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The Proof: Get ready for Dranksgiving 2016

  • Courtesy artillerybar.com
 

The Proof: Get ready for Dranksgiving 2016

21 Nov 2016

Before we all go our separate ways for Thanksgiving, I like to invite my friends out for a holiday I call Dranksgiving.

It’s a casual gathering. Any bar will do. The only thing that matters is to surround yourself with the people — and drinks — you’re thankful for.

This year, we make our first-ever visit to Artillery, the newest establishment from the folks at Daniel Reed Hospitality. Set in an ornate storefront on Bull Street just south of Liberty, the bar is a slick, modern homage to the space’s history.

We start off Dranksgiving with Artillery’s take on the Sazarac. As America’s first cocktail, it seems like a good drink for an all-American holiday.

A traditional Sazerac is made with rye whiskey, absinthe, a sugar cube or simple syrup and Peychaud’s Bitters. Purists will tell you anything else isn’t a true Sazerac, but I’ve encountered several variations that I like, too. Add Artillery’s to the list.

Their take on the cocktail starts with Rittenhouse Rye. I see this product served more and more as the workhorse rye in bars everywhere. It mixes easily and offers the right spice notes at a lower price point than much of the competition.

Artillery sticks with the traditional Peychaud’s Bitters, and I would agree that nothing else can replace it in a Sazerac. The Peychaud’s recipe was created in New Orleans in the early 1800s by the eponymous Antoine Peychaud, and it’s best not to mess with history.

The first difference in artillery’s Sazerac comes from the Herbsaint they use in place of absinthe. This isn’t an unusual substitution — Herbsaint is made by the Sazerac Co., after all — but our bartender uses just a splash of it, so the anise doesn’t overpower the flavor of the rye.

I was a little wary when I saw the ice cube being placed in the glass. As a general rule, a Sazerac doesn’t have ice. But Artillery refrains from using sugar or simple syrup to soften the cocktail’s flavor, so the single large ice cube melts at a good pace to take the edge off the rye.

Overall, this is a really solid cocktail with a smooth presentation, though you purists should be warned: it’s not the same old drink you’re used to. However, the barkeeps will be happy to mix you a traditional Sazerac if you ask.

To end the night, we take inspiration from the season ahead and that greatest of all Christmas movies, “Die Hard.” High West Distillery offers a new blended rye that shares a name with one of Bruce Willis’ famous lines from the film: Yippee Kai-Yay.

While I don’t think the name is an intentional nod to John McClane, Yippee Kai-Yay fits a winter setting perfectly. The rye notes are toned down by wine-barrel-aging. A sniff conjures up whiffs of cinnamon and even a little nutmeg. What’s better for a fireside than that?

This Dranksgiving falls on a worknight, so it ends earlier than we’d all like it to. But I’m thankful for good friends and good drinks, as well as a place like Artillery to enjoy the company of both.

Zach Powers is a writer and novelist. When he’s not busy imbibing, he helps run the literary arts nonprofit Seersucker Live. Get to know him at www.zachpowers.com.

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