The Nutty American Stars Walnut and Rye

Speisekammer pours up a delicious cocktail chock-full of sensory pleasures.


Like walnuts? The Nutty American puts nocino, a walnut liqueur, to good use.

Photo by Lori Eanes

In most cases, the roasted deliciousness of walnuts doesn't inspire laughter. Earthy, comforting flavors rarely have that effect. But at Alameda’s delightfully charming Speisekammer restaurant, the deeply pleasing essence of walnut will bring about a smile and that’s because it’s found in the tongue-and-cheek cocktail The Nutty American. Like many of Speisekammer’s original drinks, this Manhattan-esque creation is a cleverly named concoction that—like the Tequila Mockingbird and Phillips Head Screwdriver—has a bit of fun with its name.

The beverage got its moniker from the notable ingredients of nocino, a liqueur derived from unripened green walnuts, and American rye whiskey. Put the two together, serve it in a chilled glass, and what else could you call it? Head bartender Boris Pineda added that along with the essential recipe items, the name also comes from the good time you’ll be having as you imbibe. “If you have too many, you just might become a nutty American,” he said. This is true and rather easy to do since the drink is remarkably warming and absolutely perfect for a brisk October night. The fragrance and appearance are sensory pleasures; the aroma is rich in velvety walnut goodness and mixed with a trace of orange peel; and the color is a beautiful golden-amber.

The cocktail is so tasty, in fact, that you might even find it available after the chillier season turns to sunshine again. Said Pineda, “It’s not always on the menu, but it’s become popular, so we actually left it on this summer. It gets a lot of repeat orders.”  It’s not hard to understand why. So while you contemplate which costume to wear on the 31st, grab a seat here and order a pretzel with beer-cheese sauce, German sausages, or the bacon-wrapped beef-and-pork meatloaf, and pair it with The Nutty American. You might just become one.

Speisekammer, 2424 Lincoln Ave, Alameda, 510-522-1300,


The Nutty American

2 ounces Redemption Rye

.5 ounce Nocino della Cristina Walnut Liqueur

2 dashes Fee Brothers Orange Bitters

Orange peel, for garnish

Add all ingredients except garnish to a shaker and add ice. Stir and pour into a chilled classic Manhattan glass. Garnish with an orange peel and orange mist.