This Smoked Old Fashioned Is Best Enjoyed with a Cliffside View

Bartender Reylon Agustin of the Post Ranch Inn shares his recipe.

Arranging a cocktail with a suitable sense of place is a tall order at Sierra Mar—because few places on earth afford as epic a sense as this. The bar and restaurant at the heart of the Post Ranch Inn is suspended from a cliffside, 1,200 feet above California’s Big Sur coast. From here, you can see a ceaseless parade of clouds roll in from the edge of the Pacific, chasing their way towards the shore in time for sunset.

It’s this daily procession that culinary director Reylon Agustin seeks to capture in his Smoked Old Fashioned—a subtle-yet-evocative riff on an American classic. “It helps our guests decompress and settle into the Big Sur way of life,” he explains. “We’ve embellished a gorgeous craft cocktail with smoke. It represents the fog that climbs our coastline and shrouds our mountains.”

And it requires a smoking gun, which Agustin loads up with wood chips and feeds into a bell jar encapsulating the drink. Even if you don’t possess the same equipment that he brandishes at the bar, there are easy at-home hacks to infuse smoke and make it taste fire. To ensure that you’ll have to pay special attention to the spirit at the base of the tumbler. Agustin relies on an ultra premium bourbon in the form of Kentucky Owl Confiscated—which can retail for as much as $125 a bottle—but any sturdy sipper will do. Another subtle twist is the addition of black walnut bitters, which bring a soothing nuttiness to the mouthfeel and finish.

It’s a tipple that expresses itself especially well against hearty proteins. “The Smoked Old Fashioned pairs well with smoked salmon, of course, as well as brisket and other smoked meats and a variety of different cheeses,” Agustin says.

Post Ranch Inn
Photo by Kodiak Greenwood, courtesy of Post Ranch Inn

For guests at the stunning Post Ranch Inn, an evening upon the outdoor patio matching cocktails and charcuterie with golden hour could count as the crescendo of their stay. That’s particularly high praise at an elevation like this—roundly regarded as the pinnacle of American luxury resorts.

When prepared properly at home the signature of the Sierra Mar might just transport you to the cloud-cloaked mountainy coast of Central California. No promises there. But we can, however, guarantee a damn good riff on an Old Fashioned.

The Sierra Mar Smoked Old Fashioned Recipe

• 2 ounces bourbon
• ½ ounce angostura bitters
• ¼ ounce black walnut bitters
• ⅔ ounce simple syrup
• orange peel and cherry for garnish
• applewood chips for smoking

1. Mix all ingredients into a chilled shaker with larger ice cubes until well incorporated.
2. Strain into rocks glass with a large ice cube, garnish with a twist of orange peel and macerated cherry.
3. Place cocktail on smoking tray, add applewood chips and pipe in smoke under a bell jar.
4. Serve.

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Brad Japhe is a freelance journalist with a wicked case of the get-up-and-gos. He’s usually found at the junction of food, booze, and travel. Follow him on Instagram.