Coming up on its fourth anniversary, Bluegrass Tavern has quietly been earning top marks as a carefully crafted American cuisine establishment in an area that has seen a wave of revitalization, much to the restaurant's benefit.
And with a relatively wide selection of whiskeys and bourbons at the bar's disposal, it should be no surprise that the cocktail program is equally carefully crafted and heavy on the brown stuff. Bartender Jenna Kumm has put together a complex set of libations to fill the list, one in particular serving as a next-level whiskey sour: the Wake and Bake.
Named primarily for its list of baking ingredients — cinnamon, allspice, cookie infusions and the like — the Bulleit rye-based cocktail features a blend of amaretti di Saranno-infused Amaretto Lazzaroni with a house-made kumquat cordial, lemon juice and sprinkled with even more cinnamon. "The name Wake and Bake sort of tied all of that together, possibly in a different way than some might originally think," Kumm said. Yeah, I have to admit I thought the same thing, "in a different way," initially.
At any rate, while the Bulleit rye sets a nice stage for the various spices and sour notes to shine, the real star here is the kumquat cordial, which is made by Kumm by cooking down minced kumquat with brown sugar, cinnamon and allspice and mixed with vodka to produce a decidedly flavorful additive. As if that weren't enough, the amaretto featured in the drink is infused with amaretti di Saranno (amaretto macaroons), giving the liqueur a thickness and cloudy texture which blends quite nicely with the rest of the flavors in play.
The aromatics and flavor profiles put forward in the Wake and Bake are a fun elevation over your standard Whiskey Sour, clearly demonstrated by the additional sweat equity put into its interesting list of ingredients. If you're in the market for a bright, refreshing sour with some spicy sweet "baked" notes, the Wake and Bake is your cocktail.
How to make the Wake and Bake
1 1/2 oz. Bulleit rye
3/4 oz. amaretti di Saranno cookie-infused Amaretto Lazzaroni
3/4 oz. house-made kumquat cordial
Splash of lemon juice
To make the kumquat cordial: Mince up several kumquats and cook down with brown sugar, cinnamon and allspice (to taste) then combine with 100-proof vodka of your choice. Steep for several days to weeks and strain into container for use.
For the drink: Combine Bulliet rye, infused amaretto, cordial and lemon juice and shake with ice, strain over fresh ice and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Where to get the Wake and Bake
1500 S. Hanover St., South Baltimore