A balance of sweet, smokey and even salty, this is a great cocktail for bourbon or whiskey.
It’s no secret that I’m partial to a great cocktail. You need only look reference my burnt pineapple margarita or pink peppercorn & peach bourbon recipes to see that I like to get creative as with my drinks as I do with my meat.
Years ago I had an incredible take on an Old Fashioned from a very cool bar in Austin called Midnight Cowboy. It was a speakeasy type joint, with room for only 25 or so patrons, reservations required, table side cocktail making and a hidden buzzer to even get in the door. Like I said, very cool. They created a whiskey concoction that used walnut liquor, and the nutty flavor was incredible! Since then, I’ve been wanting to incorporate it in my own spin. And while the walnut liquors I’ve found have been a little too sweet for my liking, I’ve become addicted to using these Black Walnut Bitters that perfectly add flavor without sweetness.
This cocktail harnesses several few bold flavors that match up to each other to create a balanced drink. One key is smoked simple syrup. The one I use here is also spiced with clove and cinnamon, but you can also use the recipe to create a basic smoked simple syrup, if you prefer. I took inspiration from this recipe and used a larger shallow tray for smoking, to increase the surface area and max the smoke flavor.
Another thing that makes this cocktail pretty unusual is the inclusion of salt. Yup, salt. Maybe I’m crazy…like a fox! See, I really am not a fan of overly sweet cocktails, and I got to thinking about how I could balance out the simple syrup a little. In the culinary world, desserts are offset by a touch of salt to balance them out, so why not apply the same logic to cocktails? To be honest, I thought it worked brilliantly, but you be the judge. The key is to only use a MICRO PINCH. Like, a couple of grains. Just a teeny bit to open it up and make it sing.
What you need to make this smoked, salted and spiced whiskey cocktail:
- Silver Star Whiskey. It’s a great and affordable whiskey made right here in Texas. I’ve been a fan for a couple of years now, and find it perfect for mixing into cocktails.
- Black Walnut bitters
- Fleur de sel. This is not essential, but it’s what I used. Fleur de sel are teeny pellets of french sea salt, that are most traditionally used in salted caramel. They retain a big burst of sea-saltiness. If you don’t want to get fleur de sel, use flake salt.