The Fall Classic

This cocktail comes via SeriousEats.com, courtesy of Gramercy Tavern in New York. While I needed to make a few detours around the restaurant's recipe in order to tailor it to my diminishing stock, it also calls for certain ingredients I've got too much of lurking around my post-Thanksgiving fridge, so yay! (In case you haven't noticed, this week on the blog is unofficially Make Use of T'giving Leftovers Week.)

What I was happy to have reason to use was my fresh thyme. Someday, I swear, I'm going to construct the world's most impressive year-round herb garden (complete with shoe-organizer mini-plots!), but until then, I find myself all too often buying fresh herbs in presized packages, using a few sprigs for one recipe, then watching the rest wilt in the crisper. Not this time, Mother Nature! Half of my leftover thyme went into an infusion (reveal date TBD); the rest made the thyme syrup for the Fall Classic.

This cocktail also calls for fresh apple cider, but instead I swapped in apple-peel tea. Wuh huh? you ask, stupefied and bewildermazed. See, soon after I arrived in Canada, I decided that living here meant crafting a more wholesome and virtuous existence. Ergo, I joined the on-campus CSA at McGill. Now I get pounds of apples every week, so I make loads of applesauce. First I made it skins-on, because I figured, why bother peeling all those apples only to throw away all those peels? Then I read that Jacques Pepin recommends steeping the peels for tea. It's totes easy -- fresh peels covered in a saucepan with water, a few shakes of lemon juice, perhaps a cinnamon stick, boil 10 minutes -- and the tea comes out a totes adorbs shade of princessy pink. (Pepin recommends oven-drying the peels first, but I kept burning them so I go with this recipe.) Apple peel tea's got sweetness and tartness but none of cider's bite, and every time I drink some of it, I find myself smiling like an idiot. It's just got such a unique, comforting, soft, fresh sweetness about it. It's Happytime Tea, see!

The Fall Classic

(Adapted from Gramercy Tavern, as found on SeriousEats.com)

1 ounce Buffalo Trace Bourbon

1 ounce Busnel Fine Calvados

1 ounce apple-peel tea

1/2 ounce thyme syrup

1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Apple slice, thyme sprig or lemon peel, to garnish

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker, shake vigorously, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish as you like.

Tasting Notes

The original recipe calls for an ounce of either Calvados or Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy, FYI. It also called for making the thyme syrup with equal parts sugar and water along with four fresh thyme sprigs. I halved the sugar because, especially with an herb-based simple syrup, I just like to make sure that the herbaceousness really comes through.

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The Pan Am

I've yet to mention scotch on this blog. There are a couple of reasons why. One: Bourbon exists, so what's the point? Two: Scotch precipitates a taste-memory flashback to my first year of living in New York, specifically the hours between midnight and 5 a.m. of that year, a year I'm happy to leave fuzzy, hazy and behind.

Back then I was interning at a magazine during the day, waiting tables at the now-defunct Bottom Line at night, then spending several hours and most of the tips I'd just earned at some of Greenwich Village's finest last-ditch saloons along with my Bottom Line co-workers, most of whom I haven't been able to recall by name for over a decade. My go-to drink during those lost mornings was scotch and soda -- a highball I settled on solely because it was the most grown-up-seeming thing I could think of to order. I was 22, recently graduated from a fancy-name college and hanging with middle-aged, stage-crew guys sporting frazzled, gray hair and incomplete sets of teeth.  I wanted to fit in.

I suppose that's all nothing to be too embarrassed about, but as far as the scotch-and-sodas were concerned, I was drinking them for all the wrong reasons. Chief among those wrong reasons: I hated the way they tasted, like dirt and unscrupulousness and sock sweat. (Mind you, these scotch-and-sodas were made with no-name, bottom-shelf scotch, natch.)

So when Sean put a Pan Am in my hand recently and told me to take a sip, you can imagine my surprise when the first thing I said was, "This actually tastes like scotch," and that I said so with a smile across my face. What it actually tastes like is a bright, unmuddied scotch full of pep and character; in the book from which this recipe is adapted, the author calls it "Mexican firewater meets Kentucky hooch." Either way, the Pan Am is a serviceable highball, uncomplicated but not simple, a great sipper that you can (and should! this is high-octane stuff!) take your time to enjoy.

The Pan Am

(Adapted from Mini Bar: Tequila: A Little Book of Big Drinks, by Mittie Hellmich)

1 ounce Sauza Tequila Anejo Conmemorativo

1 ounce Buffalo Trace bourbon

1/4 ounce simple syrup

3 dashes of Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients into an ice-filled highball glass, stir briskly for a few seconds and serve.

Tasting Notes:

The original recipe calls for mezcal instead of tequila; we don't have the former at home, so we subbed in the latter.

 

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