I hadn't had a Walnut Park in something like two-and-a-half years. During my last year in St. Louis -- which was also my last year at The Royale, which was also the shittiest year of my life -- I'd drink many Walnuts Parks after clocking out from my shitty day shift, sitting by myself at the bar because I didn't have anywhere else to go.
I can't say why the Walnut Park was my go-to cocktail during those times (behind the bar while I was on shift, I drank Three Olives Cherry and Diet Coke, because it was easy to make and sip on, hidden out in the open), but it kept me good company with its unique, burn-free warmth and its muted kind of sweetness. Also it was easy to cajole the other bartenders into making it for me; we had an unspoken rule that you never ordered mojitos, juleps or other Rube Goldberg-esque mixology contraptions off a fellow tender unless it was your birthday.
The Walnut Park debuted on The Royale's original roster of house-specialty cocktails, and recently I found out that it's no longer on it, which of course immediately got me all nostalgic for one. But I was worried, I suppose, that I'd experience a taste-memory recall, a flashback to that borderline-desperate ennui of yore. Instead, I am happy to report, the cocktail tastes as crisp as the autumnal leaves that its golden-amber hue always conjures in my mind. No wonder I leaned on it so much during my dog days, I now realize; it's truly a spot of happy in a glass.
The Walnut Park
(Adapted from The Royale)
2 ounces Ketel One
3/4 ounces Disaronno
Lemon peel, for garnish
Combine vodka and amaretto in an ice-filled mixing glass; stir briskly until well chilled, then strain into cocktail glass. Run the underside of a lemon peel around the rim of the glass, then twist the peel while holding it above the drink and drop in.
While I made this drink here at home using Disaronno, I'm pretty sure we used a lot of no-name amaretto to make it at the bar. You won't be able to taste the difference.