Even though it’s still only mid-November, it feels like autumn is in its final days in Seattle. Last week’s wind storms blew most of the yellowed leaves from the maple in front of our house, so now a glance out the living room window finds a scraggle of bare branches destined to remain our primary view until April rolls around again. Venture out–a less pleasant effort now, with the temperature starting to drop and the rain whipping about–and it becomes clearer that winter proper has yet to set in, but autumn’s number has definitely been called.
On rainy November Sundays such as these, it’s important to remind yourself that it’s still autumn, and that winter’s monotony has not yet captured the day. To do this, I like to turn to aged spirits and the fruits of the season to keep things in perspective. Despite all my recent excitement over the allspice richness of pimento dram, I’m not yet ready to give up my Fallen Leaves and other calvados cocktails in favor of festive holiday-appropriate drinks such as Stingers and Tom and Jerrys. The time for those will be here soon enough; tonight, I need something rugged and autumnal, with enough muscle in it to beat back the chill of the night.
The Stone Fence is a drink of antiquity; it was old hat by the time Jerry Thomas set about writing his drinks guide, having been a mainstay at taverns and inns since at least the early 1800s. Easy to prepare–simply hard cider emboldened by a hearty dose of whatever amber spirit happens to be at hand–the Stone Fence is well-suited for a November evening. The drink takes the simple, honest purity of a glass of hard cider and touches it with a little savagery, making it a beverage that’s easy to approach, yet unforgiving when underestimated. As David Wondrich quipped in Esquire Drinks, the Stone Fence has “a name which hints at the effect produced by getting outside too many of these, which is not unlike that produced by running downhill into one.”
Take these gently–but on a nasty evening, take one.
- 2 ounces brandy (or applejack, or Scotch, or bourbon, or rye, or rum)
- hard cider
Pour the spirits into a pint glass; add two lumps of ice and fill with cider.
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