You'll no longer have to buy a plane ticket to get in on the cocktails at Seattle's Essex: Owners Brandon Pettit and Molly Wizenberg (a.k.a. Orangette) will be sharing their favorite recipes with us, every other week. Drink up, people.
Today: A new way to drink your afternoon tea.
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Whenever our bar manager Niah comes up with a new drink for the menu, we all gather around to taste it, and then we begin beating our heads against the wall. Ah, naming cocktails! The kind of activity that sounds like a real riot, but is, in fact, on par with scrubbing yesterday morning’s oatmeal pot! Ideally, a cocktail name should be interesting, evocative, and a little descriptive. It should not, however, be too clever, cheesy, or so descriptive as to be dull. It should also speak to anyone, which is to say that it probably shouldn’t be too girly, or too bro-y, or too profane to order in front of your in-laws. A name has a big job to do, but first, we have to do ours.
Of course, there are some cocktails that spring into being with an obvious name – fully formed, like Athena from Zeus’s head. As the person in charge of writing the menu (and thus finalizing names), I am very grateful for those cocktails. This week’s drink, the Sherlock & Watson, is one such example, and it’s also tasty enough that I had a hard time not drinking it when I shot these photos, even though it was 10 o’clock on a Wednesday morning. I like my job.
Niah came up with the Sherlock & Watson this past fall, shortly after Seattle’s new whiskey producer, Westland Distillery, released their first batches and Niah fell for their single-malt whiskey. Aged in new oak, its flavor is a cross between bourbon and scotch and absolutely delicious. Niah had a feeling that it would go well with black tea, so he decided to use it with an earl grey syrup to make a wintry cocktail. (If you can’t get Westland’s whiskey, you can try St. George single-malt from California, or a Highland scotch.) With lemon for brightness and a couple dashes of cardamom bitters, the result was rich, juicy, and pleasantly dry. As it happened, Niah was bingeing on Sherlock at the time, and between the single-malt and the tea syrup, the name offered itself up. None of us will ever meet Benedict Cumberbatch -- though he should feel free to prove us wrong! Please! -- but we feel confident that he would drink a Sherlock & Watson.
Brandon and Molly met because of a mutual interest in food - or, more specifically, when Brandon read Molly's food blog Orangette and sent her an e-mail that included some very effective compliments. The better part of a decade later, they co-own and run the restaurant Delancey and its sibling Essex, in Seattle. Brandon is the chef of both, and when he's not manning the wood-burning oven, he likes to make things from scratch that more sane people would probably buy, like mustard, vinegars, pretzels, and obscurely flavored liqueurs. Molly is the manager / Organizer of All Things at Delancey and Essex, and she is also the author of the New York Times bestseller A Homemade Life and the forthcoming memoir Delancey. They have a young daughter named June, who is excitedly crawling toward the refrigerator as Molly types this sentence, and two dogs named Jack and Alice.