The little towns of the Santa Ynez Valley have changed a lot since my childhood. The towns themselves aren’t much bigger in size than they were forty years ago, but the Valley’s dusty gas stations and tired food joints have given way to farm-to-table restaurants, world-class chefs and bartenders, and cozy little shops sure to please the most cosmopolitan shoppers. I have a weakness for the town of Santa Ynez. It looks straight out of central casting for some windswept, western town complete with a gun-toting sheriff and a pack of wily coyotes. S.Y.Kitchen sits a quarter block off of the main drag, a stone’s throw from the massive, sprawling Chumash Casino (no need to EVER go there). The food is fresh and fabulous and the drinks are as good as those you’d find at a swanky bar in Manhattan. Mixologist Alberto Battaglini makes a Traditional Old Fashioned with Real McCoy 12 Year Aged Rum that knocked my socks right off my feet. It’s worth the labor to make one at home.
Traditional Old Fashioned from S.Y.Kitchen (makes one drink)
- Frosted glass (yes, this is a necessary ingredient)
- Angostura bitters
- A brown sugar cube
- ¼ oz HOT water
- 2 oz Real McCoy 12 Year Aged Rum
- 1 real maraschino cherry (for garnish)
- 1 large piece of orange peel (for garnish)
Place a paper napkin across the frosted glass. Set one sugar cube on the napkin. Soak the sugar cube with the Angostura bitters. Drop the sugar cube into the glass. Using the paper napkin, ring the glass with the wet part of the napkin (you’ll get a nice light sugar glaze on the rim). Pour ¼ ounce of hot water on the sugar cube allowing it to dissolve. Add ice cubes. Alberto likes the larger square cubes. He runs them under cold water first which makes them nice and clear inside the glass. Break up the sugar with a muddler. Add the rum and stir until the ice starts to melt. You want about ½ ounce of melted water in the drink. Garnish with a slice of orange peel and a real maraschino cherry.