Honestly, there aren’t enough hayrack rides (aka hayrides) anymore. At least I don’t think so. I grew up mainly in Kansas, and took my fair share of hayrack rides, so I could be biased. But come on! Riding around with a bunch of pals snuggled up on the back of a cart surrounded by hay bales? That’s a good time – especially if you have the right drink in a mug, flask or other beverage-holding device. If you can’t actually get on a hayrack ride this year, I suggest at least putting a couple bales in the backyard and making one of the following to honor the tradition.
Horsefeather: This is an interesting drink, not only because it can be a spring pleaser, but it’s also fantastic in fall, as long as the temperatures haven’t dropped from chilly to cold. It honors the horses that pull the cart, which is dandy in my mind. This recipe’s from my book Good Spirits.
3 ounces bourbon (give Woodinville Whiskey Co. bourbon a go here)
Chilled ginger ale (or, up the ante with Rachel’s Ginger Beer)
1. Fill a highball glass three quarters full with ice cubes. Add, smoothly and leisurely--steady now--the bourbon.
2. Top off the glass with ginger ale. Add two shakes of Angostura bitters. Stir well.
Fall’s Friendly: This is a warmer, as it uses hot chocolate to delicious effect. You’ll need something to keep that hot chocolate hot, so plan ahead.
8 ounces hot chocolate
1/2 ounce dark rum
3/4 ounce Grand Marnier
1/4 ounce sweet vermouth
Whipped cream, for garnish
1. Add the hot chocolate, rum, Grand Marnier, and sweet vermouth to a sturdy mug. Stir well.
2. Garnish with a nice layer of whipped cream.
WOW: This is another hot one (hayracks often need warm drinks), so be sure you have some sort of heating device. The WOW, from Dark Spirits, also comes with a quote from Robert Hinckley Messinger’s poem A Winter Wish: “Peat whiskey hot, / Tempered with well-boiled water! / These make the long night shorter.”
2 ounces whiskey (why not try Golden Distilleries Samish Bay whiskey)
1-1/2 ounces orange juice
1 ounce Simple Syrup
2-1/2 ounces hot water
Orange twist, for garnish
1. Add the whiskey, orange juice, and simple syrup to a large mug. Stir briefly.
2. Pour the water into the mug, and stir again briefly. Twist the orange twist over the top and drop it in. Wow, indeed.
The Late Date: Because they’re so darn cuddly (and maybe a little itchy) hayracks are ideal for dates. This warming drink from Good Spirits works so well for both situations.
2 ounces Drambuie
1/2 ounce cinnamon schnapps
3-1/2 ounces hot water
1. Add the orange wheel and lemon wheel to a sturdy mug. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, gently muddle the rounds.
2. Add the Drambuie and cinnamon schnapps to the mug. Stir briefly. Add the hot water, and stir again.
The Leaf & Silo: This isn’t a hayrack ride drink to make in the hayrack. But if you’re headed in the direction of downtown and you find yourself thirsty, I suggest stopping by Rob Roy and having this lovely cocktail created by Kathleen Manley. Its herbally-minty-spicy combination of bourbon, Cocchi Americano, Branca Menta, caraway tincture and spearmint extract makes it an ideal accompaniment to hayracks rides, dates, fall gatherings and pretty much any other autumn occasion.