Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dram slam: Scotch school

I’m a pretty lucky broad, Internet.  The universe has blessed me with such fun people in my little orbit who are always game to drag this dame hither and yon to events and experiences.  They are my conduits to a lot of joy!  It’s a downright ball, really.  Pretty often I find myself thinking, “How in the heehaw did I get so lucky to be the someone who is RIGHT HERE, right now?”*  Especially for someone like me who isn’t necessarily a primary initiator of fun.  I’m really more of a workhorse of fun.  I specialize in Fun Implementation, if you must know, but I sometimes need a spark of an idea from someone else before it dawns on me and I say, “Oh! Hey!  We should plan ____, everyone!”  I’m a firm believer in saying YES! to everything…the best times are usually had when the last thing you want to do is wash your dumb hair and dab on some sassy lip gloss**, but you do it anyhow and before you know it, it’s like THE! BEST! DINGDANG NIGHT! EVAAAARRRRR!  It’s true.  But when my cute gal pal Kit invited me to an Orange County Bartender’s Cabinet Scotch tasting event at 320 Main, the rad place where she flings delicious vittles to the people, I didn’t even bat one eye.  YES!  Well, maybe it was more like: YYEEEESSSSSSSSSSS!!!! + an awkward fist pump thing.  Nobody said I was cool, you guys.  Whatev.
So anyway, the OCBC is a collective of like-minded lovers and supporters of the art of the cocktail, and meets once a month where they all mingle and jaw about hooch and the perfect ice and elder flower simple syrups and concoctions and whatnot.  Exciting!  I love a cocktail, as you know, and I love me some whiskey (or whisky, if it’s from Scotland!  They don’t use the “e”, okay?  And they do not call it Scotch if it’s from Scotland, either.  Because it’s just whisky.  Duh.) so this was the perfect night for me.  And there were lots of people in fetching hats.  And interesting moustaches.  So debonair, you guys!  And 320 Main was such a gracious host.  They are not only power players in the world of artful mixologisting and reverence to the classic cocktail, but they're also renowned for their perfected homage to American comfort food.  There was a gorgeous short rib shephard’s pie.  And a glorious, delightful mac and cheese.  And it was a cold, dark night, so those drams*** of whisky and delicious food were the perfect belly warmers, I’ll tell you what. 
This night they’d invited a charming Scot named Jonnie who represents Bowmore and Glen Grant single malt whiskies.  He talked a lot about mill grains (a single malt is one grain!), the aging process, casks, the importance of smoke and peat (which shed so much light!  Sometimes they’re too earthy for me…like how Laphroaig always just bites me and shivers my timbers [DIRTY!] at first sip, which has the most smoke.  Now I know!).  And I fell faster and further in love with Scotch whisky.  The Bowmore I loved most was a 12-year aged, the youngest cask in the batch, and smelled like vanilla, with a good taste of smoke, almond and citrus.  The Glen Grant was a 16-year and it kind of became a default aperitif.  It’s Italy’s #1 seller, which I thought was interesting, and was far less smoky with perfect notes of honey and plum.  It’s swoon-worthy for sure.  The perfect sips.
We sipped this delightful hooch straight, which is perfectly fine by me.  I enjoy one little cube of pretty ice in my whisky, but we drank it neat that night, which really just makes you prettier faster, if you want to know the truth.  And the fine folks and aficionados at 320 Main also concocted three specialty cocktails to showcase Scottish wares.  There was the Orange Curtain, which paired 10-year Glen Grant with jalapeno and egg yolk.  Spicy!  A Scotch Old Fashioned with citrus bitters and lime zest.  Zesty! And my favorite new hot toddy****, a Hot Scotch Milk Punch.  Punchy!  He crafted a pumpkin seed orgeat***** syrup and warmed it with 12-year Bowmore, milk, cream, nutmeg and cinnamon.  And it was heaven!  Heaven!  It even inspired me to run home and churn out a few batches of Bourbon Ice Cream, which I then spent the next two days cramming down everyone's maw who happened my way.  I highly suggest you fiddle and fuss with proportions that work for you and yours and add this Hot Scotch Milk Punch to your Holiday Toddy rotation STAT.  I didn’t get the exact proportions—some things are private, you guys!—but I have made a poor woman’s version since that night with agave and milk, hold the cream please so I can eat more cheese thank you very much, so I know it can totally be done to suit your personal swilling needs.  I’m not kidding: do it.  And if you’re a local or even meandering through or about Seal Beach and haven’t yet, stop in to nosh and sip at 320 Main.  You’ll be so, so happy you did!

*See: Adele at The Greek Theater, LA.  Magical.  Also, I got to eat some free cheese that night, too, but I don’t want to be all braggy about it.

**Am I right, fellas?

***Drams are a measure of whisky!  But you knew that already, didn’t you, internet?  You’re so clever!

****Lord love a lemon, all y’all know that I love me a hot toddy!  I really, really do.

*****Orgeat is a simple syrup typically made from almonds, but he make a pepita one.  Because he’s brilliant!

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