The Bright, Boozy Winter Drink You Need Right Now

The Tootsie, from Ward III.

While it’s hard to tire of a perfect Old Fashioned or Manhattan, at this point in the winter we’re all looking for a little novelty. Meet the “Tootsie,” from Kenneth McCoy, Chief Creative Office at New York’s Ward III: an unlikely-sounding cocktail that McCoy says mimics the flavors of a Tootsie Roll, but in powerful whiskey-forward form.

With pineapple juice, apricot liqueur, and spiced rum, it might read like a bright, sweet summer drink. But thanks to a heavy base of American whiskey — bourbon and rye both — it’s plenty stiff enough for a proper drink. “Rittenhouse Rye gives it a bit of a kick,” McCoy explains; “The bourbon is a bit easygoing, and I felt it needed a little spice.”

Spiced rum from Lemon Hart & Son contributes a spice of its own, shaken together with the whiskies, pineapple juice, Giffard’s excellent Abricot Du Roussillon apricot liqueur, and a dash of chocolate bitters. Served on a large rock, it’s given a final hit of herbal complexity with a barspoon of green Chartreuse.

The resulting cocktail is equal parts boozy and dynamic, with a complex array of flavors that evolve on the palate. “I don’t like to limit myself when making cocktails; I like to play,” says McCoy. “The Tootsie is a fun, pleasurable experience. When you see all the ingredients on the menu, you may not think it would go together, but it sure does.”

The Tootsie

0.75 oz Heaven Hill Bourbon
0.75 oz Old Overholt Rye
0.5 oz Lemon Hart Spiced
0.5 oz Giffard Apricot
0.5 oz pineapple juice
0.25 oz demerara syrup*
1 dash Scrappy’s Chocolate Bitters
1 barspoon Green Chartreuse

Combine ingredients other than Chartreuse in a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake well. Double-strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice (ideally, one large ice cube). Gently float Chartreuse over the cube. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

Carey Jones
Carey Jones is a San Francisco-based food, spirits, and travel writer. She is the co-author, with her husband John D. McCarthy, of Be Your Own Bartender, to be released in November 2018. She frequently contributes to Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Saveur, and many others, and formerly served as managing editor at the James Beard Award-winning food site Serious Eats.