National Bourbon Day is on June 14th, and although the spiritual renown at Pilsen's Punch House derives from its ambitious rotating craft punch menu, the retro maritime cellar anchoring Thalia Hall is celebrating by putting together a special week-long "Bourbon-Swap" menu of bourbon-based libations fashioned by some of America’s premier barkeeps. The $8 specials will rotate each day beginning on Sunday and lasting through Friday to commemorate National Bourbon Day, each one a worthy supplement to Punch House’s “Not Punch” portion of the menu. Additionally, the bourbon-based drinks pair well with Chef Jared Wentworth's version of fondue, which features house baked pretzels, crispy confit pork belly, tempura veggies and cured meat.
Beginning Sunday, June 14, Punch House will supplement their extensive craft punch menu by showcasing a different bourbon tribute on National Bourbon Day and the five days following.
Notable barkeeps behind the rotating bourbon offerings include:
EMILY MISTELL, RUM CLUB (PORTLAND, OREGON) – THE ITALIAN STALLION: Bartender Emily Mistell of Portland, Oregon’s Rum Club (named one of Oregon Live's Best Cocktail Lounges) created the Italian Stallion. Centered around Eagle Rare bourbon crafted at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, KY, the Stallion includes pineapple juice, a splash of lime juice, simple syrup, and Chinotto Pellegrino made from bittersweet Chinotto oranges.
CRAIG SCHOETTLER, ARIA (LAS VEGAS) – WILD WEST: Fashioned by Craig Schoettler of Las Vegas’s Aria, who was one of Eater’s past “Bartenders of the Year,” The Wild West calls for a DUKE Bourbon base, ginger syrup, a shot of orange juice and sprinkle of lemon shaken and poured over five pucker-inducing cranberry ice cubes.
CHRIS HANNAH, FRENCH 75 (NEW ORLEANS) – NIGHT TRIPPER: Arnaud’s French 75 (semifinalist for James Beard Awards Outstanding Bar Program) bartender Chris Hannah in New Orleans crafted the Night Tripper from Buffalo Trace Bourbon, digestif Averna Amaro, saffron liqueur Strega, and a couple dashes of Peychaud’s bitters to round out this glacé potion, served in an icy snifter.
ERIC CASTRO, POLITE PROVISIONS (SAN DIEGO) – KENTUCKY BUCK: Erick Castro of San Diego’s apothecary Polite Provisions (winner of 2014’s Tales of the Cocktail Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar award) offers the Kentucky Buck, which fuses tangy bourbon with lemon juice, simple syrup, Angostura bitters and a strawberry. After a good shake, it’s poured over ice into a Collins glass and topped with ginger beer.
JASON STEVENS, BAR CONGRESS (AUSTIN, TX) – WINK & NOD: Created by Bar Congress’s Jason Stevens in Austin, Texas (one of the Daily Meal’s 25 Best Bartenders in America), the Wink & Nod centers around any decent 8-year-aged bourbon, shaken with aperitif wine Lillet Rosé, a little Zergut Cherry syrup, lemon juice, a couple dashes of Peychaud’s bitters, four drops of anise-flavored liqueur Herbsaint and poured into an old-fashioned glass. Jason’s one stipulation: no straws allowed.
ERYN REECE, DEATH & CO. (NEW YORK CITY) DROP THE VOWELS: Eryn Reece (former Miss Speed Rack USA) gives us the Drop the Vowels from behind the bar at New York City’s Death + Company. This built drink insists on half a shot of house-made Thai Bird Chili-infused Rittenhouse rye whiskey poured over an ounce and a half of Elijah Craig bourbon, lime and pineapple juices, Aperol, SCS, and four raspberries, garnished with a lime wheel.