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Joe Raya, The Gin Joint
Sean Brock, McCrady’s/Husk
Drink & Dish:
Apple-skin Bittered Sling &
Sean’s Grandma’s Apple Stack Cake
What do you get when you put together the unquenchably curious minds of James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock and craft cocktail guru Joe Raya? A delicious surprise, that’s what—dessert!
Raya, a finalist in Esquire’s national “Manhattan Experience” competition, came to the table with thoughts of whiskey and perhaps some homemade apple-skin bitters, and Brock offered up his grandmother Audrey Morgan’s apple stack cake. After the chef shared some Albemarle Pippin apples of Jeffersonian heritage—“crunchy and just sweet enough,” says Brock—and Raya suggested Thomas H. Handy Rye—“a fireball of a whiskey,” he says—the two got to work.
The results? A decadent cake, lush with layers of rich apple butter and a hint of whiskey in the glaze, perfectly matched by Raya’s sling. For the drink, he combined two bitter and two sweet components with the pepper and spice of the cask-strength spirit. “Each is aggressive on its own,” says Raya, “but together, they balance each other out.”
Liquor: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey
Flavor profile: Caramel and butterscotch with a spicy, dry finish