It seems that I thought it would be a good idea to post a new cocktail recipe every week through 2009, which is what happens when you leave me in a room with a bottle of 10 Cane. So, without any further ado, I present the first of the fifty-two.
2009 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, a man who would, over 37 short years, come to embody Scottish literature. Moving between rural Ayrshire and Edinburgh high society, Burns became a major celebrity – his intemperate ways helped him to premature aging and an early grave which is about as rock’n'roll as you can get before Rolls Royces and swimming pools were invented.
Every year, Scots celebrate January 25th the same way – with a dinner for Burns Night. There are toasts to the poet’s immortal memory, the Selkirk Grace, even an address to a haggis. In addition to the traditional celebration, the Scottish Government has launched Homecoming 2009, a series of events aimed at attracting people with Scottish ancestry to visit the country. The fun kicks off on Burns night and, over the course of the year, will cover events like the Edinburgh International Festival, the Heineken Cup Final and the Royal Highland Show. One thing that isn’t included in the calendar is, of course, anything cocktail-related.
See that? Smooth.
There are a decent clutch of contenders for a Burns night cocktail. You could go for a Rob Roy, or a Whisky Mac or Rusty Nail could be in with a shout. Then again, there’s always the Bobby Burns, detailed in the Savoy Cocktail Book, a blend of Scotch, sweet vermouth and Benedictine. It’s a good starting place and a great drink, so I haven’t made any huge changes to it. The major change is that I decided to use Drambuie instead of Benedictine, mainly because it’s Scottish and it fits the idea of the drink. There’s a bonus given that as a whisky-based liqueur, it blends well with pretty much any Scotch as well as bringing a bunch of interesting floral and spicy flavours. On top of that, I decided to push the boat out and use a single malt for the whisky. I had wanted to use Auchentoshan – a Lowland malt – purely because it’s made closer to where Burns grew up than most others, but it’s also triple-distilled and unpeated and didn’t come through against the Drambuie. In the end, I went for a 12 year-old Bowmore, kinda smoky and a bit peaty, but nowhere near as full on as some other Islay malts. Finally, I lobbed in a couple of dashes of Fee Brothers Peach Bitters. It’s not a hugely exciting recipe, but it is a tasty drink and at least it’s a start.
Only fifty-one to go…
40ml blended Scotch Whisky (I used Johnnie Walker Black Label)
25ml sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso)
2 dashes Peach Bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled Rocks glass. Garnish with an orange zest twist. It doesn’t have to be as mental as the one in the photo.