Bourbon is perhaps the most beloved style of American whiskey, but when it comes to cocktails, rye tends to be the champion. There's a good reason for this: with its dry, spicy tang, rye whiskey maintains its identity when matched against strong-flavored or otherwise complex ingredients, while the relatively softer, sweeter taste of bourbon tends to get muddied in the mix.
There are exceptions, of course: mint juleps and whiskey crustas, while perfectly fine made with rye, really come into flower when made with the rich character of bourbon, and drinks such as the Old-Fashioned or the Whiskey Sour can really go in either direction with perfectly pleasant results. In general, bourbon tends to work best in cocktails when its flavor can stand front and center, lightly adorned by trace amounts of other ingredients. Here's another drink that fits the bill: the Appetizer No. 4.
As noted by drinks writer Gary Regan in his Book of Bourbon, this is a variation on an older drink, the appropriately named Appetizer No. 3, which appeared in Patrick Garvin Duffy's The Official Mixer's Guide in 1934. Taking the crisp orange flavor of Cointreau, it applies it in a trace dose to a bourbon base; further accented with the soft anise-hinted character of Peychaud's bitters, the drink is finished with a spray of lemon oil. Couldn't be easier, or more approachable.
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 1/2 teaspoon Cointreau
- 3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
- lemon twist, for garnish
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir well until chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass; twist lemon peel over the drink and use as garnish.