At Noble Kitchen and Bar in Brunswick, the Inside Job cocktail commemorates a bourbon thief
Henry Jost knows how to tell a good story, especially when it involves a favorite cocktail. The beverage manager at the Brunswick Hotel in Brunswick, Jost is a regular presence behind the bar at the hotel’s restaurant, Noble Kitchen and Bar, where he mixes a bourbon drink called the Inside Job. “It’s a tribute to John E. Fitzgerald, the renowned Kentucky distiller who was supposed to have sold his recipe to the great Pappy Van Winkle,” says Jost as he measures Larceny bourbon and Luxardo Maraschino liqueur into a mixing glass. “But it turns out that none of that is true.” In fact, Fitzgerald was a treasury agent who had keys to the warehouses where bourbon was stored and often helped himself to samples from the best barrels. The legend was a nineteenth-century branding scheme for Old Fitzgerald bourbon, and was only debunked in the early 2000s.
A fan of whiskey and of cocktails with minimal ingredients, Jost likes the Inside Job because it combines elements of three classics: the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, and the Sazerac. If you want to be in on the joke, he suggests making the drink with Larceny. After briefly stirring the ingredients over ice, he gives an old-fashioned glass a rinse of absinthe, then adds a clear ice ball and pours the drink over it. “I didn’t want to dilute it too much; if it’s perfect when it goes in the glass, it can only go down-hill,” he explains in reference to the quick stir. The result is balanced and smooth, with just a whisper of astringency from the absinthe rinse—a cocktail to sip slowly in the company of good friends and good stories.
- Absinthe rinse
- 1½ ounces Larceny bourbon (or other wheated bourbon such as Maker’s Mark)
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- ¼ ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- Maraschino cherry, for garnish
Pour a small amount of absinthe into an old-fashioned glass; swirl to coat the inside of the glass, and discard any excess. Add ice to the glass. Combine the bourbon, simple syrup, and Luxardo in an ice-filled cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Stir gently and strain into glass. Garnish with the cherry.