Back in the old days, when men were men and lights weren’t electric, it was someone’s job to make sure all a town’s street lights were lit before it got dark. That responsibility fell to the lamplighter. And depending on the village or town where the lamplighter was employed, he might be tasked with the additional duty of night watchman. Nowadays, the lamplighter is an anachronism; a relic of a simpler time with darker nights. Visitors to Brest, Belarus, however, can still glimpse a bona fide lamplighter, who has been employed since 2009 as a tourist attraction.
With The Lamplighter Cocktail, I was after two things: 1) to create a scotch cocktail, and 2) to use citrus in a drink that you’d see fit to place within the fall/winter spectrum. What I ended up with was an extremely well-balanced cocktail that elegantly combines smoky, sweet, and tart. A perfect way to light up a cold, dark winter night.
The Lamplighter Cocktail
1 1/2 oz. Dewar’s White Label Blended Scotch
1/2 oz. Laird’s Applejack
1/2 oz. Sapling Vermont Maple Liqueur
1/2 oz. Galliano
1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
Lemon twist for garnish
Combine the scotch, applejack, maple liqueur, Galliano, and lemon juice in a mixing glass. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist.
My job takes me all over the country. I travel about 100 days a year and make a complete circuit of the lower 48 every two and a half years. As you might imagine, I go to some pretty neat places as well as some not so neat, but who really wants to hear about that? One of the perks, as you might also imagine, is that I sometimes stumble upon some unique spirits that I wouldn’t normally see on the shelves of my local shop. I’m learning, albeit gradually, that although some of these intriguing bottles don’t always deliver, the disappointment of letting one slip away far outweighs the disappointment of a less than thrilling taste. Case in point: I’m still kicking myself for not picking up a bottle of Montana Rye just last month. Live and learn.
One of the bottles I am glad I didn’t pass up was Sapling Vermont Maple Liqueur, which I happened upon a year ago while staying in Burlington, Vermont. Though it languished unopened on my shelf for nearly a year, I finally decided to try it out in an autumn-inspired cocktail. What I ended up with is a bit of a riff on the Manhattan, with the maple liqueur taking the place of the sweet vermouth. Contrary to what you might think, Sapling doesn’t have a completely overwhelming sweetness, especially when set against the rye, but I found that a touch of Fernet Branca balanced the drink out quite nicely. A bit of house made grenadine fills out the profile of this mildly boozy drink that’s perfect served as a crisp autumn evening warm-up or a post-Thanksgiving cocktail.
2 oz. Pikesville Rye
1 oz. Sapling Vermont Maple Liqueur
1/4 oz. Fernet Branca
1/4 oz. House made grenadine
House made cocktail cherry for garnish
Combine the rye, maple liqueur, fernet, and grenadine in a mixing glass. Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.