The Originals

Smoke and So Much More in This Julep Cocktail

Infusions make this one of the best drinks we've had in Houston all year.

By Timothy Malcolm December 17, 2019

Welcome to Originals. Each month, I’ll recommend an original cocktail that I can’t get enough of from a bar that I also can’t get enough of.

Pappy's Pipe looks great any time, daylight or dark of night.

When I spoke with Alba Huerta about the success of Julep at its five-year anniversary, she said it's hard to take tried-and-true drinks off the menu.

"There this one particular drink, the Cherry Bounce Sour," she said in September. "That was on my first menu, and I don’t think it’s ever coming off."

Plenty of the cocktails at Julep hang around for awhile, and if I had my way, I'd keep Pappy's Pipe on the menu forever.

I've written before about my love of smoky, whiskey-based cocktails, and Pappy's Pipe is no different, though its flavor profile comes from unexpected sources. The whiskey here, a corn whiskey with a boozy hit, is infused with Rooibos tea, known for its earthy, somewhat funky characteristics. Smoky Laphroaig 10 scotch is infused with honey, adding a sweet touch, and a couple dashes of pepper tincture turn up the volume with a big, biting flavor. It's topped with a cinnamon stick that's lit, then quickly extinguished, which perfumes the space with a campfire oomph.

The little things make this such a masterful cocktail. Every ingredient in Pappy's Pipe is altered to achieve the right balance of flavors. Plus, there's an art to finding the right infusions: Rooibos, which means "red bush" and emanates from South Africa, carries something of a tart taste that helps dull the boozy, leathery hit of corn whiskey. And turning a smoky scotch into honey helps mellow that spirit's initial burn. But put the infused whiskey and scotch together, even with the altered flavors, and there's sufficient smokiness for it to be the defining characteristic of the cocktail. 

All this is to say that even people who shy away from smoky drinks should give Pappy's Pipe a chance. It's a beautiful, quiet sipper on a cold evening, but its complexities make it something you simply need to try whenever the opportunity arises.

Here's hoping that opportunity is always there, and that it always remains on the menu.

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