Smoky, peaty, and with a natural warming burn, Scotch generally spikes in popularity during cooler seasons.
But limiting Highland (and Highland-inspired) spirits to the months after Labor Day misses the opportunity to balance Scotch’s distinctive notes with refreshing and surprisingly flattering ingredients like citrus, banana, and warm-weather herbs. If you’re ready to make Scotch an all-season sipper, try one of these summer cocktails from top bartenders throughout the country.
Backyard BBQ Collins
By Ivy Mix (Leyenda, Brooklyn, NY)
The smoke notes in Scotch’s flavor profile make it a natural pairing for barbecued meats, and celebrated Brooklyn bartender Ivy Mix uses BBQ as a jumping-off point for her Scotch-centric spin on the Tom Collins.
- 1 1/2 parts Single Malt Scotch (Ivy Recommends Laphroaig Select)
- 3/4 parts Lemon Juice
- 1/2 part Orange Juice
- 1/2 part Vanilla Syrup*
- 3/4 parts Cherry Heering Liqueur
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
- Light Lager Beer
- Lemon Wheel (for Garnish)
Preparation: Combine all ingredients except lager beer in a cocktail shaker and strain into a Collins glass with fresh ice. Top with lager beer and garnish with a lemon wheel.
Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and 1 vanilla bean in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let cool and strain.
By Dan Williams (The Darling Oyster Bar, Charleston, SC)
Williams and his team draw significant inspiration from classic tiki cocktails, but when Williams started experimenting with grilled pineapple in his drinks, he discovered that the smoky flavor made a better match for Scotch. This tropical-themed libation, named in honor of Williams’ preferred Scotch brand, balances the sweetness of fruit with an appealing earthiness.
- 1 1/2 oz. Blended Malt Scotch (Dan Recommends Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky)
- 1 oz. Sage Syrup*
- 1/4 oz. Lemon Juice
- 1/4 oz. Orgeat
- Fresh Sage (for Garnish)
Preparation: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and serve in a coupe glass with fresh sage. *Sage syrup: Pulse grilled pineapple and a few springs of sage in a blender until combined. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup water and 1 cup brown sugar to a boil. Let cool, then blend with pineapple and sage until smooth. Strain and store in a clean bottle.
Gingered Scotch & Mint Highball
By Johnny Swet (JIMMY at the James, NYC)
Swet fully believes in Scotch’s potential for midsummer drinking, telling Chilled, “Scotch can easily become a warm-weather sipper when you use it in a tall, cool, and refreshing cocktail. Sip this Gingered Scotch & Mint Highball poolside or on a breezy rooftop bar, and you’ll change your mind about Scotch being a winter spirit.”
- 2 slices Fresh Ginger
- 8-10 Fresh Mint Leaves
- 2 oz. Blended Scotch Whisky (Johnny Uses Pig’s Nose Blended Scotch Whisky)
- 1/2 oz. Honey Syrup
- 1/2 oz. Lime Juice
- Ginger Ale (to Top)
- Mint Sprigs (for Garnish)
- Lime Wheel (for Garnish)
Preparation: In a tin, muddle the ginger and fresh mint leaves. Add the Scotch, honey syrup, and lime juice, then shake with ice until chilled. Strain into a tall Collins glass, add ice, then stir in ginger ale. Garnish the cocktail with the mint sprigs and lime wheel.
Once Around The Track
By Jon Howard (Henley, Nashville, TN)
Nashville summers are no joke in the heat department, so clean and fresh flavors are a must there. Mixologist Jon Howard likes to use the gently vegetal sweetness of carrot to balance Scotch’s bold profile, resulting in a perfect cocktail for a garden party.
- 1 1/2 oz. Blended Scotch whisky (Jon Likes Johnnie Walker Black)
- 1 oz. Fresh Carrot Juice
- 1/4 oz. Combier Kummel
- 1/2 oz. Ginger Syrup
- 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
- Pinch of Parsley
- Carrot top (for Garnish)
- Lemon Oil (for Garnish)
- Grated Nutmeg (for Garnish)
Preparation: Add all ingredients to a mixing tin. Add ice to tin and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass over one large ice cube. Garnish with a carrot top and finish with lemon oil and grated nutmeg.