The Best Gift I Ever Gave + Old Fashioned recipe


The best gift I ever gave was the perfect gift. A perfect Old Fashioned was just part of the celebration.

Are you searching for the perfect gift?

If you want to laugh and cry and celebrate life, I’ve got an idea.

For my husband’s birthday I asked childhood friends, college roommates, colleagues, and family to send him a card.

Specifically, I said that I wanted to present him with cards from his favorite people with a memory, a line about how he impacted your life, what you see as his gifts, or whatever rings true for you.


The response to the request was great

People said:

  • I’m going to steal this idea for my wife’s birthday.
  • Neat idea.
  • Thanks for asking!
  • I would be honored to do this.
  • Thank you for thinking of me.

And that was just the ask.

For the party, I told him about the card project and presented the cards on a tray. We sat in the living room and sipped Old Fashioneds.  An Old Fashioned in high ball glass

How to make an Old Fashioned

  1. In a high ball glass, muddle (smash) sugar, bitters, maraschino cherry juice and an orange slice.
  2. Add ice, pour in bourbon, top with a splash of water.

The ingredients

  • 1 sugar cube or 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 5 dashes bitters
  • 1/2 teaspoon cherry juice
  • 1 slice of orange
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 11.5 ounces of water
  • 1 maraschino cherry

Then one-by-one he picked up a card. He read the return address and said something like, oh, this is from Ashley (our niece) or “this is from Craig (colleague), I sure like him. How nice of him to take the time to do this!” Then he slit open the envelope and read the card aloud.

We heard:

  • funny stories about his hair in high school. A blond afro.
  • memories about how he impacted someone’s life.inside a bee hive
  • about his work ethic, sense of humor, and analytical mind.
  • a poem about him.
  • his skills as a lawyer, mixologist, beekeeper, musician, and tractor driver.
  • a mind map poster board.
  • and saw cards with photographs and drawings, including one of the Corvair he drove in high school with photos of his high school buddies in their respective seats.tray with cards

We were amazed at the response, the thoughtfulness, the creativity and the love. Honestly, I cried and laughed for more than 2 hours.

In my book Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest, I write about how we feed our soul. Connection to others is soul food. This card project fed everyone’s soul!

Without knowing it beforehand, this was the best gift I ever gave. The recipient agrees.


The bar tool used in the recipe below is a muddler.

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Ken’s Old Fashioned

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Ken prefers Wyoming Whiskey for this drink. My favorite bourbons are Knob Creek, Bulleit Rye and Maker’s Mark. Ken says he won’t turn down any of the above 😉

  • Author: Judy Barbe


  • 1 sugar cube or 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 5 dashes bitters
  • 1/2 teaspoon cherry juice
  • 1 slice of orange
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 11.5 ounces of water
  • 1 maraschino cherry


In a short high ball glass, place sugar, bitters, 1/2 teaspoon cherry juice from jar, a splash of water and orange wedge. Muddle (smash) these to dissolve sugar and release juices. Pour in bourbon, stir. Add ice cubes to fill the glass. Add remaining water to top off the glass. Garnish with cherry.


I like to finish my drink with a splash of club soda, ratter than water, over the bourbon.




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  1. What a great gift idea!! Love Old Fashioned’s too – since you introduced them to me, I change up my Manhattans (or Martini’s 🙂 with an Old Fashioned and think of you guys!
    Happy Birthday to Ken!

  2. Pingback: Episode 20: Double Date: "Weird Foods" and Apiaries with Judy and Ken Barbe - Nutrition Nuptials

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