Rye Smile in a Birch Forest
Stir to chill, then strain into a double old-fashioned glass over large ice cube.
Garnish with an orange twist.
Last week I traveled to Aspen for work. I’ve never spent time in the Rockies, or any other mountain range, for that matter, so I was struck by the crisp air and the many manicured peaks trading their summer green for autumn’s gold and red. Sadly, my time was too limited to take much advantage of the natural beauty, but I still felt privileged to visit.
Speaking of privilege, that was my other takeaway. I’ve never spent time in a place so overtly and overwhelmingly wealthy. I saw $2,000 bikes left unlocked, and when I did spot a bike lock, it looked like this:
While some would find this small-town charming, I found it unsettling. Being surrounded by people for whom money is no object made me think about how my life might seem to those less fortunate than I – people without the time or means to travel or dabble in cocktails. Still, that is who I am, so I mull over a recipe that might jibe with Aspen.
Since birch trees abound, I use the Björk Birch Liqueur I brought back from Iceland last year and the birch syrup I found in Montreal this summer. Since fall is upon us, and I got a healthy taste of it in the mountains, I make a twist on a rye old fashioned, starting with two ounces of the Michter’s US 1 Single Barrel Straight Rye I picked up after hearing about it from The Speakeasy podcast. Into a mixing glass, I pour half an ounce of Björk Liqueur half a teaspoon of birch syrup to stand in for the sugar, and a couple of dashes of Angostura Bitters. I add ice, stir for 30 seconds, then strain it over a large ice cube and top it off with an orange twist. Intense, boozy and aromatic, it’s the perfect choice to sip by the fire, whether it’s in an alpine lodge or by the grill in your backyard.