Transitional cocktails for fall are tricky. You don't want to let go of the freshness of summer fruits and citrus just yet, but a strawberry margarita on a cool October day would be a gentlemanly misstep. At the same time you're not ready to tuck into a smokey whiskey in a book-lined study, either. Neatly bridging that gap between summery brightness and wintry richness is the "Point Blank," a collaborative cocktail from Naren Young, bar manager at Manhattan's Saxon + Parole, along with Chivas Brand Ambassador Max Warner. It starts with the subtle spiciness and bright orange notes of Chivas 12 for a base; then, a touch of the elderflower liqueur, St-Germain, brings a hint of warmer weather, like a still-fragrant breeze on an autumn night. The bold move here is combining the bracing, almost astringent Dolin Blanc vermouth with such a supple and rich whiskey, but paired with that dash of elderflower, and a few drops of lemon bitters, the seemingly improbable combination of both the masculine and daintier qualities hits it right on the mark, like a friendly sock on the jaw.
The Point Blank was a recent offering in Saxon + Parole's Cocktail Cabinet program, an ingenious fusing of the bottled cocktail trend and the allure of both private club membership and happy hour. For $75 a month (slightly discounted for 6- and 12-month subscriptions), one gets a bottle filled with a different cocktail each month that's placed in a handsome glass and wood cabinet above the bar, complete with one's name boldly emblazoned upon it. The cocktails within (each bottle contains about 10 drinks' worth) may be requested any time the subscriber stops in, a patently insider move sure to impress ones' guests. Of course, all bottled cocktails, by nature, fall into the "stirred" category, with no citrus or juice (save any garnish added at the time of service) that can turn sour over time. All-booze drinks are the byword here: sophisticated and witty riffs on negronis, Manhattans & martinis have peppered the program in its short and busy run.
It's always important to remember that stirred cocktails have extremely high levels of alcohol and as such can kick your ass if you're not mindful of your consumption. Fittingly, this drinks' very name, Point Blank, is a nod to the aggressively stylish and bluntly violent 1967 John Boorman film. In it, Lee Marvin is betrayed by his bad guy robber cohorts mid-heist and shot (point blank) and left for dead, only to resurface years later to wreak bloody revenge. Not surprisingly, three of these on an empty stomach may leave you wondering how you got betrayed by your gang and left in a ditch, Lee Marvin-like. So aim the Point Blank, and all stirred cocktails, carefully.
• 1.5 oz. Chivas Regal 12 Year Blended Scotch Whiskey
• 1 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth
• 1/4 oz. St-Germain
• 5 dashes Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
Stir to well chilled, strain into coupe, top with lemon twist.