Scotch Feed

An Antibiotic Cocktail -- The Penicillin

Just as alcohol can provide temporary relief from some conditions, e.g. sobriety (ha!), antibiotic drugs can cure all sorts of nasty physical conditions. Sam Ross is not a doctor, but he is a legendary New York City bartender who created the Penicillin.  I'm sure Dr. Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin in 1928 (and no relation to Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels), would approve.

Penicillin2 ounces blended Scotch (I prefer Monkey Shoulder)
.75 ounces honey syrup
Ginger (see below for options)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
.25 ounces smoky Scotch (I used Laphroaig 10)

Combine everything except the smoky Scotch in a shaker with ice, shake with the force of penicillin destroying bacteria, strain into a chilled glass, then float the smoky Scotch on top (hold a spoon upside down over the glass and pour slowly).  Candied ginger or lemon garnish optional.

You have two options for the ginger.  First, use .75 ounces of a ginger liqueur such as Barrow's Intense (full disclosure -- I am a small investor).  Second, muddle two or three small pieces of fresh ginger in the shaker before adding the other ingredients.  I prefer the first option because Barrow's Intense gives you a strong and consistent ginger taste with slightly less effort.

Speaking of effort, making honey syrup doesn't take much of it. Just follow the recipe I used for A Thief In The Night.  The smoky Scotch, which is a key ingredient in cocktails such as the Fireside Chat, helps bring everything together to make the Penicillin a tasty and warming cocktail.

Penicillin -- it's good for what ails you.

So Good It's A Crime -- The Racketeer

A lot of colorful people, both real and fictional, have been and are racketeers.  The word (it means someone who's engaged in an illegal business) isn't used much anymore (it dates to the 1920s) and usually refers to someone in organized crime.  Even Bugs Bunny posed as one in the 1946 cartoon Racketeer Rabbit.  The Racketeer cocktail isn't nearly as old as the word, as it seems Stephen Cole created it no later than 2009.  Thanks to the Floppy Disk Repair Company (part of the Stranger Things in Austin) for introducing me to the Racketeer.

Racketeer1 ounce rye
1 ounce mezcal
.5 ounces sweet vermouth
.5 ounces Benedictine DOM
.25 ounces yellow Chartreuse
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters

Rinse the inside of a chilled glass with a smoky Scotch (I used Laphroaig).  Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice, stir with the intense purpose of an aspiring you know what, and strain into the chilled glass.

The Racketeer is a very strong drink.  It contains rye (like the Scofflaw, another criminal themed cocktail), mezcal (tequila's smokier cousin) and two herbal liqueurs -- none of which are even remotely weak.  Fortunately the Benedictine DOM and sweet vermouth keep the Racketeer from fitting you with cement shoes ..... alcoholically speaking. The many ingredients may seem exotic, but you can find them at most liquor stores.  Like most tricky scores, the payoff is worth it.

So what can you do as you have a Racketeer? If you film tastes run towards something more serious than Bugs Bunny (I love classic Warner Brothers cartoons), I suggest a classic like The Godfather (my favorite movie and the inspiration for the Lupara) or The Sting.  Depending on what music you like, you can listen to songs such as Bad To The Bone by George Thorogood or Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson.

Don't have too many Racketeers at once.  We don't want you to have to take the Fifth (not a fifth) and need a lawyer. 

To E Or Not To E -- Spelling Whisky/Whiskey

Whisky or whiskey?  Which spelling is correct?  Both.  In honor of International Whisk(e)y Day, I figured I would clear up this issue.  Spelling the word is a matter of geography.  It generally corresponds to where one distills the spirit.  Thanks to Jeff Cioletti and his wonderful book The Year of Drinking Adventurously for this concise summary:

Whisk(e)yWhisky -- Scotland, Japan, Canada
Whiskey -- United States of America, Ireland

Let's move from spelling to etymology (a fancy term for a word's origin).  What does whisk(e)y mean? It comes from an Irish Gaelic or Scottish word that means "water of life."

Celebrate International Whisk(e)y Day by incorporating the spirit into a cocktail, whether it's a classic such as a Manhattan or Whiskey Sour, an underrated drink such as a Derby or Fireside Chat, or an original creation such as a Cancer Killer #1 or Whiskey Queen. Cheers!

The Whiskey Queen

Who is the Whiskey Queen?  My lovely wife, aka Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den, aka the Den's taste tester and social media consultant.  The tradition of kicking the new year off with a new original creation continues.  My wife is a Whiskey Woman, Bourbon Babe, and Scotch Siren (I definitely would see superhero films with those characters).  She is particularly fond of bourbon and Scotch, so the Whiskey Queen incorporates both of them.

Whiskey Queen1.5 ounces bourbon (Bulleit or Willett is fit for a queen)
.75 ounces blended Scotch (Monkey Shoulder is regal)
.75 ounces Benedictine DOM
2 dashes Bittered Sling peach bitters or other peach bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with a true queen's combination of badass power and majestic grace, and strain into a chilled martini or coupe glass.

Use your favorite bourbon, but stay away from ones that are more than 100 proof.  The Whiskey Queen should be strong, not lethal.  Similarly, using a blended Scotch instead of a single malt Scotch (especially one that is smoky) will reduce the odds of the cocktail going the way of Anne Boleyn. I used Benedictine because, like the peach bitters, it is a component of the Royalist, a great similarly themed cocktail.  Don't let the herbal sweetness fool you -- Benedictine's alcohol content makes it almost as strong as bourbon or Scotch.  You can (and should) get peach bitters online, and Bittered Slling makes the best product.

Whether your taste runs towards queens of the Elizabeth II variety or the Freddie Mercury variety (get it?), the Whiskey Queen is a tribute to the queen or king in your life.

Celebrate their Majesty!

Some Good Bullscotch -- The Blood and Sand

Blood and Sand 1Grab this bull by the horns. The Blood and Sand takes its name from the 1922 movie in which Rudolph Valentino (a big star at the time) played a tragically doomed bullfighter.  In 1930 Harry Craddock, a bartender at the Savoy Hotel in London (see London Calling), mentioned the drink in his book. Many recipes he saved, e.g. the Corpse Reviver #1, have enjoyed renewed popularity in the modern era. The Blood and Sand (this is my version) is one of them.

1.25 ounces blended Scotch
1 ounce Cherry Heering liqueur
1 ounce sweet vermouth
Juice from 1/4 orange

Blood and Sand 2Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the dynamism of a matador in the ring, and strain into a chilled glass.  Orange peel or Luxardo cherry garnish optional.

I know this combination of ingredients looks odd, but depending on how you mix it the Blood and Sand can be a fine drink. The original version calls for equal parts of the four ingredients.  My view is less is more when it comes to the orange juice.  Its acidity easily could overwhelm the drink. As for the Scotch I suggest you use one that is not smoky (I used Monkey Shoulder here), unless you want to gore your taste buds.  

In case you were wondering, the red of Cherry Heering (a Danish liqueur that's readily available in liquor stores and online) is supposed to represent blood, and orange juice is supposed to represent sand.  Symbolism aside, the Blood and Sand is for serious drinkers.  No bull.


Great Scot! -- The Bobby Burns

Robert Burns was an 18th century Scottish poet and a big deal in the Romantic movement.  Even if you're like me and don't know much about poetry, you probably have heard his most famous poem -- Auld Lang Syne.  It's the song everyone massacres on New Year's Eve because they don't know the  words and/or have had too many cocktails (the title roughly translates as "days gone by" or "old times"). 

2 ounces scotch (I used Monkey Shoulder)
1 ounce sweet vermouth (I love Carpano Antica)
.5 ounces Benedictine

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the grace and passion of creating your own liquid poetry, and strain into a chilled glass.

Combining these ingredients may look odd, but they complement each other nicely.  You can adjust the ratios depending on the taste of the scotch you use, or how sweet you want the drink to be.  I suggest scotch constitute at least half of the Bobby Burns.

The Bobby Burns is one of many Scottish things and/or people that I like.  Others include the actor Sean Connery and bagpipe music.  Yes, bagpipe music.   If hearing a bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace (click on the above link) doesn't move you, you have no soul.

Whether your cultural tastes run towards Robert Burns from Scotland or Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons, you'll like the Bobby Burns.  But unless you have Scottish blood in you, please don't start singing Auld Lang Syne.

FDR and Scotch -- The Fireside Chat

President Franklin D. Roosevelt led the U.S. during most of the Great Depression and World War II.  Using the relatively new medium of radio to communicate directly with the public, his series of speeches known as the Fireside Chats helped explain his policies and restore confidence.  Contrary to some misconceptions, Roosevelt was not near a fireplace (he was sitting at a desk), and he did not utter the famous line "we have nothing to fear but fear itself" during one of the 30 Fireside Chats (it is from his first inaugural address). Thanks to Chilled magazine for introducing me to this cocktail.

Fireside Chat1.5 ounces smoky Scotch
1 ounce Cointreau
.5 ounces sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the reassuring stability of a true leader during a time of crisis, and  strain into a chilled glass.  Lemon peel garnish optional.

The Fireside Chat is not far removed from a Rob Roy, which is a Scotch based version of a Manhattan. The recipe in Chilled calls for Scotch from the Islay region. as well as Grand Marnier.  As far as I'm concerned, you should use your favorite Scotch so long as it has a distinct smoky flavor.  My wife has a wide selection of smoky Scotches; we used Lagavulin 16 for the Fireside Chat.  I like Grand Marnier, but I prefer Cointreau for two reasons.  One, for me Cointreau has slightly more of an orange flavor because, unlike Grand Marnier, it does not contain Cognac.  Second, right now I don't have any Grand Marnier in my bar and I'm too lazy to get a bottle.

Just remember -- where there's smoke, there's a Fireside Chat.

Like Scotch (but not in the Facebook way) -- The Affinity

When it comes to dark liquors I'm a bourbon and rye man. My wife loves Scotch, so the Affinity is for her and all of the other Scotch lovers out there (she also loves bourbon and rye). The Affinity came out of New York City in 1907.  It was the epicenter of a financial crisis in the United States when an unsuccessful attempt to corner the copper market led to overextended banks, which then led to a run on the banks.

As you can see, my wife has an affinity for Scotch.
As you can see, my wife has an affinity for Scotch.

So what about the name?  In 1907 "My Affinity" was a common phrase in pop culture, so the word worked its way into the cocktail world.  If you have an affinity for Scotch or someone who does:

1.5 ounces blended Scotch
.75 ounces dry vermouth
.75 ounces sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with your clear affinity for cocktails, and strain into a chilled glass.

Most recipes for the Affinity use equal proportions of the three liquors.  I used a less traditional version in order to emphasize the Scotch.  If you use a more assertive blended (not single malt) Scotch you may want to use the  traditional proportions. Sharp eyed readers of the Den will notice this cocktail is similar to a Perfect Manhattan except it uses Scotch instead of bourbon or rye.

To paraphrase Buzz Lightyear, to Affinity and beyond!

Talking to Ladies Who Love Whiskey

Do you know any women of whiskey, babes of bourbon, sirens of Scotch?  If so, prevent yourself from having an episode of foot in mouth disease and click here to read this article about things you don't say to them.

Thanks to my wife and a female friend (both of whom drink whiskey) for alerting me to this article.

If you are dumb enough to say one of the things mentioned in the article, don't expect the lady to throw her drink in your face.  She's not going to waste good booze.  What she does next .........

A Night Of Whiskey In Philly

During a very recent business trip to Philadelphia I had dinner at Davio’s.  In order to complement the excellent food I ordered a Boulevardier.   I will give you my version of the cocktail, which has bourbon as its base spirit, in a separate post.  The cocktail I received was quite tasty.  My only very minor quibble is that it came with a Maraschino cherry, which I promptly removed. I have come to despise Maraschino cherries.   In my view they are toxic mini-monstrosities.   

Based on a tip from a friend, later that night I ended up at Village Whiskey.  The place has a tremendously extensive and impressive selection of bourbon (which I love), rye (which I love), and Scotch (which my wife loves).  I hear the burgers there are good, but as I already had dinner my sole focus was the booze.

Kenny, the bartender, was a damn good professional and very happy to discuss the finer points of various types of whiskies.  I could see he was trying to figure out if I was in the industry.  Finally he asked and I responded that I am not in the industry.  I’m just a man who appreciates bourbon, rye, and cocktails based on them.   After some discussion about whether a Scofflaw or a Jeune Cadavre should follow my Boulevardier, Kenny recommended the latter.  I’m pleased that I followed his recommendation.  Incidentally, both options have rye as their base spirit, and earlier this year I had a great Scofflaw at Herbs & Rye in Las Vegas.

Bottom line – if you’re in Philly and like your whiskey, Village Whiskey is where you want to be.