Recipe: Banking on bourbon

Renee Casteel Cook

The year was 1926, Downtown Columbus was growing in significance and at the center of that growth the Buckeye Federal Savings & Loan building was helping finance the burgeoning development. Nine decades later, Buckeye Bourbon House now operates in the same space, paying homage to its legacy, while at the same time hoping to be the center of a new revival of the Gay Street scene.

With the bar's location next to the Residence Inn by Marriot, BBH general manager Brian Maxwell aims to reintroduce fine hotel bar culture, which includes attention to detail akin to fine dining service, albeit in a more laid back setting. From décor chosen to match the original architecture to a bank-themed menu that features shareable bites and paninis (like Brisket on Brioche ($10) and The Big Bank Theory ($8), a panini featuring pulled pork and bourbon glaze on a maple bacon doughnut), Maxwell says the goal is to serve “wonderful food while you're out drinking.”

But the focus is certainly the bar's namesake, with a full selection of bourbons served either neat, on the rocks or as the base of a seasonal cocktail. This includes private selections such as the single-barrel Knob Creek, a 12.5-year-old bourbon that delivers a richer, deeper experience than the typical 9-year-old offering. Maxwell and team spent time in Kentucky exploring distilleries and sourcing special offerings to expand their lineup into summer and fall.

Beyond bourbon, the extensive cocktail menu opens with 23 offerings, from the classics to the curious, including mocktails, punches and barrel-aged selections. The Savings & Loan builds upon a base of Tito's vodka with housemade strawberry-mint shrub, ginger syrup, lime and soda. The Escoffier in America extends from the theme of classic hotel service by transforming the classic French dish Duck à l'Orange into an intriguing blend of duck fat-washed Wild Turkey 101, Grand Marnier, pimento bitters and housemade orange bitters.

Here, Maxwell shares an aptly named winter warmer that incorporates a cabernet reduction.

I'm Only Happy When It Snows

Servings: 1


  • 1 1/2 ounces Bulleit Rye
  • 3/4 ounce Cherry Heering liqueur
  • 1 ounce cabernet sauvignon reduction
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 2 dashes of Peychaud's bitters
  • Lemon peel


Make the cabernet reduction:

In a medium saucepan, combine equal parts white sugar and cabernet sauvignon.

Simmer until all ingredients are combined.

Reduce slightly and cool before use.

In cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients and shake with ice.

Strain into a wine glass.

Express lemon peel over the top and discard peel.

Buckeye Bourbon House

36 E. Gay St.,