Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Bourbon Cocktails

Midnight Special

Midnight Special cocktail / Tim Nusog

Whiskey is a versatile spirit. It can be employed in all-liquor drinks like the Manhattan and Old Fashioned or paired with citrus, soda, berries and more. There’s not a lot it can’t do, which makes it ripe for experimentation. Just take a look at the Midnight Special.

This cocktail by Camille Cavan, the bar manager at Portland, Oregon’s Quaintrelle, recalls the tart sweetness of a Whiskey Sour with the subtle bitterness of a Boulevardier (bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth) or an Old Pal (rye, Campari, dry vermouth).

The drink begins with a bourbon base. Dark and nutty Oloroso sherry provides structure, and Tempus Fugit Gran Classico brings a bitter touch. Made from a maceration of 25 aromatic herbs and roots including wormwood, gentian, orange peel and rhubarb, Gran Classico is a departure in flavor from bright-red Campari. But it works similarly to how Campari impacts a Boulevardier: by lending a bitter herbaceous note to the cocktail.

Fresh lemon juice and simple syrup supply balance, and—when combined with egg white—continue the Whiskey Sour comparisons. But the egg white is used differently than in the typical sour. Rather than being added to the shaker and combined with all the other components, it’s shaken by itself and deployed as a topper. The frothy head acts as a base for the drops of black walnut bitters, which provide their nutty aromas with each sip.

In the end, this is a citrus-forward drink, rounded out with rich sherry and bitter aperitif. It’s reminiscent of a classic Whiskey Sour, but it charts a path that is all its own. Mix one the next time you want a drink that is new and complex, but familiar.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Buffalo Trace bourbon

  • 1/4 ounce oloroso sherry

  • 1/4 ounce Tempus Fugit Gran Classico bitter

  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup

  • 1 egg white

  • Garnish: black walnut bitters

  • Garnish: lemon twist


  1. Add all the ingredients except the egg white to a shaker with ice and shake vigorously.

  2. Fine-strain into a rocks glass over 1 large ice cube.

  3. Add the egg white to an empty shaker and dry-shake without ice for about 10 seconds, and pour over the cocktail.

  4. Garnish with a few drops of black walnut bitters. Express lemon peel oils over the top of the drink, then drop the peel in.

Raw Egg Warning

Consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs poses a risk of food-borne illness.