Winter is the time to break out the peat monsters.
Anything from Talisker to Laphroaig, they are the closest thing you can have to a fire without actually lighting one.
And when you have one with a fire it is a great way to cement that feeling of smoky warmth.
But, sometimes, there’s a call to mix things up, you can have too much of a good thing.
Scotch cocktails, apart from the Scotch and soda, are a pretty uncommon cocktail category.
They aren’t the kind of cocktail you go up to a bar and order round after round, they are usually a starter or a finisher.
I rarely use high end Scotch in a cocktail unless it asks for a little nip to create a smoky element.
So stick to blended scotches like Johnnie Walker, they’re versatile and usually well balanced.
For me a Scotch cocktail has to separate itself from other whiskies with that peaty, smoky element, no matter how small.
Blended Scotches offer that in balance with all the other requisite flavours a scotch can have such as the fruity richness of the Highlands.
That being said don’t whip out your Johnnie Blue for any of these.
Now is the perfect time to be exploring this genre too, you think a nice peaty scotch by the fire is good? Wait until you enjoy something that you have put a bit of work into, in a nice bit of glassware by the fire.
The first cocktail we’re going to look at is the Rob Roy, created in the late 1800s at the famed Waldorf Astoria in New York.
Interestingly, according to Diffard’s Guide, it was not named after the Scottish folk hero but the eponymous broadway show that was playing at the time.
Basically a Manhattan, the Rob Roy swaps out the rye for Scotch.
Next we have the Blood and Sand, created at the Savoy in the 1920s, it steps up the Rob Roy with a fruity punch.
The recipe calls for a full shot of cherry liquor, but if you are using Luxardo, I would dial it back a bit
Finally we have the Rusty Nail, and this one where you can really test out your scotch collection.
It calls for one and a half shots of scotch with some drambuie, so it might be an idea to use one shot of blended whisky and then use the other two quarter shots to add in some stronger flavours from a sherry finished Scotch or a big peaty bad boy like Lagavulin.
None of these cocktails are going to have you rattling through the back cupboard for a whole host of ingredients but with Scotch, you don’t need it.
Rob Roy 2 shots Scotch 1 shot sweet red vermouth 2 dashes Angostura bitters Add all the ingredients to a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Blood and Sand 1 shot Scotch 1 shot cherry liqueur 1 shot sweet red vermouth 1 shot orange juice Add all the ingredients to a cocktail tin and shake until frosty. Strain into a coupe glass. Rusty Nail 1 ½ shots Scotch ¾ shot Drambuie 1 dash bitters Add all the ingredients to a rocks glass with a large ice cube.