Review: The Toasted Old Fashioned (Barchef Project) / by Jason Hambrey

Barchef Project 2.jpg
Stalk & Barrel Red Blend, Bitters, Maple Syrup
Producer BarChef (Toronto, ON) & Still Waters (Concord, ON)

BarChef is my favourite cocktail bar in Canada. Just take a look at the pictures and descriptions of the cocktails that they offer, or take a perusal through the cocktail book "BarChef" and you'll know exactly what I mean. Some years ago, I took a month completely off whisky, locking up my cabinet, metaphorically - and I found myself discovering complex cocktails, for the first time. I picked up Frankie Solarik's (incredible) cocktail book BarChef and within 2 years I had made every bitter, syrup, and cocktail in the book, certainly not my typical pick and choose process. It lead me right into using dry ice, foams, alginates, soils, snows - all the best of molecular gastronomy- in my cocktails, now a go-to.

So when I saw BarChef partner with Still Waters, one of my favourite distilleries, I'm intrigued. They've together bottled a toasted old fashioned, a cocktail they serve at the bar - but as an all-in-one. It's a cocktail which is made by combining hand toasted chamomile, toasted until brown (hence, "toasted") which brings out and changes the character completely, with an assortment of spices (saffron, cardamom, and a variety of other components) to infuse in Stalk & Barrel Red Blend. Then, this is blended with more Stalk Barrel Red Blend with some maple syrup for added richness and flavor, and bottled (or served as a cocktail in the bar).

Dangerously drinkable, if you like cocktails...

Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2017

Rich, honeyed, and spicy on the nose. Chocolate, clove, honey, cinnamon, and star anise lead a spicy, rich, creamy nose - but the palate brings in even more spice, with more honey, daisies, maple, cinnamon, licorice root, fennel, and a wonderful finish of cacao, clove, cinnamon, star anise, and maple. It grows and grows, and you get a touch of the grassy still waters spices. A phenomenal balance of spices, whisky, and syrup - incredible complexity and very intriguing. Maybe I didn't elaborate enough - brilliant mix of spices, and they shine beautifully.

Throw in an orange peel, or better yet, a flamed orange peel, and there's little else to be desired in a winter cocktail. A way to experience one of the best cocktail bars on the planet away from Toronto...

Highly recommended. Definitely a cocktail, and amidst the best old fashioned you'll taste...

I'd be tempted to rate this, if I had anything to compare it to. But you don't see bottled cocktails that often (yet?)...