Warm Up With Balcones Winter Whisky Cocktails

"Whisky is liquid sunshine" - George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright

With the chill of winter sending shivers down our spines, we could all use a little more sunshine and if it comes in the form of whisky, so be it! Balcones Distilling, the award-winning craft distillery in Waco, Texas, has been one of The Wine Chef's favorite whisky producers for several years now. Started in 2008 by Chip Tate, the distillery was built by hand with only a few tools, the help of some friends and a dream to make legendary artisanal whisky. The Baby Blue, made from roasted blue corn, has the honor of being the first legal Texas whisky since the end of Prohibition. In 2016, Balcones was named Best Craft Whiskey Distillery by the readers of USA Today.


The folks at Balcones Distillery were happy to share some of their favorite whisky cocktails to help keep us warm until the daffodils and tulips begin to bloom. As you sip these warming concoctions, I think you'll be in agreement with Mr. Shaw.  Cheers!


The Rumble Bee Airmail Cocktail

Honey highlights the richness of the Rumble whisky in this cocktail and helps to bring out the fig, plum, nectarine and grapefruit notes.  The bubbles add a refreshing effervescent quality.


Ingredients (for one cocktail):

1.5 ounces Balcones Rumble whisky

0.75 ounces honey/water solution (1:1)

0.5 ounces lime juice

2 dashes angostura bitters

Sparkling wine 

Shake and strain first four ingredients together and serve in a champagne flute or martini glass. Top with your favorite sparkling wine.


The Boulevardier

This drink highlights the orange citrus flavors found in the Texas Single Malt.

Ingredients (for one cocktail):

1.5 ounces Texas Single Malt whisky


0.75 ounces Cynar artichoke amaro

0.75 ounces aperol

3 dashes orange bitters

3 dashes angostura bitters

Stir and strain above ingredients and serve up or on the rocks.  Garnish with an orange slice or twist.


The Chai Brimstone Old Fashioned

The Chai syrup provides a very pleasant, earthy base note to this drink. The dilution of the Brimstone helps to dial back the smoke element of the whisky and brings out more of the sweet characteristics in the spirit. Leaving the infusion longer will result in a deeper chai flavor.

Ingredients (for one cocktail):

0.25 ounces Chai Tea Syrup (see below)

2 ounces Brimstone whisky

2 dashes angostura bitters

Stir and serve over the rocks. Garnish with an orange slice or twist.


Chai tea syrup

1 quart water

6 chai tea bags

4 cups sugar

Bring the water to a boil and remove from heat.  Add 6 chai tea bags and infuse for approximately 15 minutes, or longer for a deeper chai flavor.  Add sugar and stir until dissolved.


Barbara's Paper Airplane

This recipe was given to me by a friend who makes a pitcher of it to keep handy in the fridge all week long!  The addition of blood orange juice is a fresh spin on a classic cocktail.

Ingredients (makes 2 cocktails):


1½ ounces Balcones Baby Blue corn whisky

1½ ounces amaro (preferably Nonino)

1½ ounces aperol

1½ ounces fresh lemon juice, strained

1½ ounces fresh blood orange juice

Combine whiskey, amaro, aperol, lemon and blood orange juices in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously until outside of shaker is frosty, about 20 seconds. Strain into 2 glasses and serve straight up or on the rocks.  Or, to make a 30 ounce pitcher, multiply the ingredients by 4.  Stir and pour into glasses, with our without ice.