The London Summer Olympics begin this Friday. The actual sporting events you care about don’t start until the weekend, but all that your lady friends are interested in is watching the opening ceremonies, and that always means a dumbfoundng display of the host nation’s idea of performance art that inevitably demands a stiff drink. (Going with the theme “Isles of Wonder,” the Brits are reportedly even going to make it rain at this year’s ceremony, and not in the good way.) Get yourself through the opening ceremony with Basil Hayden’s newly minted Summer Gold, a cocktail built on some solid American bourbon with some English assistance from Pimm’s and black tea.
Basil Hayden’s is one of the small-batch Kentucky bourbons now under the Jim Beam boutique umbrella (Baker’s, Booker’s and Knob Creek complete the family). And if Kentucky bourbon weren’t American enough for cheering on Team USA this Olympiad, Basil Hayden’s is a truly pioneering spirit. Basil Hayden Sr. was an 18th-century Maryland settler who led a contingent of Catholic families to Nelson County, Ky. in 1785, and like a good Catholic, he took to making booze. In his case, it was bourbon. Of course, distilling being a family affair, legend has it that Basil Hayden’s grandson named his own recipe after his grandfather, giving us what’s known today as Old Grand-Dad whiskey. Today’s Basil Hayden’s is modeled after Hayden Sr.’s 1796 recipe, which blends a traditional corn base with other grains in a lower proof (80), lighter-bodied version of most straight bourbons, making for one smooth sipper.
The Basil Hayden’s Summer Gold was created by mixologist Daniel Hyatt, one of the best-known cocktail gurus on the West Coast, thanks to his sophisticated libations at San Francisco’s Alembic bar in the Haight-Ashbury district. He pulled together the British imports Pimm’s No. 1 and some good old-fashioned English tea to complement Basil Hayden’s Kentucky bourbon for this refreshing summer cocktail.
In a cocktail shaker, muddle mint leaves with an ounce of simple syrup. Add ice, two shots (three ounces) of Basil Hayden’s bourbon and an ounce each of Pimm’s No. 1 and chilled black tea. Stir, and pour into a highball or Collins glass. Garnish with a mint sprig, an orange twist, and rebel yell it loud: “USA! USA!”