead of pickled apples, I made a quick faux kimchi out of green apples. The kimchi could not have worked out better. It added more sour and a bit of heat, also something missing from the Dudley’s dish. Finally, because I love bourbon, I made the gastrique my own.

Again, this meal was awesome. The rich duck, the not too sweet caramelized sweet potatoes, the watercress that adds earthiness and slightly wilts under the duck and potato, the crunch and bite of the apple and the sweet and sour punch of the bourbon gastrique. Amazing.



  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 bunch of watercress
  • 1 large green apple, sliced in thin strips
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Bourbon whiskey
  • Brown sugar
  • Butter / olive oil
  • Maple syrup
  • Lemon juice
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper

  1. In a seal-able bowl or Tupperware, add the sliced apple, 1/3 apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper to taste (should be spicy). Cover with a little water, seal and shake until combined. Place in your refrigerator and occasionally shake to mix. The longer this sits, the better it will be so you can do this the day before.
  2. The measurements are approximate but here is my best guess (sorry). In a small sauce pot, add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1/3 cup bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, pinch of salt and whisk together. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Allow to reduce until you have a desired consistency, 20-30 minutes.
  3. Set oven to 350 F.
  4. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the potato in the oven. Bake 45 minutes to an hour until tender. Remove and let them cool slightly. Slice ¼ to ½ inch slices.
  5. Butter a backing dish, add the potato slices in a single layer, top with olive oil, a sprinkle of brown sugar and a small dollop of butter. Bake about 10 minutes then flip on the broiler for another 5-10 until sugar is melted and caramelized. Keep warm.
  6. Score the fatty side of the duck breast with cross hatches. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  7. Heat a medium oven proof pan over medium heat. Even before the pan is up to temperature, place the duck breast in the pan fatty side down. Allow the fat to render slowly. Once the fat has rendered and that side is golden brown, reserve all but a couple of tablespoons of the fat and flip the duck. Continue cooking until browned. Check the temperature, I prefer rare (about 130 F) but the USDA recommends 170 F. If the temperature you want is not achieved, add the whole pan to the oven and continue cooking. Allow the duck to cool and slice.
  8. To plate, add a layer of the sweet potatoes on the bottom, top with the watercress, top that will the duck and green apple kimchi. Finally, drizzle the gastrique over everything.
  9. Enjoy!
Roasted duck, caramelized sweet potatoes, watercress, green apple “kimchi” with a bourbon-maple gastrique

Roasted Duck Breast at Dudley’s on Short

Roasted Duck Breast Dudleys on Short in Lexington, KY

Trips to visit my wife’s family takes us right through Kentucky. I love that part of the drive. Rolling, lush hills. It is a beautiful part of the country. Going up we make the trip from SC in one big drive. Lately we’ve been breaking the trip back in two legs. Why do we do that? Well I’d like to say to lighten the stress of the trip. The real reason is bourbon. Kentucky = Bourbon. I have been a whiskey nut since college and I’ve been collecting whiskey for about 10 years. Anyway, half way home (right about Lexington, KY) puts us smack dab in the middle of The Bourbon Trail. A stay in downtown Lexington can get me to most of my favorite distilleries in 30 minutes to an hours drive. My Mecca.

What does this all have to do with food?

When planning our first trip, as any foodie would do, I started asking where we should eat. A number of folks suggested that we go to Dudley’s on Short. A quick look at the menu and I was sold. Only then did I start looking for a hotel that would provide easy access to the restaurant. We have subsequently been back to that same hotel and the same restuarant several times, each as enjoyable as the last. On our last trip I had Roasted Duck Breast. Dudley’s describes the meal as such:

caramelized sweet potato, pickled apple, watercress, maple gastrique

As with all the meals we’ve had the flavors are honest and restrained. It was maybe a little sweet for my taste but the crust on the duck and the watercress helped some to balance it out. The duck was cooked perfectly (not always easy to do). The sweet potato, apple and the gastrique were all well conceived and complimented each other nicely

This might sound weird but some of our favorite items on the menu are salads. The Kale salad was literally a revelation and we make it at home several times a month. Dudley’s describes the salad here:

dried cherries, pine nuts, lemon, olive oil

Truly, this salad screams restraint. So simply, yet so delicious. If in the area, I recommend Dudley’s on Short. I’ve read some reviews about it being pricey and the “posh” place to be seen, but I would disagree. Dudley’s will be a regular routine for us.

Have you been to Dudley’s on Short? What did you think?

Roasted Duck Breast at Dudley’s on Short

Labrot & Graham’s Woodford Reserve Distillery Tour Photos

Woodford Distilery Versailles, KY 2014

I might have mentioned before, I’m a huge bourbon fan. On a recent trip, we had the pleasure of touring the Labrot & Graham’s Woodford Reserve Distillery. Woodford was probably the first premium bourbon I started drinking. For a very long time, it was my “daily” drinker and even now I always have a bottle in the house.

As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, I suck at photography. I wish I didn’t, but I do. Never the less, below are some pics of the tour. The tour was fun but they hadn’t finished the new visitor’s center, which left me wanting more. Much like the Buffalo Trace standard tour, they provide very basic knowledge and access. I would recommend this, if you are in the Frankfort area. If you are a Justified (TV show on FX), the drive will look a lot like the intro.

Woodford Distilery Mash Tub
Woodford Distilery Mash Tub

Woodford Distilery Copperpot
Woodford Distilery Copperpot

Woodford Reserve Distillery Barrels
Woodford Reserve Distillery Barrels

Woodford Reserve Bourbon Aging Nicely
Woodford Reserve Bourbon Aging Nicely

Woodford Distilery Copperpot
Woodford Distilery Copperpot

Woodford Reserve Distillery Barrel

Woodford Distilery Rickhouse
Woodford Distilery Rickhouse

Labrot & Graham’s Woodford Reserve Distillery Tour Photos

Sweet Corn Soup and Grilled Cheese with Bourbon-Bacon Jam

Sweet Corn Soup and Grilled Cheese Bourbon-Bacon Jam

Yes, that’s right Bourbon-Bacon Jam. Make this now if you like bourbon and bacon.

I got the basis of this meal from Bourbon Country magazine (Go figure, right?). I was obviously intrigued by the bourbon-bacon jam, but really the whole meal sounded great. I tweaked it a good bit, like I served the soup warm (it was chill outside) and added the chili for heat. The sandwiches would’ve probably been better if the tomato and arugula were added after cooking.

I would have never thought of making the parmesan and olive oil mixture to make the crust on the grilled cheese, nice touch. In the Bourbon Country article the chef (Levon Wallace, Proof on Main in Louisville, KY) used butter but I prefer the more healthy version of olive oil. I’ll be doing that forever.

Ironically, the soup turned out to be the star. It was bursting with fresh corn flavor and the back-end chili heat was a perfect match.


Bourbon-Bacon Jam Ingredients

  • 4 pieces of applewood smoked bacon (I prefer Niman Ranch)
  • ½ white onion, sliced thin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup coffee
  • ½ cup maple syrup
Bourbon-Bacon Jam Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook bacon until brown mostly rendered. Reserve fat.
  2. Add onions and 1 tablespoon of reserved bacon fat. Cook until caramelized, about 6-8 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened.
  4. Place in food processor and pulse to a consistency you like.


Sweet Corn Soup Ingredients

  • 4 ears fresh corn, husks removed and kernels shucked, cobs reserved
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1 cup dry white wine (or sherry)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • Cheyenne pepper (to taste)
  • Chipotle chili powder (to taste)
  • Olive oil
Sweet Corn Soup Directions

  1. In a large stock pot, add water, chicken stock, bay leaf and corn cobs and bring to boil then reduce to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, strain and reserve the liquid.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, shallot and vegetable oil and cook for 2 minutes, add reserved corn kernels. Toss and cook another 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add wine, lemon zest and juice, Cheyenne pepper, Chipotle Chili powder and continue cooking until the liquid has reduced by half. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In batches, add corn mixture with corn stock to a blender. Puree until very smooth and repeat until all of the mixture is smooth. Using a strainer, pass the puree slowly through working with a spatula discarding pulp.
  5. Place soup in a pot and cover. Keep warm.


Grilled Cheese Ingredients

  • 4 slices bread (we used multi-grain Italian from Publix)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese (only the best)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices provolone cheese
  • Tomato, thinly sliced
  • Baby arugula
Grilled Cheese Directions

  1. Pre heat a griddle or large pan over medium heat.
  2. In a small bowl, add parmesan cheese and equal amount of olive oil and mix to combine. See aside.
  3. Assemble sandwiches by adding cheese, tomato, arugula and a small drizzle of olive oil on one side and bourbon-bacon jam on the other.
  4. Slather the outside of the top piece of bread with the parmesan cheese and olive oil mixture and place that side on the griddle. While on the griddle, slather the other side with the remaining parmesan and oil mixture. Cook until golden brown.
Sweet Corn Soup and Grilled Cheese with Bourbon-Bacon Jam

Buffalo Trace Distillery Tour Photos

At the entrance to Buffalo Trace Distillery

I’m a huge bourbon fan. On a recent trip, we had the pleasure of touring the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Some of my favorite bourbons are made right there, so I was very excited.

Below are a few photos I took along the tour. I apologize for the filters a head of time and the generally poor images. The tour was nice, but next time I’ll go on the “Hardhat Tour”, it is supposedly more in-depth. Also, the basic tour (which is free, I might add) was heavily branded toward the Buffalo Trace brand of bourbon (which I don’t hate). The tour guide was very nice and knowledgeable and you get to taste a few at the end of the tour.


W L Weller's bottling building, Buffalo Trace
W. L. Weller’s bottling building

Buffalo Trace Tower
Buffalo Trace Tower

Warehouse I, Buffalo Trace
Warehouse I, Buffalo Trace

Warehouse D, Brief Marketing Video Room
Warehouse D, Brief Marketing Video Room

Warehouse D, Entrance
Warehouse D, Entrance

Warehouse D, basement barrel rows
Warehouse D, Basement Barrel Rows

Blanton's Bottling Building
Blanton’s Bottling Building

A Cabinet I Want In My House
A Cabinet I Want In My House

Buffalo Trace Distillery Tour Photos