Vanessa Waters, curator of libations at Afterword Tavern & Shelves, a combination bookstore-bar in the Crossroads Arts District, celebrates author J. R. R. Tolkien with a recent concoction called The Balrog of Moria.
Named for the fearsome creatures that serve Morgoth in “The Lord of the Rings” series, this riff on a New York Sour is an ode to local collaboration.
A New York Sour starts with a whiskey base paired with citrus and tops it with a floater of red wine. In Waters’ version, she keeps the acid from lemon juice but grounds her cocktail in warming spices, notably clove bitters and an oatmeal stout reduction made with the brew of Afterword’s Crossroads neighbor, Double Shift Brewing Company.
While Waters uses Double Shift River Pirate Oatmeal Stout, she says you could experiment with any malty, toasted stout.
The rich flavors of the stout pair nicely with clove bitters and a blended scotch, bringing warm caramel tones into play. Finished with a float of Amaro Averna, which has rich bittersweet notes, and a flamed orange peel, which adds a bright aroma, this is the perfect sipper for a long stretch with your favorite novel. Might I suggest something from the fantasy genre?
The Balrog of Moria
2 ounces blended scotch whiskey, such as J.W. Dant
1 ounce Double Shift River Pirate Oatmeal Stout reduction (recipe follows)
3/4 ounces fresh lemon juice
2-3 dashes bitters (Waters uses housemade clove bitters but any warm baking spice bitter will do)
1/4 ounce Amaro Averna
Orange peel, for garnish
Combine scotch whiskey, oatmeal stout reduction, lemon juice and bitters in a shaker and shake with ice.
Strain into a small snifter glass. Top with ice. Float the Amaro Averna on top.
To flame an orange peel, cut a round swatch of peel from an orange. Light a match and hold it a few inches over the surface of the cocktail. Flex or squeeze the peel, orange side down, to release droplets of orange oil. The oil will ignite in the flame of the match. Rub the peel around the edge of the glass to finish.
Oatmeal Stout Reduction
Combine your chosen amount of beer with an equal portion of turbinado sugar. Heat on a stovetop until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is reduced by half. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The syrup should keep for about a month.