It’s hot here so I’m always looking for a refreshing way to beat the heat. One of my solutions is bourbon. There is debate over the origin of the term, but no matter where the word came from, bourbon refers to a version of whiskey that’s made in a particular place, from a particular grain, and aged in particular barrels.

Corn and Kentucky
Under the strict definition, bourbon refers to a whiskey made in the state of Kentucky from a mostly corn-based mash – as dictated by law – of at least 50 percent. The term itself has to do with Bourbon County, Kentucky, though the county no longer actually hosts any distilleries. Once it drips from the stills, bourbon is deposited into fire-toasted oak barrels. These barrels help to smooth out the fiery alcohol overtones and bring out distinctive flavours like oak, vanilla and cinnamon, while adding a distinctive smoky brown hue.

Though you might find it difficult to comprehend, alcohol was banned in the United States for most of the 1920s.  As a result, the number of legal bourbon distilleries plummeted to nearly none. The tradition lingered on but it took more than half a century after Prohibition ended for the industry to really find its feet. By the turn of the 21st century, a newly found appreciation for these old ways and a rediscovered appreciation for assertive cocktails allowed a big, flavourful spirit like bourbon to find its way back to the forefront.

Localised Bourbon Sour
My personal favourite way to enjoy the spirit in this weather is a simple Bourbon Sour. Like most cocktails you can use the common stuff, but the higher you go the better your drink gets. For this one, on the common side I prefer Evan Williams but if you’re going to splurge get yourself some Maker’s Mark. In place of common lemon and lime juice I’ve substituted local sweet lime, which you can tinker with depending on the sweetness of the limes and your own taste buds.

Saigon Bourbon Sour
60 ml Bourbon Whiskey
30 ml Cointreau
20 ml Fresh Sweet Lime (Tac) Juice
10 ml simple syrup.

Add ingredients to a shaker loaded with ice. Shake it nearly to death and strain into a chilled glass of your choice.

Michael Kloster grew up in the vineyard countryside west of Fresno, California. He has been involved in the hospitality industry for two decades. He has organised the Lucky Wine Buyers’ Collective for spirits and wine lovers in Saigon. If you want something to drink,

please contact him at