Scotch Cocktails



{The Selkirk Sparkler}

Some say that a Scotsman is only a good as his whiskey. Being a Scottish lady, there are some things I still can’t get behind, and drinking Scotch neat is one of them. It must be the intermingled Irish, but I’d rather a glass of champagne or a Guinness any day!

As part of our Burns Night celebration, we wanted to appeal to all tastebuds. Ergo, two cocktails in celebration of all things Scotchy.

The Bobby Burns is a strong, medicinal drink. As the boys said, it’s a drink to put hair on your chest. For those who’d rather a fizz in the mouth than hair on the chests (like we lassies), the Selkirk Sparkler proved to be the perfect party drink. My goal was to take a classic whiskey sour and liven it up a little bit, and boy did we! Though for a lively night of any variety, either of these drinks will do just dandily.

The Bobby Burns

2 ounces Scotch

1 ounce sweet vermouth

1 dash Angostura bitters

2 dashes Benedictine or brandy


The Selkirk Sparkler

2 ounces whiskey

3 ounces sour mix





The Perfect Martini

Cary Grant (allegedly) famously said, “Why don’t you get out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini?” and no quote is more appropriate for misty, wet San Francisco weather than this one! To learn how to make the perfect, badass martini, I turned to my mixologist roommate Victor for the scoop:

“There’s been a shift, from traditional vermouth and gin martinis, to straight vodka with lots of olive juice,” says Victor. “But in my opinion, the key to a great, classic martini is good quality ingredients, a nice clear glass, and the right ratios.”

We have a lot of top-shelf liquor on hand at our house, but you can feel free to experiment until you find the spirits you prefer. As long as they’re good quality, you can’t really go too far awry.

We did a lot of experimenting and mixing – all in the name of research, of course – and ended up with two different camps of martinis: some that are smooth, clean and bright, and others that slap you in the face and yell I AM A MARTINI, BITCHEZ!, but in the most refined way possible. In other words, I’ve Had A Good Day Martinis and This Has Been A Terrible Day Martinis.

But since we’re talking perfection here, we continued to mix and stir and concoct until we developed a perfect blend of the two that will have you sipping happily until Cary Grant walks through the door.



. Beefeater or Ransom gin

. Noilly Pratt vermouth

. Fee Brothers orange bitters

. One lemon


1. Chill the glass, either in the freezer, or by filling it with ice water while you mix your drink, and pouring it out before you strain.

2. In another glass or shaker, measure out 2 1/2 ounces gin, 3/4 ounce vermouth, and two dashes orange bitters over ice. Stir the ingredients with ice, quickly and evenly, first clockwise, then counterclockwise. Continue stirring until well mixed and condensation forms on the outside of the glass.

3. Strain into a chilled glass, making sure no ice shards escape!

4. Garnish with a large lemon curl. For extra technique points, squeeze the lemon curl to release its oils, and rim the glass with it before placing it into the drink.

5. Voila! Even if you had a bad day, if you’ve made perfect martinis, you’re suddenly having a very good day. Hey, good for you!

Thank you, Victor!

Cajun Mary + The Merits of the Eyeball

My tongue is a little bit on fire as I type this. There is nothing I love more than spicy, but whoa dang. In my search for and creation of the perfect spicy Bloody Mary, I came across Emeril’s recipe for a Cajun Mary, and decided to combine my love of spicy, savory and drinking in the morning, and turn an empty glass into one glorious creation!



And then Cajun Mary bit me in the arse. Or tongue, as it were. She bit me in the tongue.

Is that a little gross? Probably.

Full disclosure: I didn’t use Emeril’s recipe as stated, because where’s the fun in that? Rather, I used it as a jumping off point to make my own single serve creation, rather than a pitcher drink, as he indicates. Apparently Emeril would rather we not drink alone. Good to know.

Because of my devil-may-care attitude with this recipe, there are no actual measurements, just some good old fashioned eyeballin’. I used to freak out when my grandma would cook things and eyeball it, because the Type A organizer inside me needed directions and tidiness when I was learning how to cook, but I’ve come to believe that knowing how to eyeball is just as important as knowing how to braise or blanch or chiffonade, or anything else Martha can do and you maybe can’t (yet).

The ability to cook on your feet and improvise is how mediocre cooks differ from great cooks. A mediocre cook will always make things that are just fine, but a great cook will fail some, mess some things up, save some dishes, invent new ones, and leave their eaters with mouths open and tongues out because they took a risk and it paid off. GET RISKY, COCKTAILERS!

Whew! It’s warm up here on this stump!

Even fuller full disclosure: The fiery flaming hotness of this cocktail was because I did not follow the recipe. But like I said. Fun? Where? Yeah. We’re takin’ risks and eyeballin’ and not ending words with the letter G. Ready…go!



. Low sodium V-8 (3/4 glass)

. Absolut pepper vodka (1/4 glass or to taste)

. Spritz of fresh lime juice + a wedge to garnish

. Small dollop of horseradish (to your own taste, not to mine because dear Lord that is how we lose our taste buds)

. Splash of Worcestershire sauce

. Splash of hot sauce, like Tabasco or Pico Pico

. Shake of cajun seasoning

. Small pinch of sea salt (very small pinch – too much salt detracts from the other flavors)

. Pinch of freshly ground black pepper (one or two cranks from the pepper mill ought to do it)

. SMALL shake of Penzy’s Red Chipotle seasoning (see: horseradish) (ahem)

. Banana peppers for garnish + a splash of banana pepper juice for the cocktail itself


1. Stir all the ingredients together in a pitcher or glass. Or if you want to get really fancy or are an overachieving sort of drinker, you can put everything into a blender and give it a quick zoom-zoom! Whatever you do – be ye not so stupid as regards to the spicy. And if ye get crazy with the spice, then don’t come whining to me. I’m just saying.



2. Pour over ice and garnish with banana peppers and a wedge of lime. Other garnish options: celery, green olives, cocktail onions, cocktail shrimp, cherry tomatos, a roasted garlic clove.