Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned: Warming Winter Spirits

A bartender places a cherry in the Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned.

Transitioning from fall to winter is a favorite time for many, and the right cocktail, something sweet and smoky, can ease imbibers into the colder months by wrapping drinkers in virtual blankets.

Among classics offering that effect is the old fashioned. But at Grandpa’s Shed, a bar in Stony Brook where antiques, farm tools and framed photographs of grandfathers adorn the walls, mixologists improved on this staple.

“We were trying to find ingredients that would bring winter to you,” says Marios Patatinis, owner of Grandpa’s Shed.

Inspired by smoked cocktails he’d tasted in Europe, Patatinis collaborated with with Deanna Mollica, the bar’s general manager, to incorporate a smoky flavor in what became Grandpa’s Shed’s Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned.

“We wanted to do it a little more robust, so we actually grabbed hold of a torch and a wood plank, and then we went out and did our homework on wood chips and came across Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey Barrel Smoking Chips,” he recalls. “We fell in love with it.”

Prior to mixing the cocktail’s ingredients, the wood chips are set afire on a wood plank before a rocks glass smothers the flame.

“Not only does it take the drink to the next level, it puts on a show because you walk into the bar and right away you smell the smoke, you see the fire on the bar, and people are intrigued already before they even order the drink,” he says.

They use James E. Pepper’s 1776 Straight Bourbon Whiskey for the base since it’s on the sweeter side, with its notes of vanilla, honey, cloves, and chocolate, which fit their preferred flavor profile. And the bourbon’s name harkens back to when some Three Village residents aided General George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring, which gathered intel on British troops.

The duo built on the bourbon’s flavor by adding bitters and maple syrup (the brand is Grandpa’s secret).

“The maple syrup doesn’t mask the bourbon, but in the back of your throat, you get a little bit of that sweetness, almost like a pancake,” Mollica says.

The cocktail is garnished with a Woodford Reserve Bourbon cherry and an orange peel.

“You smell it and are questioning yourself: Am I actually sitting in the pub, and or am I actually outside making s’mores?” Patatinis says.

Grandpa’s Shed is located at 121 Main St. in Stony Brook. It can be reached at grandpasshed.com, 631-675-9263.

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