Now You're Cooking with Bourbon...

Image via Southern Living.
A few Sundays ago, my beau and I had just sat down to a patio brunch at one of our very favorite Downtown Lexington spots when we happened to notice the folks at the next table.  They were clearly a family, a mother, father, and a twenty-something son.  Their rapid accents and references to Westchester County easily identified them as upstate New Yorkers.   As we finished deciding on our order, we happened to hear the lady at that table wondering about dessert selections, so my beau handed her his menu.  A moment later, she asked us whether the restaurant carried "something called Derby Pie", which she'd been told to try on her trip to Kentucky.

Now, it was a sunny, lazy Sunday morning -- kind of a picture-postcard day -- and we decided it would be a lovely time to play "native Kentuckian" for these folks. (Later, my beau would jokingly say of the encounter, "This is so going in HerKentucky, isn't it?")  So, I gave our new friend a mini lesson on Derby Pie -- how nearly every Kentucky restaurant sells a variant of Derby Pie, but are bound by trademark restrictions to call it something else, how she definitely wanted to try it before she went home, etc.  As she asked more questions about the pastry and its preperation, I went into the basic instructions of how to make a Kentucky pie-- chocolate, walnuts, and a heavy splash of Maker's Mark.

"Does it have to be Maker's Mark, or can you use any bourbon?" the lady then asked. 

Image via Maker's Mark.
Now, as I've said before, Maker's is the bourbon of choice at our house.  We just love its caramel notes and its smooth drinkability.  We know that any time I cook with chocolate, I add a splash of Maker's for balance.  We know that any time we want to undwind with a nice cocktail, it's Maker's and Coke or a Maker's Manhattan.  But, the truth is, it has been ages since we thought about  or explained the reason.  Needless to say, we jumped into Maker's Mark Ambassador mode and gave our Knickerbocker friends a little lesson in bourbon.

I first explained to our fellow diner that I always use Maker's Mark in baking because the three distinct notes -- smokiness, caramel, and a hint of vanilla -- provide a complex counterbalance to chocolate.  This flavor profile compliments the chocolate flavor deliciously.  My beau then took over from there,  noting that Maker's is distilled in a very unique manner, using red winter wheat instead of rye, which creates a smooth and caramel-textured bourbon. 

By this time, the youngest member of the dining party had returned from paying the check.  His mother asked us to repeat a few details for his benefit, to which he replied "Do you work for Maker's Mark?'

"No," my beau and I said, almost in unison.  "we just really like bourbon."