Bartending is something of a family tradition for Estes, whose dad, Brad, worked his way through college at the University of Memphis (then called Memphis State) from behind a bar. “My dad always said his time as a bartender was the best of his life,” she says, “so it was natural for me to want to do the same thing.” Brad was no longer slinging drinks professionally by the time his daughter was born, but, she says, “he’s always been a pretty serious home bartender.” His signature cocktail is a concoction called the Flaming Armadillo (a blend of amaretto and high-proof rum that, yes, is served on fire), and as a child, Estes really enjoyed it when her dad would let her help set the cocktail alight.
The signature cocktail she created for the Drawing Room draws on all those lessons, including the fire. It’s a great dad drink, too—a classic bourbon-based old-fashioned, made extra-special with an infusion of wood smoke. At the bar, Estes serves the cocktail in a special smoke-filled glass box, but it’s fairly simple to recreate the flavor at home. If you’ve already fired up the Big Green Egg for ribs or a pork butt, hold a cocktail glass upside-down over the grill for a few seconds until the glass fills with smoke—not long enough for the glass to become hot, but feel free to use an oven mitt. Set the glass aside upside down to trap the smoke while you mix the ingredients. Or, if you’re indoors, set a few wood chips—Estes recommends cherry, alder, hickory, or oak—to smolder on the cooktop with your kitchen exhaust fan running, and do the same thing.