I hadn’t planned on posting this drink (how’s that for a ringing endorsement?) but it took second place in last night’s cocktail competition sponsored by Drambuie, so it’s worth putting up. It was a tight race with Adam Robinson of Park Kitchen taking third and Tommy Klus of Teardrop Lounge edging me out by a point to take first.
Tommy and I went for very similar flavor profiles, marrying Drambuie with peaty Scotch and fall spices. My drink was a Stone Fence variation (hence the Green Mountain reference) using Ardbeg, Drambuie (a.k.a. “the ‘Bu”), apple cider gastrique, and the Fee’s Whiskey Barrel-Aged bitters, which add big notes of cinnamon and clove. It’s a tasty fall cocktail and even people who were scared of Scotch seemed to like it.
2 oz apple cider
1.5 oz Ardbeg 10
.75 oz Drambuie
.75 oz apple cider gastrique
1 dash Fee’s Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters
Stir over ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Add a cinnamon stick if you feel compelled to garnish, but there’s no need for it.
I don’t have a strict recipe for the gastrique. It’s something I made for a completely different Stone Fence variation last year and I realized a few hours before last night’s competition that I’d never recorded the ingredients or process. It’s fairly simple though: Caramelize about a cup of sugar in a small amount of water, slowly add about 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar, and finally add about a cup of good apple juice or cider. I added a splash of lemon juice too though I suspect it’s unnecessary.
For a simpler cocktail pairing Ardbeg and Drambuie, see also my drink from last year, the Curse of Scotland.
Tonight’s a night for backyard grilling, tossing a baseball, eating absurd amounts of food, and enjoying the sunshine. Unless you’re me. I’ll be stuck working behind a bar. But if I were joining you all outside, I’d be cheering independence with a Stone Fence:
1.5 oz aged rum
hard apple cider
Pour both ingredients over ice, stir, and enjoy.
Apple cider usually brings to mind fall flavors, but this is pleasant and refreshing in the summer. More importantly, some form of this drink is what supposedly gave Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys the liquid courage they needed to storm Fort Ticonderoga and take it from the bloody British in 1775. So goes the legend, anyway, and legends that give us an excuse to celebrate with tasty cocktails are worth perpetuating.
In Imbibe! cocktail historian David Wondrich suggests that for true authenticity one should use 115-proof Bundaberg rum (not available in the US) and brew your own cider. That seems like a lot of work for a holiday. Inexpensive aged rums like Appleton Estate VX or Bacardi 8 will do nicely. For the cider I’ve been experimenting with Crispin, a new American brand intended to be served over ice. While some of their products are a little sweet for me, I really enjoy their brut cider. The fact that it comes in convenient 12 oz bottles is another point in its favor.
This drink eventually evolved into a less potent but still tasty libation combining bourbon and non-alcoholic apple cider. A couple dashes of Angostura bitters is a nice addition; this is the version you might have tried if you were at Cato’s Repeal Day celebration last year. When we head into fall and winter, this variation really hits the spot.