If it feels like the world is awash in craft cocktail recipes, that’s because it is. With so many different options for vermouths, amari, bitters, tinctures, and everything else that can acceptably be mixed with alcohol, the sky is the limit. And you don’t have to get wildly creative to construct your own unique cocktail recipe. Professional bartenders, including many of the very best, take their inspiration from others, often merely tweaking a recipe in small, but impactful, ways. What’s to keep the home bartender from doing the same?
I find myself doing this more frequently now that bars are thankfully no longer biohazards. Recently, inspiration hit me on a trip to San Francisco’s Cold Drinks Bar, a fantastic single malt-centric watering hole in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood. The drink I ordered was dubbed Always Survivor, and while it was perfectly enjoyable as their skilled bartenders intended, I couldn’t help thinking about ways to play around with the recipe.
The original cocktail is essentially a take on a Rob Roy, using the estimable Glen Grant 12 Year Old as the base and a light and fruity mix of Giffard Banana liqueur and Aperol (half measures each), plus a barspoon of Benedictine and a mix of Angostura and orange bitters. I won’t claim my version is any better, but it is different. And I personally enjoy it just a bit more. In place of the Glen Grant, I chose instead the punchier, nuttier GlenDronach 12 Year Old with its added flavor dimension from PX finishing. To add a little more citrus sweetness than the original, I substituted Aperol for the less bitter, more vinous Cappelletti while omitting the splash of Benedictine altogether to keep things from skewing too saccharine. The banana liqueur and bitters stayed as is. The name, while not as inspirational as the drink that inspired it, is a nod to its defining components, Scotch and banana liqueur. Enjoy!
2 oz. GlenDronach 12 Years Old
½ oz. Cappelletti
½ oz. Giffard Banana liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass over ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled coup and garnish with a lemon twist.