Here’s Your New Gin Alternative for Autumn
How to make three cocktails using Escubac, a slightly spicy liqueur that gin fans should know about.
New gins or whiskeys seem to come along every day. It’s far rarer that an entirely new spirit category appears on the scene. But Escubac, from Edinburgh-based Sweetdram distillery, is in a world of its own.
Like gin, it’s made with a variety of botanicals—including cinnamon, caraway, and cardamom. But the similarities end there. Without any juniper, Escubac doesn’t have gin’s characteristic piney scent. And with the addition of raisin, along with vanilla, to contribute a faint sweetness post-distillation, it’s technically a liqueur rather than a spirit.
Escubac is smooth and supple, with bright citrus in the foreground and warm spice present throughout. And its complexity makes it perfect for cocktails. Try swapping out gin for Escubac in a G&T (sorry, E&T), or in one of these three original drinks.
Easy: Escubac Highball
Tonic is a great mixer for Escubac, but we wanted something a touch more original. So we took a little inspiration from childhood and reached for an old-fashioned cream soda. Its rich, mellow sweetness is an ideal counterpart for the slightly spicy Escubac. Almost too easy to drink.
Instructions: In a tall glass with ice, combine an ounce of Escubac and four ounces of cream soda. Stir briefly, then squeeze in a lemon wedge.
Intermediate: Escubac Manhattan
“Split-base cocktail” is a fancy mixology term for when you’re using two spirits as the base of a cocktail instead of one—say, the difference between a martini, made with vodka or gin, and a Vesper, made with both. We find that Escubac works beautifully in split-base cocktails, adding an intriguing “What is that?” quality to otherwise familiar drinks.
Case in point: A Manhattan, where Escubac manages to play up both starring ingredients, amplifying the spiciness of the rye while adding a botanical complexity in the manner of the sweet vermouth. To pull the drink together, a dash of bitters and an orange twist are all you need.
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine an ounce and a half of rye, an ounce of Escubac, half an ounce of sweet vermouth, and one dash of Angostura bitters. Stir until very well-chilled, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel, twisted over the top to spritz its citrus oils over the glass.
Advanced: Escubac-Tequila Rickey
We expected Escubac to play nicely with whiskey. But on a hunch, we tried it with blanco tequila, and were blown away. The Escubac mimics tequila’s sharp clarity while contributing a nuance we found really appealing. The duo are a perfect base for a classic rickey—just lime and soda, as refreshing as they come.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 3/4 ounce of Escubac, 3/4 ounce of blanco tequila, half an ounce of fresh lime juice, and half an ounce of simple syrup. Shake until very well-chilled, then strain into a tall glass with fresh ice. Top with two ounces of club soda and stir briefly. Garnish with a few lime wheels and a straw.