Brisk-weather cocktails conjure images of apples, old wooden furniture, warmth, storytelling. At the Spare Room, a gaming parlor and cocktail lounge inside Hollywood's hallowed Roosevelt Hotel (built in 1927), the drink of the moment boasts a literary flair. The staff there calls it "Nothing Gold Can Stay," as designed by beverage director Naomi Schimek, who dreamed it up from childhood memories of raking leaves and chopping wood among red- and gold-leaved trees. The drink is a sort of nuanced brandied apple with hints of maple and black pepper, and an aroma of cedar; it's served like a sour, in a coupe. For us, its secret lies in the use of small-batch Vermont Maple Liqueur, as well as scented egg whites that soften the edges with a white, aromatic foam.
Co-owner Marc Rose, who helped develop the idea for the clubby but childlike Spare Room, which allows you to meet pals for a round of anti-Lebowski-style bowling, chess, dominos, and even some Monopoly, says the drink appeals to his grown-up self, too. "The black-pepper tincture gives me a kick, and the cedar scent offers just the right touch of rugged 'outdoorsiness.' " It's not embarrassing to say that there's a narrative in this cocktail, and that its bitter touch may not offer the brightest vision of the future. But that level of resolve is what keeps us determined to forge on, stay out of the alley, and maybe even play some indoor games at home.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
(Makes one cocktail)
• .5 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
• .75 oz simple syrup
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters
• .5 tsp black peppercorn tincture*
• .75 oz Sapling Vermont Maple Liqueur (70 proof)
• 1.25 oz Laird's Apple Brandy (100 proof)
• 1 cedarwood scented egg white**
• 1 apple, sliced thinly
From one cedarwood-scented egg (see recipe below), separate out the egg white and discard the yolk. Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker in the order given above.
Shake vigorously without ice for approximately 7 seconds to whip the egg white.
Fill cocktail shaker with ice, and shake again.
Strain into a 6-ounce cocktail coupe, and garnish with an apple fan (3 thin apple slices, fanned out). Two toothpicks will anchor this to the side of the glass. Serve immediately.
*Black Peppercorn Tincture
(Makes about 100 milliliters)
Place 20 grams of black peppercorns into a saucepan and toast lightly over low heat (135 degrees) until fragrant.
Remove from heat and transfer to a Mason jar.
Add 100ml of 100 proof (50% ABV) vodka. Cover with lid, and steep for 12 days in a cool, dark place.
Agitate every couple of days. Strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth, bottle, and cork. Store away from sunlight.
**Cedarwood Scented Egg Whites
(Makes enough for six cocktails)
Rinse 6 whole eggs under cool water.
Dry them well and place into a rounded, 1-quart airtight container that has been lined with a paper towel.
Squeeze 8 to 10 drops of cedarwood essential oil onto the paper towel lining, lock on the airtight lid, and store in the refrigerator for 48 hours. Egg whites are then scented and ready to use.