These last days of February are quite simply a countdown to Spring. Outside my house, the snow remains piled up following last week’s blizzard and today’s wind chill makes it feel like 10 degrees. There are no signs of color or life. Until the days are longer and the trees start budding, I need warmth.
Last night, it came in the form of a cocktail at Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut. Just like their dark and sexy twist on the classic Manhattan, which used spectacular homemade bitters made with local apricots, honey, cherries and vanilla to inspire me almost two years ago, last night’s cocktail was equally innovative and satisfying.
Barcelona’s “Bourbon Spice Rack” is made from maple syrup and bourbon both perfectly suited to the season. Lemon juice balanced these flavors and provided the promise of spring. But once again, it was the bitters that I think really made the drink so memorable. The slight and unexpected sweetness of lavender finely complimented the maple and bourbon — and the drink’s lingering finish was achieved by the addition of smoky, ginger-y cardamom. A fine drink for a cold February night. Tonight, I will light a fire and make a Bourbon Spice Rack, and dream of Spring.
Bourbon Spice Rack
Barcelona; New Haven, CT
3/4 oz Lemon juice
1/2 oz Grade B maple syrup
1 oz Cocchi Torino Vermouth
1 oz Bulleit Bourbon
1 dash Scrappy’s Cardamom Bitters
2 dashes Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters
Measure all ingredients into a clean shaker
Add ice, shake well
Strain into a rocks glass
Add 2-3 large ice cubes