The Velveteen Rabbit passed a major milestone September 12 with the debut of its second cocktail menu, a collaborative effort between owners Christina and Pamela Dylag, and bartenders Lyle Cervenka and Rustyn Vaughn Lee, who have two cocktails each ($8) on the Arts District bar’s strong follow-up menu. Cervenka’s Cabin in Derry cocktail is a stirred, spirit-forward replacement for the popular Crucifix in a Deathhand from the opening menu, and was inspired by his grandfather. “As a kid, I would visit him in the small town of Londonderry, Vermont. He was a real man’s man: World War II vet, built his cabin by hand, smoked a pipe, hunted, knew everybody in town,” Cervenka says. “This drink is a tribute to him and the smells and tastes of the Green Mountain State.”
This is thanks to the Zirbenz Stone Pine liqueur that Cervenka combines with house-made smoked apple bourbon, Punt e Mes vermouth amaro, Benedictine liqueur, maple syrup and Angostura aromatic bitters. “Stone pine fruit can only be harvested a couple of weeks every year in the Alps by mountaineers who scale huge pine trees to pick the fruit,” he says. “All the hard work is worth it as Zirbenz is a beautiful, semisweet liqueur with a smell and taste reminiscent of being in a evergreen forest.” In addition to the Rabbit’s eight new tipples, there’s a bartender’s choice option, where you choose the base spirit and trust the spirit behind the stick to take it from there.
Cabin in Derry
As served at the Velveteen Rabbit, $8
In a mixing glass, combine 1½ ounces house-made smoked apple bourbon (recipe below), ¾ ounce Zirbenz Stone Pine liqueur, ¼ ounce Punt e Mes sweet vermouth, 1 barspoon Benedictine liqueur and a dash of Angostura aromatic bitters. Add ice, and with ½ barspoon of Vermont maple syrup on a barspoon, stir for 20 rotations. Strain into a chilled 3-ounce cocktail coupe and garnish with an apple chip.
Smoked Apple-Infused Bourbon: Core and dice five red delicious apples. In a sealable infusion jar, combine the apples with one bottle of Old Grand-Dad bourbon. Let sit for three days, shaking occasionally. After day three, strain out the apples. Using a PolyScience Smoking Gun handheld food smoker, smoke the bottle of infused bourbon with apple wood to taste.
PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER A. JONES