Scotch Feed

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.