A few months ago I sent my boyfriend to the liquor store to buy bourbon for a party we were hosting. We had decided to serve Maple Leaf cocktails instead of the usual beer and wine.
"What kind should I get?" he asked.
"Nothing fancy. Go cheap," I said, figuring he would come back with a bottle of Elijah Craig or Jim Beam. Instead he returned with what can only be described as beneath-the-bottom-shelf liquor. We're talking plastic bottles and screw caps.
Convinced that no amount of maple syrup could mask the inferior flavor, I shoved the bottle in the back of a cabinet and sent my boyfriend back to the store for a better one to serve to our guests.
Last week I stumbled upon the rejected stash of booze. Surely I can use this for something. I remembered a friend who once gave out bottles of homemade Irish cream liquor around the holidays. What if I concocted a "Southern cream liquor" substituting bourbon for the Irish whisky?
Using a recipe from AJ Rathbun's Luscious Liquors as my guide, I set to work. Into the blender went a mixture of condensed milk, cream, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and almond extract. The results were rich, sweet, and packed a serious punch.
Unlike the flavor of Irish whisky, which fades into the background when combined with such assertive ingredients, the taste of bourbon came through loud and clear. Those who are faint-of-heart should stir a shot or two into a mug of cocoa, but I like it simply over ice.
Southern cream liquor will keep in the refrigerator for about two months. It would make a great hostess gift when poured into a pretty glass bottle and tied with a ribbon.
About the author: Lucy Baker is a freelance food writer and the author of the forthcoming cookbook, The Boozy Baker: 75 Recipes for Spirited Sweets.