If you like an Old Fashioned, you should probably be sipping on a Pioneer Spirit when you go to Raines Law Room in NYC. You'll find it in the "Stirred and Strong" section of their menu; this whiskey-forward cocktail is an original take on the classic.
"I love using domestic spirits," says head bartender Meaghan Dorman, who gives the drink a stiff base with Vermont's stellar WhistlePig rye. She adds more East Coast flavor by way of New Jersey's Laird's apple brandy. "Lots of people are unfamiliar with Laird's, so this is a nice way to introduce them to it. Some people correlate apple brandy with green-apple martinis, and it's nothing like that. It's more like an apple whiskey."
The apple brandy speaks to the whiskey's warmer notes, and the WhistlePig rye brings plenty of peppery spice to the glass, but little burn, thanks to ten years in the barrel. "With age, it moves away from the toffee-vanilla profile of younger whiskeys, into more of a hazelnut, fruitcake flavor," notes Dorman.
She plays up these autumnal undertones, sweetening the cocktail with orgeat. An almond-based syrup with a touch of flower water, the orgeat stands in for the Old Fashioned's sugar cube. Keeping with tradition, Dorman adds a couple aromatic dashes of Angostura bitters.
She builds the drink right in the double rocks glass, adding a large ice cube and giving it a stir. She tops it off with a substantial orange peel, expressing the citrus oil before setting it in the glass.
The decidedly stiff outcome will delight whiskey drinkers and—especially when drunk slowly (careful standing up if you're doing it any other way)—open unacquainted eyes to the wonderfully versatile world of apple brandy and the nutty nuances of rye.