Whiskeyed Away

Whiskeyed Away

Picking up where ROÌA left off, the bar at The Luke (map) is amber-gold and dark-wooded, marble-topped and mirror-backed, with curvy chairs and crystal glasses. The finely tiled white floor with its preserved cracks and fissures conjures ancient Rome as easily as the dining room at the Taft Hotel, what it was a century ago.

Inspired by the amber-gold light, I went with brown liquor. Featuring 100-proof Knob Creek, angostura bitters and Vermont maple syrup to replace the traditional sugar, the Maple Old-Fashioned ($15), a January special, was boozy and a little complicated, smoothly sweet with a minty freshness at the top. A garnish of what had to be a Luxardo cherry—the “original” Maraschino cherry—was a black bomb of luscious cured fruit.

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Speaking of dark wonder, the Black Manhattan ($15), an off-menu special featuring two parts rye, one part Amaro Averna and a splash of Benedictine & Brandy, a.k.a. B&B, was beautiful alchemy—as round and cohesive as cocktails come. I still can’t believe the whiskey tamed the bitterness of the amaro (literally Italian for “bitter”) so well, even while the amaro took the edge off the whiskey.

It might be my new favorite drink. And while I can only guess where else or how well other bartenders make it, I don’t have to guess at The Luke.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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