Although the Old Fashioned has come to be one of today's most revered cocktails, I find that it can also be one of the most inconsistently made drinks. While its ingredients are few (sugar, bitters, water, whiskey), the Old Fashioned can range from simple and superb, to a sweet and syrupy mess—all depending on the skill and knowledge of the bartender at whichever watering hole you happen to wander into.
Conversely, that bowl of mixed nuts that adorns many a bar can be one of the most consistent things on offer. Problem is, they are usually consistently stale, and consistently bland. A bowl of stale nuts is about as tempting as, well, a bowl of stale nuts. Which is why I usually steer clear of such roughage no matter how peckish I get when sitting at a bar.
It's a good thing, then, that I do most of my drinking and snacking at home. As such, I decided to use one of my favorite cocktails (the Old Fashioned, natch), as inspiration to improve upon that usually insipid bowl of mixed bar nuts.
For this particular recipe I used pecans, but really, any mix of raw nuts will do. After a few minutes toasting in a dry skillet, the pecans become fragrant and nutty. A toss in melted butter and a mix of brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and a touch of cayenne would seem to be all these pecans need. But to echo their boozy inspiration, the nuts are then doused with bourbon and dotted with old-fashioned accoutrements of orange zest and cherries (dried cherries made plump by a soak in more bourbon).
The result is a spicy-sweet snack of glazed pecans worthy of a perfectly made Old Fashioned cocktail, or any cool beverage you happen to be nursing.