September is National Bourbon Heritage Month, and celebrating this spirit with the distinctly sweet vanilla, caramel, and butterscotch aroma and caramel coloring just as the weather cool and leaves start to change just feels right. While many enthusiasts will argue that there’s nothing more perfect than a glass of bourbon straight, there’s an exciting world of drink and food innovation centered around the popular whiskey that fits like a glove with the upcoming autumn season’s flavor trends.

RELATED: Leveraging Fall Flavors for Successful Sweet and Beverage Limited Time Offers

Old Classics and New Fashions

It’s no surprise that the top two adult beverage bourbon drinks ordered out are old fashioned cocktails and neat. However, bourbon is not without delicious innovations as restaurants and bars love offering their twists on these classic drinks to appeal to more adventurous drinkers or those interested in getting to know bourbon a little better. Old fashioned cocktails are upgraded with flavors like smoked orange, chocolate that plays well with muddled cherry, and cold brew coffee or orange juice and St. Germain for a brunch twist.

Orange, ginger, cherry, and lemon are the most popular flavors to pair with bourbon that appeal to the majority of palates, so whisky sours have also seen a resurgence with a twist. Fans of sweet and sour drinks enjoy bourbon with maple syrup, citrus, and cinnamon, while bourbon-spiked lemonade was a big, refreshing hit in the hot summer months. And as we transition into cooler months, bourbon flavor pairings like vanilla, basil, apple, and honey begin to show up on menus. Cranberry maple bourbon cocktails are sure to replace lemonade as a cozier drink of choice that fits in perfectly alongside limited-time offer flavors of fall.

Fall-Inspired Flavor Pairings

Bourbon was made for warm drinks and warm meals, too. Restaurants are tapping into the popularity of the season’s flavor themes and looking to offer innovative flavors beyond pumpkin spice as public tastes shift to find what’s the next new and exciting trend. Bourbon is leading in volume sales over other varieties of whiskey, so embracing and combining two American favorites is a win-win. One way is to incorporate bourbon into recipes outside of cocktails and making some out-of-the-box pairings, like bourbon and white cheddar, to capitalize on bourbon and whisky’s distinct smokiness and rich sweetness. Pairing with a buttery sauce or dish is the perfect entry to fall menus that carries from morning to night, such as apple bourbon pancakes or crepes for a sweet breakfast or great boozy brunch menu addition, to a bourbon chicken skillet meal for dinner.

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Cook & Sip with Mixologist Angel Teta

During our live virtual happy hour event with Mixologist Angel Teta and Pastry Chef Erin Kanagy-Loux, Angel demonstrated her Far Off Places bourbon-based cocktail that takes an international approach to bourbon, using ingredients like fortified wine, banana liquor, walnut liquor, and her own brand of Angel’s Envy Port Finished Bourbon.

Angel’s appreciation for bourbon can be tasted from the first sip to the last drop of this cocktail. In fact, that love and devotion does not stop at the glass. Angel uses her platform and distillery, Angel’s Envy, to make a difference in the world by planting trees to help the bourbon industry and celebrate its roots, literally.

“Six years ago, Angel’s Envy started a program to celebrate Oak – if we didn’t have White American Oak, we wouldn’t have bourbon,” said Angel. “We’re doing our part by planting a tree for every hashtag #ToastTheTrees that is on social media for the entire month of September. Our goal this month is 40,000 which we’re already close to – we’ll go up to 50,000 if we get there. We’ve planted over 80,000 trees so far since the program started all in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Winchester, Kentucky where were replanting forests where there were just mines before so they till the land in partnership with The Arbor Day Foundation and then we go plant the trees.”

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