At the end of each February, my grandfather, a farmer, would pull a warm coat over his olive-drab work clothes, appraise the sky, and mutter an old saying: “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” He wasn’t much of a drinker, so I hope he’d forgive his urbane grandson for applying the adage to cocktails. For the month’s moody weather, we might want a drink that warms one week and refreshes another. Who better to help us adapt to the elements than the spirits gurus at Decatur’s Cakes & Ale, our most seasonally attuned restaurant. For chilly nights, beverage director Jordan Smelt suggests a bourbon fortifier by bartender Chris Sturdivant. For March’s balmier evenings, Smelt created a gin energizer named in honor of his alma mater, Ole Miss.
Lion: Johnny’s Downfall
Fueled by Elijah Craig 12-year bourbon, vermouth, and bitters
1 1/2 ounces Elijah Craig 12-year bourbon
3/4 ounce Meletti amaro
1/2 ounce Dolin blanc
1/4 ounce Bigallet China-China Amer
Lemon peel for garnish
Stir all ingredients but the lemon peel together in a cocktail glass. Twist the lemon peel over the cocktail to express the citrus oils, run the peel around the glass rim, and curl it into the glass.
Lamb: Oxford Town
Demerera syrup lends brown-sugar depth to Hayman’s gin
1 1/2 ounces Hayman’s Old Tom gin
1/2 ounce Dolin dry vermouth
1/2 ounce lemon
1/2 ounce Demerara sugar syrup
2 dashes of Bitter Truth aromatic bitters
Cucumber slice for garnish
Shake the ingredients (minus the cucumber) in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain the drink into a cocktail glass through a tea strainer and garnish with the cucumber slice.
This article originally appeared in our March 2014 issue.