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There are some purists out there who see Scotch cocktails as sacrilege—claiming that Scotch should always be served neat, or, at most, with a little water. But we're equal-opportunity cocktail-ists. If you can make a delicious Scotch cocktail, why not enjoy it? True, Scotches tend to be a little more particular and bold than, say, bourbon or Irish whiskey. And of course, the price tag can get up there. But if you're dealing with a moderately priced bottle, there's no reason not to deploy Scotch's smoky depth in awesome cocktails.
Here are three Scotch drinks perfect for fall into winter—some supersimple classics, some a little more creative.
Easy: Rob Roy (pictured above)
You've heard of the Manhattan, but what about the Rob Roy? Scotch's answer to the Manhattan, this classic simply pairs Scotch and sweet vermouth for a smooth, compelling cocktail that showcases the whisky. Use a high-quality sweet vermouth for Manhattans, like Carpano Antica.
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine 2 ounces of Scotch and 1 ounce of Carpano Antica sweet vermouth. Add one dash of Angostura. Stir until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with three brandied cherries.
Intermediate: Scottish Orchard
Bright, sparkling hard cider is a great partner to dark, complex Scotch and despite being a stiff drink, the Scottish Orchard will disappear so fast, you'll immediately want another. (Proceed at your own risk.)
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine 2 ounces of blended Scotch, ¼ ounce of honey syrup (honey cut with an equal part of hot water, so it dissolves) and 2 dashes of Angostura bitters. Stir that all up until nice and cold, then strain into a cocktail glass. Top with two ounces of hard cider, and garnish with a lemon peel and a cherry.
We love spicy and smoky flavors together. Usually, we appreciate that combination in the context of smoky agave spirit mezcal—but why not Scotch? Here, a little jalapeño and lemon brighten Scotch into a very drinkable sour that leaves a real tingle on your tongue.
Instructions: In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle 3 thin slices of jalapeño pepper—seeds included (a little less if you're new to the spicy drink game). Add 2 ounces of Scotch, 3/4 ounce agave syrup (that's just agave diluted with an equal part of hot water, so it dissolves) and 3/4 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Shake well with ice, and then double strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a jalapeño slice and a lemon wheel.