There’s something about scotch that is so poetically suave; a person who can appreciate a good scotch can appreciate life. After a shift this time last year, I sat down at the bar and decided that I was going to become one of those people – and at the same time, embrace my Scottish roots. I ordered a Glenfiddich. My friend asked me if I wanted ice. I snickered pretentiously at the suggestion, took one sip and asked if, maybe, I could have a bit of water. Ten minutes in, I had filled the glass with a ton of ice, water to the rim and about three slices of lemon – so much for class.
Since then I’ve eased into scotch – straight scotch. I love the smokiness of it, the warmth, the richness. A friend of mine recently introduced me to Craggamore, a premium scotch that is deliciously smoky and bold. I wish I knew more about it. But, because I don’t, I asked my co-worker, bartender extraordinaire, for some simple scotch cocktails to ease people into this liquid charm.
First things first, it’s important to keep in mind that you should stay away from mixing with any type of juice or sweet sodas (though some may disagree). Generally, when dealing with scotch cocktails, you should mix with other liquors, typically ones that are sweeter like, Amaretto.
Enter an old classic (har har): The Godfather. This simple scotch cocktail takes the edge off the harshness that the less accustomed scotch drinker may find, but doesn’t overpower it’s essential taste. Take 1 1/2 ounces of Scotch and mix with 1/2 an ounce of Amaretto in a glass with ice. Ta-dum. (It’s female counterpart, The Godmother, uses vodka instead of scotch).
Then there’s always the Rob Roy. Named after Scotland’s version of Robin Hood (but, I’m thinking, way more badass) this concoction takes 1 1/2 ounces of scotch and a 1/4 ounce of sweet vermouth (portions seem to vary between bartenders and recipes), add bitters to taste, shake or stir with ice and drain into chilled glass; basically a manhattan but with scotch. You can use dry vermouth if you prefer to make a ‘dry’ Rob Roy or a ‘perfect’ by combining both sweet and dry.
When I asked about whether or not you would bother making these cocktails with high quality, single malt scotches my bartending advisor shrugged and said, “You could, but it would be like ordering the most expensive vodka and then making a Caesar with it”.
Scotch: Ease into class.