Disengaging from my work is a difficult task, mainly because eating is something I have to do every day, whether I want to or not. Even when I’m on vacation, the meals I eat and the drinks I drink are analysed and evaluated. “Could I write about this?,” I ask. “Is this a hack?” Some trips are more fruitful than others.
By this metric—and by many others—my recent trip to Montreal was incredibly successful. Not only did I eat and cook many fine meals, but I got to stay in the home of my friend Devojka, a very skilled cocktail crafter (who also happens be a very talented songwriter). She plied me with many wonderful drinks in exchange for salad and mashed potatoes. (I am very good at both of those things, but I still think I got the better end of this deal.) After a send-off meal of grilled bologna sandwiches and half sour pickles, my host handed me one last cocktail—a cream-topped scotch and honey concoction that soothed me into a gently sleepy state before my long trip back to Portland.
According to Devojka, I am not the first to be calmed by the Athol Brose: “This drink is absolute magic. Google tells me it’s Scottish, named after the Earl of Athol(l), who used the mixture of oatmeal, scotch, cream and honey to subdue a rebellion. (I don’t know, I guess everyone got too drunk to fight or hide or remember what they believed in?) Of course, in this particular craft-cocktailian format, it doesn’t quite resemble its previous, more classical iteration, but that’s OK. It’s still tasty enough to weaponize.”
Besides scotch and 35% cream (it will just say “whipping cream” on the carton), you will need a honey syrup, which is a simple mixture of three parts honey and one part hot water. This extra step might initially seem a little fussy, but it’s much easier than stirring thick, viscous honey into cold scotch.
The Athol Brose is the perfect way to end the evening, particularly a cold and festive one, but it’s also a good way to distract an unhinged uncle, calm a hostile sibling, or keep yourself in good spirits. To make it, you will need:
2 oz blended scotch
1/2 oz honey syrup
1/2-3/4 oz 35% cream (for the float)
Add scotch and honey syrup into a chilled stirring glass, add cracked ice and stir to chill. You want it to be cold, not diluted to watery oblivion, so aim for 25-30 seconds. In a separate cocktail shaker, add cream and a small pebble or two of ice, and shake vigorously until cream is thickened. (We’re not looking for stiff clouds, just a little density.) Strain the scotch and honey into a chilled coup, and then slowly and gently float the cream on top. Enjoy immediately.