Louisville Kentucky: Proof on Main’s Bardstown Bellini

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It is impossible to walk into 21c Museum Hotel and not be inspired.  I have the distinct privilege of calling this my workplace and on my very best days I am treated to the carefully curated delicacies turned out by Levon Wallace and the team at Proof on Main.  Levon’s deft hands craft beautifully creative dishes utilizing the very best the Bluegrass has to offer.

This artful and local approach extends to the bar where you will find over 75 bourbons, house-made tonic that you will want to take home by the jug-full, and a seasonal cocktail list that is as playful as it is sophisticated and delicious.

I am a sucker for any drink involving sparkling wine, so the Bardstown Bellini immediately caught my eye when it made it’s debut during National Bourbon Heritage Month this past September.  Bourbon + Peach + Prosecco.  What more could you want?  Bourbon and peaches are a natural combination and we all know the Italians got it right when they combined peach purée and Prosecco for the classic Bellini years ago.  On the surface it all seemed obvious and straightforward; however my first sip of this drink drew curiosity.

What was that essence rounding out the flavors, deepening the intensity and soothing my taste buds all at once?  Small black flecks danced across the top of the glass, seeds of a vanilla bean brought to the surface by the effervesce of the Prosecco.  Vanilla.

Who would have thought?  It is the vanilla that actually makes this drink.  It brings the peaches to life, excites the Prosecco and allows the bourbon to shine in all of it’s Kentucky glory.  This cocktail is the perfect alternative to a Mint Julep, taking the edge off and leaving no bite.  The Bardstown Billini will impress bourbon aficionados while turning those bourbon-shy individuals into instant fans of our native spirit.

Your Derby Day drink menu is complete.  Send the thank you card to Proof on Main.  Or better yet, hand-deliver it.  I hear their spring cocktail menu is fantastic…

 

This drink kicks off with the peach purée.  There isn’t much better than a fresh peach however when they are not in season the frozen variety will work just fine.  Defrost one bag of frozen peaches (12-16 ounces) and purée them in a blender until smooth.

Strain the peaches through a sieve, pressing down with the back of a spoon to extract all of the peach juice, while leaving any unwanted solids behind.  We are going to heat this purée on the stove, so I strain the peaches directly into a small pot.

Run your knife down the center of a vanilla bean, allowing the seeds to begin to escape from the pod.  I opened my vanilla pod up a fair amount but did not scrape all of the seeds out.  I wanted the vanilla to be a flavor enhancer and did not want it to take over the entire drink.

The vanilla bean will release plenty of flavor as it warms in the peach purée and several little flecks of vanilla will find their way into the mix.  This is really when it comes down to flavor preference, however, so feel free to scrape the seeds out of the pod and add them directly to the peach purée.

The peaches are tart and we need to coax the sweetness out of them.  We also want to thin out the purée.  Add one cup of water and one tbs of sugar to the peaches.  I fall on the savory side of the sweet spectrum, but taste as you go and add additional sugar if you feel the flavor is still too tart.  Every bag of peaches is going to be a bit different so taste and continue to season to your liking.

Turn the heat to high and stir until combined.  Once the mixture comes to a boil remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Bourbon time!  Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the following: two shots bourbon, two shots cooled peach purée, one shot orange juice and six dashes mango or peach bitters.  Regular bitters will work here as well but I recommend investing in a variety of flavored bitters.  They are very fun to play with and add great depth to cocktails!

Shake vigorously until well blended.  Pour into a champagne flute, top with Prosecco and enjoy.  Cheers and happy Derby!

Makes Two Drinks

  • one bag frozen peaches, defrosted (12-16 ounces)
  • one vanilla bean
  • one tbs sugar
  • one cup water
  • two shots bourbon
  • one shot orange juice
  • six dashes peach or mango bitters
  • Prosecco
Defrost one bag of frozen peaches (12-16 ounces) and purée them in a blender until smooth.   Strain the peaches through a sieve, pressing down with the back of a spoon to extract all of the peach juice, while leaving any unwanted solids behind.  We are going to heat this purée on the stove, so I strain the peaches directly into a small pot.   Run your knife down the center of a vanilla bean, allowing the seeds to begin to escape from the pod.  I opened my vanilla pod up a fair amount but did not scrape all of the seeds out.  
I wanted the vanilla to be a flavor enhancer and did not want it to take over the entire drink.  The vanilla bean will release plenty of flavor as it warms in the peach purée and several little flecks of vanilla will find their way into the mix.  This is really when it comes down to flavor preference, however, so feel free to scrape the seeds out of the pod and add them directly to the peach purée. 
 The peaches are tart and we need to coax the sweetness out of them.  We also want to thin out the purée.  Add one cup of water and one tbs of sugar to the peaches.  I fall on the savory side of the sweet spectrum, but taste as you go and add additional sugar if you feel the flavor is still too tart.  Every bag of peaches is going to be a bit different so taste and continue to season to your liking.
Turn the heat to high and stir until combined.  Once the mixture comes to a boil remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the following: two shots bourbon, two shots cooled peach purée, one shot orange juice and six dashes mango or peach bitters. Shake vigorously until well blended.  Pour into a champagne flute, top with Prosecco and enjoy.  Cheers and happy Derby!