Sunday, December 21, 2014

And to All a Good Night

I managed one post last year and I will manage one again, this year. You can all blame the mighty Manhattan for my absence, for I have been sunk in its ever-evolving charms and comforting elegance throughout the past year. 

Now, however, that is beside the point. I am in the throes of addiction to a new magic.

It is December 21, 2014. The Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year. And this year, it will be the longest night in "the history of earth" (according to science -- or not). So, on the cusp of the longest night in 4.5 billion years, I am here to tell you about a spicy little number called, fittingly, And to All a Good Night. 

Forget that Christmas poem. At least, you will once a few of these have lubricated your puzzler. Attributed to Tim Stookey of the Presidio Social Club in San Francisco, this cocktail with the unwieldy name has won my heart over the past few weeks. And, it is a truly unusual tipple in that it brazenly mixes bourbon (or rye) with tequila. And then throws in a bit of Cherry Heering. On paper this sounds truly unpleasant, but not so much that I wasn't intrigued. So I got to work.

Some recommendations for liquor: First of all, while this was originally billed with bourbon, I can tell you that, so far, this has worked best for me with a nice, strong, spicy rye. I used Bulleit and it definitely added some nuances that were lost to Old Overholt. I would opt for a similar route with bourbon--go for something with a little oomph in the spice department. As for the tequila, I used a Espolón reposado, which worked nicely. I haven't experimented too much with different reposados, but it would be worth the effort I think. Then you have your Cherry Heering (no substitutes) and your bitters. I tried this with Angostura Orange bitters, and it fell short. You really will benefit from the Regan's orange bitters. They demonstrate more peel bitterness, and have quite a bite. Then a dash of Angostura bitters for that distinctive depth. Obviously, tastes differ -- which is why it is fun to play around with these cocktail recipes.

So what would such a mix of ingredients taste like? I was surprised. First of all, the orange oils from the garnish give this a sumptuous, magical bouquet. And each sip revealed (to these taste buds, at least) the richness of chocolate; a deep, dark hint of cherry fruit; and a lot of spiciness--using Bulleit rye I found a range of sparkling, palate-rousing mint, cinnamon, cocoa, pepper, vanilla. The tequila will add its own complimentary notes, which in retrospect is not so surprising, considering it too is aged in wood and carries a spicy whomp. 

The marvel, with this drink, is how all the flavors blend together into a most harmonious whole. Exactly as it should be with a superlative cocktail. So, my lovelies, get to work.

And to All a Good Night
  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon or rye 
  • 3/4 oz reposado tequila 
  • 3/4 oz Cherry Heering
  • 2 dashes Regan's orange bitters 
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Orange twist 
Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until cold. Strain into a glass, take a swath of orange peel and gently spritz the oil across the surface (you can even try flaming it), deposit the peel in the glass, lift it to your lips, tilt the glass gently to no more than a 45 degree angle (toward your mouth, of course), and savor.

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!" And, I say, bottoms up.