Episode 184 – Is Bourbon Broken?

In this barrel-aged deep dive with spirits writer Brent Joseph, some of the topics we discuss include:

  • How Brent came to love Bourbon and used his passion to propel himself into a senior contributor role at Bourbon & Banter.

  • The recent retail experiences that led him to pose the titular question of his four-part article series: “Is Bourbon Broken?”

  • The economic and market forces that have led to massive demand for particular brands and bottles (and the subsequent perverse incentive to flip them for outrageous prices on the secondary market).

  • What it means for a bottle to be “allocated”

  • The role that social media has played in the fetishization of certain bottles and purchasing habits

  • How to be a smarter Bourbon shopper and better citizen of the Bourbon community

  • And much, much more.

A few disclaimers before we jump in. In this conversation, we do point out one or more very well-defined trends in the bourbon world and pick apart the forces that might be contributing to them. So if you’ve ever flipped a bottle of bourbon for more than it’s worth or dropped everything and sped to the liquor store when they posted on social media about Blanton’s being in stock, we’re not asking or expecting you to change a thing. You do you. But if, like Brent, you’re a little alarmed at some of the trends you’re seeing in the Bourbon market, hopefully by the end of this episode you’ll understand what you can do to make sure that at the very least you’re not a part of the problem.

Is Bourbon Broken?

To find out, you can work your way through this series of articles published on Bourbon & Banter in late March and early April of 2021.

Featured Cocktail Accompaniment: Sangrita

This episode’s featured cocktail doesn’t have anything to do with Bourbon. In fact, it’s not even a cocktail at all, but rather a traditional palate cleanser and Tequila accompaniment called Sangrita. Not Sangria. Sangrita. It means “little blood,” and it’s something that we delve into with Brent during the lightning round.

Now, this is the sort of thing where everybody has their own recipe, at least commercially and here in the US. But according to Jeffrey Morgenthaler, the authentic recipe originates in Jalisco and includes sour oranges, pomegranate juice, hot sauce, and chile powder. Unfortunately, sour oranges are hard to source, so Morgenthaler reverse engineered a recipe that he thinks is pretty close to the genuine article. To make it, you’ll need:

  • 1 oz orange juice (freshly-squeezed)

  • ¾ oz – 1 oz lime juice (depending on the sweetness of your oranges)

  • ½ oz real pomegranate grenadine (check out the True Grenadine syrup by Pratt Standard on our eCommerce store for an excellent-quality option)

  • 3 dashes hot sauce or ¼ tsp pasilla chili powder

Note that this is for a single, 2-3 oz serving, so scale this recipe as needed, combine the ingredients, chill ‘em down, and serve alongside your happy hour tequila shooter.

Some recipes call for some muddled jalapenos and even habaneros, some non-traditional formulations call for tomato juice, and some of the more Instagram-driven expressions are served in hollowed out cucumbers, just to give you a few options to play around with at home.


Coconut Easter Bunny Cake

Mini Cassata Siciliana Cakes