In my mid-20's, I used to think all Scotch was the same. It was something that old men drank, and something that my male friends were "learning to drink." Every time I tasted it, all I got was heavy peat and smoke, so I assumed that's what Scotch was all about.
Flash forward to the present. Not only have I matured greatly since then (or so I'd like to think), but during the course of my spirits education—both formal and informal—I have learned just how wrong I was back then.
Highlands, New York's West Village Scottish bar, is a perfect place to educate yourself about Scotch whiskies. Take some time to taste and learn which ones suit your personal preferences; they've chosen about thirty, and compliled brief tasting notes on each, but their selection goes beyond the printed list. That said, Highlands isn't all about the Scotch. The comfortable, sophisticated atmosphere lends itself to a visit just to perch at the bar, no matter the type of tipple you prefer. They offer beer, wine, and a handful of seasonal cocktails, as well as modern Scottish-influenced small plates, like a lamb sausage roll and House Cured Loch Duart Salmon (haggis is reported to be coming in the not-too-distant future).
A recipe for my favorite Scotch cocktail, after the jump.
If your preference is for a cocktail, ask one of the plaid-shirted barmen for a Blood and Sand. This classic cocktail features Scotch and got its name from from the 1922 film starring Rudolf Valentino and Rita Hayworth (Valentino plays a bullfighter). Brian McGrory at Highlands makes his with Highland Park 12 year, a single malt whisky aged in sherry barrels, and slightly tweaks the traditional recipe, which calls for equal parts Scotch, Vermouth, Heering, and Orange Juice.
Blood and Sand
2oz Highland Park 12 yr 1oz Cherry Heering 1oz Freshly squeezed orange juice dash of freshly squeezed lemon juice dash of bitters
Add of all the above ingredients to shaker over ice. Stir and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with an orange zest and a brandied cherry.
150 West 10th Street, New York NY 10014 (map) 212-229-2670
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