Local Libations: The Righteous Lion
By Pete Vasconcellos
New York, NY – Your local fancy-pants cocktail joint’s winter menu could be a grim affair. The idea of cold weather has bartenders piling whiskey on top of amaro on top of single malts and finished with homemade charred woodsmoke tobacco leaf something or other. The bar’s other option is a warm punch or a hot cider and a nap. Is it a contradiction to want something both wintry AND refreshing? Sarah Maine thought not when she shared Sons of Liberty’s Uprising Nor’Easter, a Dark n’ Stormy variant that marries Rhode Island Whiskey and Jamaican ginger beer. The ginger beer holds the key to the cold weather conundrum: in it are the baking spices associated with winter, the heat and zest of ginger, and carbonation that craves a shot of fresh citrus. This week’s Righteous Lion is another take on the long Jamaican-spiced highball. It’s perfectly refreshing and has plenty of booze to keep you warm if this winter ever decides to get cold.
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The Lion’s Tail – The Righteous Lion’s daddy – is a head-scratcher of a drink itself. For starters, it irreverently combines whiskey and lime juice, when convention says to always use lemon. Second, it calls for a hefty amount of allspice (A.K.A. pimento) dram. Allspice dram is muscular and sweet on its own, and is usually used sparingly. It is made of rich Jamaican pot-still rum steeped in Allspice berries. Putting your nose in it is like being punched in the face by Christmas. I have tried concocting a number of drinks featuring this stuff, and the reviews are always a polite, “I like it … I just wish it wasn’t so Christmas-y,” even when I only use a touch. But something happens in the Lion’s Tail, and the delicate balance I could never strike is struck.
Using this as a base, Tiffany Short, my bar colleague (nay, hero) at the Dutch in Manhattan, has made my favorite new drink in a while. The Righteous Lion replaces the bourbon with Old Overholt Rye, adds Sixpoint Brewery’s Righteous Ale and actually doubles the called-for amount of Allspice Dram. It’s bold bartending and it works. The Righteous lion is boozy, spicy and refreshing. The pepper notes of the Old Overholt are mirrored in both the beer and the Allspice Dram. Meanwhile the lime juice and mint garnish makes the whole thing reminiscent of a great tiki cocktail. There are so many wonderful conflicting signals in this drink. People either say, “It reminds me of Christmas” or “It reminds me of the Carribbean.” They’re both right.
The Righteous Lion
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Yield: 1 serving
Tools: Jigger, Shaker, Strainer, Knife, Collins Glass, Straw
- 2 oz Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
- 1 oz St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz simple syrup
- Sixpoint Brewery Righteous Rye Ale to top
- mint sprig
- slice of apple
- Shake Old Overholt Rye, Allspice Dram, lime juice and simple syrup over ice.
- Strain into a collins glass filled with ice.
- Top with Sixpoint Righteous Rye Ale
- Take two or three hearty sprigs of mint and smack them against the back of your hand to release their oils.
- Garnish with mint sprig and a slice of apple.