Cherry-Chai Old Fashioned

As the days reach their shortest and we're immersed in the height of holiday chaos, I think we all might be in need of a cocktail with some punch. This Cherry-Chai Old Fashioned is it. It's boozy, very complexly flavored, and subtly earthy; perfect for unwinding on a cold, dark December evening.

Of all the cocktails I've created for this blog so far, this one is definitely the most interesting. Its flavor profile is just so darn unique and complex.

The bourbon brings notes of vanilla, oak, and even fruit (my recommendation: choose a bourbon with some pronounced vanilla and subtle cherry notes!). Chai bitters add incredible depth of flavor and subtle spiciness, while cinnamon syrup adds warming notes and a bit of sweetness. Finally, Luxardo (an Italian cherry liquor) adds unbelievable richness.

Luxardo is my newest cocktail obsession, and I want to thank my friends Erin and Chris for introducing me to it and helping to taste test this cocktail. Cherry liquor sounds like it should be sweet and cough syrupy, and I totally admit to being skeptical initially. But this stuff is the exact opposite. It's hardly sweet at all, and tastes sort of like a cherry rolled around in some really fertile soil (sorry, I mean that in the best way possible!). It acts just like bitters, contributing an indescribable complexity and earthiness.

For the sake of science, Dave and I have been testing a lot of Luxardo cocktails. One of our favorite bars, The Front Porch in Ogunquit Maine, makes a riff on an Old Fashioned (which they call an "In Fashion"); it's basically bourbon, Luxardo, and a bit of sweetener. It's excellent and easy to make- I recommend it highly. We've also experimented with Luxardo in margaritas, which is delicious and so unexpected.

Also, please please splurge and get the Luxardo cherries. Yes, they're very expensive. Yes, they're totally worth it.

For this drink, I wanted to go with something multi-dimensional and seasonal, hence the addition of the chai spices. Chai tea is so warming and comforting, but also has a very subtle kick, so it seemed like the perfect pairing for the rich Luxardo and deeply-flavored bourbon.

We've totally fallen in love with this cocktail and have made it again and again and again over the past couple months. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as we have! There's nothing better than sipping one of these in front of the fireplace on a dark evening, when you need a little warming from both the inside and the outside.

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram.

Fall and winter are bourbon season in our house! If you're looking for another seasonal bourbon cocktail, check out this Thyme Julep.

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)
  • High quality bourbon (~2 oz per drink)
  • Luxardo liqueur (~0.5 oz per drink)
  • Cinnamon simple syrup (~0.25-0.5 oz per drink)
  • Dash of Luxardo cherry syrup. This is the syrup that the cherries are packed in. It's not critical, but it adds a subtle sweetness and beautiful color to the drink.
  • Few dashes of chai bitters. If you can't find this, regular or orange bitters will work fine too.
  • Luxardo cherry
Thoughts About Method
(These are just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. Ahead of time, make the cinnamon simple syrup. Boil a 1:1 mixture of sugar and water with a few cinnamon sticks until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, syrupy, richly flavored, and amber in color. Cool the syrup completely. It should keep in the fridge for months, so don't be afraid to make a bunch and use it all winter.
  2. Place a few ice cubes into a cocktail stirring glass.
  3. Add in the bourbon, Luxardo liqueur, cinnamon syrup (I'd start with 0.25 oz), dash of Luxardo cherry syrup, and a few dashes of chai bitters.
  4. Give it all a good stir and let it sit for a minute to chill the bourbon.
  5. Taste it! I like this drink to be very earthy and not very sweet. If you want it sweeter, add a bit more cinnamon syrup.
  6. You can serve this straight up or on the rocks. Personally, I prefer straight up, more like a Manhattan than a classic Old Fashioned. But do what works for you.
  7. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry and perhaps a cinnamon stick.


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