Category Archives: Angostura Bitters

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.


The Wages of Gin is Intoxication: The Gin and Tonic

Oh, it’s been too long, hasn’t it? Hello, valued and indispensable readers, and welcome back to Six Drinks Too Many, for the first time in many long, grueling months. I wound up not keeping up with my little blog because of this whole planning a wedding and getting married thing. And then I was just lazy for a couple more months.

But a few weeks ago, I decided that I really wasn’t waking up hungover often enough, and should start drinking for my blog once a week again.

So here I am, and I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. I know I missed most of the Summer, but damn it, it’s still hot out, so I can still write about Summer drinks. And there is no more quintessential Summer drink than the Gin and Tonic. So please, read on, and find a good refresher to enjoy these last few weeks of the season.

 

Gin and Tonic
-2 oz Gin
-Tonic Water
-Lime Wedge

Gin and Tonic

I’m not sure what you expect me to say here. It’s a Gin and Tonic. If you’ve never had one before, then you’ve probably never been to a bar before. And if you’ve never been to a bar before, then you’re probably not part of my target audience. That or you can’t legally drink, in which case, get away from here. This blog isn’t for kids. Go watch some porn instead.

In any case, do I really need to go over this? It’s full of gin and tonic water. It’s good to fight off malaria, and it’s a pretty good refresher. To make it, fill a rocks glass or highball glass with ice, add two ounces of gin, top it with tonic water, and stir gently (you don’t want to ruin the carbonation). Garnish with the lime wedge.

By the way, there are some people who only use the lime as a garnish, and don’t squeeze the juice in. I try my best not to talk to these people.

Two notes before moving on: First, bars tend to use rocks glasses for their Gin and Tonics, but the classic recipe calls for a highball glass. Use what you want, but be aware that it might change the ratio of gin to tonic water. Second, speaking of ratios, the ratio between gin and tonic water varies greatly by recipe. This is my suggestion, but feel free to experiment to find a recipe that works for you.

 

Elderflower Gin and Tonic
-1 1/2 oz Gin
-1/2 oz St. Germain
-Tonic Water
-Lime Wedge

Elderflower Gin and Tonic

If the standard Gin and Tonic is just to bitter for you, then this drink is a good choice. It uses St. Germain, an elderflower flavored liqueur that tastes less like elderflower and more like the laughter of kittens and the jiggle of breasts, with just a little bit of sugar. It’s very good.

This drink has a lovely aroma and taste, and the elderflower works with the flavor of the gin quite well. However, I’m going to recommend that instead of dropping the lime wedge into the drink, you squeeze the lime juice in and discard the wedge. The bitterness of the pith is very noticeable in this sweet drink, so you’re better off with just using the tartness of the lime juice to balance the drink.

In any case, make it the same way you would a regular Gin and Tonic, but with the added ingredient. Simple enough, right?

 

Witch’s Cocktail
-2 oz Gin
-Tonic Water
-Splash Crème de Cassis
-Lime Wedge

Witch's Cocktail

I don’t know what makes this drink witchy, but that’s the name the Internet tells me to use, so that’s the name I will use. Unfortunately, this is not as magical as the name implies. It’s not bad, but it’s probably not a drink I would choose again.

The crème de cassis gives this drink a jam-like flavor. With that, this kind of just becomes another overly-sweet and utterly generic cocktail. This drink is to cocktails what the latest Nicholas Sparks movie is to cinema.

Crème de cassis is usually used in small amounts because you really only need a small amount. I might have a different opinion about this drink if the recipe only called for a dash instead of a splash, but as it is it’s far too much with the relatively small amount that was added. In fact, the gin isn’t even all that noticeable, so it might as well be vodka instead. And If I used vodka instead, this would make it even more generic. Nothing against vodka at all. It’s just that it’s become the most popular liquor in the world by being overused to make cocktails that don’t taste alcoholic. And this just tastes like jelly.

In any case, if you feel the need to make this cloying concoction, make it the same as a regular Gin and Tonic, but add a splash of crème de cassis before you stir. Though, I do recommend that you use a dash instead of a splash. Otherwise, you might as well just make yourself a Gin and Tonic and eat grape jelly straight out of the jar.

 

Pink Gin and Tonic
-2 oz Gin
-Dash Angostura Bitters
-Tonic Water
-Lime Wedge

Pink Gin and Tonic

Ah, much better. This is a great way to follow that last cocktail, which just got way too sweet. If your cookies aren’t coming out right, yo should add salt. Similarly, if your cocktails aren’t coming out right, you should add bitters. This rule applies here, and I think I’ve found a better version of the classic G&T.

This drink, by the way, is actually a combination of two drinks: Pink Gin (also known as Gin and Bitters) and the classic Gin and Tonic. It’s interesting, and it works very well.

The bitters add a small amount of very welcome flavor, making this simple cocktail a lot more interesting. As always, you should never overdo the bitters, but they really add a lot here. This drink is very complex and very tasty. Plus, it’s a good way to make yourself feel like a classy motherfucker.

Make exactly how you expect to make it.

 

Cilantro Gin and Tonic
-2 oz Gin
-Tonic Water
-4 Cilantro Sprigs
-2 Lime Wedges

Cilantro Gin and Tonic

So, we’ve gone from sweet and generic to bitter and complex to weird and weird. This drink is apparently a real thing and not just something the Internet made up, which was convenient for me because I made some salsa this weekend, and then there was a lot of cilantro left over. Then my wife made some guacamole this weekend, and then there was a lot of cilantro left over. So then I decided to make this drink. And yet there is still a shit ton of cilantro left over. I know it would make it cost even less, but they should really sell cilantro in smaller bunches.

Anyway, this drink is fucking weird. It’s like Gary Busey in a rocks glass. They say that cilantro is one of those foods that you either love or hate. I guess I’m the exception to the rule who happens to be neutral about it. In any case, the aroma of this drink is nice, but the flavor itself is just plain odd. I suppose that the cilantro works with the gin well enough. I think the bottom line is that if you like cilantro, you’ll like this. If you don’t, then you already know that you should stay away.

If you want to enjoy this confusing concoction, start by muddling the gin, three cilantro sprigs, and one lime wedge in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Shake it some without ice, and then strain it over ice into your glass. Fill with tonic water, stir gently, and garnish with a cilantro sprig and lime wedge.

 

Grandma’s Salty Dog
-2 oz Gin
-Grapefruit Juice
-Tonic Water
-Salt

Grandma's Salty Dog

I guess it’s a stereotype that old ladies drink gin. I don’t think my grandmothers did. In fact, now that I think about it, I don’t think I ever saw any of my grandparents drink liquor. Not once. But I did see them drink — it was wine, mostly, as one might expect. And if we’re talking about my grandmother, with one of them I think about her drinking not gin, but single-serving size bottles of white zinfandel. The really cheap kind. That she also kept next to her bed. As my fiction writing teacher in college would say, that’s a telling and specific detail.

My grandmother drinking those small bottles of white zin is one of my favorite memories of her, and I’m sure that if you remember your grandmother drinking gin (especially if it happens to be straight from single-serving size bottles), it is one of your favorite memories of her. In that vein, I hope this cocktail does her justice, because it’s definitely kind of old-persony. I mean, gin and grapefruit juice. Is there anything more octogenarian than that?

This cocktail is also a combination of two other cocktails: the Salty Dog (which is traditionally made with vodka, not gin) and the Gin and Tonic. Just a nice little bit of information for you.

In any case, this is the first time I’ve tasted grapefruit juice and not hated it. As with a regular Salty Dog, the salt helps to cut the acidity. Or astringency. Or something. The salt makes it more bearable, okay? Don’t make me use fancy words. The flavors of the gin and tonic water also balnce the grapefruit juice out well, ultimately resulting in a very pleasant drink.

If you want to experience it, first use the grapefruit juice and salt to rim the glass. Then fill it with ice, add the gin, and then top with equal parts tonic water and equal parts grapefruit juice. Enjoy!

 

Denouement
What I’ve learned today is really that I shouldn’t spend so much time away from you guys. I’ll be back next week, and the week after that, and so on. I hope you all will be, too.


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