According to the Virginia Distillers Association, Virginia became the birthplace of American Spirits when colonist George Thorpe distilled the first batch of whiskey made from corn in 1620. This first batch became the ancestor of all corn-made moonshine and bourbon. Roughly 180 years later, our Founding Father, George Washington, began commercial distilling using crops from his Mount Vernon estate. At the time, it was the largest whiskey distillery in the country, churning out almost 11,000 gallons of distilled spirits per year.

Today, Virginia is still a thriving area for craft spirits with more than 50 small batch distilleries in operation, creating premium distillations ranging from gin, rum and vodka to whiskey and bourbon. In honor of Elijah Craig, a Baptists preacher from Orange County—who is often credited with creating the first bourbon by aging whiskey in charred oak barrels, thus giving it a unique color and flavor—here’s a toast to bourbon and the many ways you can enjoy it.

Your favorite Virginia bourbon can be enjoyed year-round. In its simplest form, you can sip it straight or on the rocks. When the weather is warm, you can mix it with cola or ginger ale for a refreshing imbibe, or it can serve as the base for more complex cocktails such as a Mint Julep, Old Fashion, Whiskey Sour, Manhattan or in a variety of punches. Some diehard fans have been also known to drop a shot of bourbon (shot glass and all) into a mug of beer creating what has been called a Depth Charge or Boilermaker.

During the cooler months, a little bourbon mixed with honey and hot water makes a simple Hot Toddy that some claim is remarkable for curing colds and coughs. A little shot of bourbon in your holiday egg nog or hot chocolate is also good for whatever ails you.

Warm or cold out, here are a couple of recipes we think you may enjoy:


Backyard Paradise


4 cups fresh pineapple (cubed)

1 cup bourbon

1 cup lemon sparkling water, such as Perrier (chilled)

1/2 cup Southern Comfort

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract



Process pineapple in a blender until smooth. Press mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a pitcher. Add remaining ingredients, stir and serve over ice in individual glasses. Makes about 4 cups.


Tom and Jerry Batter


12 eggs (separated)

1 pound butter (room temperature)

3 pounds confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground gloves

1 teaspoon allspice



Beat chilled egg whites until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks to soft peaks. In a third, large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla to the butter mixture and mix. Stir in the nutmeg, cloves, allspice and egg whites and mix until fully blended. Chill batter until ready for use.

To make a Tom and Jerry, add a heaping spoonful of batter to a mug, add boiling hot water and a shot of bourbon. Still and sprinkle the top with fresh nutmeg.


Bourbon Marinated Hanger Steak 


1/2 cup bourbon

6 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon fresh ginger (grated or minced)

1 teaspoon fresh garlic (pressed or minced)

1 tablespoon shallots (minced)

1 pound hanger or skirt steak (trimmed)

1/4 cup heavy cream


Combine all ingredients except steak in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then simmer one minute. Pour marinade into shallow dish large enough for the steak and let it cool. Add meat to the cooled marinade and coat thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight for no more than 12 hours.

Dry beef with paper towel. Heat a large pan/skillet on high. Sear beef about three minutes per side for medium rare. Remove from pan and let steak rest. Cook down remaining marinade and whisk in cream. Cut meat into strips and drizzle pan sauce over strips.


bourbon bananas foster

Bourbon Bananas Foster


1/3 cup bourbon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup dark brown sugar (packed)

3 bananas, halved crosswise then lengthwise

4 sliced pound cake

4 scoops vanilla ice cream


In a large skillet, cook the butter and brown sugar over medium-high heat, stirring until butter melts. Add the banana pieces and gently turn to coat. Once the sauce starts to bubble, add the bourbon and ignite the mixture using a long match or lighter. Cook until the flames extinguish.

Divide the cake among serving dishes and drizzle with bourbon sauce. Top with ice cream, followed by bananas and remaining sauce.


Recommended Distillery:

Filibuster Distillery

Spirits of a Distinguished Character

All you have to is take one sip and you'll discover something that may surprise and delight you. Filibuster is unlike any other bourbon. It's handcrafted in small batches. Why? Because it's worth it.

80 Maurertown Mill Rd., Maurertown, Va, 22644. 703-350-7276.

Written By

Savor Virginia