Thursday, October 28, 2010


2 oz Sazerac 6 Year Rye (*)
1/2 oz Housemade Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz Amaro Nonino
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters
6 drop Pernod Absinthe

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Twist an orange peel over the top and drop in.

Just as I was finishing my first drink at Island Creek Oyster Bar, I gained a surprise drinking companion of Avery Glasser of the Bittermens Bitters. After speaking with Avery for a bit, bartender Bobby McCoy came by to talk drinks. When I inquired about the Wildwood, he commented that it was a Toronto meeting a Sazerac all with Red Hook proportions. He commented that the drink should be made with a bonded rye, but due to the Rittenhouse shortage, he was forced to substitute Sazerac Rye. Since my family once lived on a Wildwood Street, I was curious as to the name. Apparently, it must be a common street name for it is Bobby's family's address as well. The drink was created for the rehearsal dinner before his wedding as a tribute to where he and his friends used to drink. Those cocktails were made under the care of Bobby's father; alas, I did not realize that Bobby was a second generation bartender, but since he seems like such a natural at the stick, I am not surprised that it is in his blood.
The Wildwood began with an orange oil aroma with hints of Amaro Nonino and aniseseed. After a few sips, the cinnamon notes from the syrup became apparent on the nose. A malty rye sip was followed by cinnamon notes that were chased by a nice bitter finish. The absinthe in the Wildwood was present only as an accent, and the light hand in administering the dose paid off in that the drink was not overwhelmed by it.

Somewhere in the middle of drinking the Wildwood, Janet of the Bittermens joined our end of the bar. Soon after, it was time to move on to my next engagement -- my friend's mom's 70th birthday celebration up the street at the Chilton Club. There I discovered a bartender that could have used either of the McCoys' mentoring. What he lacked in recipe knowledge and bottles in front of him, he made up for enthusiasm to learn. Amongst the bottles of straight spirits and vermouths was a lone outlier -- a bottle of Campari! Quickly, I taught him how to make a Negroni; soon after, the other guests got wind of it and started ordering one after another. Even with building and free pouring on the rocks and with no orange twists, the drink was a success.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

A friend picked up a bottle of Ri to try and we gave this drink a shot with it. Didn't have the Amaro Nonino so we subbed the closest thing on hand, Campari (no idea how close in flavor they are). The basic idea was good but with Campari it wasn't quite my cup of tea. So I used the drink as inspiration and came up with the following:

2 oz Rye (Ri)
1/2 oz Curacao (Grand Marnier)
1/2 oz Vanilla Syrup (Trader Tiki)
2 dash Bitter Truth Gerry Thomas Bitters
2 dash Bitterman's Tiki Bitters

This is a bit sweeter overall but the bitters bring a lot of interesting complexity to the drink. The Rye & Gerry Thomas dominate, followed by hints of orange, vanilla, and the assorted flavors in the tiki bitters. It was good enough that it made it into the recipe book so thus needed a name; since it was based on the Wildwood I named it after the street I live on, "The Benson".