Home Sea Fare Tell the Tail

Tell the Tail

by James O. Fraioli
Rosemary-Kissed Whisky Cocktail
Photo by Jonathan Chovancek

By James O. Fraioli / Photography by Jonathan Chovancek

Part of the reason I love cocktails is their ability to connect us to the land. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed some amazing drinks inspired by stories from the water—oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams—as well as deities and folklore. Some of these cocktails have contributed to the backbone of a beverage program with an ethical message about ocean conservation, whereas others attempt to reveal the location of the Loch Ness Monster, which is where this story takes place. Much like the Pacific Northwest, Scotland’s inspiring landscape is stunning and picturesque. The brisk Atlantic rushes against the shores in the west, smashing the jagged cliffs in all directions with mist and brine, and affecting the spirits and vegetation. To the east, lowlands and rolling hills stretch out to the coast, with spongy peat bogs and wild heather as far as the eye can see. A bird’s eye view of Scotland reveals the thousands of lakes—including Loch Ness—formed by glaciers millions of years ago. Located in what was called the “snout of the glacier,” an inspiring name for a cocktail if I’ve ever heard one, is the Isle of Skye, which is particularly special. It reminds me of the remote islands dotting our Pacific Northwest Coast with rugged shorelines and quaint fishing villages nestled among the challenging terrain and sea. The best way to recreate and cherish such special locations is to enjoy this delicious cocktail—from the book A Bartender’s Guide to the World: Stories and Cocktails from 75 Places, which I had the pleasure of writing with award-winning mixologist Lauren Mote—at a local oceanside pub, in an oyster or crab shack with a postcard view, or while nestled around the campfire as you spin a few tall tales of your own.

Glacial Snout Cocktail

Serves 1

1½ ounces Scottish single-malt whisky (like Talisker)

½ ounce yellow Chartreuse

½ ounce fresh lemon juice

¼ ounce Rosemary Syrup, recipe follows

2 dashes celery bitters

Garnish: Fresh rosemary sprig

To a cocktail shaker filled with cubed ice, add the whisky, Chartreuse, lemon juice, Rosemary Syrup, and bitters. Shake hard for five seconds. Using a small, fine mesh bar sieve to catch the loose ice chips, double strain into a cocktail glass or coupe. Garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig on a clip and serve.

Rosemary Syrup 

Makes 10 ounces

1 small branch fresh rosemary

1½ cups granulated sugar

7 ounces water

Cut the rosemary into manageable twigs with leaves. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar and water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the rosemary. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat, cover, and steep until cool. Strain the liquid through a mesh sieve, then through cheesecloth to catch the finer particles. Store in a sanitized bottle, labeled with the date, in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

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