Woods & Whimsy

Recipe by Lance Bowman

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Harleston Green Scotch
  • 1 oz. Smoked Tea & Orange Syrup*
  • 1/4 oz. Maple Syrup
  • 2 dashes Bittermen’s Mole Bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters

Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a double old fashioned glass over ice, stir briefly ~15 times to chill (the dilution component is in the syrup, no need for a separate stir and strain to chill/dilute!

*Smoked Tea & Orange Syrup

Bring 2 quarts of water, 10 ounces of orange peel and .75 ounces of Lapsang Souchong smoked black tea (if not available black tea and 4 dashes of liquid smoke can be used) to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and strain, add 32 ounces by volume of sugar and stir to dissolve. Cool, bottle, label and date.

Garnish: Mini “S’More” (Graham Cracker, Marshmallow, Grated Chocolate)

Glassware: Double Old Fashioned Glass

Cocktail Inspiration:

This cocktail is inspired by a very specific set of sensory memories for me centered around s’mores & hot chocolate around a campfire, which was also the place I had my first taste of whisky. The cocktail itself is meant to hopefully convey these memories to the person enjoying it, and hopefully conjure some memories from their past as well. It is also meant to embody certain lessons I’ve learned throughout my bartending career. The cocktail is meant to portray a classic, namely the old fashioned, that still lets the base spirit shine, but in a whimsical and elevated way, hence the name Woods & Whimsy.

The smoked black tea adds the element of the campfire with its distinctive pine smoke character. The mole bitters with their hint of spice bring forth the memory of my uncles hot chocolate with a hint of spicy chile. The maple syrup adds the memory of the sense of the forest. Harleston Green Scotch is the principal star of the cocktail conveys the powerful memory that lives with me to this day of my first taste of the wonderful spirit that is whisky. Combined together it amounts to a completely composed snapshot of one particular moment in the woods from my past.

The cocktail also pays homage to the classics and my very roots as a cocktail bartender. The orange & tea syrup, combined with whiskey and bitters conveys the structure of a classic old fashioned, but the more esoteric ingredients and touches, along with the mini s’more add a distinct sense of whimsy that makes the cocktail deeply intriguing. It also has the advantage of the dilution component already being included, so it can just simply be built in a glass over ice and served.

One important thing I’ve learned through my bartending career is that we taste with our eyes first. All cocktails should inherently be structured to be delicious, no amount of artful presentation can fix a poorly executed cocktail. However, a well executed cocktail with a visual element that ties everything together can enhance a great cocktail.

All of these pieces put together help to tell a story that intertwines spirits and cocktail history, a powerful memory from my past, culinary flavor pairings that I’ve learned, as well as the value of a beautifully presented and well composed cocktail. All these pieces allow me to create an experience for the guests sitting at my bar. As much as giving people cocktails brings me joy, the true joy comes from giving someone an experience that is truly memorable to them. That is the hallmark of hospitality and what I strive for every day in my own whimsical way