Braveheart cocktail with Black Grouse Whisky Braveheart cocktail with Black Grouse Whisky

 

There seems to be a “National Day” for every drink out there. That’s OK by me. Monday July 27 is National Scotch Day, which is a perfect reason to enjoy a glass or two of lovely Scotch whisky. These days Bourbon is favored over Scotch in the U.S., but Scotch certainly deserves a place on your bar.

This stuff has a long heritage. The Scots have been making whisky since the late 15th century with malted barley. The first written mention of Scotch dates back to 1494. Today Scotch is made from a combo of malt and grain, compared to Bourbon which is made with grain including at least 51 percent corn. Depending on the mixture of malt and grain, Scotch comes in five types:

  • Single malt whisky – malt whisky from a single distillery
  • Single grain whisky – grain whisky from a single distillery (not common)
  • Blended malt whisky – a mixture of malt whiskies from different distilleries
  • Blended grain whisky – a mixture of grain whiskies from different distilleries (not common)
  • Blended whisky – a mixture of malt and grain whisky, usually from different distilleries

In addition to the types, the location where Scotch is made also has a bearing on it.

  • Lowland — considered to be mild, mellow, and delicate
  • Highland — the largest region for Scotch has well-known distilleries such as: Dalmore, Glenmorangie, Oban and Talisker
  • Islay — known for heavily peated and smoky single malts like Laphroaig
  • Speyside — situated next to the River Spey and known for creamy and fruity whiskies, it has the largest number of distilleries like Glenfiddich, The Glenlivet, and The Macallan.
  • Campbeltown — the smallest of the whisky producing regions, used to have several distilleries, but now only Glengyle, Glen Scotia, and Springbank remain

No matter which type or region, Scotch is delightful by itself or with ice. It’s also delicious in cocktails. Here are a few summery concoctions that you can make at home.

Braveheart
Created by Tim Heuisler, Time Restaurant, Philadelphia
A hearty, smoky take on the Bloody Mary.

  • 2 oz. The Black Grouse
  • 3 ½ oz. tomato juice (or Bloody Mary Mix)
  • ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz. Worcestershire
  • Pinch celery salt
  • Pinch fresh horseradish

Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into an ice-filled glass and garnish with a gherkin, pickled onion and piece of bacon.

The Front Porch Punch
Created by Eryn Reece of Death & Company (NYC)
A refreshing summer drink that is slightly sweet with the herbal flavor of the tea and the smokiness of the whisky.

  •  2 oz Chai Tea Infused Famous Grouse*
  • .5 oz Lemon Juice
  • .5 oz Pineapple Juice
  • .75 oz Simple Syrup
  • 1 oz Soda Water

*To Make Chai-Tea Infused Famous Grouse: Add 4 tablespoons loose leaf chai tea to a 750 mL bottle of The Famous Grouse. Let sit for at least half an hour and strain desired amount. Using the chai tea infused Famous Grouse as the base, combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain onto fresh ice in a rocks glass and garnish with lemon wheels.

Grouse Front Porch Punch 3

That Scotch One
Created by Gareth Howells, Forrest Point, Brooklyn
Bitter, sweet and refreshing on a hot summer afternoon.

  • 1 ½  oz Cutty Sark Whisky
  • ½ oz Cocchi Americano
  • ¾ oz White Peppercorn, Hibiscus Honey Syrup
  • ¾ oz Lemon Juice
  • 2 Dash Peychauds Bitters
  • Boylan Creme Float
  • Muddled Strawberry
  • Mint Sprig Garnish

Combine all ingredients except the Boylan Creme in a Collins glass. Top with a Boylan Creme float and garnish with a sprig of mint.

That Scotch One

 

Disclosure: I received samples of various whiskies at no cost.

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Adam Bryan Guest Bartender The Townsend Adam Bryan Guest Bartender The Townsend

 

It’s fairly common for music venues like the Continental Club and Cactus Café to have an artist residency with guest bands playing shows on consecutive nights or weeks. It’s not a common thing to have a guest bartender residency, but newly opened cocktail bar The Townsend is doing just that.

The cocktail lounge and live music venue situated on Congress Avenue kicks off its bartender residency program with Adam Bryan running the show through July 23.

It’s not new to have guest bartenders, but this is the first week-long residency at a bar in Austin. For the three-week old Townsend, it’s quite a coup to land a buzzworthy bartender. Bryan is well-known in Austin for launching the cocktail program at East Side Show Room, working behind the stick at Midnight Cowboy, and serving as bar manager at Bar Congress.

“People have been asking me who was going to be the first guest bartender,” says Justin Elliott, The Townsend partner and food-and-beverage wrangler. “We wanted to take our time to get the right person, because this is a part of who we are. We knew when it’s right, it will be right to offer a residency.”

“I was the guy that showed up,” says Bryan.

Elliott continues, “Adam and I have spent a lot of time working together at East Side Show Room and Midnight Cowboy and have an in-the-trenches mentality. He called and said he was coming through town. The timing worked out. It works really well for Adam to be our first, because we are bringing in someone we trust and with whom we share values.”

Bryan was attracted to the residency because he and Elliott value simplicity in drinks. The Townsend’s approach to doing things differently with a classic cocktail lounge in the heart of downtown also caught his attention.

“For six or seven years the culinary landscape in this town has put on its big pants,” says Bryan. “To see the people involved in making that happen now establishing their own programs in their own spaces is really great. To be able to come back to Austin after being gone for a handful of months and see someone I respect doing just that is a great fit for me.”

Steven Weisburd, principal partner at The Townsend, dreamed up the residency program as a way to bring in talent from the hospitality industry and shake up the creative cocktail menu for customers. It’s a part of The Townsend’s royalty program in which bartenders earn a 1 percent royalty fee each time a drink they created is ordered.

“Our residency program won’t be limited Austin-based bartenders,” says Weisburd. “We want to be innovative with ideas at the Townsend so that we are not just another in a sea of bars. The way we approach our royalty program, the way we do art and music, all are a part of how we are respectful of talent and craftsmanship in several areas. It is a way to celebrate talent in an innovative way.”

Bryan has created a special three-drink menu that will be available from 7-11 pm during his residency. The menu incudes the Rosella Reyes, made with Ancho Reyes; the Velpar, made with Treaty Oak Rum and St. George Absinthe; and the Pedro y Lola made with Tequila Ocho Reposado and Pedro Ximenez Sherry. Each drink is priced at $12.

“The Velpar is an old drink from the early days of the East Side Show Room,” says Bryan. “I wanted to use a local spirit, and Treaty Oak had just been released. I appreciated those guys’ gumption and wanted to showcase that taste. There is a good story behind the name too. Treaty Oak Rum is named for the Treaty Oak tree in downtown Austin, which someone had an attempted to destroy with Velpar poison to kill the tree. At the time the drink was made, absinthe was misunderstood, so that fits in there too.”

Velpar Cocktail Velpar Cocktail

 

Bryan’s cocktails will only be available for a short time, but Elliott thinks they may make a cameo appearance after the residency. He is toying with fun ideas to bring back various recipes from guest bartenders in an end of the year roundup or something like a throwback Thursday.

The Townsend is currently in discussions with several notable bartenders from around the country to take over the bar for future residencies.

This story was originally published on CultureMap.

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