This is what I’ve been waiting for. Not that sampling from half a dozen barrels of Pennsylvania rye wasn’t a boozehound’s dream, or that bottling with the Dad’s Hat crew wasn’t the most exciting time I’ve ever had in Bucks County, but drinking is always more fun when you do it with friends.
Starting this weekend, the custom “Danya Blend” whiskey will finally start appearing on the menu at select Philly bars, so anyone who enjoys brown liquor can taste it in person.
First up is Pinefish, the eclectic neighborhood restaurant that took over the former Pine Street Pizza in Washington Square West.
Proprietor Peter Dissin and I aren’t always on the same page — he’s a huge Grateful Dead fan; I bonded with my husband over our mutual dislike of their music — but he was intrigued enough by my limited release whiskey to order a few bottles. Last week, we gathered at his bar to see how it could best be incorporated into a cocktail.
In general, Dad’s Hat Rye isn’t the type of booze that blends well with soda — the peppery spirit ends up tasting almost astringent when you add carbonation. Same goes for lemon or lime; sour citrus is not a good mixer for rye of this style. Though my blend is much rounder than the usual whiskey put out by John Cooper and Herman Mihalich, it still carries a very sharp note.
I’d had a fantastic cherry-enhanced Manhattan with it when I was at the distillery in March, so Dissin and I started our drink by adding Cherry Heering liqueur. In order to keep the cocktail from being too syrupy and to give it complexity, we tossed in a splash of Ramazzotti amaro — this Italian digestif is similar to famous Fernet Branca, but has a much sweeter tone. We stirred the mix in a shaker with lots of ice — “You don’t shake brown liquor,” Dissin said, “somebody told me that.” — then strained it into a martini glass.
Finishing touch? A pair of rich Luxardo cherries (which absolutely should be dropped in as you’re sipping and then fished out as a post-drink treat).
And thus, the DH Cherry was born (DH = Danya Henninger, but also Dad’s Hat). It’s available for $13 at Pinefish starting Saturday, May 13 — and just $9 during happy hour throughout the weekend.
Speaking of, another Danya Blend deal is on the horizon: A late-night industry happy hour at Butcher Bar.
At “Danya’s Industry Night: Whiskey Til The Bitter End,” the bi-level Rittenhouse bar will serve Danya Blend drinks from 10 p.m. to midnight on the Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend (May 28 and 29), just in time for hospitality workers stuck in the city for the holiday to take a mini whiskey-fueled staycation.
The deal, a brainstorm by beverage director Rich Colli (who also oversees the impressive beer program at Varga Bar) goes like this: For $10, you’ll get a full two-ounce pour of the whiskey, served over a big rock, with a dash of bitters of your choice. Colli’s planning to stock up on bitters flavors, so expect lots of options, from chocolate to cherry to peach to pineapple.
Catch you there?