We should have seen this coming. When we reviewed Tattersall Distilling’s Cabin Cocktail Recipes book last June, the list skewed (understandably) toward batch cocktails to sip on a boat, on a dock, or on a porch. Glaringly absent were the kind of cocktails that get us through cold winters, whether we’re at a cabin or just hunkered down in our living rooms in Minneapolis or St. Paul.
Tattersall now has a winter edition [click here for PDF], and bartender Bryce Laine put the new version through its paces for us. In broad strokes, these are simple cocktails that are easy to prepare in batches, whether in a pitcher, a Thermos, a flask, a blender, a Mason jar, or a slow cooker. The recipes are short, and the sweetest classic cocktails in the book — think of hot buttered rum or the venerable Midwestern favorite, the grasshopper — have been classed up and had the sugary bits toned down.
We started with the AMARO SWISS MISS (top), one of the simplest and boldest of the bunch. This is all about a quiet, thoughtful conversation: The amaro cuts the sugar of the hot cocoa and adds depth and lingering, tingling astringency. Like many of the best Tattersall cabin cocktails, this is a one-trick pony in the best sense of the expression — one little change to something ordinary creates an entirely different experience.
The GRASSHOPPER is going to rile traditionalists. It’s not green, and it’s not like drinking boozy mint ice cream out of a glass. But this blend of Tattersall Creme de Cacao, Tattersall Fernet, and cream is light and elegant, with a nice herbal bite.
The SNOW-MAN-HATTAN (brown liquor, Tattersall Sour Cherry, Tattersall Italiano, and bitters) is “mixed” by sticking it in a snowbank or ice bucket for 20 minutes, letting all the ingredients naturally morph together as the whole thing gets chilly. The bite on this guy is mellow. It was an elegant slow-sipper of a cocktail made with bourbon. Next time we’d give rye a shot to give it a bit more of an earthy base.
The FROSTBITE MARTINI (Tattersall Barreled Gin, Tattersall Americano, orange bitters) was clean, crisp, clear, and cold, having gone through the same 20-minute icedown as the Manhattan. Considering how truly boozy this thing was (3 ounces of gin), it went down as smoothly as a luge on a freshly frozen track.
The Tattersall HOT BUTTERED RUM in no way resembles what drank in days of yore in Wisconsin, which is to say a homemade, heavily spiced ice cream that would be glopped into a cup and doctored with some combination of boiling water and spirits. Instead, this comparatively restrained cocktail brings together rum, hot water, a cinnamon stick, and honey butter, making for a mellow and milky warmer rather than a full-on ice cream sundae of a drink.
Similarly hot was the JELLY TEA TODDY, nothing more than Tattersall Aquavit, chamomile tea (from a bag, no less!), and a tablespoon of apple jelly. The herbs of the aquavit were a perfect complement to the chamomile, and both of them spiced up the apple quite nicely. (There’s a Concord grape jelly and Earl Grey tea combination in the book that is our next go-to when the weather really gets cold.)
For dinner party applications, the 50TH & FRANCE brings together Tattersall Pommeau (an apple liqueur) with maple syrup and dry sparkling wine. It’s refreshing and dry without being either too austere or too syrupy, and it would cut through the fat and roasty char of a hearty winter feast without too much trouble.
Last up: the AQUAVIT OLD FASHIONED, which uses a little bit of maple syrup to harvest a surprisingly big kick of mellow sweetness that plays well with the aromatic qualities of the bitters and aquavit. The recommended swizzle stick is a pine bough, and it’s worth the effort for the visual interest alone.