what: Pumpkin Patch Smash
where: Hunter-Gatherer Brewery (Hangar), 1402 Jim Hamilton Blvd., 803-764-1237, huntergathererbrewery.com
When Hunter-Gatherer finally opened its full-production brewery in the historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar at the beginning of 2018, it brought with it one of Columbia’s biggest and most ambitious dual purpose indoor-outdoor drinking spaces. After over a year and a half operating with only a license for serving beer and wine, it has now brought the dual-threat approach to the bar, adding a full-service liquor selection at the end of the summer with new specialty cocktails hitting the menu regularly.
Much of the Hangar’s current cocktails are unique riffs on classic concoctions, including their newest addition, the Pumpkin Patch Smash. Hunter-Gatherer’s version of the quintessential Whiskey Smash lends the bright citrus flavors of its predecessor to a playful pumpkin pie-inspired easy-sipper that’s certainly autumn appropriate. Locally distilled Crouch Carolina Sour Mash Whiskey brings the booze to the party, alongside a house made pumpkin simple syrup infused with cinnamon. Those ingredients are added with a spritz of lemon juice and ice to a cocktail shaker, combined, then strained and served over ice in a standard rocks glass with a cinnamon sugar rim and a lemon wedge.
The success of this smash lies in its simplicity. The flavors are predictable and unadorned, yet pleasantly compatible. The acidity of the lemon cuts any candy sweetness, accented by the spice of the cinnamon. The pumpkin provides subtle flavor and adds a creamier mouthfeel than a typical simple syrup, while the Crouch Sour Mash gives the drink an unmistakable whiskey nose and smooth heat in the finish. The garnishes allow for taste flexibility, letting sugar heads sweeten the mix by sipping through the rim and giving citrus fiends the ability to squeeze in more lemon juice as desired.
At $8 for a seasonal cocktail, the Pumpkin Patch Smash shows Hunter-Gatherer keeping its new cocktail program reasonably priced. Find an evening soon with clear skies when temps dip below 75 degrees and go get one for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.