Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking

Bourbon Bijou

Park Kitchen in Portland, Oregon makes a lovely drink they call the Bourbon Bijou. You may recall the Bijou cocktail we posted several years ago which is the inspiration for this whiskey-based variation. The original is a gin drink with over a century of history, whereas this one is a modern riff. We like them both because they are tasty and easy to make. That translates to “no fresh anything required” which means you can throw one together for yourself or a guest while you consider more involved alternatives. It’s also a spirit-driven recipe for bolder palates (which is perfect for us) and another excuse to use Chartreuse.

Bourbon Bijou at Park Kitchen, Portland, OR
1 oz bourbon
1 oz green Chartreuse
1 oz Cocchi Di Torino Italian vermouth
1 dash 50/50 orange bitters

Add all to a mixing glass and stir with ice until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Bourbon BijouIf we aren’t mistaken, Park Kitchen pre-batches this drink and serves it on-tap. That’s not to say they carbonate the drink, just that they serve enough of them to justify setting it up this way. In addition to making a popular favorite that much faster to serve, pre-mixing a drink allows the flavors to combine over time in way that is similar to barrel aging. Vermouth starts to oxidize a bit, and the complex herbal flavors of the liqueur and vermouth get a chance to mellow and combine with the base spirit. You obviously don’t need to age this drink at all to enjoy it.

When we visited last spring, we didn’t get the bourbon brand, but the friendly staff at Park Kitchen shared that they are using Cocchi Di Torino sweet vermouth which is delicious. You could sub Cinzano and come pretty close—or simply use what you have and call it good (because it will be). The Chartreuse is the real gem here, so your other ingredients don’t have to break the bank. We used our last ounce of Jim Beam and it was fantastic. PK also uses a 50/50 mix of orange bitters. For those who like to baffle your buddies with ridiculous mixology lingo, 50/50 refers to “New York style” orange bitters which is an even mixture of Fee Brothers’ and Regan’s. Mixing a batch of 50/50 is a perfect way skip the hassle of making orange bitters from scratch and still have a “house” bitters that doesn’t limit the favor to one particular brand.

Garnish if you please. The original is often served with a lemon twist and a cherry. We went with a sliver of lemon peel and served it in a vintage, gilded-rim cocktail glass. Give the Bourbon Bijou a try, or mix one each of the Bourbon and the regular Bijou cocktails for a side-by-side taste test. Be sure to tell us which one you like best!

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Doug Ford
Doug Ford
9 years ago

Sounds good, Randy. I’ve always found it much easier to combine sweet vermouths with whiskey than with gin, so I’m looking forward to trying this.

clay smith
clay smith
4 years ago

living on an island (Lopez in the San Juans) and guarding my dwindling supply of citrus, amidst the quarantine, I decided to give this a go, thinking, that’s a LOT of Chartreuse. I used Early Times Bottled in Bond, purchased for a now delayed BiB comparison. This might not be my “go to” drink, but when a Manhattan just doesn’t sound like what I want, this will be in the running! The chartreuse wasn’t overwhelming.