Friday Happy Hour: The Bufala Negra

Usually these posts take some time. I do some reading about classic cocktails and try out the recipes for myself, or I play around with my own recipes until I get it just right. There’s a lot of research and a lot of experimenting before I’m ready to write about a drink. But not this one. I came across this modern cocktail a few days ago, tried it out, and loved it so much that I didn’t take any convincing to post about it right away. So enjoy this amazing combination of bourbon, balsamic, and basil – the Bufala Negra. – Andrew



Illustration by Shauna Lynn for Oh So Beautiful Paper

The Bufala Negra

2 oz Bourbon
3/4 oz Balsamic Syrup

2-4 oz Ginger Beer
3-4 Fresh Basil Leaves

To make the balsamic syrup, combine equal parts balsamic vinegar with simple syrup over low heat, stirring frequently, until the vinegar and syrup are combined and slightly reduced.

To make the Bufala Negra, muddle the balsamic syrup and basil leaves together in a shaker.  Add the bourbon and lots of ice, then shake well.  Strain into a tumbler filled with fresh ice, then top with ginger beer and garnish with more basil.  Enjoy!


The Bufala Negra is the creation Jerry Slater, owner and operator of the Atlanta, Georgia bar H. Harper Station. Needless to say, I am now scheming up an excuse to visit Atlanta. Jerry’s Bufala Negra is sweet and tart and herbal and spicy at the same time. The balsamic and basil lend the drink an air of Italian cuisine without being gimmicky. (I’m a huge fan of balsamic vinegar in cooking, but I’d only ever used it in cocktails to make shrubs, so I find its use here pretty ingenious.)

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I did make a couple of changes to the recipe. First, I upped the bourbon a bit; there are lots of strong flavors in the Bufala Negra and I didn’t want the bourbon to get lost. Second, I replaced the original recipe’s inclusion of some brown sugar with more balsamic syrup. I’m not a big fan of brown sugar, which is basically white sugar colored brown with molasses. Using a raw or cane sugar, like turbinado, in your balsamic syrup will give your cocktails a much richer and more honest flavor.


A word of warning: the Bufala Negra can go down easily.  They’re light without being insubstantial, sweet and rich without being cloying, perfect to have with dinner. In other words, you might find yourself having more than you meant to without realizing it. Yeah, it’s a good cocktail.

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

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