So this is what I call full circle.
In my quest to reproduce Abbott's bitters (the few times I had them have been quite special), I had also created an incense of sorts. The Almond wood chips that I charred and threw into the jar to simulate barrel-aging came out being super infused with all the spices used in the bitters (those are another story...when I get it locked down). After letting them air dry, they bled Abbott's aromas in my liquor vault for about 2 weeks. I wasn't quite sure what I was saving them for, but I know tossing them in the compost would have been wasteful.
Well along comes Miss Amy Brown, the Pastry Chef at Nopa, who did not hesitate one second when I offered them to her. What she did with them is simply genius. She set the Abbott's incense to steep in milk for a few hours, then used that milk to make ice cream. It's all there, lavender, vanilla, clove, anise, gentian and allspice lovingly carried by cream and sugar.
Upon the urging of a friend's bride, (we WILL meet one day Mardee) I set about to make a drink with the stuff. My answer to her confection? Well some friends of mine at the Alembic had been playing with a Manhattan float a year or so ago and I never saw it happen. I always liked that idea and saw this as the perfect chance. I mulled some tempranillo with cubeb peppers, cherry bark and mission honey (think jasmine and lavender if that makes sense) and hit this fifty/fifty with Russel's Reserve Rye (that makes it vermouth now, right?). I mixed 2 oz. of this syrup with 2 oz. of seltzer and plopped a scoop of Abbott's Ice Cream on top. I couldn't bring myself to put a cherry on it as it would have been just a little too cute, however, a tiny drizzle of Cherry Herring did not offend and looked great.
This was a one shot and won't appear on any menu...but damn, it sure is inspiration to get some more Abbott's going.