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Mixology Monday: Forgotten Cocktails

by KeithP on November 21, 2010

Is it really that time of the month again?  Well yes it is … ok, we’ve had a few missed times as of late but we are back at it again with Mixology Monday and our host this time is Dennis over at Rock & Rye.  For our theme, Dennis has selected Forgotten Cocktails — dig deep and find a drink that for some reason or another has fallen off the radar. As I see it this is also an opportunity to highlight a drink that while known, is maybe not as well known as it should be and for me, holds a special place in my drink making heart.

It wasn’t really all that long ago when I truly was a babe in the woods – wandering back and forth between over-iced glasses of spirits, beer and amazingly horrible gin and tonics served in plastic cups and thinking that all was well in the world.  As a young Wall Streeter single malt was the way to go. My shelf of goodness was stocked with the proverbial bottles of Glenlivet and Macallan and I thought that I had made it — for I was drinking the drink of the Street.  At some point, still way before my discovery of sophisticated imbibing and when sipping a Manhattan was not even a dream, I stumbled across an article profiling scotch.  Contained in this little blurb was a recipe for what seemed like a non-descript drink called the Rusty Nail.  My hazy recollection being what it is and was, I put aside the article failing to make said recipe (I had scotch but not the other key ingredient) and almost paid it no further thought.  I recall that several weeks later I was attending a work function and watching all of my colleagues order things that seemed so high brow to me … how could I order a beer (or even a scotch on the rocks) amongst such sophisticated folk?  Wouldn’t I be laughed out of the room?  When it was my turn to order I blurted out the first thing that came to me, “I’ll have a Rusty Nail please.”  Curious looks exchanged between colleagues around the bar and what I took to be glances of approval, my drink arrived and I began to sip, and sip and sip.  Wow this drink tasted odd.  It tasted kinda good.  Several followed and so I was hooked.

This little drink turned out to be my gateway to other more fancy fare because it was after the above little adventure with said drink that I sought to learn more about proper cocktails.  It was not too much after the above story took place that I sipped my first Manhattan; and then my first Martini; and then my first Negroni (although with this little chappy, it has taken some time for me to fully appreciate its goodness).  From a state of pure ignorance and a chance article sprang seeds of adventure — sure I wasn’t cracking the human genome or traversing Everest but adventure is often a mental leap more than some great human breakthrough.

So is this little gem of a drink truly a “forgotten drink?” For a while, my little drink was even forgotten by me (tisk, tisk). I have seen my little Rusty Nail on a few, albeit far between, drink menus and I believe that this needs to change as it offers so much for others in much the same way that it provided to me — a mixture of spirit and liqueur, sweet to taste but brimming with the fullness of the scotch and in so doing will arouse an interest in a spirit that likely many don’t enjoy or fully appreciate.

Rusty Nail
Recipe adapted by theSpeakista

•    2 1/2  oz blended scotch whisky (Famous Grouse was used)
•    3/4 oz Drambuie
Garnish: lemon twist
Glass: rocks glass
Tools: none

Assembly: Combine all of the ingredients in the serving glass over ice. Express the oils from the twist over the glass and add.  Sit back, sip and enjoy knowing that you are now drinking a gateway to something nice.

The verdict: When I first started making these at home I used a formulation that called for equal parts of scotch to the Drambuie and upon reflection, or better yet my current palate, this form of the drink is much too sweet.  I suspect based on research that the standard formulation for a bar would be two parts scotch to one of the Drambuie and my above tweaking results in a greater than two-to-one ratio creating what I think is a more balanced profile.  Yes it is still sweet – the layered honey and softly muted botanicals of the liqueur come first and foremost but is structured and balanced by the leading actor that is the scotch.  While not reflected above I have taken to a version that uses an Islay rinse in the glass prior to assembly; another added layer of complexity to this fine little drink.

So thanks again to Dennis for hosting our little get together and be sure to go to his site to check out all of the other entries.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

DJ HawaiianShirt November 22, 2010 at 9:34 am

This is your gateway drink, eh? Wow. I definitely think the Rusty Nail could be considered a Forgotten Cocktail. We need more cocktails with Drambuie, don’t we? Great post!

KeithP November 22, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Yup, and not a bad one either. As a bridge from crappy drinks in plastic cups or spirits + ice this wasn’t too bad. Spirit, liqueur and ice … not a bad bridge/gateway at all considering it just built on the basics. Gave me an interest to try even bolder choices. Oh well …

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