Bourbon Renewal

Bourbon Renewal cocktail in an old fashioned glass with a bottle of Lejay creme de cassis

For my first post, I’ll start with one of my all-time favorite cocktails, one that I’ve been making the longest.

Back when I got into home bartending over a decade ago, a friend—the same one who got me into the hobby itself—introduced me to Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s blog. From there, Morgenthaler’s Bourbon Renewal became my go-to drink for guests. It was a reliable hit: friends and family, of all levels of experience and openness to something containing whiskey, loved the drink. I served the Bourbon Renewal to everyone. Fast forward to 2016, I was proud to have proved a good influence when two of my friends chose it as a featured drinks at their wedding reception. The Bourbon Renewal seems to having its moment, enjoying reincarnation as one of three canned Jeffrey Morgenthaler cocktails which I hope to find next time I’m on the West Coast.

The Bourbon Renewal is a variation on a whiskey sour, which traditionally contains whiskey, lemon juice, sugar/simple syrup, and an optional egg white. Here, the sugar portion is replaced with a split between simple syrup and crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), along with a dash of Angostura bitters. The cassis with bitters add depth and spice, and that plus the lemon make a dry, tangy sour that invites one more round.

Bourbon Renewal

A bourbon sour with creme de cassis.

Contemporary recipe: Jeffrey Morgenthaler,

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz crème de cassis
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup (1:1)
  • 1 ds Angostura bitters
  1. Shake ingredients with ice until cold.
  2. Strain over fresh ice into an old-fashioned glass.
  3. Garnish with a lemon wedge, or if in season, fresh currants.


For a smaller serving, it is easy to scale this recipe down to 1 1/2 oz bourbon, 3/4 oz lemon juice, and 3/8 oz each creme de cassis and simple syrup (stacked to 3/4 oz in jigger).

Loaded whiskey sour

Original recipe

  • 1 oz Rye whiskey (Rittenhouse)
  • 1/2 oz Smith & Cross navy strength Jamaican rum
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz Cherry liqueur (Cherry Heering)
  • 1/2 oz Crème de banane (Giffard Banane du Brésil)
  • 1/4 oz Rabarbaro (Cappelletti Sfumato)
  • 1 twst lemon peel (as garnish)
  • 1 cherry (as garnish)
  1. Measure ingredients into shaker tin, stacking the two liqueurs to 1 oz.
  2. Shake with ice, then strain over ice into old fashioned glass.
  3. Express oils from lemon peel; garnish with lemon and cherry.

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