McKittrick old fashioned - bourbon, sherry, and chocolate bitters
Stopped by the new, no-secret-phone number-required Milk & Honey on 23rd Street today. Just like the times I visited the old locale on Eldridge Street, I discovered a new recipe I’d like to recreate. Aside from a strange looking-over at the door (pardon my scruffiness, sir), it was a chill evening. But with places like this charging $16 per drink, methinks it’s time to start flexing the cocktail shaking muscles and testing recipes for springtime rooftop imbibing. This one will make a fantastic nightcap.
With the arrival of The Butterfly, Eben Freeman and Michael White’s take on a Wisconsin-style supper club, comes that state’s favorite tipple, the brandy old-fashioned—a Badger State bastardization of an old-fashioned old-fashioned, which tampers with that revered classic by swapping cheap California brandy for whiskey, muddling citrus and maraschino cherries with the bitters and sugar, and sometimes topping the thing with Sprite or 7Up for that fillip of high-fructose delight. In this haute-cocktail age, that simply won’t do. Drinks czar Freeman’s remake subs a vacuum-sealed oleo saccharum (basically a long-macerated citrusy syrup) made from Seville oranges and Washington State cherries for the muddling, and tops up the drink with club soda.
To paraphrase Hunter Thompson, once you get locked into a serious bitters collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. Like most cocktail nerds, I have a shelf full of exotic bitters I rarely use, or only use for a particular drink once in a blue moon. Occasionally, though, I discover a true gem I want to find an excuse to work into every drink I make. My friends Courtney & Robert just sent me a bottle of Toasted Pecan bitters from Miracle Mile Bitters Company in Los Angeles, and I’m already convinced I’ll be using them regularly.
While its essential sweetness would seem to make bourbon the obvious Southern-inflected pairing for pecan bitters, the first spirit I was eager to test drive my new acquisition with was rye. Inspired by the rye pecan pie Brooklyn’s Marlow & Sons makes during the holidays, I had a feeling the spiciness of rye might be a perfect counterpoint to the sweet nuttiness of the bitters, and I was right. They were lovely in a Rye Old Fashioned, if perhaps a just a touch sweet for my taste (a problem adding additional aromatic bitters solved), but I was really impressed with how nicely they rounded out a Sazerac. A couple drops along with the usual Peychaud’s Bitters adds a nice extra layer of depth and helps soften the edges of a normally rather stiff drink.
Mr. Berger claims to have sold Britain’s first commercially served picklebacks in 2011, from the Southbank food truck that was the restaurant’s predecessor. Word quickly got out, aided in no small part by the drink’s novelty. “People would come up and say, ‘We want five picklebacks. What are they?’
The pickleback has officially gone international.
“This is a sort of play on Scotch—it’s a whiskey infused lotion!”