The Denton Dram Cocktail Review: Ghostship Marshall at Hannah's
Ahoy, Dentonites! Hannah’s Off the Square has been a long-standing destination of those seeking a fine dining experience or a rare bottle of wine. Equally impressive as their dinner menu is the cocktail list, carefully constructed by Alex Slaughter and his bartending team who have been crafting top-notch drinks for almost a decade. Slaughter’s recent concoction, the Ghostship Marshall, is making waves on the local and national bar scene.
Upon entering the lounge area of Hannah’s, you’ll find the atmosphere boasts an upscale speakeasy vibe. Dark wood, exposed brick, and smooth jazz ring true to an era of happy hours with brandy and cigars, or two martini lunches. The bar truly offers an elegant ambiance with sophisticated cocktails, and I waste no more time as I order the Ghostship Marshall from the creator himself.
Slaughter explains the idea behind the drink, a nod to the Old-Fashioned but made with rum in lieu of bourbon. “I tried not to make it too sweet,” he says, “I wanted to bring out the things you would taste in the rum, the coconut, the marzipan, basically flavors in traditional rum drinks. I accentuated that through a simple syrup.” The syrup that Slaughter is referring to is his own original recipe that consists of orange zest, Marcona almonds, coconut, and bourbon-soaked vanilla beans. He lets this mixture slowly marry in a demerara sugar solution for hours before boiling, this ensures all the flavors can fully meld.
Slaughter gives much appreciation to the fine dining kitchen at Hannah’s, and all it has to offer in terms of ingredients. “We have an awesome kitchen backing me up,” he says, “It’s fun to be able to be creative and have that support system. Having a strong culinary background has helped me out a lot…most people don’t get as many toys as I do!”
Similarly as interesting as the drink itself, is the name, Ghostship Marshall. Slaughter drew inspiration from Bill McCoy, an infamous rum smuggler during the prohibition era. Captain McCoy sold his merchandise from a schooner, the Henry L. Marshall for several years before being jailed. However, unlike many operations during this time participating in illegal and malicious practices, McCoy was always known more as an “honest lawbreaker,” taking pride in his product that always remained “unadulterated, uncut and clean.”
The drink is on point with its name, as the cocktail itself has a milky white “ghost-like” appearance. It is simply garnished with an orange peel, but for character Slaughter adds a small plastic skeleton arm reaching from the depths of the retro Old-Fashioned glass.
On the nose, I am hit with subtle citrus notes coupled with aromas of almond and coconut. At first taste, the Ghostship Marshall is booze forward with the rum lending a punch of spice which is quickly calmed by Slaughter’s almond syrup with smooth vanilla flavors. The cocktail is punctuated with a sharp addition of orange bitters, an ingredient that smartly stitches together the rum and its counterparts. There is a “woody” character to the drink, as well as a definite warmth that grows with each sip.
Slaughter is humble about the fact that this cocktail won him first place in The Real McCoy cocktail competition, as part of the United Stated Bartender’s Guild, of which he has been a member of for several years. He has now moved through the regionals portion, and will be competing at the national level in Barbados on September 11th.
When asked about what part Hannah’s has played in his role as a mixologist, Slaughter replies, “I’ve been in bars a long time, and this is the first time I’ve gone in depth with the cocktail culture. They’ve done cocktails here a long time, and it’s definitely the place that got me into it.”
Slaughter remains passionate though unspecific about his future aspirations in cocktails, “I just love it, and I’m very happy doing it. I don’t really care where I end up, I just know booze will be a part of it.”
If you’re interested in the United States Bartender’s Guild, or following Alex Slaughter to learn more about craft cocktails and the goings-on around Denton, find him on Instagram at @older_fashioned. Also, check out Hannah’s new cocktail menu that launches September 5th.