Andiron Steak & Sea beverage manager Christa Roelle doesn’t particularly care for pumpkins. Not in her cocktails, anyway. Anchoring her autumn menu in place of that dense, fleshy gourd is Fall Fashioned Yams ($14). The secret to Roelle’s yam-forward ode to the Old-Fashioned is her housemade yam bitters. “I love the arrival of pumpkin-spice lattes as much as everyone else,” Roelle says. “But I wanted to mix it up this year. So I thought of every fall food, and my grandmother’s sweet-potato pie stood out.”
It took three days of experimentation, first with simple syrup and shrubs before arriving at bitters. It then took three batches to define the recipe, which includes purple and yellow yams, artichoke leaves, dandelion root, burdock root, orange peel, star anise, whole cinnamon sticks and cloves in a base of Knob Creek Bourbon—it’s no wonder the cooks in the kitchen call it her “Witch’s Brew.”
This nouveau-fashioned begins with those bitters muddled with a little simple syrup and a Luxardo cherry. (“No orange?” fruited Old-Fashioned-lovers may lament. “The orange completely overpowered,” Roelle says.) To this, she adds two ounces of Jefferson Bourbon and stirs over ice before straining the contents into a chilled cocktail glass and garnishing with a dried orange wheel dusted with cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg.
A Reno native, Roelle loves autumn, and grew up surrounded by brilliant foliage before upping the ante with four years at the University of Alaska in Anchorage, “where you get a deep fall—decaying earth, dried leaves,” she says. “I miss it. I don’t miss winter, though.”
Fall Fashioned Yams
As served at Andiron Steak & Sea, $14
In a mixing glass, muddle 1 Luxardo cherry with 6-8 dashes house-made yam bitters and ¼ to ½ ounce simple syrup (depending on your preference). Add 2 ounces Jefferson Bourbon. Add ice to the glass and stir 10-15 rotations, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a dehydrated orange wheel dusted with cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg.