During a recent visit to The Daytona Hotel in Daytona Beach, I spent a good amount of time at the hotel’s bar trying a number of their signature cocktails — many of them racing themed, as you might imagine. Aside from moonshines from Sugarlands distilling, Blue Flame, the bar at The Daytona’s lobby, is big on using Stillhouse Spirits (stillhouse.com) in cocktails.After the long drive from Miami to Daytona, I was in the mood for a drink from the get-go. I checked in with Chelsea, who was tending bar at the time, and she recommended I go with their Smokey & The Bandit, which is a twist on the classic Manhattan. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Brandied cherry
- 2 oz Stillhouse Black Bourbon
- 1 oz sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes angostura bitters
- 2 dashes black walnut bitters
Place one large ice cube in a rocks glass. Pour all the liquid ingredients into the glass, stir and garnish with a cherry. Simple enough!
The last step, though, might prove a little tougher to replicate at home. At Blue Flame, Chelsea uses a cocktail smoker to infuse the cocktail with applewood smoke before serving. There are alternative methods you can try at home without using expensive equipment, but I’ll let you Google that stuff so you don’t blame me when you set your kitchen on fire.
The drink is, as you might imagine, a smokier take on the Manhattan. But it’s also got a bitterness you might not expect because the Stillhouse Black Bourbon is mellowed with coffee beans. It’s a refreshing, well-balanced cocktail that’s big enough on flavor to stand up to practically any cigar.
There was no way around it; we were always going to smoke Cain Daytona. The nut, cream, coffee and pepper of the Oliva-made cigar ran in parallel with the same notes in the Smokey & The Bandit. The bourbon and brandied cherry bring sweetness that plays nicely with the wood and spice of the cigar. A few sips in, the smoke in the cocktail will fade, and if you do use a large ice cube, it’ll be a while before you start to feel water changing the character of the cocktail, making this a pairing that evolves quickly at first, then slowly (if you can keep from polishing your glass off too quickly).