Whisky Cocktails

I’ve had a very mild cold for a couple of days now. It’s not really knocked out my nose or tastebuds but I’m not drinking anything I like very much or taking notes for reviews until it’s gone. Instead, I’ve been drinking other things and little bits of whiskies I’ve recently been a little disappointed in. In this latter category fall the Ballechin 5 (Marsala)–to be reviewed soon–and the new(ish) Ardbeg “Ardbog”–to be reviewed in a month or two. Neither are bad–and I like the Ardbog more than the Ballechin–but neither seemed like they’d be wasted on me under current conditions either. Oddly enough, I liked them both a fair bit more last night. The dry, farmy peat of the Ballechin seemed to be tamped down and the Ardbog just tasted rounder (this may also be due to the bottle having been open for a few months now). I’ll be interested to try them again once this cold is done (hopefully in a day or two) and see what I make of them again.

Anyway: last night after drinking some of the Ardbog, on a whim I poured some Grand Marnier into the unwashed glass. Of course, there was only a trace amount of the Ardbog left clinging to the glass, and, of course, the same caveats about my cold apply, but I rather liked the result. Therefore I’ve decided today to try some extended whisky cocktail experiments, reasoning that since I don’t really nose my cocktails I’m likely to miss less here than I might if drinking the malts qua malts.

Speysidecar1. The Speysidecar.

Yes, it’s a terrible pun, and yes, this is basically a Sidecar with a Speyside malt in place of the brandy. (And yes, I only chose a Speyside malt to go in here because that would allow me to call it a Speysidecar. I am not ashamed.)


1 oz Glenlivet 15, 1995, Signatory UCF
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz lemon juice

shaken with ice.

Verdict: Not bad. The whisky disappears into the citrus at first but then emerges late on the palate contributing a darker rounder flavour than you might get with cognac/brandy. These are the classic Sidecar proportions, but there is too much lemon juice. I am going to make this again soon, and next time it will be with only half as much lemon juice. However, if you’re drinking it when recovering from a cold you can feel virtuous about the vitamin c. Then again, a far smokier whisky or a sherry monster might keep the lemon juice at bay even at current proportions.

2. The Kinky Orange


1 oz Ardbeg “Ardbog”
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1/4 oz Galliano

stirred and poured into a small snifter.

The Kinky OrangeVerdict: Well, my friends, we are now indubitably in the zone of the weird; but good weird. It’s like someone took some sherried Ardbeg, added some Grand Marnier to it and then dropped in some Galliano. Wait, that’s exactly what I did. This thing is fucking with my ability with simile. Let’s try again: it’s like Bette Davis went out to breakfast with Gregory Peck and just when it seemed like they might get along Andy Kaufman threw up all over them; but instead of getting angry they all laughed and ate pancakes. And that’s just on the nose. And I like it. Let’s take a sip. Ah, this is lovely. The smoke is blunted by the Grand Marnier but there’s a lovely cereal and coal base note with voluptuous oranges and raisins sitting on it and just a little herbal twist on top; and a nice salty, charred, orangey finish. Someone should really pay me money for coming up with this. A lovely digestif. That it’ll piss off the Ardbeg fanboys is just a bonus.

Well, let’s quit while I’m ahead (and still sober). So, do you have a whisky cocktail you’ve improvised that you feel comfortable owning up to in public?


5 thoughts on “Whisky Cocktails

  1. I don’t have my reprinted Embury at hand (The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks), but the wiki entry lists the Sidecar as one of the six fundamental cocktails:


    Embury lists proportions for the Sidecar the same as all the Sours: 8:2:1 – which makes for dry/tart concoctions:

    8 parts Cognac or Armagnac
    2 parts lemon juice
    1 part Cointreau or triple sec

    More “modern” versions (since Embury, who passed in 1960) temper the 8:2:1 ratios for many cocktails.

    The so-called International Bartenders Association (IBA) advises the following 5:2:2 ratios:

    5 cl Cognac
    2 cl lemon juice
    2 cl Triple Sec


    My gut tells me that 1:1:1 is hardly “classic” – but as you pointed out – more like medicine.

    2:1:2 is more like it.


    • “Classic” is probably the wrong word; I meant more in the sense of original or early. From that Wikipedia link:

      The first recipes for the Sidecar appear in 1922, in Harry MacElhone’s Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails and Robert Vermeire’s Cocktails and How to Mix Them.

      Both MacElhone and Vermiere state the recipe as equal parts cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice, now known as “the French school”. Later, an “English school” of Sidecars emerged, as found in the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), which call for two parts cognac and one part each of Cointreau and lemon juice.


  2. OK, I once (or three times) tried a “dry and rye” (given I couldn’t find a name). Equal portions dry white wine and rye whisky shaken and strained into a chilled cocktail glass.

    This may be too much information, but when I don’t have Tanqueray Ten around, I’ll add two vermouth bottle caps of dry white wine to 4 ounces of a lesser gin shaken to form ice-crystals to make a Martini/Gibson (and never mind vodka).


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