Spring has finally arrived (well at least in my part of the world, I do apologize in advance for my Northern friends, you may be thinking this article isn’t relevant at all…), trees bursting into buds, tulips pushing their way through the ground and Topshop already filling its shelves with colorful swimsuits – but I’m still there, under my blanket, trying to enjoy what’s left of the cold days to savour a whisky. Yes, I am one of those persons who drastically reduce their neat-whisky consumption when the temperature rises, because I simply prefer enjoying a
kale smoothie fresh beer on my terrace. If like me, you’re not too much of a “hot-days-drammer”, I found some great solutions to squench my thirst for both whisky and refreshing beverages – taking inspiration from as far as China or Brazil.
Here are therefore 3 refreshing ways to enjoy your whisky when the outside temperature doesn’t really feel Glencairn-friendly.
The Brazilian way: Whisky + Coconut Water
After seeing this video from the Tipsy Bartender and reading Dave Broom’s experiments with coconut water and Scotch, I couldn’t resist… And what I discovered was a whole new world of flavours and experiences. Ok I’m kidding, this may sound too lyrical and exagerated but still, Scotch and coconut water have proved to be a perfect couple and definitely work well with each other, being a drink of choice in many areas of the world from Brazil to Trinidad.
Note that coconut water is not coconut milk. You get that by blending the white meat of the coconut with water; it’s thick, oily, and coconutty. You get coconut water by hacking through the green, fibrous outer husk of a young coconut, punching a hole in the brownish shell, and letting out the pint or so of slightly sweet, slightly briny juice that’s within. Now, outside the tropics whole green coconuts can be hard to find, although Caribbean markets sometimes have them and in summer months Asian markets often sell shrink-wrapped versions that have been trimmed into little pointy-topped yellow cylinders. But bottled or canned coconut water can also be fine, as long as it’s unsweetened and unflavored
As a mixer, coconut water is unlike anything else: It’s not sweet — well, maybe a little. It’s not fruity, juicy, or fizzy. It is subtle, nutty, and hydrating. Mixed with Scotch whisky, it has a pleasant way of disappearing into the mix, stretching and smoothing out the flavor without stepping all over it. (read more)
The Chinese way: Whisky + Green Tea
When blended, tea and whisky can create a refreshing drink that manages to retain the integrity of both beverages. Green tea and whisky is actually popular in China (maybe almost as popular as G&T in England or Ricard granitas on tbe French Riviera).
That comes as no surprise to Dave Broom, whisky expert and author of “The World Atlas of Whisky” & other “manuals“: “There is a natural synergy between whisky and tea, because both beverages have certain similarities in flavor, such as smokiness, malt and tropical fruit notes” (read more). He points to Lapsang souchong, which has a distinctive, rich, smoky character, and Lagavulin, a peaty Islay whisky.
But for pairing, he suggests matching different flavors: So, a Lapsang souchong would pair well with a Balvenie, which has gentle characters, while a strong peat whisky like Ardbeg would pair nicely with an oolong.
I must admit I’m not such an expert in mixing tea & whisky (but this is something that really gets me intrigued – especially after travelling to China and studying Chinese for many years) and my usual concoction may sound simple (or probably like a blasphemous mixing for some) but I would go for a honeyed-ginseng green tea (like this one) and a measure of Laphroaig 10 years old. Add some ice cubes and enjoy on your deckchair while The Beach Boys are playing as background music!
The American way: Mint Julep
The Mint Julep is the Derby classic. It was designed to be refreshing, cooling, and boozy while showing off the state’s spirit. Everything about this drink was meant for a hot day in the sun. It’s traditionally served in a silver or pewter cup with crushed ice up to the rim to maintain maximum frostiness for that incredibly hot Kentucky May day in the sun.
If you want to get fancy and you don’t particularly like bits of mint leaves in your bourbon, plan ahead and make a mint simple syrup. You want a good bourbon that you like for this drink, because you’re really going to taste a lot of it while sipping this drink!
1 scant ounce minted simple syrup
2 cups crushed ice
2 ounces bourbon
Fresh mint sprig, for garnish
Directions: To a highball glass or silver Julep cup, add minted simple syrup, then 1 cup crushed ice, bourbon, and splash of water. Add enough of remaining ice to almost fill glass. Stir well and garnish with mint sprig. (read more)