By Kaci Yoder
When you sidle up to the bar at The Pelican House, you’re probably expecting to get handed something dark – maybe an aged whiskey, or a deep-brown craft beer. A glance at the list of signature cocktails posted on the bar reveals the Kentucky Rifle, a name that conjures up images of a hulking man with a beard, wearing dirty frontier garb and glowering at the drink in his fist with grim manliness.
If you’re looking for a drink to impose your masculinity on your friends and acquaintances at the bar, the Kentucky Rifle is not exactly that drink. Rather than the burning of manful angst, this drink brings you a delightful balance of flavors and a playful presentation courtesy of bartender and drink creator Kris Pappis.
“At first, I called this drink the French Tickler,” said Pappis with a laugh, pointing out the mint leaf garnish and its tendency to tickle your nose with each sip. In the end, they opted for a more no-nonsense name when assembling the menu, choosing the gun theme to mirror its inspiration, the French 75.
“I wanted to do a champagne drink that was a play on a French 75 with Buffalo Trace bourbon, because Buffalo Trace is sweet… I take a mint leaf and smack it around a little bit and set it in there, mainly for the aromatics of it — that and the elderflower liqueur and the bourbon together, it just sets it off,” Pappis said.
The headiness of bourbon and St. Germain balances perfectly with springy lemon juice, delicate simple syrup, and bubbly champagne to make a cocktail that goes down with dangerous ease. Good luck trying to stop at just one glass — this drink could carry you through the whole night.