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American Trilogy

Source: D.L. Chandler / D.L. Chandler

The 21st Century has seen revivals of Prohibition Era cocktails with an almost endless array of twists and turns on the classics. One such modern drink that derived from a whiskey-based cocktail is the American Trilogy, a boozy and inventive take on the Old Fashioned.

The American Trilogy’s journey began in 2007 when Richard Boccato, now of Dutch Kills, and Michael McIlroy, now of Attaboy, both superstars in New York’s bustling cocktail scene, collaborated on the drink while working at Little Branch.

The drink calls for the reportedly all-American trio of bitters, rye, and applejack, which are said to be the country’s oldest spirits. The orange bitters are supposedly the third ingredient that makes the trilogy, but some have questioned their national roots. Brown sugar is typically the sweetener of choice.

My first experience with the American Trilogy was at a Washington, D.C. cocktail bar that I won’t name for reasons I’ll skip, for now, around eight years ago. I was still learning about the various bourbon-based drinks that hailed from the Old Fashioned’s recipe tree, while still seeking that big spirit-forward flavor.

The bartender recommended the American Trilogy and told me the recipe he used, which was one part Rittenhouse rye, which sits at 100 proof, Laird’s Apple Brandy, also sitting at 100 proof, two dashes of old bitters, and a bar spoon of demerara rich simple syrup.

That is essentially the recipe I use today, and while getting the preferred bottle-in-bond (we’ll explain that later) version of Laird’s might be a touch more challenging in comparison to grabbing the 80 proof version, either one works. Rittenhouse is easier to find and a steal considering it’s high quality and low price point. It goes without saying that the all-100 proof version of this drink is the best way to go.

Here’s the American Trilogy recipe:

1 oz rye whiskey

1 oz applejack or Laird’s Apple Brandy

1/4 (or less) rich simple brown sugar syrup (can opt for 1 brown sugar cube muddle and moisten with bitters)

2 dashes orange bitters.

If making with a sugar cube, place in an Old Fashioned glass and saturate it with the two dashes of bitters and muddle into a fine paste. Add the spirits and stir for around 10-15 seconds. Add ice and then take an orange peel and express the oils by gently twisting the skin then tossing into the glass as a garnish.

If you’re not going to go super old school and use the cube, no more than a 1/4oz of the syrup will do. Stir per usual and follow the rest of the recipe.

Enjoy and have a great Memorial Day Weekend. And, as always, sip safely, friends.

Photo: D.L. Chandler