As the story goes, Zach Painter won his first bar job over a game of billiards. Painter and his brother were shooting pool against the general manager at Cool Beans in Denton. A bet was made: if Painter won the next game, he could come in and interview for a position the following day. He sank the eight ball, and that was that.
“We [both] showed up and we were so hung over that we couldn’t even do the interview,” says Painter. “So, I just kind of got the job.”
After spending nearly a decade in the service industry, Painter has scaled his way up the tapster ranks. He now works as general manager at Denton’s Paschall Bar, a speakeasy where extravagant yet approachable cocktails are the norm. Joyce’s Old-fashioned is the quintessence of this accessible, delicious approach to mixology.
“It’s a simple drink that you can make for yourself at home,” says Painter. “You don’t have to be a bartender to put this one together.”
The cocktail is a riff on a Monte Carlo, which is made using rye whiskey, Bénédictine (a sweet and herbal liqueur with notes of honey), and Angostura bitters. Named after Painter’s grandmother Joyce, the drink is a satisfying blend of pecan-infused bourbon, a touch of sweetness from the Bénédictine, and chocolate and orange bitters. (If they’re not already on your bar cart, it’s time to pick up chocolate and orange bitters, a must-have for cocktail mixing during autumn and winter.)
“In her later years, she has become quite the bourbon drinker out of nowhere,” Painter says of his grandma. The combination of pecans and chocolate transports the bartender to cooler months spent in Joyce’s kitchen in Corsicana. “Every time she made brownies, my cousins and brothers and I used to kind of make fun of her, because she would put healthy ingredients like nuts in them.” But now, as fall approaches and pecans begin to drop from their trees, Painter sings a different tune. The bartender enjoys infusing them in liquor and combining them with chocolate—not unlike Joyce.
½ cup salted pecans
15 ounces bourbon
Add pecans to bourbon in a sealable container. Let mixture sit for 10 hours in a cool, dark place. Strain through a coffee filter.
2 ounces pecan-infused bourbon
½ ounce Bénédictine
3 dashes orange bitters
1 dash chocolate bitters
Combine ingredients and serve in rocks glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with an orange peel and pecan.