A Greeting to Colder Days: Scotch Cocktails

Well, it finally happened, folks. I woke up this morning, and the weather was in the 50s. I think that means that Summer is officially over, and, as a certain doomed vassal lord might say, Winter is, in fact, coming. We’d better get a towel.

With the weather starting to turn, I thought whiskey might be a good choice for this week. Or, rather, whisky, as I decided to make scotch cocktails this week. In case you don’t know, if it’s from America or Ireland, it’s whiskey; if it’s from Scotland or Canada, it’s whisky. I hear there are also a few Japanese brands on the rise that are called whisky, since they’re made in a similar style to scotch.

In any case, scotch is this week, but scotch isn’t for everyone. However, if you’re curious about scotch, there might be a few introductory cocktails here that you can try. If you already like scotch, then you probably aren’t huge on putting them into to cocktails. But experimentation can be a good thing, and some of these cocktails might make you happier than simply drinking your scotch neat all the time.

You can use whatever scotch you want for these, I suppose, but I do highly recommend that you use a decent and not-too-expensive blend. You don’t want to waste your expensive single malt. I’m using Chivas Regal 12 for all of these. For a blend, it’s very good, and its only about $30 for a fifth where I live, which for scotch isn’t that expensive.

Now let’s get too it.

Mamie Taylor
-2 oz Scotch
-1/2 oz Lime Juice
-3-5 oz Ginger Beer
-Lemon Wedge

Mamie Taylor

To start our scotch adventure, we begin with a pretty easy to drink cocktail. This goes down really smooth and has a nice hint of whisky to help you become acquainted with the flavor. If you’re new to scotch, this is a good place to start. Just don’t expect other scotch drinks to taste like this, because they won’t. Oh dear god, they certainly won’t.

On the other hand, if you already like scotch, you ought to go ahead and skip this drink, because there’s a good chance you’ll think it’s an abomination. It’s true that such a mixture more traditionally calls for bourbon, but it still makes sense to use scotch. So if you think this might be an abomination, don’t be that guy that makes it and complains about it. You already know you won’t like it. Just skip it.

Pour the liquid ingredients into a ice-filled highball glass, stir gently, and garnish with the lemon.

Scotch Buck
-2 oz Scotch
-Lemon Wedge
-3-5 oz Ginger Ale

Scotch Buck

And now for something completely similar.

“Buck” is usually used to describe a tall drink that mixes liquor and ginger ale over ice. I thought it would be a nice and easy step from the last drink, and the two cocktails are definitely alike. The Scotch Buck, however, has a more pronounced scotch flavor. I think we can thank the less pronounced flavor of ginger ale compared to ginger beer for that.

Since the scotch flavor is stronger here, this might be a better introductory scotch cocktail than the Mamie Taylor. The latter is likely to leave you without a very good idea of the taste of scotch, or how it differs from other whisk(e)ys. The Buck can educate you where the Mamie Taylor can’t. However, again, if you are already a scotch drinker, you might not like this. Be forewarned.

Fill a highball glass with ice, squeeze the lemon wedge over it, and pour the liquid ingredients in. Stir gently and enjoy.

Godfather
-2 oz Scotch
-1 oz Amaretto

Godfather

This drink isn’t bad at all. In fact, it’s quite nice. That being said, this is still an offer you could probably refuse. I mean, you have a decent scotch and the only thing you can think to do with it is add amaretto? You probably don’t deserve decent scotch, if that’s the case.

Still, this drink is very nice. It’s slightly sweet and nutty, and it still fills that roll of being an easy scotch-based drink if you don’t already have a taste for scotch. It’s just that the character of the scotch really doesn’t come through, so it remains in a weird introductory drink limbo. But if you’re interested, it’s simple and it tastes good. Have at it.

Shake the ingredients with ice, and strain it into an ice-filled rocks glass.

Rusty Nail
-1 1/2 oz Scotch
-1 oz Drambuie
-Lemon Twist

Rusty Nail

If you already like scotch, this is the liqueur-and-scotch combo for you. Scotch comes out more here than in the other three drinks I’ve tried so far. Of course, it helps that Drambuie is scotch-based to begin with.

This is sweet, with some interesting spicy flavors and anise notes. The lemon peel is also absolutely essential, as well. It adds so much to the aroma, which does a lot to make this drink more complex.

If you’re new to scotch, this is where the drinks start getting tougher. If you haven’t acquired a taste for it yet, go back to level one and don’t use the warp zone this time. You’ll develop that taste soon enough, and then you’ll be more likely to enjoy this drink with an appreciation for scotch, rather than thoughts about tetanus.

Combine the liquid ingredients in an ice-filled rocks glass, stir, and garnish with the lemon twist.

Blood and Sand
-1 oz Scotch
-1 oz Orange Juice
-3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
-3/4 oz Cherry Brandy

Blood and Sand

This drink is named after a really old movie that is apparently somewhat of a classic. I’m no cinema buff, though, so I can only tell you that it has this name because of the amber color, that looks kind of like blood-stained sand. And there’s your educational fix for the day.

This drink is pretty good, and it smells absolutely wonderful. However, the cherry brandy gives a bit too much of a sugary taste. This drink isn’t overly sweet, but the sweet ingredients are very noticeable. So, take that for what it’s worth.

Also, you’re apparently supposed to use blood orange juice for this cocktail, in keeping with the theme, of course. I’m a hardcore rebel (read: there weren’t any blood oranges at the grocery store), so I used a regular old navel orange. Take that, The Man.

Shake the ingredients with ice and strain it into a martini glass. If you want to get fancy, garnish it with a flamed orange peel. I’m too lazy for that shit.

Rob Roy
-2 1/2 oz Scotch
-1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
-1 dash Angostura Bitters
-Maraschino Cherry

Rob Roy

And here we reach the scotchiest of these drinks. A Rob Roy is a Manhattan made with Scotch, and that’s exactly what it tastes like. It has a good balance between sweet and bitter, it’s strong, and it’s delicious.

I’ve suggested that you use blended scotch in these cocktails, but using a decent single malt is acceptable with this drink and okay I just need to put this sentence on pause for a minute to let you know that I just used the aroma to counteract the rather rank odor of my cat’s flatulence. When the hell did he have eggs? Anyway, scotch can fix cat farts. The more you know.

As I was saying, it’s okay to use a single malt for this drink. The scotch is completely dominant, so it’s alright to use vermouth and bitters to add some complexity, in my opinion. If you have a $200 scotch, then you probably don’t want to use it here, but I don’t see a reason why lesser single malts can’t shine here.

Stir the liquid ingredients with ice and strain it into a martini glass. Garnish with the cherry.

Denouement
Don’t worry, folks. I’ll do something less classy soon. See you next week.


Old Fashioned: For the Classy Boozehound

Blah, blah, blah, introduction stuff.

I mean… Hello, everyone! This week we’re classing it up with the Old Fashioned. If you want to convince people everywhere that you’re one upscale motherfucker who can’t be bothered with the trivial mediocrity of the modern masses, there’s no better way to do it than with one of these cocktails.

And Old Fashioned is so called because it refers to making cocktails the “old-fashioned way,” as a combination of spirits, sugar, bitters, and water. This is the basic formula for the cocktail we drink now, but modern society has also seen fit to add a bunch of fruit to it. So yeah, that’s a thing.

If you want to learn more about the Old Fashioned cocktail, might I suggest this as a starting point. In the meantime, however, let’s drink.

Old Fashioned
-2 1/2 oz Bourbon or Rye
-1/4 oz Simple Syrup
-2 dashes Angostura bitters
-Lemon Peel

Old-Fashioned

Mmm. Whiskey candy. But very manly, robust candy, of course. Seriously, I use the word candy, but this is still mostly whiskey, and it is still something you should avoid if you can’t handle that.

In any case, the Old Fashioned is an exemplar of cocktail balance — the type of balance we wish our government had. Liquor tempered by a little bit of something bitter and a little bit of something sweet, with a little bit of water to blend it all together. The lemon peel makes it smell amazing. Perfection.

You can feel free to experiment with the proportions (and different recipes will recommend different proportions), but don’t change it too much, or you’ll get something cloying and disgusting or something biting and undrinkable. It’s all about balance.

Start with a rocks glass. Add ice if you want, but drinking it at room temperature is acceptable, too. Combine the liquid ingredients and stir. Twist the lemon peel over the drink and drop it in.

“New” Old Fashioned
-2 Orange Slices
-2 Maraschino Cherries
-1 Sugar Cube
-2 dashes Angostura Bitters
-2 1/2 oz Bourbon or Rye
-Club Soda (optional)

"New" Old-Fashioned

This is the monstrosity that modern drink culture has made of the Old Fashioned. If you want to make your Old Fashioned more fruity, this is a good way to do it, but my god the club soda. Skip the club soda. It really has no place here, and having bubbles in your drink isn’t worth the over-dilution. The fruit, however, is okay. An Old Fashioned really doesn’t need the fruit to begin with (and there are plenty of people who would want to see you hanged for bringing a maraschino cherry anywhere near an Old Fashioned), but I understand letting the cocktail evolve, so long as we remember that this is not the original, and that the original is much better.

Back to the club soda. You should skip the club soda. If you can’t handle this cocktail without the dilution of club soda, then the Old Fashioned just isn’t for you. It simply wasn’t meant to be. Skip the club soda, keep the fruit, and this could be a good introduction to the Old Fashioned cocktail if you think you need to ease into it some.

Start by muddling one orange slice, one cherry (stem removed), the sugar cube, and the bitters in the bottom of a rocks glass. Add ice and whiskey, stir, and then please leave the club soda for the Mojitos where it belongs. Garnish with the remaining orange slice and cherry.

Brandy Old Fashioned
-2 1/2 oz Brandy
-1/4 oz Simple Syrup
-2 dashes Angostura Bitters
-Lemon Peel

Brandy Old-Fashioned

In case you couldn’t figure it out, this is just an Old Fashioned with brandy. I know that might seem super complicated and esoteric, but try to stay with me.

I’m not a huge fan of brandy, but this is a good cocktail. This is is probably the reason why the liquor-bitters-sugar-water formula was the old standard for making spirits drinkable — because it makes brandy drinkable. It’s really a great way to enhance the flavor of a spirit without threatening its integrity. The natural sweetness of brandy is really nice here, and this drink is very pleasantly aromatic.

Since brandy is traditionally enjoyed neat, I opted not to add ice to this drink. Feel free to add ice f you want. If you don’t add ice, though, it might be more appropriate and infinitely fancier to use a brandy snifter instead of a rocks glass. I do not have a brandy snifter, so I used the rocks glass shown above. C’est la vie.

Make it the same way you make a regular Old Fashioned. Also, yes, I did forget the lemon peel. Woops.

Onward!

Eccentric Old Fashioned
-2 oz Blended Whiskey
-1 dash Curaçao
-1/2 tsp Sugar
-Lemon Peel Spiral

Eccentric Old-Fashioned

I’m not sure what makes this cocktail eccentric, and without bitters, I’m not sure what makes it an Old Fashioned. Perhaps the lack of bitters makes it eccentric, but then it’s no longer an Old Fashioned, and oh my we’ve entered a repeating loop. My bad.

All that being said, it’s a pleasant enough drink. It’s nice and light, and has a lovely aroma. I certainly do not prefer it to the regular Old-Fashioned, but it’s not bad. If you just want tome sweetened whiskey that smells nice then this is the drink. If you want an Old Fashioned, however, you should throw this drink in the trash and look elsewhere on this list.

Start by putting the lemon peel spiral in a rocks glass. Then shake the rest of the ingredients and strain the mix into the glass. Enjoy!

Canadian Old Fashioned
-2 1/2 oz Canadian Whisky
-1/4 oz Triple Sec
-1 dash Fresh Lemon Juice
-2 dashes Angostura Bitters
-1/4 oz Simple Syrup
-Lemon Peel

Canadian Old-Fashioned

Okay, this is pretty good. So far this night, I haven’t found a drink that I might order instead of an Old-Fashioned. Until now. Well, I actually wouldn’t order this, because the bartender would more likely think that I just want an Old Fashioned with Canadian whisky. And Canadian whisky just can’t match bourbon, at least when it comes to Old-Fashioneds. And besides, I can’t be seen ordering Canadian whisky. I have an image to uphold.

I kid, but Canadian whisky has its strong points, and this drink, with the extra ingredients, is very interesting. The lemon juice gives it a tea-like quality, and it totally works. It’s light and tasty. I don’t like it more than a regular Old Fashioned, but there would be times where I would prefer it.

In any case, put ice in a rocks glass, add all of the liquid ingredients, stir, and garnish with the lemon peel.

Scotch Old Fashioned
-2 1/2 oz Scotch
-1/4 oz Simple Syrup
-2 dashes Angostura Bitters
-Lemon Peel

Scotch Old-Fashioned

Should I take the low-hanging fruit here? I think I will.

I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Haha! Pop cultural references to successful comedy movies are a humor gold mine!

Also, expect me to quote Anchorman any time I drink scotch. I’m not even sorry.

Anyway, most scotch enthusiasts will tell you that you should never add anything to scotch, expect maybe a few drops of water and maybe a lemon twist. Possibly ice if they’re liberal about it.

Despite all that, scotch is used in a number of cocktails. It’s not as popular as bourbon, but it does have a number of mixed drinks backing it up. That being said, I completely understand why someone would be against scotch cocktails. Scotch is really good and really expensive. Well, not all of it is great, but even the cheapest scotch is more expensive than most upper-middle shelf liquors. Note that I didn’t say it was better than those liquors; you can buy cheap vodka, but never buy cheap scotch.

And that might be why people are opposed to scotch cocktails — they spent a lot of money on their scotch, and they don’t want to waste it by combining it with other things. And to be sure, there are definitely things you should never do with your scotch. For example, if you ever decide to combine your scotch with blue curaçao, you deserve at least a five year prison sentence. Bitters and sugar, however, seem acceptable to me.

This cocktail is absolutely delicious. There’s a lot of differences between different types of scotch (I used Glenfiddich 12 year, for the record), and so this cocktail will vary a lot depending on what scotch you use. However, I can still say that this cocktail makes scotch more appealing to the average pallet, and if you’re interested in getting into scotch, this is a good work-your-way-in cocktail, so long as you have a per-existing taste for whiskey. If you do not have a taste for whiskey yet, I suggest you start with a different cocktail, both for getting into scotch and for getting into whiskey in general.

The following paragraph was written while sober. Hey, folks. Sober Dave here. Sometimes when writing these posts, Drunk Dave can’t quite find the words for something, so he leave notes to me to make sure I cover something important that he couldn’t quite get out. This time he left me the note: “TALK ABOUT SMOKINESS AND SHIT.” So, I suppose I should say that this cocktail, being scotch-based is smokey. However, the smokiness is tempered by the other ingredients, really making it less offensive to someone who might not be completely down with the who smokey thing. Okay. I know return you to your regularly-scheduled programming.

Make this drink the same way you would make a regular Old Fashioned. Since scotch is the base ingredient, I opted to skip the ice this time, but there’s no shame if you want to add ice.

Denouement
Well, today I really learned that you can’t improve upon perfection. Some variations of the Old Fashioned are quite good, but the original is a classic for a reason. Either way, I’ve spoken too much, so go have some whiskey, you beautiful bastards.


Beer Good!

Another week, another hangover. I come to you this time kind of continuing my “back-to-school” theme with drinks based around that college party standard (and standard of pretty much any other party, really), beer!

Who doesn’t like beer? Well, lots of people, actually, but they’re all objectively wrong. Beer is great! And you probably just drink your beer without doing anything fancy to it. But why not experiment every now and then. In the spirit of exploration, here are seven beer-based mixed drinks to try the next time you’re bored with your Bud.

Beer Buster
-1 1/2 oz Vodka
-2 dashes Tabasco Sauce
-Chilled Beer

Beer Buster

I figured I’d start with the strongest drink first tonight, instead of ending with the strongest drink like last time. It’s probably a lot better for my pacing. Vodka in beer is a pretty good way to get a buzz going fast — and after last week’s disappointing Jäger-fest, who couldn’t use a good buzz?

I’m really not a fan of adding hot sauce to stuff, especially drinks. Sometimes I feel like the only person I’ve met who doesn’t think that hot sauce is a magical elixir that makes anything better. There’s a time and place for everything, but it’s certainly not on my burger.

This drink, however, isn’t all that bad. It ups the alcohol content of your beer with vodka, and the added spice actually works well. It’s not incredible, but it’s an interesting flavor, and it’s worth trying if you like spicy things — just don’t ruin an expensive beer with this. If you don’t like spicy things, you could just drink beer with vodka in it, but then people might call you an alcoholic.

In any case, this would probably be a hit at a lot of college parties. Combine the ingredients in a beer glass of your choosing and enjoy.

Black and Tan
-Lager or Pale Ale
-Stout

Black and Tan

This is one of the more well-known drinks on the list tonight. It’s often served layered, but as you can see in the picture above, it’s not necessary to layer it. Layering that much beer in a glass that big isn’t easy without the appropriate equipment (plus the bubbles make it hard to layer any carbonated beverage), so I opted to just let the two beers mingle. I honestly think it’s better that way. If you wanted to taste two beers individually, you can order two beers individually. Allowing the beers to mix together creates something much more interesting than a layered drink, pretty though a layered drink may be.

I really like this drink, because I’m not all that into stout. I appreciate it and enjoy it, but I can only do so much bitter. If you use a lager, then it cuts the bitterness of the stout quite well. I’m sure with a pale ale it would be a much different experience, but I’ll try that another day. For now, this is a beer concoction that would make a Mormon reconsider things.

Combine the two beers in a beer glass of your choice. Layer them if you can, but don’t worry too much if you can’t.

Boiler Maker
-1 shot Whiskey
-1 glass Lager or Pale Ale

Boiler Maker

There are three ways you can do this drink. First, you can do it as a shooter-chaser combo, where you down the whiskey and then chug the beer. Second, you can do it as a bomb shot where you drop the full shot glass into the beer and chug the mixture. Third, you can pour the whiskey into your beer without any drama and either chug it or drink it (though it’s expected that you chug it).

I chose the first option. Kind of a weird choice for me, because I’m not that good at chugging things, and sometimes shots of straight liquor can hit me wrong if I over-think it and briefly upset my stomach (which happened this time). So the actual experience of drinking this drink was not all that pleasant, but it ought to be judged on its own merits. As a shooter-chaser combo, it’s a good way to get a buzz. As far as flavor goes, the combination works well. It depends on the whiskey you use, but the whiskey flavor adds a nice, more refined layer to the beer. It’s a bit sweet if you use something like bourbon.

Anyway, I already explained how to make any version of this drink earlier, so I don’t think I need to explain it again. Make it, enjoy it, but be aware that doing more than two of these might just mean you’re an alcoholic or severely depressed (or both). Or maybe you’re just a college student at a party making bad decisions.

Shandy
-Lemonade (or Lemon-Lime Soda, I guess)
-Lager or Pale Ale

Shandy

I have some differing opinions on this to report. I thought this was really good, because I’ve had pre-made Shandies out of bottles, and those aren’t very good. This made me understand why someone would choose to drink a Shandy in the first place. My wife, however, thought this tasted like blood. A good part of that might be that I used beer from a can. So, take that for what you will. This might be good. It might taste like blood. If you’re a vampire, that might be great news for you! However, if you don’t happen to be a mythical creature of the night who for some reason frequents my blog, maybe try this with bottled beer to help cut the metallic taste.

So, vampires and college students, given my experiences with bottled versions of Shandies, I wasn’t expecting something good here. I was pleasantly surprised with how the lemonade blended with the beer, bringing sweet, sour, and bitter together quite effectively. I’m sure it would be even better if I hadn’t used store-bought lemonade. Yes, I was too lazy to combine water, sugar, and lemon juice. Shut up.

Combine the two ingredients in equal parts in a beer glass of your choice. Drink, and enjoy if you can. If you can’t, try to find someone who avoids sunlight and garlic to offer it to, I guess.

Shandygaff
-Ginger Beer
-Lager or Pale Ale

Shandygaff

This is like a Shandy that’s a bit spicier. I’m not sure which drink came first, but in reading the Shandygaff, I learned that it is believed to have come from British slang for a pint of beer. The original phrase was “shant of gatter.” Shant meant “pub” and gatter meant “water.” Thus, we have “pub water” in a Shandygaff. See? You get to learn something, too.

This isn’t that intense or potent, but it’s still a very good drink. Ginger beer can be a really weird drink on its own, but it works here. The beer makes the ginger beer more palatable, and the ginger beer adds complexity and spice to the beer. It’s a very good mutual relationship.

Make it the same way you make a Shandy.

Depth Charge
-1 1/2 oz Peppermint Schnapps
-Lager or Ale

Deoth Charge

With the relatively large amount of peppermint schnapps in this drink, I wasn’t expecting something good. I clearly underestimated the power of the beer. The beer flavor is strong enough to counter the large amount of peppermint schnapps. Ergo, this drink is essentially just a beer with a bit of a minty kick — perhaps something to make your breath a bit better.

This is a nice and light drink with a little bit of mint. I don’t think I can’t say anything else about it. So, yeah. Mint and beer. It’s cool. I’m not sure why someone thought, “You know what my beer really needs? Mint!” But still. It’s cool.

Make it exactly how you expect to make it.

Michelada
-Lime Wedge
-Kosher Salt
-Mexican Lager

Michelada

This is apparently a Mexican classic, and it loosely translates to “my cold beer.” There are several variations of it, and I’ve given you the simplest version of it. You might see tequila and Tabasco in other versions, but all versions are based off of some combination of (Mexican) beer, lime juice, and salt, served over ice.

Well, feel free to look up other versions and add lots of ingredients, but whatever version you pick, this might be the one way to make Corona enjoyable. I’d definitely suggest a better beer than I did, but if you can’t find one, Corona will work, and it’s actually drinkable here.

In any case, this is a simple change to beer, but it’s quite pleasant. If I were an upper-class type, I would totally order this while lounging by the pool. Make this at your next college kegger to bring in some class.

Start by rimming a pilsner glass with the lime wedge and salt (I suppose pilsner glasses are kind of specialized, so use another glass if you must). Then squeeze the lime wedge into the glass and drop it in. Add ice and fill with beer. Have fun, you classy motherfucker.

Denouement
Beer. Probably the best thing humanity has to offer. Go have some.


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