#FoodieFriday: Basil Hayden’s Flavorful Bourbon Twist for Holiday Gatherings

by Britni Rachal on December 14, 2018 in Food, Drink,

A simple, yet elegant alternative to wine. That’s what Basil Hayden’s Bourbon wants to remind holiday hosts about as family and friends gather around tables together this holiday season.

With a spicy rye, yet sweetly smooth flavor, Basil Hayden’s is described as “bourbon that finds favor in all quarters.” To preserve a taste of subtle sophistication, the bourbon is aged to the perfect expression of its novel, spicy-sweet flavor profile. Right now, the company has a new release out, Basil Hayden’s 10-year-old bourbon, which adds complexity and deeper flavor to an already intriguing spirit. It’s a limited addition release, so it’s perfect to try for the holidays.

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon is a simple, yet elegant alternative to wine for the holiday season. Courtesy photo

“The best way to warm up a holiday party is with a bottle of Basil Hayden’s bourbon and some cinnamon syrup for a spiced twist on an Old Fashioned,” said Patrick Janelle, a host and spokesperson for Basil Hayden’s most recent Friendsgiving event series, which made a stop in Austin at the Waller Creek Boathouse. (A gem on the north shore of Lady Bird Lake, and a short stroll from downtown hot spots such as Rainey Street.)

Spicy and cinnamon-flavored Old Fashioned drinks are just some of what Basil Hayden’s offers, in addition to several other cocktail recipes, on their website. The Spiced Apple Harvest definitely tops my list of favorites, as I was able to try some at the recent Friendsgiving event.

Basil Hayden Bourbon’s Spiced Apple Harvest cocktail makes for the perfect refreshing winter treat.
Courtesy photo

With 2 parts Basil Hayden’s bourbon, 3/4 cinnamon syrup, 3 cloves, 3/4 parts lime juice, 3 apple slices, 2 dates, Angostura Bitters and a fan of apple slices for garnish, the Spiced Apple Harvest cocktail makes for the perfect winter treat.

In addition to crafting unique cocktails, Basil Hayden’s knows how to host a beautiful gathering. Dimly lit candles and beautiful fall pumpkins and “thankful” elements created a wonderful atmosphere and mood at the Austin event. Partnering with Austin chef Kevin Fink, who owns Emmer & Rye, located off of Rainey street, also helped set the table for an exciting and decadent menu. Fink is known for unique seasonally inspired small plates in his Austin restaurant. For our eager group of diners, he created a dim sung twist on holiday cooking.

With sides like roasted acorn squash made with house-cultured yogurt, brown butter, sage, mint and Basil Hayden’s vinegar, Fink demonstrated how Basil Hayden’s products and bourbon can be used to cook the perfect holiday meal. Grilled long beans preserved Thai-style, with fish sauce, garlic, lime and toasted nuts also created a unique twist to a classic vegetable often used in holiday meals.

At Basil Hayden’s Friendsgiving in Austin, Chef Kevin Fink, of Emmer & Rye, demonstrated how the bourbon makers’ products can be used to cook the perfect holiday meal. Photo Britni Rachal

To demonstrate how well Basil Hayden’s fits into holiday prepping, each course of the family-style Friendsgiving meal included a pairing of Basil Hayden’s. One of the most popular of Fink’s creations was the short rib confined in dry aged beef fat and grilled over coals with Basil Hayden’s honey and fermented chili glaze. So tender, the beef literally glided off forks and was the overall favorite at the table of eight I dined at. The pairing with a Mueller Mule beverage (a Basil Hayden’s bourbon, smoked persimmon, ginger shrub and lemon mix) added a refreshing touch to the main course.

No holiday meal is complete without dessert, so Fink prepared a kanafeh glazed with orange blossom and Basil Hayden’s syrup. In case you are wondering (because I never knew), a kanafeh is a traditional Arab dessert made with thin noodle-like pastry, or alternatively fine semolina dough, soaked in other flavorings.  And of course, Fink’s spin on the flaky and sweet desert paired perfectly with Bouldin Brown. (Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye, Campari and amaro Ramazzotti.)

“Each year, I love creating new traditions at my holiday gatherings,” said Janelle, who hosted multiple Basil Hayden’s Friendsgiving events across the U.S. “Often, it’s an unexpected twist, like forgoing turkey in favor of duck or serving a glass of Basil Hayden’s on the rocks instead of wine during dessert.”

Despite a more contemporary spin on holiday gatherings, Basil Hayden’s, based out of Kentucky has been making bourbon for than 200 years. Owned by the Noe family, and affiliated with Jim Beam, the team still pays tribute to a high-rye, small batch bourbon that embodies that first recipe of Basil Hayden’s concocted in the 18th century.


Basil Hayden’s is available at a variety of Texas liquor stores. To find a participating store near you, check out the searching map feature on their website.