L. Chai’m

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Good Life - By Josh Se­aburg at Crudo Nudo, 727 W. 21st St., Nor­folk

This hol­i­day cock­tail by ubiq­ui­tous mixol­o­gist Josh Se­aburg is themed for a Hanukkah toast — but it also was on the menu at Nor­folk’s Crudo Nudo as Laird’s Witch Project for Hal­loween. It is an all-pur­pose hol­i­day drink, spiced for the season with the aro­matic fla­vors of a sim­ple chai tea syrup.

The “L” in the name stands for Laird’s, the fam­ily-run dis­tillery near Char­lottes­ville with New Jersey roots and own­er­ship that go back to 1730: Its orig­i­nal dis­tiller’s li­cense was the first

is­sued in the United States. Their ap­ples are Vir­ginian, and the re­sult­ing brandy is one of the most iconic in the coun­try.

The Straight Ap­ple­jack 86 is a prod­uct both new and old. The recipe dates back to pre-Pro­hi­bi­tion times, and the name is the proof of the brandy — which, un­like many ap­ple­jacks, is not mixed with neu­tral grain spirit. The only thing get­ting you warm in the cheeks is dis­tilled lo­cal ap­ple juice.

Mixed with the aro­mat­ics and sug­ars of sweet ver­mouth (that’s the red stuff, and Martini & Rossi will do), then perked up with lemon juice, this is a lively and fes­tive cock­tail — less for din­ner than cel­e­bra­tion. L’chaim!

In­gre­di­ents:

1.5 ounces Laird’s Straight Ap­ple­jack 86

¾ ounce chai syrup*

¾ ounce ver­mouth

½ ounce (1 tbsp) fresh-squeezed lemon juice

*Chai syrup: Drop two chai tea bags into ev­ery 8 ounces of near-boil­ing wa­ter. Steep for six min­utes, and re­move the bags. While still hot, add 8 ounces sugar for each 8 ounces wa­ter.

In­struc­tions: Mix all in­gre­di­ents, then pour in a shaker and shake vig­or­ously over ice for about 15 sec­onds. Serve neat. No gar­nish, says Se­aburg, be­cause “gar­nishes are stupid.”

STEPHEN M. KATZ/STAFF

Matt Labarge mixes up his cock­taill, Hol­i­day Equinox, at Four Eleven York, Nor­folk.

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