Originally developed for the Swedish market as a special peated version of The Famous Grouse, The Black Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky celebrated its Los Angeles debut last month at Harvard & Stone, an event that kicked off the Distinctive Bartenders Tour. The tour continues in Chicago this month, followed by Miami and a final stop in New York.
Lindsay Nader (Harvard & Stone), Jason Bran (Roger Room) and Joseph Brooke (Next Door Lounge) created cocktails to showcase The Black Grouse, which was awarded 94 points (out of 100) and described as a “real treasure” in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. The event was hosted by comedian Baratunde Thurston, Digital Director for The Onion and author of How to Be Black.
We were welcomed with Nader’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, made with The Famous Grouse, Pineau Cherantes (French fortified wine), pineapple juice, lemon juice, sugar and Angostura Bitters, topped with soda. To go with the welcome cocktail, we noshed on appetizers from Made by Meg.
Each bartender featured two Black Grouse cocktails. Guests were asked to vote for “the most distinctive” of each pair of drinks by leaving straws in the appropriate cup. Judging from the overflow of straws, Nader’s Sean Connery at the Beach was the landslide favorite of her two cocktails. Made with Black Grouse, lime, coconut syrup, Passao passionfruit liqueur and topped with toasted coconut shavings, it definitely embodies the “distinctive” spirit by showcasing the whisky in a fun, tropical context.
Despite its pummeling in the polls, I enjoyed Nader’s other cocktail, The Aspiring Gentleman: Black Grouse infused with cardamom and sarsaparilla, Cocchi Americano, Gran Classico Bitter, topped with cava.
Next up was Bran, whose Smoked Cherry Sour was deemed the most distinctive. A nice variation on a whiskey sour, the Smoked Cherry Sour is made with Black Grouse, lemon juice, Marasca cherry syrup, egg white, Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters and cracked clove.
As far as return sips go, his Black Celebration (Black Grouse, Amaro Nonino, Fernet Branca, Regan’s orange bitters) was right up my flavor profile alley.
And last but not least, Brooke’s most distinctive Como Whisky Para Chocolate: Black Grouse, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Marie Brizard Creme de Cacao, celery bitters.
Just as sippable (though apparently not as “distinctive”) was his Scot’s Pear, made with Black Grouse, pear juice, lemon, ginger syrup, tawny port and simple syrup.
More photos from the Distinctive Bartenders Tour can be viewed at the Thirsty in LA Facebook page.
Following are the recipes for the Black Grouse cocktails chosen as the Most Distinctive by straw vote.
Sean Connery at the Beach
Created by Lindsay Nader
- 2 oz The Black Grouse
- .5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
- .5 oz Coconut Syrup
- .5 oz Passao Passionfruit Liqueur
- Shake and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass.
- Garnish with toasted coconut shavings, lime wheel and umbrella.
Smoked Cherry Sour
Created by Jason Bran
- 1.5 oz The Black Grouse
- .75 oz Lemon Juice
- .75 oz Marasca Cherry Syrup
- .75 oz Egg White
- 2 Dashes Fee Bros Aztec Chocolate Bitters
- 1 Turn Fresh Cracked Clove
- Shake hard and strain into chilled goblet.
- Dash with Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters and 2 twists of cracked clove.
Como Whisky Para Chocolate
Created by Joseph Brooke
- 2 oz The Black Grouse
- .5 oz Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
- .25 oz Marie Brizard Creme de Cacao
- 2 Dashes Celery Bitters
- Stir all and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with small lemon peel.