Often when making a scotch cocktail like a Blood & Sand or Rob Roy, you’ll want to reach for one of the middle shelves, grabbing something blended or in the younger range of single malts. Otherwise, you risk making a drink that would cost upwards of $40 at a bar. But sometimes it can be a lot of fun, albeit pricey fun, to grab a premium scotch and make a drink with it. That’s what San Francisco bar pro Kevin Diedrich did with The Bottom Line—in it, Highland Park 18-year-old takes center stage. This smoky, complex spirit comes from the Orkney Islands off the northern tip of Scotland, and in this drink it serves as a deeply complex and bold base, standing up to the other ingredients and coming through strong. The bottom line is that any whisky lover should try this smoky, layered drink at least once. If you don’t end up caring for it, at least you’ll have a fine bottle of scotch on hand for sipping.
Besides the aforementioned whisky, Diedrich includes a number of ingredients not as commonly used in cocktails. Manzanilla sherry mixes remarkably well with scotch, and here it adds its distinct nuttiness and salinity to the drink. Bärenjäger honey liqueur (unrelated to Jägermeister) adds sweetness, and Amaro CioCiaro lends a bittersweet botanical layer. The amaro can be difficult to find in some areas—substituting another amaro like Amer Picon or Ramazzotti could potentially work, but the flavor profile will be slightly different. Equal parts orange and Angostura bitters round the drink out, like how salt and pepper finishes a dish.
Another thing to keep in mind is that each of these ingredients contains alcohol, which means The Bottom Line is a very strong drink. A few too many of these and your hangover the next day may be the real bottom line. Besides, if you’re using such an expensive whisky, it’s probably best to keep it to the occasional indulgence rather than mixing multiples batches in a night.
- 1 1/2 ounces Highland Park 18-year-old scotch whisky
- 1 ounce manzanilla sherry
- 3/4 ounce Bärenjäger honey liqueur
- 1/4 ounce Amaro CioCiaro
- 1 dash orange bitters
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
Add the Highland Park 18-year-old scotch whisky, manzanilla sherry, Bärenjäger, Amaro CioCiaro, orange bitters and Angostura bitters into a mixing glass filled with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.