I’ve spent a lot of time talking about what to drink this spring, tequila, aperitivi, all the drinks at Lupo Verde, but I’ve saved the best for last. What could it be, beer gardens? Tiki drinks? All good, but no. This time of year, when I’m not drinking a Bicyclette, I’m drinking scotch.
I know, weird, it’s finally warm out and I’m suddenly in the mood for scotch, arguably the most wintery libation of them all. And usually I’m a purist; scotch, neat, maybe with a drop of water. Never with ice, and (until recently) never in a cocktail. But this season all those nice cocoa, dried fruit, and coconut flavors have been creeping their way into my spring cocktails.
Build in a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a lemon zest.
Total guilty pleasure drink for me. Steve McQueen has been one of my style icons since I was a kid. Though I’ve got dark hair, so I do more of a Burt Reynolds thing, ah well. But that’s not going to stop me from coming up with a Steve Mcqueen styled drink. Nothing fancy, simply a blond rob roy, smooth as jazz but still with a bit of edge, e.g. McQueen in Bullitt.
Son of a Gun-slingin’ Woman
2 oz blended scotch, Dewars
½ oz Giffard’s Banane du Brasil (no substitutions, spring for the good stuff)
½ oz lime juice
dash Angostura bitters
cola to top
Shake over ice and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with a splash of cola and garnish with a lime wheel.
Scotch tiki drinks, it can be done! Less talked about than notes of dried figs, toffee, and smoke, are tropical fruit flavors like banana, mango, or even citrus or melon in lighter styles of scotch (think your Speysiders). These lighter styles make excellent additions to tiki style drinks with command lots of fruit flavor but, in my opinion, lack a bit of depth. Scotch rounds out all the ingredients, just like a good aged rum, but adds a different direction to the final flavor.
2 oz blended scotch
½ oz lime juice
ginger beer to top
Build in a highball glass filled with ice, top with ginger beer.
For this last drink I reached out to my good friend Carlie Steiner, fellow bartender at Barmini and founder of Tea Time DC. A soon as the weather warmed up, all she talked about is bucks and scooting around on her Vespa. The Mamie Taylor is a scotch buck, with lime and ginger beer, But Carlie jazzes it up with equal parts Monkey Shoulder blended scotch and smokey Laphroaig. And for best results, try a spicy homemade ginger beer like the one they use at Barmini.
Don’t believe me? Trust me, it can be done. Try these scotch cocktails (scotchtails?) out next time you’re relaxing in the sun and we’ll see if your bottles of scotch spend the rest of the summer collecting dust in the back of your liquor cabinet.