(Re)-introducing: The Old Fashioned Good Fella

The Old Fashioned Good Fella is actually for sale at a bar, despite the fact that I created it. I am no less surprised than you

I have peaked as an amateur drinksman. If this were a profession for me I’d immediately retire so I could exit at a high point.

One my own original creations now appears on the menu of an Italian bistro in my neighborhood of Bethesda, Maryland.

Craig Stoltz cocktail recipe Old Fashioned Good Fella
The Old Fashioned Good Fella, created by yours truly, available at Sal’s Italian Kitchen in Bethesda, Maryland. $12 at Sal’s, free at my house just up the road. Stop by either place!

I have personally witnessed real humans pay $12 for the privilege of drinking an Old Fashioned Good Fella. I once saw a guy try it and shoot his eyebrows up and nod his head, I think in approval.

The Old Fashioned Good Fella

  • 2.25 oz High West Double Rye
    • The nice rye bite stands up to the other powerful flavors
  • Scant half-oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
    • If you’re not aquainted, this is a real charmer, smooth and spicy. Order it neat at the bar, after dinner. You’ll thank me later. 
  • 4 [!] dashes Regan’s orange bitters
    • I know, that’s a lot. Somehow it’s less of a drink with fewer dashes. 
  • Flamed orange peel garnish

It’s all in the name, fella

Both careful readers of A Measured Spirit may recognize this as a drink about which I have previously blogged, complete with origin story and its rickety relationship to the classic Old Fashioned. I then called it the Ginger Orange Flame.

I’ve got to say, “The Old Fashioned Good Fella” — inviting a sort of suburban mobster affectation by its purchaser — is a way better marketing name for an Italian restaurant menu item than “Ginger Orange Flame.”

That name I imagined dark and romantic, what with the promise of the tang of ginger and a reference to “flame.” This may say more about the activity of my imagination than anything else, but hey, it worked for me. At least before I thought about anybody actually buying it.

More importantly, The Old Fashioned Good Fella is also way better than “Craig’s Old Fashioned,” which the barkeep at Sal’s, much to my horror, proposed to name the drink at first. Happily, his manager refused.

I try to imagine myself ordering something called “Craig’s Old Fashioned” anywhere and fail utterly.

Starting a tab, pal?

I think the margin is pretty good for the OFGF, despite the abundance of High West Double Rye and Domaine de Canton, each retailing at about $40 a bottle.

If wholesale price is half of retail, let’s see…25 ounces per bottle, 2.25 of rye, .5 of liqueur…that’s only about $1.75 for the ingredients. Triple that for personnel, space, advertising, and all that other stuff, and…I may be making Sal’s a lot of money.

Someday, in fact, they may comp me for an Old Fashioned Good Fella.

I’m still waiting.

Those suburban mobsters are a tough group, I’ll tell ya.

The Stinger, mellowed with age

Hate Stingers? Me too. But if you’re in D.C., try the barrel-aged version at McClellan’s before you swear off the drink for life

I’ve always loathed the Stinger. Maybe it’s because the drink’s upper-crust associations never resonated with me — a low-born, Cleveland-bred scion of public assistance. [As it happens, I have similar contempt for martinis. Huh.]

But it may also be because the three [3] Stingers I’d had until Friday night were made by, um, me, using the kind of white creme de menthe that sits in a plastic bottle on the bottom shelf of the county liquor store — gummy-sweet as mint candy, sure to tip your blood glucose levels into the trouble zone.

Which is why, when I saw a Stinger on the menu at McClellan’s Retreat, a handsomely dark and woody saloon near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., I told the cheerful barkeep by name of Brian that, well, I hated Stingers.

“So let’s get you something else,” said he, sagely.

“But you guys have some serious drinks on the menu. And it says it’s barrel aged. Maybe this is the one I should try to rule them out for the rest of my life.”

He approved.

“If you hate this one, you hate hate Stingers. If you hate it, it’s on me.”

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A 45-day barrel-aged Stinger served at McClellan’s Retreat in Washington, D.C. Cool bottle!

Just like a Stinger, but smooth

Brian produced a handsome little bottle that recalls both a 19th century apothecary vessel and a pocket flask, and poured the contents over rocks in a Double Old Fashioned glass, garnishing with a generous tuft of mint.

The McClellan’s barreled Stinger was a revelation, far smoother and richer than anything I expected. Refreshing, but without that childlike high-menthol screech. Surprisingly…elegant.

The brandy was a Sacred Bond bottled-in-bond number, weighing in at 100 proof. The creme de menthe was Giffard’s Menthe Pastille, a French brand dating to 1885 and, it is said, comprising both a mellow and a wild mint.

The ingredients are barreled in oak at McClellan’s for a month and a half, lathing away the high-proof ethyl edges and sort of quieting the whole thing down.

No sting.

Truth told, I plucked out the mint not long into the engagement. The garnish overstated the mint, unbalancing the proportions of the beverage itself.

I nursed the Stinger — not just to prevent the potent brandy from unbalancing me from my bar stool, but to savor it.

Yes, to savor a drink I thought I’d hated.

So: Do I like Stingers? I have no idea. I love the Stinger at McClellan’s.

 

Columbia Room 2.0, Global Version

Where do you go when you’ve nailed the classic craft-cocktail thing thoroughly? Everywhere

If you’re going to build a proper cocktail temple, for god’s sake, you’d better have a huge mosaic. And Derek Brown got himself a magnificent one. A mosaic, I mean.

But also a cocktail temple.

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The Columbia Room’s majestic mosaic: A tribute to history’s great thinkers and barkeeps, some pretty obscure apothecary herbs, and the Drink Company’s founding team.

The Drink Company’s new Columbia Room in Washington, D.C., relaunched in February after a couple years of closure due to real estate dislocation, has come back slightly bigger, more arrestingly beautiful, more imaginative — and with a more expansive ambition.

It has much in common with its predecessor. Both are high-end, by-reservation backroom sanctums with fixed-price cocktail tasting menus and tiny servings of food, serving perfectly rendered, exquisitely detailed drinks under the close personal attention of skilled and knowledgeable staff.

But there’s one big difference. Continue reading “Columbia Room 2.0, Global Version”

Notes on tasting notes: Green Hat Navy gin vs….. Bols Genever????

Why my brain connects a beverage dating from the Napoleonic wars with a thunderously flavorful contempory-style gin

Not long ago I was at D.C.’s New Columbia Distilleries, a young and ambitious gin mill, makers of the ascendant artisanal brand Green Hat gin.

Let me rush to admit I love the stuff — it’s an unapologetic powerhouse in the contemporary style, rich with botanicals, citrus, and florals.

Yet it’s very well-crafted. A distillation that in other hands might have become an idiot flavor riot lands in the glass as an intriguing, complex elixir.

With Fever Tree it makes a magnificent gin & tonic, and it diverts an Aviation delightfully from its flight plan.

Green Hat Navy Strength Craig Stoltz A Measured Spirit
Green Hat Navy Strength: So much flavor, it’s nearly a bottled cocktail.

An explosion in the glass

At my most recent visit I tasted a newer product, Green Hat Navy Strength gin.

There’s a wonderful story, possibly true, about British sailors fearing that the ship’s officers would water down the day’s ration of gin. When alcohol reaches 114 proof, it is said, will explode gunpowder. And so the sailors would attempt to ignite the gin. If it exploded it was cheers all around, and mutiny was put off for another day.

Speaking of exploding, that’s pretty much what happens when you drink Green Hat Navy Strength, which is indeed bottled at 114 proof. It’s got all the flavor complexity of the flagship product, plus more, plus — let’s be plain — a giant wave of ethyl at the snout.

But mellowed on a fat ice cube it opens wide, and you taste all kinds of spices and citrus, something sweet. Plus, I think, some pepper. Anise, maybe.

Bol’d over

But as I was sipping I picked up something totally unexpected: The distinct malty, sweetish undertones of genever, the Dutch proto-gin made by Bols.

This is not a bad thing, but a surprise nonetheless. Genever is to gin what Neanderthal is to homo sapiens — a bit wobbly as a first go, but full of promise and destined to develop into greater things.

Continue reading “Notes on tasting notes: Green Hat Navy gin vs….. Bols Genever????”

Every Time I Eat Vegetables

One in an occasional series of great originals I come across at classy drinks joints and manage to get a close-enough recipe for

A subtle, smooth creation by The Partisan’s recently evacuated, sorely missed bar manager Jeff Faile. [He has moved on to Rose’s Luxury new spinoff, Pineapple and Pearls.]

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Continue reading “Every Time I Eat Vegetables”