He had me at the description. "It's like an Old Fashioned, only elevated … and more boozy," explained Maggie's Farm general manager and cocktail magician Matthew Weaver.
The restaurant, formerly the Chameleon Cafe, has reopened under new owners, but keeps much of the former establishment's creative, farm-to-table style. A blend of refined craft and whimsy, the cocktail menu at Maggie's Farm is just as inventive. Smoke and Mirrors, the aforementioned booze-laden cocktail, is a stand-out example at this Harford Road spot.
Let me caution you: This is a drink to be enjoyed over the course — the entire course — of a meal. I think I was drunk just smelling this one. It's aromatic from the start, thanks to the main ingredient, and namesake, Corsair Triple Smoke, a small batch malt whiskey out of Nashville. It has all the flavor of a Scotch without being overpowering.
Like an Old Fashioned, Smoke and Mirrors has the same bitter, orange flavor. But here, it's not from Angostura bitters. Instead, the citrus taste is reflected in Clement Creole Shrub orange liqueur. "Shrubs," which are generally part juice or fruit macerated with sugar and boiled with vinegar, were first mixed with water in 18th-century America as a thirst quencher. Here, it lightens the drink. But the "elevation" from Old to New Fashioned really happens with the addition of Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters.
Yes, chocolate bitters. With a hint of spice, the mole adds richness to the Corsair that helps to balance the smoke. House-marinated cherries — you can't forget the cherries — garnish the drink and provide a much needed, sweet finish.
The cocktails at Maggie's Farm are intelligent, a bit flashy, but, most importantly, original. Smoke and Mirrors is a complex concoction that drinks strong but smooth. Of course, these are the things one should expect when the menu explicitly states that all drinks are dedicated in tribute to "The Professor" — aka father of American mixology Jerry Thomas. Make that smoke, mirrors and showmanship.
How to Make Smoke and Mirrors
2 1/2 oz. Corsair Triple Smoke Whiskey
1/2 oz. Clement Creole Shrub
2 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters
"Fuddled" marinated cherries (try soaking in brandy or Luxardo cherries for the same effect)
Mix shrub and bitters in an Old Fashioned glass. Muddle cherries, pour in whiskey, fill with ice, stir.
Where to Get Smoke and Mirrors
4341 Harford Road, Lauraville