I had an epiphany a few years back. I was eating the last
morsels of a bloody rib eye at the downtown New York steak house, Dylan Prime. At that time it was
owned by the affable Michael Waterhouse. Like most venues whose very existence
is dedicated to excessive consumption of barely cooked meat, the clientele
consisted mainly of big dudes with big expense accounts.
As the meal came to a close, I was presented – as is
traditional protocol – with a dessert menu. I eat a lot of steak meals; way
more than any physician would recommend. But I’ve never ordered dessert at a
steak house. Not once. I pondered the fact that surely I’m not alone in this.
It seemed like a futile gesture for the waiter. I looked around and no one was
In the name of research, I took a cursory glance at the
options. One thing caught my eye, which piqued my curiosity: ‘Pie-Tails.’ I could
have my choice of black forest, peach cobbler, strawberry cheesecake, key lime
and bananas foster flavors. Anyone could make an educated guess as to what
these were: after dinner cocktails all inspired by famous desserts. They were
most definitely not something I would typically imbibe.
Before I could even ask for the check, Michael had placed a
small taste of each one before me. They were surprisingly delicious, but again,
they weren’t my cup of tea and I probably would never order one of my own
volition. What happened next, however, blew me away. He told me that these
rather ridiculously named, insanely sweet dessert cocktails brought him $250,000
a year in revenue. I almost fell off my chair.
Since that day, my entire approach to digestifs has changed
to a point where I always offer several such drinks, whether listed on the menu
or not. There are of course dozens of different angles we could look at when it
comes to such after dinner tipples. Some could be considered ‘kitch’ such as
the Grasshopper, Alexander, Stinger, Rusty Nail and Golden Cadillac (all of
which I once put onto one award winning menu, with amazing feedback).
You could start with the obvious drinks that are served hot,
such as the Irish Coffee (and its dozen or so imposters); the classic Hot Toddy,
which is typically an insipid mix of whiskey, hot water and if you’re lucky
some lemon and honey (although it must be said that the original, listed in
Jerry Thomas’ 1862 tome, How To MixDrinks contained only whisky and water). The
Hot Buttered Rum can be a delicious libation, as can a Hot Whiskey Punch.
We could go down another classic route by looking at coffee
or tea alternatives. Using tea in a toddy will indeed offer up more flavor and
character (check out the recipe below),while we simply cannot ignore the
influence we’ve had from the Espersso Martini, one of the best modern classics
of our time, thanks to London’s most famous bar keep, Dick Bradsell. It, too,
has many imitators but the original can be something rather sublime. Try the
Talisman variation also listed below.
Cream-based drinks can also be delicious when not made into
sugar bombs. The Alexander (which, it should be pointed out, was originally a
gin drink, not a brandy one) is one of my favorites, especially when made with
which adds a rich malt character and the delicious Tempus Fugit crème de cacao.
Shave some dark Valrhona chocolate on top and you’re set. And a special shout out to the White Russian.
Then of course there’s the aforementioned classics such as
the Golden Cadillac and Grasshopper or the less known – at least to this
generation – Silk Stockings (Google it) and Pink Squirrel. Besides the Ramos
Gin Fizz and Brandy Milky Punch, which are both traditionally morning drinks
anyway, my all-time favorite creamy drink is the Neapolitan, created by famed
London bartender Jamie Terrell. It’s an interesting mix of Zubrowka ‘bison
heavy cream and simple syrup, shaken and served on crushed ice with a drizzle
of creme de mure. Delicious!
You could also go a boozy route with something simple like
an Old Fashioned and its myriad variations. Bradsell’s Treacle cocktail is also
another of London’s most widely known mixed drinks and makes for perfect postprandial
drinking. The Hanky Panky, with its potent kick of Fernet Branca should
settle even the most hardened stomach while the seemingly forgotten
Godfather/Godmother should also offer a soothing treat.
Whatever drinks you choose to offer is personal and should
be determined by the type of clientele you’re serving. The choices are many but
they shouldn’t be ignored as the profits to your bar can be enormous.
- 1.5 oz. Bols genever
- ¾ oz. white crème de cacao
- 1.5 oz. heavy cream
- 3 dashes chocolate bitters
METHOD: Shake and
GARNISH: Grated chocolate
PORT COFFEE FLIP
- 1 oz.
dark spirit (bourbon, aged Tequila, rum, Cognac all work)
oz. Tawny Port
oz. Galliano Ristretto
oz. agave nectar
dashes of pecan bitters
METHOD: Shake very hard with ice
into frozen glass (no ice)
GLASS: Footed Highball
GARNISH: Grated nutmeg
- 1.5 oz. Pierde Almas ‘Puritita’ mescal
- 1 oz. Dolin Blanc vermouth
- ½ oz. Tempus Fugit white crème de menthe
- 5 dashes of angelica tincture
METHOD: Shake and
anise / lemon twist (discard)
BANANA RUM OLD
METHOD: Stir and
strain on 1 large ice cube
banana OR orange twist
Serve with a stirring rod.
CHAMOMILE HOT TODDY
- 1.5 oz. Zubrowka vodka
- ½ oz. yellow Chartreuse
- ½ oz. pear liqueur
- ½ oz. spiced honey syrup
- ½ oz. fresh ginger juice
METHOD: Add all
ingredients to a teapot
Then add the chamomile tea
Fill very high and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes
GLASS: Tea Set Up
wedge studded with 3 cloves
- 1 ½ oz. blended Scotch
- ½ oz. Drambuie
- ½ oz. agave nectar (diluted at 1:1)
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Espresso coffee
METHOD: Shake very
Strain into chilled glass
GARNISH: 3 coffee
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