Whiskey for the Win: Seneca Bartender Nick Caswell Offers Up a Trio of ‘Quarantini’ Recipes

As COVID cases continue to spike across the Capital Region, many bars and restaurants are being forced to shut down either temporarily or for the entire winter. But Saratogians still need to get their cocktail fix. A safe bet? Homemade “quarantinis.” To get you off to the races, Saratoga Living asked Seneca bartender Nick Caswell to dream up three, easy-to-make cocktails, all featuring the wintery-est of spirits, whiskey.


Simply put, this is a single-malt Irish whiskey Manhattan. The combination of the sweet vermouth and mellow characteristics of single malt Irish whiskey—compared to an American bourbon—makes for a smooth and pleasant cocktail that will impress even the most discerning Manhattan aficionado.  


1 oz Carpano Antica formula vermouth

2 oz Red Breast 12-year-old Irish whiskey (or your favorite Irish whiskey)

2 shakes orange bitters

2 shakes cherry bitters 


Combine all ingredients and garnish with an orange peel and brandy-soaked cherry.

Angel’s Root Beer

This is a twist on our house Old Fashioned, which consists of demerara sugar, a brandy cherry, an orange slice and your choice of spirit. We wanted to preserve the traditional ingredients of an Old Fashioned while capturing the flavors of root beer. 

Sassafras Simple Syrup:


6 cups water

3 oz sassafras root

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 whole star anise

1 whole clove

1/4 cup dark molasses

4-5 mint leaves

3 cups sugar


Combine the sassafras, coriander seeds, anise, clove and water in a pot and bring to a light simmer for 15 minutes. Add molasses and mint and simmer for another five minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let cool. Once the mixture is cool, strain through a fine mesh strainer, cheese cloth or coffee filter. Return the strained liquid to a pot,
add the sugar and heat until sugar is dissolved. Once it completely cools, the liquid should be a light, syrupy consistency. 

Angel’s Root Beer:


2 dashes root beer bitters

1/4 oz sassafras simple syrup

2 oz spirit of choice (I’m currently using Angel’s Envy bourbon, because it’s aged in ruby port casks, which add a touch of sweetness)


Combine all ingredients into a mixing tin with ice and stir to ensure proper dilution. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice and garnish with an orange peel.

Cranberry Apple Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sours can be found on our menu in one form or another based on the season. Here’s a perfect cold-weather version.

Cranberry Apple Simple Syrup:


2 cups granulated sugar

2 cups water

12 oz fresh cranberries (reserve a few for garnish)

2 Granny Smith apples, chopped (remove the seeds)

1 cinnamon stick


Add all ingredients to a pot and bring to a light simmer for 15 minutes. Carefully strain into another container and allow to cool completely before covering.

Cranberry Apple Whiskey Sour:


1 1/2 oz whiskey of choice

1 oz cranberry apple simple syrup

1/2 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 egg white


Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker without any ice and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. (This method is called “dry-shaking,” because it whips air into the cocktail to give it a foamier, mousse-like texture.) Add one scoop of ice to the cocktail shaker and shake again for another 10–15 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with dots of angostura bitters, a sprig of rosemary and a skewer of cranberries.     

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