Just when you think bartenders may run out of ways to keep drinks interesting, here’s a new one for you: wax-washed cocktails. While ingredients such as bitters and shrubs affect a drink’s flavor, cocktail makers also experiment with altering a drink’s mouthfeel—like steeping a spirit in beeswax. A collaboration between 18.21 Bitters, ASW Distillery, and Southern Art & Bourbon Bar is bringing this unique method to Atlanta, but only for a little bit.
“I got the idea on wax-conditioning from [Ryan Chetiyawardana, a.k.a Mr. Lyan] in London. He runs some really successful bars and has a line of ready-made cocktails,” explains Nic Vaughn, head of sales for 18.21 Bitters. Vaughn and Josh Anderson, head of sales for ASW, have teamed up for the Whiskey Walk, a dinner pairing barbecue with local cocktails and beer, at Southern Art & Bourbon Bar in Buckhead on August 24, where they’ll be unveiling their version of the wax cocktail.
Preparing the cocktail is a two-week process. First, they batched the cocktail—which they’ve named Waxing Poetic—by blending ASW’s Fiddler Bourbon, Cocchi Americano, and peach liqueur. Then they packed a glass percolator with peach pits, star anise, and fresh lemon verbena. Vaughn’s goal was to emulate an Old Fashioned-meets-Perfect Manhattan. “I love star anise, especially with stone fruit. It just gives this bright, licorice-y, baking spice kind of note. The lemon verbena is like tasting Fruity Pebbles or Fruit Loops.”
After the cocktail runs through the percolator, it’s poured into Fiddler bottles lined with beeswax. Even before the cocktail is poured, the bottle is fragrant with the bourbon’s smoky notes mingling with the wax’s fragrance.
The cocktail steeps in the beeswax for two weeks. The finished product has a honeyed, viscous texture that’s smooth and sips easily. Floral and citrusy notes hit the nose first followed by a spicy finish.
So will wax-washed cocktails become the next big bar trend? “Whether it takes off or not, we’re doing it because we love it,” Anderson says. “I think a lot of times if it’s something as unique and cool as this—and as locally sustainable—then I think it will take off.” For Vaughn and Anderson it’s more about pushing the envelope. But because the wax-lined bottles can be used again and again, it’s likely we’ll see more experiments coming from these two.