It's always a pleasure to find an effective twist on the classics. Blue Hill Tavern in Butcher's Hill has managed to shake things up in the flavor department with its Autumn Old Fashioned.
The Autumn Old Fashioned uses what could be an incredibly versatile component: Ivin's Spiced Wafer-infused bourbon. Yes friends, it's a ginger snap bourbon. The Jim Beam-based booze takes a bit of sweat equity to produce, but the end result is well worth the wait. Bar manager Mike Torpey explained the process, which takes days at a time. "You can't just add the cookies directly or it clouds the infusion," he said."Plus you wind up with chunks of cookies in your bourbon, and no one likes that." I mean, I'm willing to try it.
The Ivin's wafers are wrapped in cheesecloth and steeped in bourbon for five days — at least until the sugar, spice and everything nice is imparted to the liquor. Then the cookie mush is tossed out and the infusion is strained several times to remove any particulate matter. Cookie particulate matter.
With added orange bitters courtesy of Angostura and a slice of orange, it's pure fall in a glass when melded with the ginger and sugar-meets-woody-smoked bourbon. I was tempted to ask for it warmed up — a Hot Toddy of sorts — but stuck with the traditional presentation, slightly chilled and served straight up. A sweet and well-flavored libation especially suited for those who have difficulty with the often strong peat notes of bourbon.
Sometimes the best things in life are simple — in this case it's a cookie-infused bourbon. Bourbon purists be damned, this stuff is tasty and would complement almost any beverage out there: coffee, hot cocoa ... hell, I'd stir it into my pancake syrup.
Give it time enough and that newfangled maple whiskey/bourbon creeping it's way south from Canada will start to pop up in other flavor variations. I wouldn't be surprised at all if gingerbread bourbon started making an appearance on shelves.
Is society prepared for such a delicious inevitability?
How to make the Autumn Old Fashioned
2 1/2 oz. Ivin's-infused bourbon
Dash of orange bitters
Pour infused bourbon into a glass neat or over rocks, add filtered water to taste. Garnish with orange wedge.
Where to get the Autumn Old Fashioned
Blue Hill Tavern
938 S. Conkling St., Butchers Hill
$9.50; $5.00 Monday-Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and all-night happy hour ThursdaysCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun