By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer
Ah, fall has arrived this morning and with a flourish. It’s not winter yet; far from- but there is a quickening in the air. The breeze is blowing at least fifteen knots and there is freshness with the lack of humidity.
If I were on a sailboat right now, it would be one of those rare days where the summer melts into the fall as something organic and unforced.
Speaking of organic, I’m supping on a plate of silver dollar pancakes right now. Cooked on a butter slicked cast iron skillet, doused in extra dark, handcrafted, Vermont maple syrup. This is the kind of cooking that my body craves as the days become shorter and the nights colder. I need something to fill my soul with nostalgia from my culinary past.
First there are the cool then colder temperatures. My palate calls out for flavors of the season. Some of these tastes are for bourbon like my perennial favorite, Four Roses. There is no need to spend too much with Four Roses. They offer all different levels of excellence! For this cocktail I propose using the Yellow Label version because there are other liquors in the drink. If I was only using bourbon without the next ingredient, I’d use their superlative Small Batch, but with it the Yellow Label will suffice and your pocket should be a bit happier.
The ingredient that goes in next is named Snap. Snap is an 80 Proof liqueur crafted by Art in the Age, the Philadelphia based collective of neo-Agrarian artists and postulators. Snap is based on the Amish Lebkuchen or ginger snap cookie. It is potent, memorable and quite delicious, especially when combined with the assertively flavor-driven, Four Roses Bourbon.
The next ingredient is the ice. Handcrafted ice is so very important in this cocktail and I raise the specter to a higher level by smoking it first. What? Smoked ice? How is that possible?
My forthcoming second book Whiskey Cocktails has a recipe for oak smoked ice that I’d like to share with you.
1. Take a fireproof dish and fill ¼ with oak wood shavings
2. Light the shavings on fire, adding more as needed
3. Capture the sweet smoke in an overturned Boston Shaker
4. Add ice immediately to the shaker thereby “smoking” the ice
5. Mix your cocktail as usual
6. I used a bit of maple syrup in the water that was frozen, thus making the ice “maple syrup-oak” smoked ice!
That’s really it! What you will have is smoked ice! Keep cool in the freezer or use straight away…
The reason why you would want smoked ice is my personal desire to add flavor deeply into a cocktail. Balance is ever so important- along with simplicity. I know there are quite a few steps and that’s ok to think that. But at the end of the day even the simplest drinks require quite a few steps.
I like to ratchet drinks up several notches in flavor by freezing earthy and sensuous maple syrup into the ice. Then I go further by adding a subtle hint of maple wood smoke. And to deepen the flavor even more, I can mix a bit of Balsamic vinegar into brown liquor cocktails. This gives a mysterious edge to the usual flavors of fine brown liquor to ginger snap.
It’s really up to you and your creativity!
L’Ami du Matelot
Serves two rather comfortably for fall
2 oz. Four Roses Yellow Label
1 oz. Snap (Art in the Age)
1 oz. Balsamic Vinegar
1-2 cups Maple Smoked Ice – ¼ cup maple syrup to 3 cups Mountain Valley Spring Water- freeze overnight (essential)
2-4 shakes Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
2 oz. Mountain Valley Sparkling Water
2 sprigs of spearmint
Freeze a few ice cube trays with Mountain Valley Spring (flat water, not the fizzy one)
Into a fireproof tray, add some maple shavings
Light on fire and add more shavings as necessary
Capture the smoke in your inverted Boston Shaker
Add the maple ice to the Boston Shaker filled with maple smoke
Add the Four Roses Bourbon
Add the Snap
Add the Balsamic Vinegar
Cap and shake hard for 10-15 seconds
Pour into two rocks glasses with 1 cube of maple syrup ice in each
Add 1 oz. of Mountain Valley Sparkling water into each glass
Dot with the Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Garnish with a sprig of Spearmint
Best keep your belts on Portland, because Christopher Loverro and Katie Potter’s Hazel Room is gonna charm your pants right off—you will, however, want to loosen those belts because the kitchen’s eats are gonna fill you right up. The staff’s made up of friendly (and, if you’re a regular, familiar) faces, and the space is as cute as a bug’s ear. Order either the mushroom and collard greens scramble and hash (served with sunchokes, cotija, Zenner’s chicken sausage, and your choice of a from-scratch biscuit or housemade gluten-free bread) or the pulled pork and kale skillet baked eggs (the pork’s been marinated in tamarind, ponzu, Fentimans soda and lapsang souchong tea): Neither will steer you wrong. But, the yummiest (and easily the messiest) dish is the breakfast burger made with a Biblically long kitchen sink’s worth of ingredients: two sausage patties, bacon, lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, aged white cheddar, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, a sunny side up egg, and ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise all on a sesame seed brioche bun. Just remember to ask for extra napkins. And don’t forget to breathe. As for cocktails, The Hazel Room does four Bloody Marys (vodka, bourbon, tequila and aquavit), and while all are fine and good, they’re outshined by the easy to drink and dangerously potent Kentucky Root Canal (rye, Bacardi 151 and anise, cardamom and birch beer-spiced Root liqueur from Art in the Age). It tastes like root beer—a very dangerous root beer. By all means order one, but think long and hard on it before ordering another. Brunch is served every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., except for Mondays when the space is dark.
The Hazel Room, 3279 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503.756.7125
Leaves aren’t the only thing changing colors during fall. It’s time to start imbibing some deeper-hued spirits. Here are five great liqueurs to spice up your autumn. They’re all certified organic, but that’s just an added benefit. Quality comes first, and these are all welcome additions to any cocktail.
Art In The Age Root
Philadelphia’s Art In The Age makes an interesting range of spirits, and their Root is perfect for fall. It’s based on “Root Tea” — which your ancestors were partying with in the 1700s until the temperance movement put an end to those shenanigans. People then had to start settling for root beer. This revival is made with birch bark, smoked black tea and a number of spices like cardamom, clove, nutmeg and anise. While the nose will be familiar, this is not an attempt at making an alcoholic root beer. It’s a unique spirit that, according to the company, was taught by Native Americans to European settlers. There’s enough going on in it already — drink it neat if you want the real experience.
Yup, you know what time it is! It’s that time of year when everything is scented with cinnamon, ginger and allspice and pumpkin shows up in the most unusual places.
So without further ado, we have our own fall madness to attend to-
Today we’re sharing some pumpkin cocktail recipes, a spiced pumpkin martini and a pumpkin old fashioned.
The martini uses a pumpkin infused vodka, spiced sugar rim and ginger liqueur.
Our pumpkin old fashioned is a re-imagining of a traditional old fashioned with pumpkin puree, maple and Art in the Age Snap liqueur!
For the Pumpkin Old Fashioned:
2 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounce maple syrup
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1/4 ounce Art in the Age Snap Liqueur
4 heaping teaspoons pumpkin puree
1 dash orange bitters
Shake and strain over ice. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and orange slice.
It’s pumpkin time! Farm stands and grocery stores are packed with all kinds of pumpkin goodies, from pumpkin spice coffee to pumpkin curry. If you want to experiment with pumpkin cocktails, here are some tasty suggestions from my home bar.
5. Dry Pumpkin
Let’s be honest: pretty much every “pumpkin” flavored thing is more pumpkin pie than pure pumpkin. This cocktail is more herbal and less sweet, inspired by the smell of farmer’s markets in the fall. In a shaker, combine one part vodka (pumpkin pie or plain) with two parts Art in the Age’s SAGE.
Add a dash of pumpkin flavor extract (I like the one from LorAnn Oils), NOT pumpkin syrup. Garnish by floating three toasted pumpkin seeds on top. Not a fan of this dry cocktail? Swap out the SAGE with Art in Age’s SNAP for a flavor profile that’s more gingery and sweet.