Friday, November 16, 2012

Cocktail of the Week: The Arnaud’s Special

It’s unfortunate that Scotch cocktails are such scarce beasts, because I’ve enjoyed the few I’ve tried. The Rob Roy, essentially a Scotch Manhattan, is the best known. I’m hugely partial to the Blood and Sand, and when I finally pony up for a bottle of Cherry Heering I will attempt to write the rapturous post that drink deserves.

Recently I found myself in Macleod’s Scottish Pub, a homey Seattle drinking house kitted out in full Celtic regalia and featuring an extensive menu of fine Scotch whiskies – along with several cocktails that made use of them. I was spoiled for choice, so naturally I ordered a beer. (I had a MurrayAid event to attend later that evening and needed to pace myself.) A return trip is most definitely in order, but in the meantime the visit put me in the mood for a drink featuring the smoky spirit. As luck would have it, I’d just come across one.

The Arnaud’s Special is highlighted in Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh’s excellent work of scholarship Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. What truly sold me on the drink was its inclusion in Ted Saucier’s Bottoms Up!, the same 1951 book from which Murray Stenson had unearthed the Last Word. That serendipitous fact alone demanded that I sample it.

According to Haigh, in the 1940s and ‘50s this drink was a staple at the still-in-business namesake New Orleans restaurant, opened in 1918 by a bogus nobleman. If the Rob Roy brings the Manhattan to the Highlands, the Arnaud’s Special drags it further afield. In place of sweet vermouth it uses Dubonnet, its more piquant sweetness pairing with the Scotch to salutary effect. Orange bitters and a twist unify the drink with additional sharp notes of citrus. Per Haigh’s suggestion I used Johnny Walker Red; there’s no point in hiding the Scotch in this cocktail. Embrace its bold, solid flavor instead.

The Arnaud’s Special

2 oz. Scotch
1 oz. Dubonnet
3 dashes orange bitters

Shake. Strain. Garnish with an orange twist.