Tuesday, August 30, 2011


1 1/2 oz Knob Creek Bourbon
2 oz Gritty McDuff's Black Fly Stout (Irish Dry)
1 oz Sassafras Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass or goblet rimmed with sassafras sugar.

The other drink I had at Stoddard's last Saturday night was the Savannah, for the combination of beer, Bourbon, and sassafras intrigued me. When I asked bartender Tony Iamunno how they were able to source sassafras which was deemed toxic and carcinogenic back in the 1960s, he told me that they can get sassafras root that has had the worrisome saffrole compound removed (*). Apparently, they got the idea to use this safe sassafras from a drink one of the bartenders tasted at Central Kitchen in Cambridge; there they were informed that they could source the treated root at Christina's in Inman Square.
The Savannah greeted my nose with the aroma of stout's roasted malt coupled with the sassafras' root beer-like note. The sip was a semi-dry malt flavor derived from the whiskey and beer, and the swallow presented a combination of root beer and Bourbon notes. I was quite surprised at how dry the drink was, and when I pointed this out to Tony, he commented that he found it odd too as Knob Creek is one of the sweeter Bourbons and the Gritty's stout is not all that dry. I hypothesized that the sassafras' bitterness helped to reduce the sensation of sweetness in the drink. Indeed, even the sassafras sugar on the glass' rim was not that all that sweet.

(*) There is evidence that the ill effects of sassafras were exaggerated.

No comments: