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.


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