Origin: Eastern Standard, Kenmore Sq.
Take on: Old Fashioned
Every so often I find myself in the fortunate position of sitting at the long, luxurious white marble bar at Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square. Seriously, fortunate—with a fat paycheck in my pocket aimed straight for the drink list. It was on one such occasion, my reflection appearing by the hundreds in the restaurant’s glitzy sea of glass and mirrors, that I was treated to a conversation with bartender Kevin Morrison about the allure of classic cocktails.
“If you go to a couple of different bars in Boston, New York, LA, Chicago, Denver, and order a classic drink, some part of it is going to be tweaked,” he said. “With the Old Fashioned, you never know what you’re going to get. They could be using a different kind of sugar, different bitters, different ice. But there’s no wrong way to do it.”
There’s certainly nothing wrong about the Poor Little Rich Man, an E.S. original that’s basically an Old Fashioned as you would enjoy it on a leafy terrace in Rio de Janeiro. The traditional whiskey base is replaced with cachaca, a sugarcane-made spirit and the preferred poison of the people of Brazil (for the wary, it’s pronounced ka-SHA-sa). Cachaca comes either aged or unaged, clear or amber, and Kevin says the Poor Little Rich Man calls for aged cachaca to match whisky’s color and complexity, while at the same time creating a brighter, more exotic drink.
“There’s a lot of tropical fruit going on,” he said. Even the Old Fashioned’s signature muddled orange and cherry is replaced with the clean, bright sliver of a fresh lime peel. As for the sweetener, the O.F.’s dissolved sugar is switched with a house-made red wine cola, also known as kalimotxo, a sort of poor man’s Cuba Libre they like to drink in Spain
(and most likely the reason for the drink’s name, though Kevin couldn’t recall its precise origin). Add a dash of Angostura bitters and there you have it, a variation on a three-ingredient classic that’s anything but simple.
As they shout over the bar counters in Brazil, Saúde!
. . .
Poor Little Rich Man
adapted from Eastern Standard
1 1/2 oz Leblon Reserve cachaca
3/4 oz red wine cola
1/2 oz Beefeater gin (to counter the sweetness)
Barspoon lime juice (same deal)
Dash Angostura bitters
Add all ingredients to lowball glass, add ice and stir. Garnish with fresh lime peel.
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