We’ve long been fans of the craft whiskey and gin rolling out of Kentucky’s New Riff Distillery. When you arrive at the distillery in Covington, the very first thing you notice when walking through the front door is a small yet bustling tasting bar, dubbed The Aquifer. One of the many cocktails on offer there is this one, the Beast of Burden.
New Riff prides itself on producing a new “riff” on Kentucky whiskey traditions, so it’s no surprise that many of their house cocktails are also riffs on tried and true libations. Beast of Burden is essentially a take on the Kentucky Mule (which itself is a spin-off of the classic Moscow Mule). Mules are simple three ingredient affairs (lime juice, spirit, and ginger beer), but this one kicks it up a notch with a whole ounce of ginger syrup and Angostura bitters.
The classic “bourbon and ginger” has always been a good enough, if somewhat lazy, long drink, but the lime juice really elevates the mule into cocktail territory with its bright acidity. New Riff’s version here adds even more complexity with the floral and herbal qualities of Angostura and the earthy spice of ginger syrup. Mind the amount of sugar in your ginger syrup, however, as too much combined with the ginger beer floater can make the whole drink a bit too sweet. We’ve included directions below for a lower-sugar syrup, but if you can find a true ginger syrup (we used one from Pratt Standard), we’d recommend it for optimal balance between ginger and sugar.
Beast of Burden
2 oz. New Riff Bottled in Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 oz. ginger simple syrup
1 oz. fresh lime juice
Shake over ice and strain into rocks glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wheel and fresh mint.
To Make Ginger Syrup:
Combine equal parts 2/3 cup water with 1/3 cup sugar. Bring to a boil. Add 3-4 knobs of fresh ginger (peeled and roughly chopped). Simmer for 5-10 minutes (or longer for more ginger flavor). Let cool and strain.