Drink-making often seem to move in waves (see, for example, my brief note on Borough-style cocktails), with cocktail taste-makers acting as one to riff off a classic recipe.  The latest basic form to be the focus of this kind of attention seems to be the Last Word, whose base recipe of two powerful liqueurs, one liquor, and one citrus has been showing up all over the place lately.  For examples, check out the disappointing Peralta and the yet-to-be-tried(-by-me) Pantorium and Last Ward.

This genre is conceptually interesting to me, but in practice it’s yet to yield any winners (unlike the one liquor, one liqueur, one fortified wine, one citrus mix that cranks out classics like the Corpse Reviver #2).  Given my general ambivalence to sours and my particular dislike of the Last Word, it might seem odd that I’m jumping at the chance to make these.  I guess I’ll do anything to stay on the cutting edge.

Curse of Scotland (Cocktail Virgin Slut):

  • 3/4 oz Islay Single-Malt Scotch (Bunnahabhain 12-year)
  • 3/4 oz Drambuie
  • 3/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Maraska)
  • 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • (2-3 dashes Caol Ila 9-Year)
    Shake with ice, strain into cocktail glass

Another swing and a miss.  While not as offensively pickle-y as the Last Word, the Curse of Scotland is a bit too sweet for my taste, losing the smokiness of the Scotch and Drambuie behind a honeyed sweetness from the latter and Maraska.

Now, to be fair, Bunnahabhain is a fairly mild Islay – the original recipe called for Ardbeg 12-Year, which is a much smokier, oilier Scotch.  I tried to rectify this by garnishing with the Caol Ila 9-Year – salt, burnt fat, mineral – but it couldn’t really cut through the sweetness.  In fact, I generally find very sweet drinks made with Islays problematic; the sweetness seems to exacerbate the smokiness of the Scotch, leading to a drink that’s too intense to be palatable.  I think a very smokey Scotch (or mezcal) needs to be used in an aromatic drink, rather than a sweet one.  Possibly this drink would trend more in that direction with Luxardo and Ardbeg, but I doubt it; I think I’m just going to have to sit out this final linguistic revival.