Norseman Distillery makes some fantastic cocktails. This was my second time there, and like that famous Confucian nugget goes: first is the worst, but second is the best (third has either a hairy chest or a treasure chest depending on the translation). I got two cocktails this trip, and while I LOVED the Yo-Play — gin-based with yogurt and black pepper that tasted like a cocktail but also just enough like mac and cheese — the RøYK was even more impressive. It has five ingredients: harvest whiskey, bittersweet, maple, smoke… more smoke. They do that thing where they put a glass face down on a wood block, then pump in actual smoke before flipping it over and pouring in the drink. This can work great — I had an amazing smoked margarita in Florida where they burned the actual wood block before setting the glass down over it. However, I’ve also had a boring old fashioned that went too hard on the bells and/or whistles and forgot to make the actual drink, you know, good.
Mr. Røy K. falls into the success category. First thing that hits is the smell. Smell is a crucial part of eating and drinking (it’s a known fact that sommeliers take a secret oath to swear allegiance to the Order of the Somms and never drink wine again, only smell it), but sometimes that’s easier said than done. RøYK, though, comes HARD with an amazing campfire in the woods vibe. Like, I could see the blazing fire, the shadow of the trees dimly lit by the flames, my dad walking away into the dark night, finally resurfacing years later with his new family in Albuquerque…
Tasting it, I got that chestnuts roasting over an open fire thing, snow dusted pines, and the memory of a mailed Hallmark card with a scratch-off lotto ticket, a pack of Winstons, and a message that just said, “Knock em dead, kid.” The sweet maple, and the smokey… smoke balance each other nicely, giving a smooth road for the harvest whiskey to travel straight down my gullet. It’s a great fall/winter drink for putting, not exactly hair on your chest, but a cozy blanket around you — and Nat King Cole in your earholes.
*And I’m just kidding about my dad.
(He went to Florida, not Albuquerque.)