Seasonally speaking, September has an identity crisis. Sometimes the month is sweaty enough to think the dog days of summer live on. Sometimes it’s a chilly harbinger of what the next many, many months will bring. And, every so often, it’s stranded in a limbo space that’s neither here nor there. For dedicated barflies, this is a problem: Do we order an icy, tall summer drink – or a dark, warming autumnal one? What about something that meets us in the middle?
Enter the whiskey smash. Around since the 1880s, it has proven to be a seasonless, versatile favorite – kind of like a Little Black Dress. If an LBD were capable of getting you good and sauced, that is.
What makes a smash so perfect for this seesawing time of the year? Well, it has a little bit of what we’re leaving behind, with fresh fruit and herbs plus lots of ice. And, it has a little bit of what we’re returning to, with a nice glug of whiskey as its base.
A streamlined version is served up at McCormick & Schmick’s in downtown Providence, with just five ingredients that exceed the sum of their parts: bourbon, ginger liqueur, simple syrup, orange and mint. Even better, it’s variable according to how the wind has shifted and what’s seasonal (or just on hand in the pantry). Warm it up or cool it down however you please.
Colette Gnacabja, the restaurant’s bar manager, takes pride in the fresh ingredients and level of craft involved in each cocktail. “I love that we get to interact with our customers through the process,” she says. “They see us squeezing juices, or muddling something, and want to know more.”
• 1.5 oz Woodford Reserve bourbon
• .5 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
• 8 mint leaves
• 1 orange wedge
• 1 oz simple syrup, or to taste
In a pint glass, muddle the mint and orange with the simple syrup until the mixture becomes fragrant. (You’re aiming for a light smush to release essential oils, not obliteration.) Add ice to the mix, then the bourbon and ginger liqueur. Tumble all the ingredients a few times back and forth between the first glass and a second, and then pour into a serving glass – no straining required.
McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks
11 Dorrance Street