The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2011

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Page 38 of 128

BOURBON Mixing Before It Was Cool J JOY PERRINE IS A TRUE PIONEER BEHIND THE BAR story and photos by Fred Minnick oy Perrine was making cocktails before women were allowed behind the bar. "Back in the 1950s, the only women behind the bar were related to the owners," says Perrine, Master Mixologist at Equus & Jack's Lounge in Louisville, KY, and author of The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book (University of Kentucky Press, 2009). Bourbon cocktail pioneer Joy Perrine. Before her storied career would earn her the unofficial title of "Bad Girl of Bourbon" and features in Esquire, Perrine faced ridicule from customers while bartending in St. Croix in the 1960s. She often left work in tears after their lecherous and offensive comments broke her. "I was a 20-year-old kid, and my boss finally told me to stand up for myself," she says. "You have to stand your ground and give it right back to them." From that point on, the struggling artist never cried over a drunken fool's comments again. And she found a passion in bartend- ing. Perrine made the drinks her owner called out and broke more blenders than she can recall. But, she says, a cocktail at a vacation hotspot back then was a scotch and soda or a Piña Colada. But she did A selection of bourbons at the bar at Equus & Jack's Lounge in Louisville, KY. have access to fresh ingredients and experimented from time to time. She honed her raw talent in 1978 when she moved to Kentucky, where she went from making mostly Piña Coladas to crafting Old Fashioneds, falling in love with bourbon in a state that cherishes its connection to the whiskey. "I never came across a brand of bourbon I could not make a cocktail with," Perrine says. "The secret is in the barrel—that's where the flavor profile develops. The longer it sits in the barrel, the better it gets." SUMMER OF 92 BLUEBERRY SOUR created by Joy Perrine ■ 2 oz. blueberry-infused 1792 Ridgemont Reserve ■ ■ ■ 1 tablespoon brown sugar syrup 1 tablespoon blueberry syrup 2 oz. lemonade ■ Shake over ice; garnish with blueber- ries and lemon wedge. Perrine was infusing bourbons with fruits before many of today's top mixolo- gists were born. Jefferson's Reserve founder Chet Zoeller says Perrine is an important bourbon figure. "Joy was not afraid to take what has traditionally been a very conservative, stand-alone spirit and mix it in a variety of juices, fruits and other ingredients to create drinks that appeal to many different palates," Zoeller says. In fact, Perrine was also one of the first to pair cocktails to food. Working with chef Dean Corbett, an iconic Kentucky figure, Perrine took Corbett's menu and paired bourbon cocktails to each dish. Today, bourbon distillers line up to do bourbon dinners with her because her cocktails complement the food's subtle flavors so well. While her palate is extraordinary in appreciating a bourbon's flavors on its own, Perrine says bourbon is great to pair food with. "We are in the middle of the second golden age of bourbon," Perrine says. "And, it's only going to get better." 38 / the tasting panel / december 2011

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