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From Our Old Kentucky Home to Yours

I’m going to start this post off by saying I can’t stand recipe posts with a huge long story that you’ve got to scroll through before you even get to the recipe, so I’m just going to give it to you upfront. But there is a story here, so make yourself a FORTITUDE and stick around for the reason behind the drink:

1.5 ounces of bourbon.
1 ounce of a spice tea liqueur*.
1 ounce of OJ

Pour over ice, shake – strain into a coupe.
Garnish with a lemon twist.
If there’s still room in your glass, you can top with tonic or Prosecco.
Steven prefers tonic, I prefer Prosecco.

Now, to the origins of the cocktail: before we moved to Seattle, we lived in Louisville, Kentucky for 15 fantastic years. We weren’t living there for a month before we were introduced to the wonders of the Bourbon Slushy by one of the only two people we knew when we arrived. After the first glorious taste, I had to have the recipe — I changed up the ingredients ever so slightly and made it part of our family repertoire for the next 15 years. Here’s my variation of the recipe so you don’t have to scroll further, but again – I feel like its a good story and I promise I’ll tie it all together, but here you go. Please note this isn’t a cocktail you just make and drink – you’ve got to plan 24 hours ahead:

Half bottle of bourbon**
4 cups of brewed black tea
1 canister of frozen concentrate lemonade
1 canister of frozen concentrate OJ
4 cups of water
Put everything into a reusable plastic container, mix it all up – make sure the frozen concentrate juices are melted and incorporated. Put it in the freezer – best for 24 hours. Serve by scooping into cups – nice to have a spoon for the first few bites, but once it gets a little melty, it’s perfection.


The Bourbon Slushy’s were best enjoyed when shared with a crowd of your nearest and dearest while bundled up against the cold and probably standing on the side of a hill ankle deep in mud on the sidelines of a cyclocross race while you cheered at the top of your lungs for friends and pros alike. If you’re unfamiliar with this sort of scenario, have a peek below to get a general idea of the vibe. The slushy’s are also great for anytime a big batch of boozyness is in order – hanging in your kitchen with friends for instance.

Here’s where I bring it all home. We’re living on the boat, the first cases of Covid in the US are a few miles from Seattle, we’re facing a lockdown and we have no freezer on board. Cocktail making became a bit of a …. how shall I put it? A lifesaver, a hobby? What else was there to do? Bourbon was a favored cocktail base due to those 15 years in Kentucky – that just stays with you even after you’ve left. The looming question, though, was how to evoke the vibe of a Bourbon Slushy with no freezer? After some trial and error with real tea (too weak), tea bitters (too bitter), or tea liqueur (just right), and trying to decide between using lemonade (too tart) or OJ (more subtle) – the FORTITUDE was finally born. Crafted to taste exactly like the delicious moment the frozen slushy had melted just enough to drink it without a spoon. I think we nailed it. If you make it, let us know what you think.

*A few important things to note: the tea liqueur might be hard to find, I definitely had to do some digging once I discovered that the distiller I used to create the first batches had closed for good. We now use TINE Spiced Tea Liqueur from Four Leaf Spirits – total bonus that its local.

**If you are making the frozen Bourbon Slushy’s – seriously, do not use the good stuff. Bottom shelf bourbon is just fine for this batch cocktail.

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