Traditionally, a steakhouse cocktail is strong and manly—something like a dry gin martini or Scotch and soda. The signature Smoked Old Fashioned at Marc Forgione’s palatial American Cut in New York is a perfect example. It's infused with smoke creating by torching a maple plank table side.
The drink earned American Cut bar manager Nick Nistico his job. “I was making it at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival and chef Marc Forgione tried it,” says Nistico. Forgione loved the drink and immediately connected with the technique. His father, legendary American chef Larry Forgione, first popularized plank-smoked salmon.
To make the cocktail, Nistico sets the wood on fire with a high-powered torch. He extinguishes the flame with a glass and leaves it there to fill with smoke. Meanwhile, he makes the Old Fashioned with Woodford Reserve bourbon, housemade bitters and simple syrup. He flips the glass, adds one giant ice cube and pours in the liquids. Traditionally, Old Fashioneds are garnished with an orange twist but Nistico skips that flourish. “You want the smoke to jump out at you,” he says. “You don’t want it to hide behind any citrus.”