At last week’s Old Forester Bourbon Old Fashioned cocktail competition at Session Kitchen, the 10 competitors’ charge was anything but simple: Build a cocktail using Old Forester that was modern enough to be different but classic enough to still be considered an Old Fashioned.

In the end, it was Kamuran Mataraci’s Under the Forest creation, pictured, that caught my (and fellow judges Randy Layman and Allison Widdecombe) attention. First off, the barman from Ste. Ellie crafted a beautiful drink: Instead of an obvious garnish, he placed a lemon wheel on the bottom of the glass and built the cocktail—bourbon, lapsang souchong honey, and Underberg—from there. The visual effect was that of looking through a kaleidoscope. And then there was the cocktail itself: leathery in the best sense, slightly smoky, with a tinge of alpine. It was the one cocktail all three judges sipped throughout the competition, and it’s the only one I requested the recipe for. Below is Mataraci’s formula:

2 ounces Old Forester Signature

just under ½ ounce lapsang souchong honey*

a bit less than ¼ ounce Underberg (about 1/3 of the little bottle)

sliced lemon wheel

*2 parts honey, diluted with 1 part lapsang souchong tea

Tip: If you’re more inclined to sip this at the bar, the cocktail just landed on Ste. Ellie’s new menu. The name, however, has been changed from Under the Forest to Black Toast Intolerant, which Mataraci says is a silly play on lactose intolerant (say it really fast).

1553 Platte St., 303-477-1447

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—Photo courtesy of Kamuran Mataraci

Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.