Early into my drinking career and knowing only little of the flavors of Aquavit, my first experience with it was also in a Bloody Mary. Today, however, the union of tomato and the cooling spices in Aquavit seem at best to be lazy, and at worst, dissonant.
Enter the Old Bay Ridge, courtesy of David Wondrich. Blending equal parts of Aquavit and rye whiskey with golden Demerara sugar syrup and anointed with Angostura bitters, the ingredients in the Old Bay Ridge combine to offer fragrances and flavors of cigar box, resinous tree bark, medicine cabinet, spice rack, and warm hearth. Perhaps those descriptors are high on the ladder of abstraction, but the particular and complex notes in this drink elude easy classification.
By the end of the modest beverage, you’ve appreciated the marriage of the treen rye whiskey with the botanical beauty of the Aquavit in the same way that one might love Wondrich’s inspiration for the beverage: caraway-studded Jewish rye bread. This drink is also said to have been inspired by the cultural drinks of choice of the once-residents of Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighbourhood. Simple but clever, the man delivers when it comes to satiating cocktail curiosity.
The cool summer evenings enrobed in fog that have been haunting this season crave drinks like the Old Bay Ridge, which is a perfect liaison to the darker, cozy cocktails on the horizon as autumn creeps in.
Old Bay Ridge from David Wondrich
1 ½ oz Linie Aquavit
1 ½ oz Rittenhouse Rye
1 teaspoon Demerara syrup
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Combine ingredients in Old-Fashioned glass with one large ice cube and stir until chilled. Twist a large piece of lemon zest over the drink and drop into the glass.
From “The Old-Fashioned: The Story Of The World's First Classic Cocktail” by author Robert Simonson