The High Hat: A Winter Night's Drink

Photography by Adam Komich

The High Hat cocktail came about because it was getting a little cold outside and, while I love gin and tonics, the thought of holding on to a tall cold drink didn't really excite me.

Then the was the fact that all summer, I had been thinking about the fact that, besides the gin and tonic, I couldn't think of any other drink that uses this particular mixer.

Living in the South, I figured bourbon was the place to start.

The more I considered it, the more I thought that the Robust Tonic was just too sweet to make the cocktail. After all, Manhattans are sweet and I was looking for a completely different effect. I was looking for a drink that would be nice to sip on a cold winter night while listening to something jazzy but mellow. Dexter Gordon's ballads came to mind.

I went through a couple of small test batches before coming up with the recipe for the Dry Tonic. I wanted a hint of sweetness but I really wanted the citrus flavors to present themselves. Also, I was trying to make it more crisp because I was getting a good idea of the flavor I was after in the final drink.

Coffee liqueur didn't work out quite as well as I wanted when I started experimenting with the drink. It had a bitterness that was too much of a contrast with the caramel coming out of the bourbon.

When I tried the amaretto, it worked out better and, after a few iterations (over the course of a couple of nights), it came together with the right proportions. It's a drink that walks along the fence between sweet and dry while leaning definitely toward the dry part of the house. The amaretto adds a nutty quality that definitely makes this a late fall or winter drink.

I'm happy with this drink and I hope you will be, too. It's easy to make; just three ingredients. But it has a complex taste. It's also easy to drink. 

The High Hat Cocktail

2 ounces bourbon (I like Larceny for this one)

1.5 ounce amaretto

1 ounce Liquid Laboratory Dry Tonic

Shake well over ice and strain into a coupe. Garnish with a maraschino cherry or orange twist.


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