Throughout history, few things have incited ardor as dependably as religious leaders, the Red Sox, or, more recently, cat videos. And then there was pumpkin spice, which became the Helvetica font-equivalent of seasonal flavors as quickly as it arrived. But impassioned responses come in both “for” and “against” varieties, and when it comes to pumpkin spice, Esther Awdykowyz falls on the thanks-but-no end of the spectrum. That’s a stance that benefits guests at The Emory, the Beacon Hill restaurant where she serves as beverage director, because for her, autumn is an opportunity to make you recalibrate your expectations. On the sly.
“I like to create a flavor profile without just reaching for something that’s seasonally in-your-face. I like to find combinations that don’t come naturally,” she says. To that end, to create the Smoke Break, the cornerstone of her autumn menu, she mixes a seeming cacophony of ingredients only to prove that even the most polarizing flavors can be flexible when treated thoughtfully. This cocktail delivers sweet tropical fruit, bitter hops, peat smoke, and cooling mint as a tidy package, one that’s greater than the sum of those parts. Mint, pineapple, and lime are classic companions and a solid foundation on which to layer a jolt of smoke, which sets the tone at the get-go, and cooling aloe. (You can swap mint for the aloe liqueur in a jam.) The IPA, its bitter jab toned down to begin with, gives the pineapple juice a little edge. It’s a drink as dynamic as the change in season.
“In my mind, I’m not ready to say goodbye to summer,” Esther said. “It’s still September, it’s still hot sometimes. It’s a you’re-still-sitting-outside-with-shorts-but-maybe-you-have-a-jacket-on kind of drink.”
Yes, but we might be sticking with this one even when we start wearing sweatpants again.
Makes 1 drink
1½ ounces Pig’s Nose Blended Scotch Whisky (or any blended Scotch)
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
¾ ounce pineapple juice
¾ ounce IPA syrup (Cook 12 ounces west coast IPA beer in a saucepan on medium heat. Cook until half of liquid boils off, add 6 ounces sugar, reduce to a simmer and stir until sugar dissolves. Let cool.)
¼ ounce Chareau Aloe Liqueur (or 5 chopped mint leaves)
1 barspoon Laphroaig (or any Islay single malt Scotch)
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Mint sprig for garnish
1. Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
2. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice. Top with Peychaud’s bitters, garnish with mint sprig.
Adapted from The Emory
Liza Weisstuch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @livingtheproof