The Henry Clay Cocktail-Reimaged a bit

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December 21, 2014

The Henry Clay Cocktail

Henry Clay was the U.S. Senator from Kentucky who introduced the Mint Julep to Washington, DC drinkers. 

I thought it appropriate to twist up this cocktail a bit in my unique fashion. 

Please don’t get me wrong.  I adore a frosty Mint Julep in the purest form.  Mint kissed by the morning dew, glistening in the young sunshine.  The most perfect granules of spring water ice emulating rainbows as they capture the light deeply within.  The Bourbon, sweet and charming like the first time you spoke melodious words of love.  Finally you have the sugar, at first rough against your tongue, yet memorably sweet on the finish. 

All of these things make the historic, Mint Julep part of our collective memories. 

Unfortunately Henry Clay had a dark side.  Like many outspoken men of his era, when strong drink was introduced into gentile conversations between men, arguments would eventually erupt.

One of the things that a heated argument would lead to was a duel.

A duel between men, wildly smashed on explosively powerful Bourbon cocktails in the heat of a Washington, DC summer?

I see all bad things.

It’s ironic that the Henry Clay, a mint-based cocktail would emulate the power and grace of a perfectly crafted Mint Julep. 

The secret ingredient in my cocktail is the addition of dark coffee.  Coffee is one of the hidden elements that add depth and character to a drink with brown liquors.  I love the spice element of good dark coffee in drinks that include Bourbon Whiskey.  The addition of dark brown sugar to coffee-based cocktails give drinks character and finesse.  Iced, they take on entirely different direction.  I can think of nothing more satisfying on a hot day than an iced coffee… “Corrected” of course!

Bitters are also a hidden element to my cocktail.  The Jerry Thomas Bitters from the Bitter Truth in Germany fit the historic component to this drink perfectly. 


I love the deep aromatics and the spice finish of the Jerry Thomas Bitters. 

The Henry Clay Cocktail. Serves two persons of sound mind and body but beware....No dueling is allowed!


  • 3 oz. Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey (you don't have the use the single barrel offerings, therefore expensive stuff, but it wouldn't hurt)
  • 2 oz. very strong coffee from yesterday
  • 2 oz. Mint Simple Syrup (infuse fresh mint in simple syrup overnight, then remove)
  • 2-3 shakes Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters
  • Freshly whipped heavy cream (not optional)


  • Brew a pot of extra strong coffee, let cool and refrigerate overnight well covered with plastic wrap
  • To a mixing glass add a good splash of the mint simple syrup
  • Add the Bourbon Whiskey
  • Add the Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters
  • Fill 3/4 a Boston Shaker 3/4 with ice and ....Shake, Shake, Shake…
  • Taste for sweetness and serve in a long glass packed with ice.
  • Top with the whipped cream


My Second Book, Whiskey Cocktails is out now!  It is a fabulous book, with 75 New Ways to drink one of the world's most popular spirits!