The shit I don't do for you people.
I realized two things this morning.
First of all, using the 3 ounce cap on my nice stainless shaker as a one part for mixing these cocktails - as in "two parts whiskey one part vermouth" - is pretty heavy duty. I realized this when woke up and thought there was a cat stuck in my mouth, but it was only my mouth.
Second, this is a heavyweight fight of ten rounds. Each night, I'm pairing up the previous night's winner with a new cocktail.
Two rounds a night, five days.
Classic heavyweight bout, right there.
Which makes perfect sense because each morning I'm going to wake up feeling like I got beaten and picked up a concussion the night before.
Tonight's matchup is last night's champ, the Manhattan, squaring off against his Scottish cousin, the Rob Roy. A Rob Roy is nothing but a Manhattan made with Scotch. Of course that's like saying Ma Deuce is nothing but a machine gun made with John M. Browning's ideas, or champagne is nothing but French wine made with bubbles, or Catholic doctrine made in Rome.
Scotch is the sine qua non of high quality boozing. Sure, you can get some low quality scotch - but even that is usually made from high quality single malts that some Scottish bastard decided could be whipped into a punishing blend to be the scourge of low rent morons who deserve to be punished.
There aren't many Scotch whiskeys, er, whiskys, that I'll turn down on quality grounds. There are plenty I'll turn down on taste grounds though. When Scotch doesn't get along with your palate, it declares war along the lines of Russians-reaching-Berlin dyspepsia. And I... how should I put this delicately... am not a big fan of the blended scotches. The medicinal peaty taste that is so appealing in Ardbeg or Laphroaig or one of the small batch Islay malts, tastes like Listerine in a blend. The cinammon sharpness of the highland malts tends to taste like cigarette butts - to me anyhow - in most blends. And the mildness of the lowland malts tastes like a sandbagger whisky sour left over from a wedding reception when you get it in a blend.
Still, some blends are decent enough, the higher end Johnny Walkers, and most notably, Chivas.
I collect Chivas, actually. People will wonder what to get me because I am the Man Who Has Everything In His Mind, and somebody will mention that I drink Scotch, which is true just as I eat food is also a true statement about me. If they are a scotch drinker, they'll throw me a bottle of Laphroaig 10 year, which isn't the greatest scotch in the world but it's a very nice one, a scotch drinker's scotch in the way you won't find many bourbon drinkers turning down a shot of Maker's. Solid. So I have 4 bottles of that sitting around, give or take. If they aren't scotch drinkers, they'll score me a bottle of Chivas. I have three of them sitting around.
So naturally, I have to figure out how to burn some of the Scottish National Cirrhosis Reserve Stocks, and the Rob Roy is the answer for that, at least tonight. I wouldn't blend a good single malt - unless it was to go into an exceptionally weird & cool mix, like a homemade Drambuie or something - so tonight's assault will be on the blended stuff.
The Rob Roy is a simple drink. It's two parts Scotch to one part Sweet Vermouth, with a dash of Angostura Bitters, shaken over ice, and maybe a cherry and a dash of cherry juice thrown in. It's a nice drink. It's also the first one on deck tonight and I can report, it's going down pretty damn smooth.
What's the taste like? Sophisticated. Scotch has a much more complicated palate than rye or bourbon. Chivas in a mixer is peppery, a tiny bit medicinal, and astringent. The peppery notes really set off the cherry and Vermouth; their sweetness is really set off by the scotch, but without being overwhelmed by it and turned into a sweet drink.
So how will the Manhattan hold up against this onslaught?
I'll tell you in about 10 minutes.
I hate to say this but it's the Manhattan in a rout.
Compared to the Rob Roy, the Manhattan is a more accessible drink. Made with rye, it's dry, and a bit lighter. I will confess to chuckling while drinking the Rob Roy, and inadvertently taking some the wrong way down my throat, a move accompanied by involuntary shivers. I don't think the Manhattan would do that to me.
It's not that the Rob Roy is a bad drink; it's not. But it strikes me as the hard core scotch drinker's cocktail. I drink scotch, but I'm not hard core. In my old age I've turned into more of a bourbon drinker. I like a whisky that is simple, tasty and quite strong, but not terribly challenging to get down. I like scotch but, like canned tuna, there are some days where I just don't have a taste for it, and on those days it's like forcing down cat food.
I will make the comparison here between an okay, strong red wine, and a great white.
Is the white better than the red? Or do you discount the white just because it doesn't kick your ass whenever you try to drink it?
For a while there, I used to discount the white because it wasn't as full bodied as the red. If I was doing this shootout back then, I'd like the Rob Roy more because it's got more kick, just like an okay Bordeaux.
But the more delicate rye Manhattan, like that really good white Languedoc, brings more to the table. It wins tonight's bout.
Wow, I'm having trouble closing this out. Gotta get a shaker with a top cap size smaller than 3 ounces. This shootout is going to kill me.