Beat The Heat With A 'Smash'-ing Good Cocktail

By Paul Leddy in Food on Jul 16, 2013 7:20PM

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We've sat down at quite a few bars in the city and have witnessed many first-time customers walk in and be uncertain about what cocktail to order. The true test of a bartender's skill and their customer service is how they interact with these guests. A simple question of "what are you in the mood for?" can bring about a truly inspired cocktail.

That's how the "Ward of Walton" cocktail was conceived by Bernard's bartender, Tom Hogan. A guest asked for "something refreshing that had whiskey in it," and that got Tom thinking of all the different directions he could go in when creating the cocktail. "It was a fairly hot, summer day [and] my thoughts went first to a Julep due to the suggestion of whiskey," Hogan explained. "Then [I thought of doing a variation off the gin-based] Bijou cocktail that [would] balance the heat of the whiskey with the ever-herbaceous Chartreuse and sweet vermouth." Hogan added a little lemon juice to help with balance and, in turn, stumbled across a cocktail category called a "smash."

Jerry Thomas, the "godfather" of the cocktail movement (mostly because he had the motivation to write down his recipes) stated in his 1862 book, How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant's Companion, that a smash is a "simply a julep on a small plan." Indeed, the original Whiskey Smash recipe is very similar to the Julep recipe in the book. The mint in the julep is just muddled slightly whereas the smash has it smacked around. Modern-day cocktail innovator, Dale Degroff, re-imagined the Whiskey Smash with an additional acid (lemon) to help balance the additional sweetness and bring a refreshing brightness to the cocktail. The rest, as they say, is history.

Making smashes at home is easy and they're a perfect drink improvisation. "The combinations are endless," Hogan says, "[you can try] switching up the mint for another bright herb like tarragon, parsley, thyme or rosemary. My favorite combo right now is blueberries, lemon, cinnamon and mint. Add some whiskey, sugar, and chipped ice and you have yourself another smashing good time in the sun."

Hogan adds: "Just look at what you have to work with at home and do some testing."

Ward of Walton
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 sprig of chocolate mint
2 lemon wedges
2 ounces St. George Single Malt Whiskey
0.5 ounce Yellow Chartreuse
0.5 ounce Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth

Add sugar, mint and lemon wedges to shaker tin and muddle thoroughly. Add ice to shaker and shake contents vigorously. Double strain contents of shaker into an old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Top with more crushed ice to form a mound. Garnish with a sprig of chocolate mint and a lemon peel.