Craft Cocktail: Wicker Chair Widow’s Kiss at Al’s Place

The Wicker Chair Widow's Kiss at Al's Place // Photo by Sam Ziegler

The Wicker Chair Widow’s Kiss at Al’s Place // Photo by Sam Ziegler

All month long, we’ve been traipsing through orchards in search of the botanical complexity that marks a well-crafted cider. For our cocktail, we wanted something just as floral and herbaceous made with an apple spirit. 

We found it at Al’s Place, the Prohibition-era inspired top floor of Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room, where drinks are named for furniture and the recipes are a century old.

“Every single drink on any of our lists I need to see in a book that was published before 1924,” says Al’s bar manager Jon Robinson, noting that the Widow’s Kiss dates to 1895. He starts the drink with Crooked Water Minneapple Brandy, a spirit that’s matured in both bourbon and port barrels, giving it a rounded sweetness and velvety finish. Yellow Chartreuse was a relatively new product when this cocktail was formulated, a milder variant of the famously punchy green liqueur. And where Chartreuse goes, Benedictine can’t be far behind, adding a complementary herbal sweetness.

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“I love this cocktail,” Robinson says. “You get those comforting notes of oak, baking spice, and apple from the brandy, but as your palate desensitizes you get those Chartreuse notes—that spring-like, botanical flavor comes in. And the Benedictine is a mouth-coater; it’s like oil in a cocktail, gives it a great mouthfeel and it brings out those baking spice notes.”

The flavor of brandy would be drowned by the original 1895 formula (2 parts brandy, 1 part of each liqueur). The proportion tweak allows each bit player to shine in turn—evolving from sweet, to herbal, to a dry, spiced finish. There’s time enough for dour Manhattans in the months ahead. Give me a lively Widow’s Kiss while there are still green leaves on the apple trees.

The ingredients of the Wicker Chair Widow's // Photo by Sam Ziegler

The ingredients of the Wicker Chair Widow’s Kiss // Photo by Sam Ziegler

Wicker Chair Widow’s Kiss

2 ounces Crooked Water Minneapple Brandy
ounce Yellow Chartreuse
ounce Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon coin.

Find more recipes for delicious cocktails in our Craft Cocktails archive.

John Garland About John Garland

John Garland is the Deputy Editor at the Growler Magazine. Find him on twitter (@johnpgarland) or in every coffee shop on West 7th Street.