Recipes from the Lab

Old School Cocktail Revival - The Bourbon Crusta

When we started thinking about the old school, and even the "oldest school" cocktails that your great grandfather enjoyed, several classics came to mind, the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, etc. We thought to ourselves "selves, we should go major old school." So we dusted off the Bourbon Crusta.

"What is a "Crusta"?" you might ask. A Crusta is similar to what we call a "Cocktail", which originally meant a mixture containing a spirit, sugar, and bitters (à la the Old Fashioned). The difference with a Crusta, according to Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide: How To Mix Drinks (1862):

a "Crusta is made the same as a fancy cocktail, with a little lemon juice and a small lump of ice added. First, mix the ingredients in a small tumbler, then take a fancy red wine glass, rub a sliced lemon around the rim of the same, and dip it in pulverized white sugar, so that the sugar will adhere to the edge of the glass. Pare half a lemon the same as you would an apple (all in one piece) so that the paring will fit in the wine-glass." 

The book depicts the lemon "pare" (peel) wrapped around the inside glass-wall.

So, a Crusta is similar to perhaps a Sour, but with more fanciness and presentation.  We're all about fanciness and presentation. Bring me my velvet smoking jacket!

Our version keeps the original recipe, but we never were huge fans of completely sugar-rimmed glasses, due to the crazy amount of stickiness that usually ensues, so we went with only a 1/3 rimmed glass. And for extra style points, we used Demerara sugar (a.k.a. "Turbinado" sugar). 


Double Old Fashioned glass (we used one of our Hand-blown Double-wall Whiskey Glasses, but you could also use a Manhattan glass or Coupe), shakerhawthorne strainer, fine mesh "double strainer", 1 oz./½ oz. jiggerThe Whiskey Ice Co. Spherical Ice Ball Maker


  • Ice Ball from your Whiskey Ice Co. Spherical Ice Ball Maker
  • 2 oz Bourbon (Jefferson's Bourbon this time)
  • ½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice (never from a bottle!)
  • ½ oz Cointreau
  • ½ oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
  • 1 to 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 continuous peel ("pare") from half a lemon for garnish (if you are usings a larger glass, like we were, you may need to pare the entire lemon if it is smaller)

Step 1: Gently rub the cut lemon on part of the glass rim, then tap in the sugar to rim only part of it (or, you could go for the entire rim). Then, wrap the lemon paring around the inside of your glass. Add your ice ball (gently!).

Step 2: Add all other ingredients in a shaker, fill with ice and shake for about 15-20 seconds.

Step 3: Strain over the ice ball, and you are ready to drink.

Note: Some people find that the Luxardo cherry-almond-y flavor to be a little forward (not us though). If that's you, then cut the Luxardo to ¼ oz. Then kick yourself for not keeping at ½ oz.

Always enjoy responsibly and make sure you try to drink this with extra panache.