When we asked Leo Robitschek, the bar manager of Eleven Madison Park and NoMad in New York, for a cocktail recipe that tasted like the best of fall, he handed down the Mott and Mulberry. "We wanted to create a cocktail that was refreshing and cold with all the flavors of mulled apple cider," he said. "We chose the rye whiskey for its spice and vanilla notes and complemented it with the cinnamon spices from amaro." Those are mixed with apple cider, plus "a dash of citrus and demerara to liven up the cocktail."
As much as we all love those first days of fall, when you've unpacked your sweaters and traded your boat shoes for riding boots but it's still too warm to wear any of them, it's hard to find a drink that matches that conundrum. Robitschek's Mott & Mulberry blends the best of both worlds: a chilled cocktail that tastes like those mulled favorites your taste buds want, but the thermometer forbids.
Even in the shaker, the drink smells rye-heavy, from as far as a foot away. It's a spicy aroma, with hints of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg and whatever mom puts in her apple pie. Be careful not to overshake this one; you want the flavors to meld, but don't want to dilute the more delicate flavors of the whiskey.
Poured over a few large cubes, it foams up a bit in the glass and gets a nice, smooth texture with no first bite and none of that "I just drank whiskey" sour aftertaste. The lemon cuts the richness of the demerara syrup and the apple cider sweetens up the amaro and the rye, for an interesting, one-two whisper of flavors that are right on point for that awkward period between summer and fall. When the temperature says sweaters on the back porch but your taste buds are saying changing leaves and spiced libations, this should be your go-to drink.
About the Author: Lizz Schumer is the editor-in-chief of a weekly newspaper in upstate New York and writes about food, drink and miscellaneous merriment on a freelance basis. She can be found online at lizzschumer.com or @eschumer.