A few months ago, some friends gave us a bottle of Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine. We tasted this corn-based "unique Carolina concoction" and decided that it had a flavor that would work best in a autumn cocktail. So, we stuck the bottle in the liquor cabinet and pulled it out after Labor Day. Catdaddy is slightly spicey and has strong vanilla notes. It's pretty sweet, so we began our experiments using citrus juice to balance the sweetness. That's where things went very wrong. Lemon and lime juice didn't mix well with Catdaddy. So we decided to try a version of the Cocktail Artist's favorite cocktail, the Manhattan, and used the Catdaddy as a substitute for the sweet vermouth. This was our best effort so for. Not terrible, but it didn't "wow" us, and it didn't seem like a blog-worthy cocktail. We were starting to feel like this Cat was out-smarting us.

Fortunately, we weren't willing to give up. Catdaddy is a clear un-aged spirit. The artist wanted to improve the color of our cocktail and the mixologist just wanted something that tasted a little better, so after rooting around in the kitchen we decided to add a bit of dark maple syrup. This turned out to be just what we were missing. Initially, we didn't think we needed to make the cocktail any sweeter, but the maple really works with the other flavors, and it gives the cocktail a beautiful amber color. We twisted an orange rind on top of the cocktail and garnished it with the orange twist and a sprig of rosemary. This completed the aesthetic, and it gave our Cat on the Rail cocktail the right taste balance.

Cat on the Rail

2 ounces Bourbon (Woodford Reserve)
3/4 ounce Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine
3/4 Dry vermouth (Dolin)
scant 1/2 ounce Grade A maple syrup
2 or 3 dashes of Aromatic bitters

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake well for 20 seconds. Strain into a cocktail coup. Twist an orange peel over the cocktail, releasing its oil. Garnish with an orange twist and a rosemary sprig.

View the recipe (and see our original artwork) on our Cocktail Artist blog.