The Autumn Ash is a modern-day scotch cocktail. Back in the days of Madison Avenue’s Mad Men–style boardrooms, scotch meant blended whiskey—that’s whiskey with an “e.” In fact, whiskey was blended to intentionally give it an air of conformity. Some brands were naturally better than others, but all were pretty much after the same prize: the loyalty of the (mostly) men who swigged the stuff as a matter of status. Over the decades, the status of blended whiskey has suffered at the peat-stained hands of very good single malt whisky— that’s whisky without the “e.” But the tables are turning once again. Blended whisky (with or without an “e”) is turning up on top shelves everywhere. It’s a terrific choice for complex, smoke-tinged savory cocktails. I love the restrained way the “smoke” in this cocktail wafts into your consciousness a millisecond after the fact.
Combine the scotch, apple brandy, elderflower liqueur, and bitters in a mixing glass half-filled with ice. Stir until chilled and properly diluted, about 20 seconds. Julep-strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist, expressing its oil onto the surface, rubbing it on the glass rim, and dropping it in, peel side up.