No. Empty. Pages. I mulled this on Friday night as I sat at the bar at Whiskey Down Diner in Farmingdale, decompressing after an intense workweek. When you have a spot in the paper every Thursday to write about drinks, you (meaning I) need to fill the space, come h*** or high water. The week had passed in a blur, and I hadn’t yet come up with something — a very real blank-page syndrome.
At my elbow was a weighty, etched rocks glass of Evan Williams single-barrel whiskey, sugar, Angostura bitters, and a curl of orange peel, chilled by a single ice cube. In other words, an old fashioned, a timeless drink that has eased worries since the mid-1800s. This one was made by bar manager Jonathan Gonzalez, who I gently plugged for information about a cocktail bar he’ll open in Lindenhurst come spring. (Always working).
Over the weekend, my Instagram feed was an infinity loop of pumpkin shots and families perched on bales of hay. People were clearly feeling fall. I had another story to work on, though, and by Monday morning, still no column. With my deadline looming, I thought about the fall-ish drinks I might write about by noon. Pumpkin beer? Morning was too early for that. Hot apple cider?
Cue a fevered drive to Kerber’s Farm, the only place nearby I could think to score some that isn’t Jericho Cider Mill. Out back, chickens roamed, the last of the dahlias bloomed and two teenagers played a heated game of cornhole. Inside, it was a Columbus Day crush of families tucking into pumpkin snickerdoodles, pulled-pork pockets (sort of like empanadas) and paper cups of hot cider.
“What kinds of apples do you use?” I asked, ordering a large.
“Oh, we get [the cider] from upstate,” said the woman at the counter. “But we froth it here!”
And it was frothy, and warm, and thankfully unspiced, but not quite the stuff of great photos or stories. The old fashioned? It was a beauty. Sometimes the very thing you need has been staring back at you the entire time.
Whiskey Down Diner, 252 Main St., Farmingdale. 516-927-8264. whiskeydowndiner.com
Kerber’s Farm, 309 W. Pulaski Rd., Huntington. 631-423-4400. kerbersfarm.com