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Posted on January 24, 2014 There have been 0 comments

Recipe for the weekend!

Burns Night has arrived for another year and countless celebrations will be held all over Scotland and beyond in honour of the great poet himself!  So whether you are heading out for a céilidh or celebrating with a hearty helping of haggis we have the wee dram to set you on your way.  In fact, we have two…!

For a modern twist on an old classic try this reworking of the Manhattan:


50 ml/2 oz. scotch whisky • 25 ml/1 oz. fresh lemon juice

12.5 ml/1⁄2 oz. sugar syrup

1⁄2 egg white (optional)

a fresh cherry and a slice of lemon, to garnish

Shake all the ingredients together with cubed ice. Strain into a beaker and blitz briefly with a stick blender or aerolatte. Pour into a rocks glass and garnish with a cherry and a slice of lemon.

By Tristan Stephenson

Most recipes for a sour with whisky in them would include the letter ‘e’ in whisk(e)y, denoting the origin of the liquor to be American (bourbon and rye) or Irish. Scotch whisky is not the norm for a sour, but not wholly unheard of either. I’ve chosen to use Scotch for one simple reason – it tastes really good. That’s not to say that this drink doesn’t work well with bourbon, rye, Irish, Indian, Welsh, English or Japanese whiskey, too – or in fact virtually any other spirit – but the Scotch sour deserves a bit of recognition in my opinion. The Sour is one of the staple cocktail families – not particularly exciting in itself, but an essential part of the cocktail demographic. Sours are the basis for other families of drink, such as Fizzes (a Sour shaken and topped with soda), Collins (a Sour stirred with soda), Rickeys (a lime Sour topped with soda) and the family that the Sidecar, Cosmopolitan and White Lady belong to. They are simple, dependable creatures that there is no shame enjoying from time to time.  Jerry Thomas’s 1862 How to Mix Drinks or the Bon Vivant’s Companion was the first cocktail book to publish a Sour recipe, five in fact, including the Whiskey Sour (with bourbon), Gin Sour, Brandy Sour, Egg Sour (with brandy and curaçao) and Santa Cruz Sour (with rum). The Whiskey Sour reads:

Take 1 large teaspoonful of powdered white sugar, dissolved in a little seltzer or Apollinaris water. The juice of half a small lemon. 1 wine glass of bourbon or rye whiskey.

Fill the glass full of shaved ice, shake up and strain into a claret glass. Ornament with berries.

This formula has remained almost untouched over the last 150 years and there’s a very good reason for that – it works. Thomas’s recipe calls for the reader to mix a water/sugar solution on the fly, but these days we use sugar syrup or gomme. The combination of spirit, lemon juice and sugar syrup in a 4:2:1 ratio results in a balanced drink most of the time, every time.

Why Scotch? Well, Scotch and lemon juice have as strong an affinity as any two ingredients I can think of (see exhibit A – the Hot Toddy), there’s something medicinal abut the pairing. I also love the way the malt and peaty (if applicable) notes shine through, softened by the sweet and sour balance, but still more than apparent. In fact, I’ve found that a Whisky Sour is an excellent tool for initiating non-Scotch drinkers into the balmy folds of malt whisky appreciation.

The Curious Bartender by Tristan Stephenson is published by Ryland Peters & Small and is available here.

Or try making your own version of this timeless original!


The original Manhattan was made with rye whiskey and the slightly spicy flavor works well. If no rye is to hand, bourbon makes an excellent substitute – softer and slightly sweeter. This is often known as a “West Coast” Manhattan because of its more laid-back nature. Try altering the proportions slightly to your taste, and the particular whiskey and vermouth being used.

4 parts rye whiskey

2 parts sweet vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Garnish: twist of orange zest,

cocktail cherry

Stir the ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Squeeze the orange twist over the surface of the drink and discard. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

Brown Booze by Michael Butt is published by CICO Books and is available here.

Happy Burn’s Night to one and all!



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