. For The Mission Issue 22‘s Booze page, Bluegrass state local, AJ Gottschalk of Allen Fly Fishing, rustles up two cracking bourbon cocktails alongside a river that runs past a distillery.

allen fly fishing

Smallmouth bass from a Kentucky Creek

“I’ve been working for Allen Fly Fishing for almost a decade and, while craft cocktails have long been a passion, I’ve picked up bartending over the last several years while my wife went back to graduate school. As a result, I’ve been immersed in the world of bourbon and rye while fishing my way between the distilleries. A fair bit of recent time floating local Kentucky waters with friends has meant more breaks along the shores of bourbon country instead of in the now-closed bars, as well as a bump in midday, mid-river bourbon consumption.

We all know that beer is the ultimate fishing beverage (come on, it has water in it; it covers that base too…). However, in Kentucky, it’s only right to lean toward bourbon. Many of the creek floats take you right past the distilleries making the same spirit you’re consuming. While the easy choice is a mason jar of the stuff (the de facto Appalachian hip-flask), it’s hard to beat a chilled cocktail on a hot summer float. You don’t have to turn your raft into a bar cart; you can make all these drinks at home and throw them in your favorite tumbler (though the mobile bar cart does wonders for your creek cred).

AJ Gottschalk working on an Old Fashioned cocktail on a Kentucky creek

AJ Gottschalk working on an Old Fashioned cocktail on a Kentucky creek. Photo Josh Oschwald

The Old Fashioned is a classic style, having made its way across bar tops for almost 200 years. Originally more broad than just a whiskey drink, it balances a spirit with sugar, water, and bitters. This creek-friendly version uses the sugar and bitters of the original, while a muddled blend of Luxardo maraschino cherries and a slice of orange flesh brings added sweetness and citrus. Fittingly, Pinhook’s Bourbon Country 97-proof bourbon fits perfectly as the core of this drink. Save the peel of the orange once you’ve cut the flesh. It’s the quintessential garnish of a modern Old Fashioned, and the citrus oils from the orange peel round out the drink wonderfully. Plus, the rest of the orange makes for an excellent snack. While both of these cocktails are typically stirred, shaking this version of the Old Fashioned with ice helps integrate all the ingredients.

Old Fashioned:

  • 2 Parts Pinhook Bourbon Country Straight Bourbon Whiskey (sub for your favourite 100+ proof bourbon)
  • 1/2 Part Simple Syrup or a Single Cube of Raw Sugar
  • 3 Luxardo Cherries (don’t settle for the toxic-red maraschinos; get proper ones!)
  • 1cm slice of a halved orange (cut the pith away, then cut the peel from the pith and save)
  • 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

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For AJ’s Black Manhattan cocktail recipe (being consumer above 👆🏻), check out the rest of issue 22 below.