Wisdom comes from odd places. I’ve learned a lot in my nearly half century of making questionable choices. Although, I am big on preaching about saying yes to life, getting out there taking chances and experiencing new things, if I am honest, there’s a lot to be said for the comforts of home. I get that. I am all about being comfortable, especially in your own skin. That’s how I am made. Howling Wolf got it right, “I’m built for comfort, I ain’t built for speed; but I got everything all the good girls need.” What is it they need, exactly? Well, the ladies like things comfortable too, so with that in mind won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Flannel Shirt.
How do I know that’s what all the good girls need? Well, I offer into evidence the dizzying number of flannel shirts I have lost over the years to ladies of varying goodness. I get it. They are soft and comforting and if you find yourself a big man, well, they make great evening wear. Mine also tend to smell vaguely of Obsession and bourbon beard oil, which is also a plus in some cultures. My wife, who has stolen so many of my shirts over the years, asked me to make this specific drink for her, and being amenable to peace in the home I quickly said “Yes, ma’am” and set to work. I found the recipe, it looked tasty, full of fall flavors, which I am so ready for. It was created by Jeffrey Morgenthaler author of “The Bar Book” and fella behind the bar at Portland’s Clyde Common, where he is famous for making excellent drink, so that was a plus. When asked about this drink he said “It reminds me of a hot drink that you’d have on Thanksgiving morning only served cold.” which sounds perfect to me. The only downside was that it called for yet another amaro that I did not have on the backbar, so a quick side trip to the store later and I was ready to satisfy that good girl I married’s every desire…well, at least this one.
Grab your tins and pop in 1 3/4 ounces of blended scotch, I went with Dewar’s 12 Year; 1 1/2 ounces of apple cider, 1/2 an ounce of Amaro Averna Siciliano, 1/4 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of demerara syrup, 1/2 teaspoon of St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram and 2 stabs of Angostura Bitters. Add some artisanal ice and give it a good shake to the beat of “Built For Comfort” by Howling Wolf. When well chilled, strain into a rocks glass over a king cube and garnish with an expressed orange peel.
Like usual, she was right. This one is straight up wonderful. Autumn in a glass with nary a hint of pumpkin spice. Reminiscent of the Sam Ross classic, Penicillin or even a Montparnasse. Not that it really tastes like either of those, but it evokes a certain autumnal joy that they all share. That smoky scotch and apple cider are balanced by the herbal notes from the Averna with the allspice dram just bringing it all home. This drink tastes like the best fall blend candle you ever found smells. Like grandma’s house the night before Thanksgiving. Like walking through the door when apple bread is baking with orange peels and allspice simmering on the fire. Yeah, it’s that good. It’s such an easy sipper that the first one will be gone before you know it and after couple someone may try to steal your flannel shirt. Your mileage may vary, of course.
I keep saying I am not buying any more bottles to just make one drink, but I am glad I sprang for the Averna on this one. To be fair, you could probably substitute Amaro Montenegro and get close enough. That said, this one is probably going to become a regular at our home bar, so I feel pretty good about that purchase. Besides, I think per ounce it may be cheaper than apple cider this year. I’m not sure what has happened to the apple crops, but real cider is pretty dear right now and so damned good. That’s how it goes, comfort always has a price. It’s probably worth it, though. The little things that can make us happy, whether it’s fresh baked goods in the oven, a fine drink in your glass or an old, well worn flannel shirt, there’s a lot to be said for the small comforts of life. I sometimes think that they may be even more important than the big victories. We certainly have more opportunity for them. So, when you get the chance, splurge a little and indulge in some simple pleasures. Just give the flannel shirt back afterwards. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.