Autumn on 44th Street

Autumn on 44th Street Cocktail with Autumn Colors - original watercolor by The Cocktail Artist
This is a cocktail that we came up with a couple of years ago. It's ingredients, color and the flaming orange rind all evoke the fall season (but feel free to have it any time of the year). We developed this drink while playing around with variations on the Manhattan. We decided to see how Nocio (walnut liqueur) would work in place of the sweet vermouth typically used in a Manhattan. 

Nocio is a dark brown liqueur that is traditional to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It's made from unripe green walnuts. The site Life in Abruzzo has a great post about the magical qualities of nocio and includes a recipe if you want to make your own at home.  The traditional version is a bit complicated and requires barefoot virgins to collect the walnuts and leave them to dry by the remains of a threshing fire. Well, needless to say, we didn't go to all that trouble. There are a number of good options available in liquor stores. We have used Nut Alpina Nocio as well as a local (District of Columbia) Nocio from Don Ciccio & Figli.

The bourbon we chose for our cocktail is Bowman Brothers Small Batch Virginia Whiskey, but we have also used a less expensive bourbon when making a barrel-aged version of this cocktail. We are huge fans of barrel-aged cocktails and always have something brewing in our little 1-liter Deep South Barrel. Actually, after using the barrel for about a year we realized that we needed to add another one to our home bar. This way we can have cocktails ready for a party (or to bring to a party). Read more about barrel-aging at the bottom of this post.

The "cherry on the top" of this cocktail is actually an orange rind - particularly if it's flamed. This is not only fun, but it actually does add to the flavor of the drink. We've included the procedure below - practice a few times to get the technique down. A fire starter is a bit easier than a match to work with and doesn't leave any sulfur odor lingering in your cocktail.

We've included a few of the Cocktail Artist's autumn-themed watercolor paintings to set the mood for this drink. The color of the cocktail inspired some paintings done in sepia tones. Now all we need is a fire in the outdoor fireplace, a nice plate of appetizers and a cocktail.


Autumn on 44th Street

2 oz. Bourbon (Bowman Brothers Small Batch Virginia Whiskey)
3/4 oz. Blanc vermouth (Dolin)
3/4 oz. Nocio (walnut liqueur)
1 dash cardamom bitters
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash black walnut bitters

Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, strain into a gimlet glass, and garnish with a flamed orange rind (see below for instructions on flaming the orange rind).

Note: one of us prefers it "up" in a gimlet glass and the other likes it on the rocks..... you can't go wrong either way.

In the Shadow of Lincoln - original watercolor by The Cocktail Artist

Flaming an Orange Rind

This is not only a great way to impress your friends, but it does add something to the taste of the drink.  Here's the technique:
- With a vegetable peeler cut a piece of orange rind about 1 1/2 inches long.
- Toast the skin side of the rind with a flame.
- Squeeze the rind (over the drink) releasing the oils to create a flame.
- Drop the rind into the drink!

Toasting the orange peel

The flame!

Barrel Aging 

Since perfecting the recipe, we have started making it by the batch and aging it in our mini oak barrel.  This makes an incredible cocktail (if we do say so ourselves).  We purchased the barrel on a whim at the Minnesota State Fair a couple of years ago, but you can get one online from Deep South Barrels

We have also used the barrel (with success) to age Manhattans.  After aging the cocktails for at least 6 weeks, we transfer the batch to a bottle and keep it refrigerated.  To serve a cocktail just transfer one drink's worth to a cocktail shaker with ice - shake and serve with the orange rind.

The cocktail and our 1-liter barrel

Autumn Leaf - original watercolor by The Cocktail Artist

Maple Leaf on 44th Street - original watercolor by The Cocktail Artist

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