Arts & Sciences
1 1/4 oz Rye Whiskey <Rittenhouse>
1 oz Apple Cider
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/8 oz (1 barspoon) Maple Syrup
Few dashes Angostura Bitters
Shake ingredients with ice, strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with an apple fan.
Two years ago this past Tuesday, two of my good friends got married. We’ve been friends for almost 10 years, and shared many a drink at each other’s houses or out on the town. It wasn’t a huge surprise when they asked me to create a drink for their rehearsal dinner, despite the fact I hadn’t even started this blog yet. But it was a big responsibility, one that I was excited to take on.
Their wedding was up in central NH at their friend’s house (and on the surrounding grounds), in what is quite a magical location. Situated at the top of a small mountain looking down across the valley, it’s a great place to do anything in the middle of fall, let alone get married. I wanted the drink to capture the feeling of fall in New England. That meant apples. That meant apple cider. So that’s where I started.
First I tried a gin and cider combination (along with some other stuff)…not so good. I guess there’s a reason you don’t see those two together very often. Then I thought of the Stone Fence, a classic [Bourbon, Rye, Rum, Applejack] and cider cocktail that dates back to the Colonial Era. Clearly this was a case where it’s better to keep things simple, so I thought about how else I could get autumn flavors into the glass along with rye and apple cider.
Benedectine has a flavor profile full of warming spices reminiscent of mulled cider, which compliments the rye and cider nicely, and helps combat the approaching briskness of the season. With things heading in a comforting, soothing direction, the Arts & Sciences needed a little bit of brightness. Since I already had cider in there, I didn’t want to add any more juice. Instead I opted to bring in some citrus notes using Cointreau. Finally some maple syrup added its woodsy sweetness.
With the ingredients in place, I needed to figure out the proportions. For this I imparted the help of the happy couple themselves. I invited them over for a night of R&D to help me nail down the final recipe. At first I went with a light hand on the cider and a little heavier with the maple syrup. This version was good, but everyone agreed the cider got a little lost. No problem, next round I increased the cider and decreased the syrup. The consensus in the room this time was we were almost there. Still, there was a softness to some of the flavors that didn’t sit right. So I reached for Old Reliable (aka Angostura Bitters) and gave their drinks a few healthy dashes. This really kicked everything up and uncovered any autumnal notes lurking just below the surface.
I decided to scale up the recipe so it could be batched for service at the rehearsal dinner. That way people could just serve themselves, no bartender required. It fit with the intimate setting and feel of the whole weekend. The bride-to-be, who is an artist (and art teacher) even created a wonderful sign displaying the name and ingredients that sat on the table.
Speaking of the name, I wanted something that captured what these two were all about, both as individuals and as a couple. I came back to what they do for work, and how that bleeds into their daily lives as well. As I mentioned, she is an art teacher who also does plenty of artsy things outside the classroom. He is an engineer and loves solving problems of all kinds in and out of the office. Arts & Sciences, that’s what these two are about, and was the perfect name for their drink.