Tucked at the base of the Steamboat Ski Resort, Truffle Pig is an alpine lounge fueling a steady stream of pink-cheeked skiers with food and cocktails. The menu at this après-ski destination is laced with comforting, upscale flavors selected to round out the restaurant’s idyllic ski-town vibe. Epitomizing that atmosphere is the bar’s signature Smoak’d Old Fashioned.
The cocktail is easily the bar’s topseller. Crafted with candied pecan Demerara sugar and 120-proof Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Bourbon, then poured tableside into a smoke-infused glass, the Smoak’d Old Fashioned makes for a dining-room showstopper. In terms of drinkability, it highlights warm, sweet, smoky flavors that evoke feelings of wintertime nostalgia—which is exactly what beverage director Mark Stanford was going for.
“I initially wanted ‘Christmas in a glass,’” he says. “Being at the base of Steamboat Ski Resort means a large majority of our business caters to winter crowds, so the stage had been set naturally. It’s an easy-drinking cocktail featuring warming nuances to be enjoyed after a long day on the slopes.”
This “classic of the classics,” as Stanford describes it, was an immediate hit for Truffle Pig back when it made its debut in 2017. That same year it took the People’s Choice award at the Repeal Day Old Fashioned competition in Denver. Since then, it’s been a menu mainstay.
The drink’s success can largely be attributed to the sheer level of detail that went into its development, which include Stanford’s own bitters recipes and two different Demeraras.
“[Our] Truffle Pig allspice bitters have remained a steadfast element of our Smoak’d Old Fashioned since day one. I also developed two unique sweetening agents that give this cocktail seasonal versatility,” Stanford explains. “For the winter season, we utilize a candied pecan Demerara. In the summer months, we use an Earl Grey and lavender Demerara. I also found that a touch of Luxardo Maraschino created a balanced binding agent, ensuring all the elements played harmoniously together, and a touch of orange bitters gave it the citrus punch a good old fashioned should always showcase.”
But what makes an old fashioned an old fashioned is, of course, the bourbon. In this case, it’s Beam Suntory’s 120-proof Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Bourbon—the “Truffle Pig edition.” By that, we mean Knob Creek bottled an entire barrel just for Truffle Pig. It’s a proprietary product available only through Truffle Pig and its related concept, Carl’s Tavern.
Of the roughly 650 spirits behind the bar at Truffle Pig (150 of which are bourbon alone), Stanford says the Knob Creek bourbon stood out as the liquor that would offer the most room for creativity. “I knew this would be the spirit to carry our flagship cocktail,” he says. “We’ve always valued our relationship with Knob Creek, and their support over the years has helped us elevate our cocktail program here at Truffle Pig.”
The Smoak’d Old Fashioned rings in at $25 and leaves the bar with a 14 percent pour cost—a direct reflection of the effort involved in making the bitters, syrups, infusions, and sourcing the bourbon itself. All of that contributes to a high-proof, well-crafted cocktail that has never lost its crowd appeal.
- Restaurant: Truffle Pig, 2250 Apres Ski Way, Steamboat Springs
- Bartender: Mark Stanford
- Cocktail: Smoak’d Old Fashioned
- Brand: Beam Suntory Knob Creek
- Pour Cost: 14 percent
- Cost: $25
- 2 ½ ounces 120-proof Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Bourbon
- ¼ ounce Luxardo Maraschino
- ¼ ounce candied pecan and cinnamon Demerara reduction
- 3 dashes Truffle Pig Signature Allspice Bitters
- 2 dashes Truffle Pig Signature Orange Bitters
- 1 torched orange peel for garnish
- 1 Toschi cherry for garnish
In a mixing tin, combine all ingredients. Add ice and stir for at least 10 seconds. Single strain the mixture over a large rock in an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a Toschi cherry and a torched orange peel.
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