According to our nation’s cocktail glitterati, the original cocktail was born of whiskey and bitters about 200 years ago right here in America. In honor of our well-sodden heritage, the well-quaffed (and well-coifed) mixologists behind the marbled, wooden bar at the Heathman Hotel recently overhauled their bar menu. The result? Easily one of the most comprehensive and studied classic cocktail menus in town, offering old-school tipples that would have been at home in the “early days and golden years” (1806-1920) alongside more modern mixers from “Prohibition and beyond” (1920-today).
Such historical authenticity means that if you seek an old-fashioned (and plenty of the Heathman’s longtime, loyal clientèle do), be prepared to get a really old old-fashioned—in fact, the proper name is the old-fashioned whiskey cocktail—a smooth, simple blend of Woodford Reserve, Angostura bitters, an ever-so-tiny amount of sugar and a splash of water, elevated by a garnish of lemon and orange peel (no maraschino cherries or orange slices here). Or order a manhattan, and you’ll be served a Manhattan 1874, a blustery, bracing formula of Gentleman Jack, Noilly Prat sweet vermouth, and Angostura and orange bitters that’s been stirred precisely 30 times, to indubitably excellent effect.
Racier post-Prohibition mixers grace the menu as well, from a complex negroni to the Hemingway Daiquiri, originally crafted at the El Floridita bar in Havana, Papa’s favored Caribbean watering hole. The latter is a masterful, masculine concoction of white rum, maraschino liqueur, fresh lime and grapefruit juice, with just enough simple syrup to take the edge off. One drink and you’ll agree: It’s for true-to-their-origins cocktails such as these that everyone’s drinking bell should toll.
Stop by the Heathman after 2 PM until close to sample the delectable deviled eggs or the crab cakes, perfect matches for that ridiculously old-fashioned Old Fashioned you’re drinking.
Check out The Heathman in A Year in Drinks