Smoke ’em if you got ’em

A glance at my scotch or mezcal collections should tip you off to my love of smoky flavors. Though those liquors are typically my go-to building blocks for a smoky glass at home, I’ve long marveled at the actual smoke employed to create some of my most memorable cocktails when dining out.

The full smoke

The formative moment of my smoky cocktail-sipping career, and the standard to which I hold all others, is this Vanilla Hickory Smoked Manhattan from Barchef in Toronto.

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Vanilla hickory smoked Manhattan, Barchef, July 2012

Crown Royal Cask 16, housemade cherry vanilla bitters, hickory-smoked syrup, vanilla cognac (also housemade, I believe), set in an antique cloche to pull in the flavors of smoking hickory chips and vanilla pods.

Once removed from the smoking bell jar the Manhattan and its hand-chipped ice sphere provided me with the longest, smokiest finish I’d yet experienced (at the time, I was not yet a scotch fan). By fully smoking the drink in its glass, the ice, glassware, and your very hand become part of the immersive experience.

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Barchef’s smoked Manhattan, out of the cloche and into my heart

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Old-Fashioned Menus

The Old Fashioned is a contentious drink. Few others (and I say that with the certainty of someone who has done no research) have such distinct geographic divisions.

Not every article on the history of the Old Fashioned acknowledges this, so I refuse to link to a single one that didn’t do their homework on the northern Midwestern niche of Wisconsin’s brandy Old Fashioneds. Slate, though, did do some pretty great homework on the topic.

As have millions of salt-of-the-earth brandy drinkers:

Having reached the age of my majority in this little pocket of reality where Korbel is king, my interest is piqued by variations on the Old Fashioned. Here are some menus I’ve encountered:

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 Old Fashioned menu at Melrose Umbrella Company, Los Angeles, CA, 2016.

Above: Old Fashioneds on tap at Branchline in Emeryville, CA, 2015.
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