I recently went to a Black Grouse event here in NYC - it was a gorgeous affair with a blazing fire, flickering candles, and bartenders behind the bar mixing with theatrical flair. Glasses were chilled with dry ice, "smoke" tumbling out of them, glasses were warmed with flaming spirits before scotch tipples were poured into them, wowing us lucky imbibers, and on the other side of the bar were a line of small barrels, each with a different aged cocktail quietly resting inside. There were so many wonderful cocktails to try!
One of my favorites from the evening was the Smoky Old Mate created by John McCarthy of the Greenwich Project. It is a bitter and sweet cocktail, with just the right amount of smoke. This cocktail aged for about 6 weeks in a mini barrel, but it can be easily scaled down to be aged in a glass bottle with a charred oak stave. The best part? It rests for only a week - which is better for those of us who are a bit impatient.
Without further ado, the recipe:
The Smoky Old Mate
4.5 oz The Black Grouse
3 oz Cynar
3 oz Carpano Antica (or another sweet vermouth)
3 dashes Grapefruit Bitters (I did not have grapefruit bitters, so I used Bittered Sling - Kensington Dry Aromatic Bitters - a gorgeous smoky and citrus bitter)
Orange Peel for Garnish
Makes 12 oz. Four cocktails of 3 oz each.
Combine all ingredients in bottle and insert charred oak stave. Cocktail will be ready after one week, although the contents will continue to age as long as you leave the stave in the bottle.
Stir 3 oz with ice in a mixing glass, strain into a low ball glass with fresh ice. Garnish with an Orange Peel.
You'll need a cocktail aging kit - and some patience. $35