This time of year is always perfect for an Old Fashioned cocktail, with the seasonal flavors of fall stirred into the mix. For the classic, old fashioned puzzle from Japanese master Akio Kamei called “The Box with a Key”, I’ve turned the key to another old fashioned, the classic drink of spirit, sugar and bitters. The “Black Key” is a richly satisfying rum old fashioned which was originally created for Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, a dark rum blend which is finished in bourbon barrels. Maple syrup for the sugar really hits the right notes for the fall. I’ve kicked up the autumn notes in my version with the use of Besamim, a delicious liqueur full of seasonal spice flavors including cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Angostura and orange bitters grace the original, but I’ve also played with those as well by using Black Cloud Black and White Bitters, which bring flavors of chocolate and vanilla to the party. The key here, if it isn’t obvious, is to stir things up as you see fit, and turn it in a new way. Here’s to playing with the recipe. Cheers!


The Black Key (original) The Autumn Old Fashioned

2 oz blended dark rum 2 oz aged rum

1⁄2 oz pure maple syrup ½ oz Besamim

1 dash Angostura bitters 2 dashes Black and White bitters

1 dash orange bitters

Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a favorite glass. Garnish with orange peel and puzzle over something new.


For more about “The Box with a Key” see:

Boxes and Booze:Autumn Keys

For prior Old Fashioneds see: