Whiskey Business

Spirit Secrets from the Cinema Mixologist

Article by Kelly Zeillmann

Photography by MB Film & Photo

Originally published in Greeley Lifestyle

Whether you’re new to whiskey or a seasoned spirit sipper, Justin Ghofrani, manager of the Kress Cinema, has some facts, history, and recipes to share. 

Whiskey is an overarching term for the type of alcohol, and bourbon is a branch beneath it. To be termed “bourbon,” the liquor must be made of at least 51% corn mash and distilled following different temperature guidelines than whiskey. Most importantly, bourbon must be made in America, and some of the best bottles are known to be barreled in Kentucky. Though whiskey, at the most basic level, is distilled beer, the proverbial cornstalk has many more leaves and roots than meets the eye. 

How did this drink distilled from corn gain such a hold? You make lemonade when life provides lemons. When the land gives you corn and oak trees, you make bourbon! It is a drink derived from the fruits of America: oak trees and corn. Barrels made from fresh American oak trees infuse bourbon with its signature flavor, and the corn we harvest makes the drink itself. The branches of the whiskey tree reach farther than the shores of the United States, though. The Scots have made Scotch for ages, and Japanese craftsmen are carving out their own category in the whiskey world. Whatever your spirit of choice—whiskey, scotch, or bourbon—when they taste as good as they do, their popularity is no surprise.

Though the exact origins of the following cocktail recipes are hard to trace, because Americans have been drinking and modifying them for ages, Kress Mixologist Justin Ghofrani has assembled a rough timeline. The oldest of the three recipes is—surprise!—the Old Fashioned. After prohibition, bartenders added muddled fruit and lumps of sugar (instead of simple syrup) to their liquor. Ardent bourbon fans, the Kress team among them, prefer their old-fashioned pre-prohibition way, with nothing to dilute the liquor’s flavor.

The different ways of mixing Old Fashioneds is the beauty of cocktails, especially in America. As Justin explains, “We are such individuals who like things personalized!” The cocktail is “something made in a glass (not a punch bowl) for this specific person on this specific day.” Personalization played a large role in the development of the Manhattan and the Martini, too. After sweet vermouth arrived from Italy, bartenders mixed it with gin and a cherry, then eventually swapped out the gin for rye whiskey. The French introduced dry vermouth, which initiated an undoing of the Manhattan, swapping the whiskey for gin once again, and replacing the sweet vermouth for dry. Thus, the Martini was born. Fancy mixing your own personal cocktail? Give these recipes a try. 



2oz bourbon

1/4oz Simple Syrup

2 dashes angostura bitters

Orange peel

Big ice cube in rocks glass


2oz rye

1oz Sweet vermouth

3 dashes angostura bitters

Chilled martini glass with cherry or lemon (or both)


2.5oz vodka or gin

.5oz dry vermouth

Chilled martini glass with olives or lemon (or both)

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