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Up Your Old Fashioned Game the Grant Achatz Way

Frank Guerriero

August 02, 2019

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Photo: Allen Hemberger and Sarah Hemberger

Few of us have culinary centrifuges, cocktail terrariums, or tanks of liquid nitrogen stowed away under our home bars, so it can be tough to replicate most of the modernist marvels concocted at Grant Achatz’s Aviary bar. But with a little digging through specialty spice markets and some prep time, any classic cocktail connoisseur can tackle the Chicago icon’s recipe for a Scotch old fashioned.

Start by combining and heating water and demerara sugar with a sprinkling of crushed tonka beans and kola nuts. As the mixture steeps, these dried tropical legumes impart notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and cherry, resulting in a syrup that tastes and smells like the fountain soda of your dreams. Assembling a batch of the cocktail is as simple as combining the syrup, a touch of water, a few dashes of Angostura bitters, and your favorite whiskey (the Aviary crew recommends a classic blended Scotch). Pour a couple ounces over rocks and pinch an orange peel over the top for an innovative take on a Happy Hour standby. Get the recipe.

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Frank Guerriero is the media assistant at the Beard Foundation. Find him on Instagram.