This week’s holiday-themed Seasonal Sips took reporters Bill Lynch and Lori Kersey to Bluegrass Kitchen, located on Washington Street in Charleston’s East End, for an audience with bartender Nick Smith.
Smith has an experimental touch and is a fan of bartender history, which influences the drinks he makes.
He showed us four drinks to add to your holiday recipe repertoire.
Don’t Rum and Fall
1 ounce Meyers Dark Rum
1 ounce Bacardi light rum
½ ounce sorghum simple syrup
¾ ounce Cointreau
1 egg white
Vigorously shake ingredients with ice.
Strain into Manhattan glass.
Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
Nick: “This was something I came up with about a month ago, just after it started getting cool. To me, this seems like a good before-dinner drink or just something to have on a cold winter’s day. It’s a lot of rum, and rum warms you up.”
Lori: “What liquor is in that? What liquor isn’t in that? That’s very strong.”
Bill: “Due to my current dietary restrictions, I had to pass on this one. The name is cute, though.”
2 ounces Rittenhouse Rye
¾ ounce cointreau
2 dashes Aztec bitters
Pour and stir.
Serve in a Manhattan glass.
Rub orange peel around rim, and then garnish with peel.
Nick: “This is more of an after-dinner drink — a digestif, if you will. The chocolate is sort of on the back end, as you exhale.”
Bill: “It’s kind of like a boozy chocolate orange, one of those candy oranges you get during the holidays. I like it, but I’m a fan of sweets.”
Lori: “It’s a little too boozy for me.”
2 ounces Makers Mark
¼ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce maple syrup
Shake with ice.
Strain into a pint glass with ice.
Top with Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout.
Garnish with orange slice and candied bacon.
Nick: “I came up with this to pair with a bacon burger. I like the way the maple syrup sort of amps up the drink, and everybody loves candied bacon. That’s been a real huge selling point with this one. People love candied bacon.”
Lori: “That’s good. I would order this one.”
Bill: “I took the bacon out. Honest. It was just garnish and I’m a Maker’s Mark fan. I liked this drink, too. It had some nice layers of flavor and was very refreshing. Maybe I could order this with vegan bacon.”
2 ounces Hennessy
1 ounce Appleton Estate Signature Blend Rum
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons sugar
3 ounces milk
Shake with ice, strain and serve in Clarette glass.
Top with freshly grated nutmeg.
Nick: “This, to me, is the ultimate holiday drink. I like those old traditional, tried-and-true cocktails. This is one I got from Jerry Thomas [“The Father of American Mixology” 1830-1885].”
Lori: “Not bad. It could be a little better if it was a little sweeter, in my opinion. I think my favorite here was The Lumberjack.”
Bill: “Again, dietary restrictions, but it looks like a nice, holiday drink — an alternative to eggnog. Even when I did drink milk, I didn’t usually think of it for a cocktail. I’m more of a Black Russian drinker than a White Russian drinker, for example.
“I would probably stick with The Lumberjack, too.”