Cocktails on Tap
Hanging above the bar at the Dead Rabbit in New York City are three engraved glass plates. These are trophies from the 2013 Tales of the Cocktail conference, where bar manager Jack McGarry and his crew took home the awards for World’s Best New Bar, World’s Best Cocktail Menu, and International Bartender of the Year. These are major accomplishments, and while sitting at the Dead Rabbit bar and perusing the menu of seventy-two cocktails, it becomes apparent that the honours are deserved.
An entire page of the menu is devoted to beer cocktails inspired by vintage recipes, often taking significant departures from the originals to update them for the modern palate. A fantastic example of this is Jack’s Porterberry, inspired by Aleberry, an old-fashioned warm ale drink thickened with oatmeal. Jack liked the idea of using other ingredients to give a beer cocktail body and contemplated others that might work. The result is this fliplike concoction that uses butter instead of oats, is served cold, and makes use of the wide variety of spirits at a modern bar’s disposal.
This drink calls for a lot of ingredients, but only one of them—the Italian herbal liqueur Strega—requires a particular brand. The Scotch should be a peaty one, probably from Islay. Choose an English-style rum with some character and a robust porter. For the vanilla syrup, I’d suggest the commercially available B. G. Reynolds’. To make it exactly as they do at the Dead Rabbit, use Bowmore 12 for the Scotch, Pusser’s for the rum, and American Founders Porter for the beer. The Dead Rabbit even uses their own house Orinoco bitters, available for sale on their website; Angostura bitters will also work just fine.
This is an excellent cocktail, but be aware that it does pack a serious punch. With nearly 4 ounces (120 ml) of booze and a bit of beer, too, it’s the kind of drink that can sneak up on you.
Combine all the ingredients except the nutmeg and lemon peel in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake hard, and strain into a wineglass, large cocktail glass, or other suitable vessel. Grate the nutmeg over the surface of the drink. Express the lemon peel over the drink for aromatics and discard the peel.