Atholl Brose

John Birdsall helped me write up the Atholl Brose cocktail I created for The Coachman on Chow.com:

Erik Ellestad’s Atholl Brose Cocktail, chow.com and John Birdsall

(Check the link for photos!)

When Erik Adkins, bar manager for the Slanted Door Group of restaurants in San Francisco, visited Clover Club in Brooklyn a few years ago he had a drink they were calling Atholl Brose: Scotch stirred with honey and topped with lightly whipped cream. In Scotland, Atholl Brose is a traditional beverage typically composed of the liquid from soaking oats—when you make oatmeal from raw steel-cut or stone-ground oats, you soak [the oats] in water so they prehydrate and don’t take as long to cook. To this, Scots would add honey, whisky, and cream.

When we started talking about the drinks for The Coachman, Atholl Brose was on the short list of cocktails Erik Adkins wanted to do, but we didn’t want to just replicate Clover Club’s drink. Plus I wanted to include some form of the traditional oat infusion, which the Clover Club had left out.

I tried a bunch of different combinations of these ingredients in various iterations and was starting to think I wouldn’t find a really good drink. Then one of the Coachman’s cooks, tasting an early test version, told me I needed to find some way to heighten the flavor of the oats. I took the roasted and soaked oats home and made oatmeal from them.

Eating them for breakfast the next day, I realized that the coffee I was drinking was heightening the roasted flavor of the oats without overwhelming them, kind of like bitters behave in a typical cocktail. I bought cold coffee concentrate on my way to work. As soon as I tasted the combination I knew we had a winner.

Atholl Brose (Scottish Breakfast)
Makes 1 cocktail

1 1/2 ounces blended Scotch whisky
1/2 ounce honey syrup (*recipe follows)
1/4 ounce cold-process coffee concentrate
2 ounces oat-infused milk (**recipe follows)
Freshly grated nutmeg

METHOD: Combine Scotch, honey syrup, coffee concentrate, and oat-infused milk in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. (It is also really tasty warm, instead of chilled.)

*Honey Syrup
Add 1 cup honey to 1 cup hot water. Stir until honey is dissolved. Store in the fridge.

**Oat-Infused Milk
Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread 1 cup steel-cut or stone-ground oats onto a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven for a half hour, then stir to redistribute and bake another 15 minutes, until they’re evenly tan and smell a bit like popcorn. Set aside to cool. Pour 1 quart whole milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat. Warm until almost simmering (i.e., scalded). Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 cup sugar, and the roasted oats. Add the hot milk, cool at room temperature, and refrigerate overnight. Next day, strain the oats, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Save the oats—you can make oatmeal by adding 2 to 3 cups of water and cooking over a low heat for about 45 minutes.

Cape Fear Punch (Revisited)

A while ago I made a version of Alton Brown’s Cape Fear Punch for a party, but wasn’t really thrilled with the way it came out.

A friend invited us over for a party recently. When he mentioned that he had a bunch of Rye Whiskey, I thought I might remake/remodel the Cape Fear Punch using the more classic punch proportions/methods from my Hock Punch.

Cape Fear Punch (revisited)

3 Lemons, peeled
1 Orange, peeled
1 cup sugar

1 cup water, boiling
2 tsp Green Tea
1 tsp whole clove, crushed
1 tsp whole allspice, crushed
1 tsp whole coriander seed, crushed

Juice of 3 lemons
Juice 1 orange
375ml Rye Whiskey
375ml Sparkling Wine, chilled
500ml Carbonated Water, chilled
Nutmeg, freshly grated

METHOD:
Reserve peeled citrus. Combine Lemon Peels, Orange Peel, and sugar in a ziplock bag. Let sit for 24 hours, massaging occasionally. Steep tea and spices in boiling water and cool slightly. Pour into peel and sugar mixture and shake to dissolve sugar. Chill.
Strain spiced tea syrup into a punch bowl. Juice citrus and strain into punch bowl. Add Rye Whiskey, Sparkling Wine, and Sparkling Water. Taste and adjust dilution if necessary. It also doesn’t hurt to have a spare lemon around, in case you’d like your punch to be a bit more tart. Serves 4-8, depending on their level of thirst.

The mistakes I’ve seen in just about every modern punch I’ve tried are that the flavors are too concentrated and the punch is too boozy.

I believe this comes from applying the principles of super saturated paradigm of modern soft drinks and/or cocktails to Punch.

What you want from punch is for it to be “more-ish”.

Punch should be complex enough to be interesting, light enough that it doesn’t overwhelm the palate, and weak enough that it can be drunk as a session beverage.