I went looking for bourbon drinks a few weeks ago and this one caught my eye. The original recipe I found called for aged balsamic vinegar but we were out —so I shelved it. This week I went looking again and found the recipe below that included a balsamic syrup we could make at home — so the Bufala Negro (Portuguese for “black buffalo”) jumped back to the top of the list. Jerry Slater, of Atlanta’s famous H. Harper Station, first created this cocktail when he worked in the Oakroom at the Sellback where Al Capone used to hang out.
There are a lot of variations, some substituting ginger ale for ginger beer (although that may be the original recipe and not a mere substitution), but I would recommend against it as the sharp ginger taste from the beer was, to me, an essential component to the success of this cocktail.
- 1 1/2 oz. bourbon
- 4 fresh basil leaves
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1/2 oz. balsamic syrup (see below)
- 2 oz. ginger beer
Muddle the balsamic syrup, 3 leaves of basil and sugar in a cocktail shaker. Add bourbon and ice and shake well. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass over fresh ice cubes. Top with ginger beer and garnish with basil leaf.
Balsamic Syrup: Combine 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup of simple syrup in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring just to a boil, reduce to medium-low and let simmer for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.
The Verdict: It was enough to make me want to go to Atlanta and meet Jerry. Really. Unfortunately H. Harper Station closed last year so we had to make do by mixing up a second round—the first time ever! Yes, it was that good, and hit a note with every single one of our diverse tastebuds. Some delighted in the sweet, tart balsamic, some in the sharp bite of ginger. I loved the wafting note of basil that hit my nose just before the bubbly tang of carbonated ginger infused with sweet bourbon hit my mouth. Delightful.
This one is 8 thumbs up. Be sure to give it a try.
Bufala Negro (2 rounds)
Homemade buns w/ balsamic & garlic olive oil
Garden salad with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and a mustard vinaigrette
Herb roasted potatoes
BBQ whole chicken