Light My Fire! Bartender Starts Fires in the Name of Cocktail
Traditionally, a steakhouse cocktail is strong and manly—something like a dry gin martini or Scotch and soda. The signature Smoked Old Fashioned at Marc Forgione’s palatial American Cut in New York is a perfect example. It’s infused with smoke creating by torching a maple plank table side.
The drink earned American Cut bar manager Nick Nistico his job. “I was making it at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival and chef Marc Forgione tried it,” says Nistico. Forgione loved the drink and immediately connected with the technique. His father, legendary American chef Larry Forgione, first popularized plank-smoked salmon.
One maple wood plank lasts through 200 cocktails, each of which will taste different. “When the plank is fresh and new you get a younger smoke flavor,” Nisctico says. “Whereas when they begin to char down it’s a heavier charred flavor. We adjust the amount of simple syrup that we put into the cocktail as we go. As it gets the heavier char, we add a little more simple syrup, but when it starts off nice and young we keep it a little bit more whiskey forward.”
This cocktail isn’t for every home bartender. “But if you’re capable of making a crème brûlée, then by all means, go for it,” he says. For a variation on the cocktail, Nistico trying different woods with different spirits. He likes floral alder wood with a cognac Old Fashioned and fruity cherry wood one made with rum. Watch Nistico make his Smoked Old-Fashioned step-by-step.