The Chesapeake Bay Cocktail

The Chesapeake Bay is well known for it's seafood - particularly crabs. It's a summer ritual in Maryland to enjoy a bucket of steamed Chesapeake Bay crabs caked with Old Bay Seasoning. Old Bay has been produced in Maryland by McCormick & Company since 1939. It's a spice blend with a very distinct flavor - which includes paprika, pepper and celery salt. Old Bay no longer seems limited to crabs and it has been showing up in some new and interesting places, in mayonnaise, beer, and in chocolate, among others.  We decided to get on board this Old Bay renaissance and give it a try in a cocktail, and we were pretty pleased with the results.

Our Chesapeake Bay cocktail uses rye whiskey and aquavit. We have tried it with several ryes, and particularly like how Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye works with the other ingredients. This rye is produced in Virginia, not that far from the Chesapeake, so in addition to giving the cocktail the right flavor, it seems like a good fit geographically.


If you are very familiar with Old Bay seasoning, this cocktail will likely bring summer and crabs to mind the minute you take a sip, but we think that even Old Bay neophytes will appreciate the interesting peppery flavor of the drink. If you're new to Old Bay we hope that this cocktail will encourage you to try using this spice blend in your cooking. Perhaps you may even be inspired to visit the Chesapeake Bay. One of our favorite Bay spots is Maryland's lovely state capital, Annapolis, which is home to a picturesque harbor and the US Naval Academy. We've posed the Chesapeake Bay Cocktail alongside The Cocktail Artist's original 3-section watercolor painting of Tilghman Island - a lovely Chesapeake Bay destination which you can reach by land or sea. 

Since we're spent quite a bit of time sailing on the Bay, the Cocktail Artist has done plenty of paintings depicting Chesapeake scenes. So to help set the scene for our cocktail, we've included several of the watercolors at the end of this post. If you can't make a trip to the Bay we hope you'll enjoy the scenery we've provided and (of course) make yourself a nice cocktail.

Cheers!

The Chesapeake Bay Cocktail and its ingredients


Chesapeake Bay Cocktail

2 ounces Rye (Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye)
3/4 ounce Aquavit (Linie)
1/2 ounce Old Bay Syrup (see recipe below)
2 dashes orange bitters
orange rind for garnish

In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine Rye, Aquavit, Old Bay syrup, and bitters.  Shake for 15 seconds.  Strain into a low ball glass with a large ice cube and garnish with an orange twist.

Three Views of Tilghman Island - original watercolor painting by The Cocktail Artist


Old Bay Simple Syrup

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
3 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a low boil, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Transfer syrup to a jar and refrigerate.  Shake well before using.

Buoy on the Bay - original watercolor painting by The Cocktail Artist

Chesapeake Bay Sunset - original watercolor painting by The Cocktail Artist


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