This Changes Everything: Sesame-Infused Whiskey

Rachel Tepper Paley
March 26, 2014

Photo credit: Getty Images

In the warmth of the moody, orange light at Rosette, a three-month-old restaurant in New York City, a tumbler of whiskey sitting on a bar—glowing and alluring—looks much like any other. But its taste is earthy, with a sweet nuttiness that recalls—ah, yes—sesame seeds.  

The sesame-infused whiskey is a house specialty that, to the best of general manager Lisa Limb’s knowledge, isn’t available anywhere else. “It was really an effort to kind of combine our American restaurant concept with our neighborhood, which is on the edge of Chinatown,” Limb told us. “It’s completely original.”

The beauty of the drink is its simplicity. Several (top-secret!) American whiskies are swirled with toasted white sesame seeds, then left to steep in a jar for several days. A bartender strains out the seeds before pouring the spirit over a single large ice cube.

"When people are told that it’s just whiskey and sesame seeds, they’re shocked that something so simple could have such a complex flavor profile," Limb said. The simple elixir, poured neat or on the rocks, is "probably our second most popular drink."

It’s also something a whiskey aficionado could potentially do at home—although Limb wouldn’t divulge the smooth, potent blend used to make the drink at Rosette.

So experiment with your own sesame-whiskey blend—and then refuse to tell anyone your secret.