|Sam Ross' Penicillin Cocktail|
"There is no such thing as a bad whisky. Some whiskies just happen to be better than others."- William Faulkner
Scotch cocktails are nothing new for the lounge crowd. For over a decade, the Rob Roy was a standard, as was the Rusty Nail, Blood and Sand, and various scotch sours. However, there was an unwritten taboo about using single malt scotch in cocktails. In recent years, leading bartenders left their safe zones and expanded the range of cocktails made with scotch by using singles. Naturally, this peaked our interest and aficionados made a beeline for places like Little Branch to savor cocktails made with whiskey from Scotland's distilling regions: Islay, Highland, Speyside, Campbelltown, and Lowland.
Most of the new generation of scotch cocktails are typically built around a blended scotch, such as Famous Grouse, with a single malt as the secondary spirit. The most frequently used are young single malts like 10 year Islay (such as Laphroig and Ardbeg) or Speysides (like Balvenie or Glenfiddich) but we are also seeing the Highland scotch (such as Highland Park) finding their way onto the cocktail palette.
Islay scotch is particularly popular because the region's peaty essence gives the cocktail a smokey nose. The single malts enter the drink in the form of a float or spritz. It is no wonder why the Smoke and Mirror won 2009 Best of Lounge' Best Cocktail.
Our favorite Scotch Cocktails and where to get them.
Smoke & Mirrors
2 oz Balvenie 15yr Scotch (or other decent Highland)
1/2 oz Marie Brizard Apricot Brandy
1/2 oz Ramazzotti Amaro
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir & serve up, then add 1 spritz of Ardbeg 10 Year scotch on the surface (or other Islay). Garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Where to get it: Raines Law Room, New York City
by Aisha Sharpe, Contemporary Cocktails/Rogue
2 oz Islay Scotch (Bowmore Legend)
3/4 oz Dolin Sweet Vermouth
2 tsp Cherry Herring brandy
1 tsp Absinthe
This cocktail is a scotch based version of Charles H. Baker's Remember the Maine. Combine ingredients in bar glass, add ice, stir rigorously and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Lemon peel.
Where to get it: Dutch Kills, Long Island City
by Lynette Marrero and Jim Kearns of Rye House
1 1/2 oz Ballentine's Blended Scotch
1/2 oz Qi Black Liquor (a tea based spirit)
1/4 oz Demerara syrup
Dash of orange bitters
Combine ingedients, stir, and pour over large ice cube in chilled rocks glass with orange twist.
Where to get it: Woodson & Ford (closed) so find Lynette or Jim at Rye House and see if they will make it for you.
by Andrez Noren of Milk & Honey, London
1 1/2 oz Compass Box "Asyla" Blended Scotch
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/4 oz simple syrup
Dash of Orange Bitters
Combine blended scotch, chartreuse, and simple syrup in a bar glass, add ice, and stir well. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with star anise.
Where to get it: White Star, New York City
by Sam Ross of Milk & Honey, NY
2 oz Famous Grouse blended scotch
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz ginger-honey syrup
1/4 oz Islay scotch (Laphroaig 10 year or Bowmore Legend)
Combine blended scotch, lemon juice and ginger-honey syrup in a shaker, fill with ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled rocks glass, add a large sized ice cube, and float Islay scotch on top. Garnish with candied ginger.
Where to drink this: M&H, New York City
2 oz Famous Grouse blended scotch
3/8 oz Yellow Chartreuse
3/8 oz Chino Amaro
Combine blended scotch, chartreuse, and amaro in bar glass, add ice, and stir well. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with lemon peel.
Where to get it: Little Branch, New York City
by Jason Kosmas
2 1/2 oz J&B Rare blended Scotch
1/4 oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
1/4 oz Navan Vanilla liqueur
Homemade Five spice Bitters
Combine over ice in a bar glass, stir until chilled, strain into a chilled glass goblet. Garnish with lemon peel.
Where to get it: Macao Trading Company, New York City
The Scottish Dandy
by Giuseppe Gonzalez
2 oz Chivas Regal
1 bar spoon John C. Taylor Velvet Falernum
1 bar spoon Yellow Chartreuse
Dash of Fee Brothers Aromatic Bitters
Build cocktail in a chilled rocks glass, add a hand carved block of ice, garnish with freshly cut lemon peel.
Where to get it: Dutch Kills, Long Island City, NY
Insider tip: We suggest Bowmore Legend for floats and cocktails using Islay. It is relatively inexpensive yet retains the smokiness desired from the region.
Enjoy these sublime libations responsibly, they go down way to easy.
(Photo of Penicillin cocktail courtesy of Star Chefs)