The Henry Clay Cocktail

by Warren Bobrow

Henry Clay was the U.S. Senator from Kentucky who introduced the Mint Julep to Washington, DC drinkers. 

I thought it appropriate to twist up this cocktail a bit in my unique fashion. 

Please don’t get me wrong.  I adore a frosty Mint Julep in the purest form.  Mint kissed by the morning dew, glistening in the young sunshine.  The most perfect granules of spring water ice emulating rainbows as they capture the light deeply within.  The Bourbon, sweet and charming like the first time you spoke melodious words of love.  Finally you have the sugar, at first rough against your tongue, yet memorably sweet on the finish. 

All of these things make the historic, Mint Julep part of our collective memories. 

Unfortunately Henry Clay had a dark side.  Like many outspoken men of his era, when strong drink was introduced into gentile conversations between men, arguments would eventually erupt.

One of the things that a heated argument would lead to was a duel.

A duel between men, wildly smashed on explosively powerful Bourbon cocktails in the heat of a Washington, DC summer?

I see all bad things.

It’s ironic that the Henry Clay, a mint-based cocktail would emulate the power and grace of a perfectly crafted Mint Julep. 

The secret ingredient in my cocktail is the addition of dark coffee.  Coffee is one of the hidden elements that add depth and character to a drink with brown liquors.  I love the spice element of good dark coffee in drinks that include Bourbon Whiskey.  The addition of dark brown sugar to coffee-based cocktails give drinks character and finesse.  Iced, they take on entirely different direction.  I can think of nothing more satisfying on a hot day than an iced coffee… “Corrected” of course!

Bitters are also a hidden element to my cocktail.  I love the bitters from Bitter End in New Mexico.  This cocktail requires the savory Mexican Mole’ bitters to deepen the cocktail even more on the first sip.

The Henry Clay Cocktail. Serves two persons of sound mind and body

No dueling allowed!


  • 3 Shots-Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey
  • 2 Shots- very strong black coffee
  • Mint Simple Syrup (infuse fresh mint in simple syrup overnight)
  • Bitter End Mexican Mole’ Bitters
  • Freshly whipped heavy cream (optional)


  • Brew a pot of extra strong coffee, let cool
  • To a mixing glass add a good splash of the mint simple syrup
  • Add the Bourbon Whiskey
  • Add 8 drops of the Bitter End Bitters
  • Fill ½ with ice
  • Shake, Shake, Shake…
  • Taste for sweetness and serve in a long glass packed with ice. You can add a few hits of the whipped, heavy cream if desired.

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