A whiff of brimstone
April 8, 2010 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Help me invent a smokey, whiskey based cocktail.

Wife and I are having a cocktail party on Sunday. Since it is autumn here, the theme is 'The Fall'. We will be serving two cocktails, one named an 'Original Sin', the other 'Brimstone'. We've got the Original Sin sorted, but need help with the Brimstone.

So help me, hive mind. The only stipulation is that the dominant flavour of this drink will be a smokey Islay single malt scotch like Laphroaig or Lagavulin. It needn't be present in large quantities, but the cocktail should definitely have a taste of smoke to it. Other possible flavours could include ginger or orange, but this cocktail must not be overly sweet.
posted by tim_in_oz to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Clarification, please: do you want to make a themed mixed drink with single-malt Scotch as an ingredient, or do you want to make a themed mixed drink that tastes like it has single-malt Scotch as an ingredient?
posted by box at 3:12 PM on April 8, 2010

You probably want a scotch rinse. Try some of these.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:20 PM on April 8, 2010

Surely you can't be thinking of making mixed drinks with single malts.....blasphemy!!!!!

I'd go with a cheap whiskey of some variety, grated fresh ginger, bitters, and a juice. Maybe pear or pineapple. Potentially orange. A drop of Laphroaig for smokiness if you must.
posted by Go Banana at 3:23 PM on April 8, 2010

There's a classic cocktail bar in Chicago called the Violet Hour that makes a fantastic drink called the Maloney's Irish Cream. It goes something like this:

2 ounces Irish whiskey (Powers or Jamesons)
1 ounce cream (we make it at home with half and half, usually)
Smokey single malt Scotch (The Violet Hour uses Ardbeg. A note on the amount: per a recipe I found on the internet, they add drops of the stuff. I have found I like it much better with half an ounce to a little under an ounce.)
1 ounce of demerara or turbinado sugar syrup (two parts sugar, one part water, heat in sauce pan until it becomes syrup.)
Orange flower water to taste, but add this in drops.

Serve over ice. It's my favorite cold weather cocktail.
posted by jennyb at 3:24 PM on April 8, 2010

Delicious, delicious blasphemy.
posted by jennyb at 3:24 PM on April 8, 2010

Response by poster: Clarification: I have half a bottle of Laphroiag. It will be an ingredient.
posted by tim_in_oz at 3:25 PM on April 8, 2010

Yeah, some of the recipes in my link are also from the violet hour. More here.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:26 PM on April 8, 2010

Count me in with the 'sacrilegious' crowd -- if you were going to buy whisky specially, then Black Bottle would be a more economical choice. But...

Adapt a Whisky Mac? It's too late to get hold of some xocolatl mole bitters, but perhaps make a chipotle-orange syrup for heat and smoke? With that, you could probably riff on an Old Fashioned instead.
posted by holgate at 3:28 PM on April 8, 2010

My favorite scotch-based cocktail is the Blood and Sand. I usually use a mild blended scotch but I bet a smoky Islay would punch it up. Combine the following ingredients in a shaker and serve up:

1 oz scotch
1 oz sweet vermouth (I prefer Punt e Mes or Carpano Antica)
1 oz Heering cherry brandy
1 oz orange or grapefruit juice

My favorite super-smoky cocktail is really just a Margarita variant that I came up with when I was having trouble deciding how to finish a bottle of brutally smoky mezcal. I call it the Tire Fire and it’s amazing, but it calls for Minero from the Del Maguey single village line of mescals, which is a fairly expensive base liquor. Unlike tequila, which is usually made from steamed agave pinas, these mezcals are made from pinas are roasted over an open fire and are as smoky as any Islay I’ve encountered. There is probably an acceptable lower-priced substitute but I haven’t done the research. It’s great up or on the rocks:

2 oz Del Maguey mezcal (Minero)
1.5 oz lime juice
1 oz Cointreau
posted by Mendl at 3:45 PM on April 8, 2010

Okay. I make this drink with bourbon but, frankly, Laphroaig will probably work much better.

coat the rim of the glass with celery salt
1 oz whiskey
2 oz tomato juice
dash of smoked chipotle tabasco

no garnish necessary but, if you eat meat, I think it could work pretty good with a pepperoni stick in there like a swizzle stick.

and, if you're feeling adventurous, you can substitute bacon salt for the celery salt.
posted by 256 at 4:42 PM on April 8, 2010

Best answer: The proper way to use fine whiskeys in cocktails is in very small amounts. Powerfully peaty malts like Laphroaig and Lagavulin are perfect for this as they are very flavourful and can impart quite a distinctive taste using only minute amounts.

The best way to use them would be to put them in a small atomizer and mist that into a chilled coktail glass immediately before pouring the completed drink into it. It can be misted on top of the finished cocktail as well for a more fragrant aroma and forward flavour.

The other method would be to pour a very small amount into the chilled cocktail glass and swirl it around the glass, coating it. This is then poured out (if you're smart you pour it into a glass on the bar and use it again for the next drink) or remains in the bottom of the glass depending on how much of the smokey flavour you'd want to impart.

Any of the classic whiskey cocktails could have this added on at the end and have it be a nice addition. Old fashioneds, Manhattans, Bobby Burns would all be good starting points. A drink with citrus could work, but it would be important to balance it well as that could easily overpower the smokiness of the scotch.

I'd probably begin with a Manhattan variant. Maybe:

2 oz Rye Whiskey
1/2 oz Punt E Mes
1/2 oz Benedictine
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Mist of Laphroaig
Stir and serve up with an orange twist

For more of an orange flavour substitute Cointreau for the benedictine. A lighter version with a nice dry vermouth could be good as well.

2 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Vya extra dry vermouth (the new Noilly Prat dry could work well too, and is far easier and cheaper to come by)
Dash Boker's Bitters (or Substitute Angostura, or maybe Peychaud's for a lighter version.)
Mist of Laphroaig
Up, Lemon Twist

Other liquors could work with the smokiness as well, gin (the Above recipe with the right gin (Hendrick's if you wanted to keep the Scottish theme going) could be fantastic) , rum, tequila would be interesting to try. I've got a ghost chili infused tequila I might pair up with a little smokey scotch this afternoon to see what happens.
posted by Jawn at 5:01 PM on April 8, 2010 [9 favorites]

The punny (and also delicious) answer here is something with a hint of apple (get it?). Seasonally appropriate and also wicked. Not for purists, perhaps, but Buffalo Trace on the rocks with a dribble of hard-pressed apple cider is sweet, smoky, and delightful.
posted by teamparka at 5:19 PM on April 8, 2010

Apologies, I got carried away and missed your single malt stipulations.
posted by teamparka at 5:21 PM on April 8, 2010

You might get some ideas (including a description of how to make smoked ice) here.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 5:24 PM on April 8, 2010

My favorite bartender makes me a smoked gimlet - a very nice gin like Death's Door, real lime juice and simple syrup (no Rose's), and a barspoon of Laphroaig. It's delightful.
posted by komara at 5:45 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lapsang souchong is a pine-smoked black tea. I don't know about cocktails with it, but it's delicious and smoky, so it might work if you want a smoky ingredient other than scotch. A strong concentrate might work best. There are other smoky foods and drinks in the second link.
posted by k. at 6:11 PM on April 8, 2010

The best way to use them would be to put them in a small atomizer and mist that into a chilled cocktail glass immediately before pouring the completed drink into it.

Seconded! There's a product on the market that's marketed as a "vermouth" mister but we use it for peaty scotch.

It might be too late for your party, and it's bourbon-based, but the Benton's Old Fashioned is very smoky because the bacon used in the infusion is very smoky.
posted by kathryn at 10:51 PM on April 8, 2010

Best answer: Alright, I did something along these lines tonight for a very good looking blonde girl from Austin with the most amazing blue eyes I've ever seen. If I remember correctly:

1 1/2 oz Old Tom Gin
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Boissierre)
3 dashes Boker's bitters

Stir and strain into a cocktail glass rinsed with Bowmore (a bit lighter than Laphroaig, but same flavour profile)
Lemon Twist

That was an exceptional drink.

Before that I made her a Perfect Rob Roy using Punt E Mes, the Boissierre dry, and Bowmore. It was pretty good, but not quite to her liking. She loved the second one.

And thirding the use of Lapsang Souchong with smokey Scotch. They really do play nicely together. I could see an amazing drink (the Laura Palmer perhaps) with a cold Lapsang Souchong, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, and some Laphroaig or Lagavulin.
posted by Jawn at 3:44 AM on April 9, 2010

And a note on atomizers. Most that are sold as 'vermouth atomizers' or the like are horribly overpriced. I can get nice glass ones like these at my local apothecary for a couple bucks apiece. Or, as you can see in the link, buy them online for less than a buck.

Often things get a huge upcharge when they get marketed for bartenders. Similar products can be had far cheaper when their intended audience is different. (case in point, I believe microplanes used to be pretty damn cheap when they were the sole province of woodworkers, but the same item marked up for chefs cost much more money).
posted by Jawn at 3:52 AM on April 9, 2010

Response by poster: OK... After some experimentation last night I've got a workable mix of dry sherry, punt e mes, angostura bitters and Laphroig. It needs a touch of sweetness to ameliorate the sherry still. I'm hoping that the ginger syrup I'm making at the moment will be the final touch. Thanks for all of the hints.
posted by tim_in_oz at 1:43 AM on April 10, 2010

Consider demerara sugar (or demerara syrup) instead of the ginger. It'll add sweetness and a little complexity without the ginger zing, which from here sounds like it would fight with the Laphroaig.
posted by komara at 1:22 PM on April 11, 2010

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