Pecans shouldn’t be limited to use in savory dishes and desserts. You can also infuse the nuts into spirits like whiskey or rum for use in cocktails.
At Icenhauers, bar manager Julie Campbell infuses pecans in bourbon for the Autumn’s Up, which also features sweet vermouth and chocolate bitters. Campbell prefers a direct infusion over pecan simple syrup or commercial liqueurs because it injects “a lot more pecan flavor and a lot less sugar.”
Much like the classic Manhattan, whiskey provides the focal point for the friendly Autumn’s Up, but because the drink is shaken and served over ice, it’s significantly less intimidating than its bold cousin. The pecans contribute a warm, nutty dryness that evens out and boosts the whiskey’s inherent oak and vanilla flavors, and the chocolate bitters and vermouth add an additional complexity and slight sweetness.
2 oz. pecan-infused Kentucky bourbon
Dash of chocolate bitters
1/2 oz. of sweet vermouth
Orange peel for garnish
Dash of cinnamon (optional)
Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with orange zest and orange twist.
For the infused whiskey: Soak three cups of shelled pecan bits and halves in water for about 45 minutes, to extract some of the bitterness. Season with salt and pepper and roast in an oven at 315 degrees for approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Place nuts in a liter of bourbon and leave to rest for three or four days to allow the flavors to steep completely. When pouring the liquid for mixing with other ingredients, be sure to strain or double strain to eliminate remnants of nuts.