Winter Drinks With Will: The Dead Leaf Recipe

Winter Drinks With Will: The Dead Leaf Recipe

[Photo: Robyn Lee]

Your drinking buddy Will drops by again with a few booze-related musings. He's an itinerant reader and writer who's not above slinging drinks or pushing commas to pay life's various tabs. He likes cheese and bacon, but not as much as the rest of you weirdos seem to.

I recently switched my house bourbon from Eagle Rare to Old Crow, an ornithological downgrade that will soon enough yield a lifestyle upgrade when I pour all the savings into my only non-ingestible desire: a combination washer/dryer for my apartment. You see, I eat a lot of sandwiches and I eat them with great passion and bad posture, so my pants are often condiment-stained; I'm too civilized to eat a naked sandwich and too self-conscious to eat a sandwich while naked, so in-home laundry is the only reasonable solution.

I am not picky about style or manufacturer—the flyers that fall out of the Sunday paper suggest they have red and blue ones now, which would be neat, but all I really care about is that these laundry-dream machines allow me stop hoarding quarters in my quest for surface cleanliness. Quarter-lust makes a thief of me; so, as it recently happened, does mayonnaise.

You see, due to my reduced laundry circumstances, I can justify stealing any amount of quarters from the smallest child or the largest bank. But I'd never thought of making off with another man's folding money until I came across a smallish wad of bills on the sidewalk the other day, unfolded it solely to see if the owner's contact information was perhaps contained therein, and found a Burger King receipt. The wad in question turned out to be three singles crumpled around a receipt for $16-and-then-some worth of Burger King stuff.

Normally upon finding three dollars I knock on the dozen closest doors and then inform Craigslist that I have casually encountered someone else's money, but the sort of person who spends $16 at a place that puts mayonnaise on hamburgers is the sort of person who can't be trusted with nice things, so I spent his money and a bit of my own on a bottle of Old Crow with which to celebrate the season.

This is my favorite time of year for many reasons, none of which involve snow or gourds and several of which involve whiskey. This time of year, bourbon is ready to be tricked out with something more interesting than summer's ice-and-soda or deeper winter's tumbler-and-depression. The Dead Leaf is what I've come up with, and it's good.

  • Yield:1
  • Active time: 5 minutes
  • Total time:5 minutes


  • 2 cubes sugar
  • 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 1 ounce bourbon
  • 1 ounce pear brandy, such as Clear Creek
  • squeeze of lemon
  • 1-inch by 2-inch strip lemon rind
  • Soda water


  1. 1.

    Place ginger and sugar cubes in bottom of metal cocktail shaker and add Peychaud's bitters. Smash together with muddler until broken into a rough mash.

  2. 2.

    Fill shaker with ice and add bourbon, pear brandy, and lemon. Cover and shake vigorously. Strain into ice-filled highball glass. Rub rim with lemon rind and drop lemon rind into cocktail. Top off with soda water, stir gently to combine, and serve.