Tucked into Wayland Square, new-ish restaurant the Salted Slate is doing refined food and drink on par with anything you’re reading in the glossy pages of big-time foodie bibles. There’s the well-curated menu, with a handful of thoughtful offerings rather than a phone book stuffed with humdrum. It changes regularly, by the way, and ticks off all the necessary-by-now boxes of local providers, seasonality and regular reinvention. The bar program mirrors those qualities, with a tight list of house-original cocktails that evolves in step with the year.
When we asked them to share a cocktail fit for the dog days of summer with us, they immediately steered us toward their twist on the Old Fashioned, which harnesses the produce world’s power couple of strawberry and rhubarb. Devotees of the classic may balk, but that’s their folly: The core formula of what we all know and love about the Old Fashioned is intact just enough, and the strawberry rhubarb components are such a natural marriage that it makes a person wonder why we haven’t always done it this way.
“We like bourbon, and we like classic,” lead bartender Rachel Perry told me with a wink. “So one night during shift drinks we started brainstorming about ‘summery’ takes on the Old Fashioned. Strawberry and rhubarb just made sense. After some experiments, we nailed it.”
She was being cheeky, of course, but she wasn’t wrong. As someone whose cherubic grandmother made a mean strawberry rhubarb pie, and whose rugged grandfather had a penchant for whiskey, this drink jangles very pleasant memories into a deeply enjoyable, high-proof sip. And, very happily, it’s easy enough to make at home for someone with even the most basic bar trappings and mixology skills. Only the rhubarb bitters might give DIYers pause, but they shouldn’t. Although the Salted Slate makes theirs in-house (of course), we live in the Internet age: apparently rhubarb bitters are a thing, and there are dozens of them to be had in a quick click if your local liquor store doesn’t carry them. And, for the committed project hounds among us, I’m willing to bet that the folks at the Salted Slate will happily share their recipe if you ask them nicely.
Strawberry Rhubarb Old Fashioned
Muddle strawberries in an Old Fashioned or rocks glass. For those still here: Plunk in the sugar cube and saturate with the bitters. Go heavier if you like more twang, lighter if you want the strawberries or bourbon to shine more brightly. Fill the glass with ice, then add the bourbon and stir to blend. Submerge the orange slice and serve. Bare feet and unbuttoned collar recommended.
186 Wayland Avenue