To celebrate the Association of African-American Museums’ annual conference, I was asked to create a cocktail featuring Uncle Nearest – it’s an Apricot Manhattan that enhances the flavors and nose of that fabulous whiskey.
In putting together a cocktail that featured Uncle Nearest, I wanted to focus on the flavors and richness of the whiskey. I pulled out some of the fruit and savory notes that run through this delicious whiskey. I designed this with the Nearest Distillery’s 1856 expression in mind. It’s bold at 100 proof, and it’s delicious as a sipping whiskey in its own right. But in a cocktail, it sings.
I pulled out the apricot notes at the first sniff and then, underneath it, a bit of pepper and spice, that savory note that rides the finish. And then, just a hint of the herbaceous – the smell of new grass. Nothing to overwhelm the palate, just the idea of that subtle green flavor.
So I brought out flavors of sweet apricot (I suggest Giffard’s Abricot du Roussillon), and bitter amaro (Amaro Nonino) with a hint of sage’s savory greenness, playing on Nearest Green’s moniker. And still, through all the whiskey shines. It’s a cocktail meant to emphasize the individual notes of the product and bring them together in harmony. A cocktail that evokes a memory that you may not have put words to yet.
I think of the Nearest Legacy, forgotten to the history books, remembered by family. Brought to light again through hard detective work and research. Told by those who know that the history that is written isn’t the story that needs to be heard.
And we see the origins of one of the largest whiskey brands rewritten, corrected, and attributed to the hard work of a black man. This man knew his whiskey, knew his process, and taught his legacy to a white man whose name everyone knows.
But Nearest’s name is no longer forgotten, and his whiskey. . . Well, it’s an understatement to say it’s celebrated world-wide. So take a sip of a cocktail to celebrate a brand with an eye to the future and the change to come.
Recommended Bar Tools
You don’t need every slick, beautiful bar tool out there, but there are several I’ll recommend. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, that does not affect the cost of the items below.) My favorite pieces:
You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:
Legacy and Remembrance
- 1.5 ounces Uncle Nearest 1856 100 proof
- ½ oz apricot liqueur (Giffard’s Abricot de Roussillon suggested)
- ½ oz Amaro Nonino
- 3 dashes cherry bark vanilla bitters
- 1 sage leaf
- Garnish: sage leaf and dried apricot
- Rub the inside of a coupe or martini glass with a sage leaf until fragrant and place the glass in the freezer. Combine Uncle Nearest whiskey, apricot liqueur, Amaro Nonino and bitters in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir until well-chilled. Strain into the chilled coupe glass and garnish with a dried apricot and sage leaf. Sip and reflect.