While scotch is typically reserved for sippers, the storied spirit is increasingly landed in cocktails, likely at a watering hole near you. Purists may balk, but there’s no reason to only sip it neat, and those who are still in the discovery stage of scotch drinking may just appreciate how a well-crafted cocktail can highlight the spirit even further. Jim Beveridge, the master blender for Johnnie Walker, says that blenders are not unlike bartenders (“their world is similar to our world”), adding that developing a spirit or blend is akin to creating cocktails. “The flavors have to be obvious and distinctive,” he says. Below are 11 new ways scotch cocktail creations.
Can't make it to any of the bars serving these great scotch drinks? Try making this scotch cocktail at home.
Italian-born bartender Vincenzo Marianella is the brains behind Copa d’Oro in Santa Monica, and Brighter Days, one of his cocktail creations, demonstrates his daring side. Made with Monkey Shoulder blended-malt scotch, mezcal, Amaro Zucca, Amaro Lucano and Jerry Thomas bitters, the drink is stirred and strained over a big ice cube in a rocks glass with an orange peel garnish.
Bartender Bryan Tetorakis of Polite Provisions came up with the earthy spirit-forward Golden Goose, made with The Glenlivet 12-year-old single-malt scotch, Amaro Nonino Quintessentia, banana liqueur and bitters. Combined, the ingredients play together nicely, and the cocktail has more suggestions of roasted plantain than sweet bananas.
Jen Keyser, the chief of bar operations at this downtown Austin bar and restaurant, came up with this straightforward and satisfying cocktail made with Dewar’s blended scotch, lemon juice, simple syrup and soda water. She combines all of the ingredients except for the soda water, shakes the cocktail until cold, strains it into a Collins glass over ice and tops it with soda water. The garnish is a Luxardo maraschino cherry and lemon wedge.
A nod to the late, great Arnold Palmer, the Hole in One is a creation of bartender Adam Hebert, served at Chicago’s Living Room at the Hyatt Regency. Consider it an adult version of the golfer’s favorite beverage—3 parts iced tea, 1 part lemonade—and in this case, scotch is the potent addition. Made with Johnnie Walker Black Label scotch, honey, unsweetened tea and fresh lemon juice, this version is equally as refreshing as the virgin version.
At the brand-new West Village restaurant Fifty, look for the scotch-forward cocktail the Speyside Meadow, a nod to the region of Scotland where Macallan single-malt scotch is made. The drink, created by beverage manager Darnell Holguin, is made with Macallan 10-year-old scotch, Luxardo maraschino cherries, orange and Angostura bitters, and floral syrup.
Eric Liebtag, the general manager at The Corner Office in Denver, came up with this ominous-sounding cocktail, but the name seems fitting. Made with Auchentoshan American Oak single-malt scotch, Mexican fernet (which is heavier on spice and has less menthol flavor than the version most of us know) and house-made grenadine, this sounds like the perfect après-ski libation.
At Philadelphia’s gourmet pizza shop Pizzeria Stella, you’ll find the Sicilian Sazerac, a decidedly Italian take on the classic cocktail that originated in New Orleans. The version from the City of Brotherly Love is made with Dewar’s scotch, Averna amaro from Sicily, Meletti anisette and orange bitters, which is at once familiar and new.
(image: Marissa Evans)
New Orleans bartender Benton Bourgeois came up with the Caribbean Word, served at The Caribbean Room and Bayou Bar in the new Pontchartrain Hotel. There, Bourgeois combines Auchentoshan 12-year-old scotch, Liquore Strega, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur and lemon for a cocktail that’s sure to sweeten up The Big Easy.
In New York City’s East Village cocktail den The Garret East, bartender Grant Wheeler has mixed up the Double-r Reprise, a knock-your-socks-off, slightly quirky drink. Made with Cutty Sark Prohibition scotch, tepache (which is made with fermented pineapples), bierbrand (a German beer schnapps with a heavy note of barley and hops), John D. Taylor’s velvet falernum (for sweetness), lime, egg white and nutmeg, it’s mixed and served in a Tiki glass.
At Le Petit Paris in Downtown Los Angeles, bartender Tybo Launois has created a daring, albeit charming, cocktail in the form of L’Eau De Rose (rose water). The drink, made with The Famous Grouse scotch, whiskey, fresh lemon, piment d’espelette (a pepper that lends a smoky heat) and rose petal garnish, comes together beautifully in the most unexpected way.
(image: Ryan Tanaka)