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Project Recreate … Two for the Price of One – The Tartan Daiquiri and the Smoke & Mirrors

* Please see this update

In a few of my prior posts I think of I have eluded, subtly or not, at my love for whiskies. Further clarification is in order … theSpeakista loves whiskies – he would in a moment of weakness knock an old lady down a flight of stairs for a sip of a bonded rye or if pressed under harsh interrogation admit to raising a spent bottle of bourbon to his lips in search of that last drop of goodness.  Yet no matter how much he might yearn for and need these other magical elixirs there is one in particular that drives his sole with a white hot passion … his beloved “water of life” and in particular those peaty, salty, some what medicinal tasting bottles of pure liquid heaven that when sipped remind him of all that is good in life; his beloved Islay whiskies.

Scotch is, as most serious cocktail aficionados will tell you, a particularly difficult spirit to use in cocktail mixology with its strong assertive flavor profile often making it a temperamental partner.  Certain classics will no doubt come to mind (this and this in particular) but the breadth and range of drinks is just not there (NOTE: for theSpeakista, simply sipping said “water of life” is joy enough … damn those pesky cocktail recipes) when say compared to bourbon or rye.  A focus of mine for this little endeavor will be to seek out strange new worlds, to boldly go where … sorry, I digressed … a focus will be to not only explore whisky-based cocktails and mixed drinks but if possible, to gather and imbibe as many different types of scotch-based drinks as possible.

With this particular bit of interest playing in my mind I was happy to find two bold assertive Islay whisky-based drinks on the menu at Raines Law Room (more to come by way of a full review) here in NYC. The first drink I tried is an interesting riff on that beloved warm weather drink the Daiquiri and the second an interesting spin off on the Rob Roy (or Manhattan if you prefer). These two drinks were exactly what the Scotch lover needs and were in a word, fantastic.

Note: as a reminder, for this particular project I attempt to “recreate” drinks imbibed out, away from the home base.  I will always try subject to the constraints of what is in my tiny liquor cabinet at the time of making use the exact ingredients listed in a particular menu.  theSpeakista will not necessarily ask for the exact recipe (what fun would that be) but will not refrain from watching it being made and will as best as I can seek to get the right ingredient proportions.

Tartan Daiquiri
Recipe adapted from the menu at the Raines Law Room; ingredients listed are per the online menu, substitutions are noted and the proportions are assumed by theSpeakista.

•    1 oz Ron Zacapa 23 rum (I used the last of what I had … it was worth it)
•    1 oz Ardbeg 10-year Scotch
•    3/4 oz fresh lime juice
•    sugar (1/2 oz of simple syrup was used)
Garnish: none
Glass: champagne coupe
Tools: mixing glass and tin (shaker), Hawthorn strainer and fine mesh tea strainer

Assembly: Combine all ingredients in the glass with ice and shake for at least 20 seconds until well chilled, double-strain the mixture into the serving glass.

The verdict: Life is good.  My beloved Islay has found a home.  The Ardbeg and the Zacapa 23 pair wonderfully well together.  The peaty, ocean air flavor of the Scotch is tamed ever so nicely and enhanced in a subtle way by the rich lushness of this amazing rum.  Slightly sweet from the rum and the simple syrup (or sugar from the original tasted version) with a nice tart backdrop this is great drink to try over and over again.

theSpeakista’s Rating: 4 1/4 stars (out of 5)

Up next from Raines a straight forward Islay centric drink with a balanced profile.

Smoke & Mirrors
Recipe adapted from the menu at the Raines Law Room; ingredients listed are per the online menu, substitutions are noted and the proportions are assumed by theSpeakista.

•    2 oz Compass Box Peat Monster Reserve (Lagavulin 16-year was used)
•    1 oz Ramazzotti Amaro
•    1/4 oz Marie Brizard Apricot Brandy
•    1 dash Angostura bitters
Garnish: grapefruit twist (none available … used a long swath of lemon peel)
Glass: champagne coupe
Tools: mixing glass, barspoon, julep strainer and a y-peeler for cutting the garnish

Assembly: Combine all ingredients in the mixing glass add cracked ice and stir for 30 seconds until well chilled. Strain into the serving glass and garnish.

The verdict: As with the “Tartan” my Islay has found a home … or at least home away from home.  Actually when I ordered this at Raines I had fully expected the peaty goodness of the Peat Monster to completely overwhelm everything else in the mix; really like having the Scotch on the rocks with an after thought of the amaro and apricot brandy.  As was the case in this recreate that is not the case – this is a well crafted and well balanced drink.  I did not have the Peat Monster on hand but a little research yielded a little background that put the new formulation of the blend (it is a blend of malts) on the more peaty side of things (as always I welcome any commentary/thoughts/exposition on this).  The Lagavulin 16-year is a fantastic Scotch that is more peat and ocean-salty goodness then it is medicinal and so I decided to sub it in.  The aroma is a blend of peat yielding to a nice herbal backdrop.  The taste profile is a wave of flavors – first is the peat as you would expect but it is nicely muted by the herbally-floral amaro with sweetness from the Apry towards the end.  What is interesting is how the slight bitterness from the Ramazzotti almost tames in some weird way the peaty fire of the Scotch and helped it harmonize better with the other ingredients.

theSpeakista’s Rating: 4 1/4 stars (out of 5)

theSpeakista asks?

1. What are your favorite Scotch-based drinks?

2. Any thoughts on Islay whiskies and their use in drinks?

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{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Sam May 8, 2010, 3:38 pm

    I think my favorite Scotch-based drink may be the Penicillin or possibly the Blood and Sand. I’m also a fan of the Bobby Burns and, of course, the Rob Roy.

  • Sylvan May 27, 2010, 2:06 pm

    There was a published recipe for an ‘Islay Daiquiri’ from Raines that’s fairly different in that it has only 1/2 oz Ardbeg.
    http://www.gourmet.com/winespiritsbeer/2009/08/bartenders-who-farm

  • KeithP May 27, 2010, 5:09 pm

    Thank you Sylvan for the link (and frankly I probably should have done the research myself). Part of doing my little Project Recreates is to see if i can come close to the taste I experience while at the establishment without trying to get the exact recipe – my notes of which can often be, well, a bit hazy. It looks like I was spot on/close on the citrus and sugar (the menu at Raines lists sugar vs simple syrup and I made an assumption that they actually used SS vs sugar) and a bit off on the two main spirits (which i made a complete guess at) … I’ll chalk this up to my total “nut case” love for Islay as leading me astray.

    Appreciate the feedback.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

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