Another from our now random journey through the Savoy Cocktail Book, this one illustrates very well the problems inherent in Scotch-based cocktails. Despite the occasional gem, Scotch drinks don’t often shine, and you’re more than likely to wind up with something less than enjoyable.
1 dash absinthe
1 dash orange bitters
2 dashes lemon juice
2 dashes Jamaican rum (I used Appleton Estate V/X)
1 glass Scotch (I assumed two ounces here)
Shake with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Your results with this drink will depend precisely on the quality of the Scotch you use – not that that really solves the Modern’s problems. I used a decent blended Scotch, which I avoid apart from using it in mixed drinks. A quality single-malt would of course be better, but – and this is a big “but” – here’s the rub: the added ingredients in this beverage actually make the Scotch taste worse than it would if you were drinking it alone. Orange bitters are, shockingly, quite bitter – actually much more bitter than the usual aromatic bitters like Angostura. Absinthe, too, offers some bitter herbal notes that often seem to come to the fore when mixed with whiskey. The lemon juice, of course, adds some sourness, and the rum doesn’t do much at all. So basically, you wind up with three ingredients detracting from whatever qualities your Scotch might have. Yes, a better Scotch will make this a batter drink, but better still would be a good Scotch all on its own. Two livers out of five. No reason to try this one, just in case you’d been eyeballing it in your by-now well-worn copy of the Savoy.