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Arts & Life

Cheers! A fall drink that will warm you "like a sweater"

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Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen mixing up a Fallback.

The first day of winter arrives soon. The chilly fall days will give way to temperatures “so cold they make your face hurt,” as the well-worn meme goes.

So, Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings decided to make a fall drink.

“This is kind of a riff on an Old Fashioned,” she said.

It’s bourbon based with two sweeteners. First, maple syrup (from Michigan, of course) and nocino.
“Nocino is an Italian in origin walnut liqueur, a little bit like an amaro, but not as bitter as an amaro,” Tammy explained, adding that it’s made from green walnuts.

This nocino (prounounced noh-CHEE-noh) is not made in Italy, but made in Michigan at Long Road Distillery.

“They use those green walnuts and then they've also got some cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in here, some nice fall notes. Those are kind of in the background. This really is kind of a very nutty liqueur. That's really what it's adding. It's really nice for this time of year,” Tammy said as she poured ingredients over ice in a tumbler.

“It'll keep you warm like a sweater,” she said, smiling.

There’s no shaking or stirring in a vessel. This drink, the Fallback, is built in the glass.

Fallback
2 oz bourbon
1/4 oz Nocino
1/4 oz maple syrup
1 dash Bittermens Xocolatl Molé bitters (substitute other chocolate bitters or Angostra bitters
Garnish: orange twist

Combine all ingredients in ice filled rocks glass. Stir well. Garnish.

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Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Expressing the oils from orange peel before garnishing the drink.

The taste was complex. It didn’t taste like walnut, but there was a nutty quality to it. The second sip revealed even more.

“And that, of course, is part of the charm of an Old Fashioned, those drinks that are built and served on ice. Often the first sip is going to be, ‘Whoa, okay, this is strong.’ And then as it waters down from the ice melting, the drink transforms into something else,” Tammy said.

She added that was especially true with drinks that include maple syrup as this one does.

“We perceive maple syrup as being quite sweet just because of the mix of sugars that are in it. And so, having that little extra time to sit on ice and definitely transform that,” she said.

Tammy Coxen and Lester Graham are the authors of Cheers to Michigan: A Celebration of Cocktail Culture and Craft Distillers from the University of Michigan Press. The book is based on the Cheers! episodes heard on Michigan Radio.

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