Here we are for another Mixology Monday. This time the theme is reinventing lowbrow ingredients in a craft way from Scott Diaz at Shake, Strain & Sip. We gave it some thought, and what is more lowbrow than flavored schnapps? Lots of nasty cheap shooters are based around these, and being craft snobs with the best of them, we have no schnapps in our liquor cabinet. So clearly, that’s a good challenge for us 🙂 Seeing as we couldn’t find a single appetizing cocktail based on butterscotch schnapps, we decided to take that as our target ingredient. How could we make a cocktail that is delicious and included real butterscotch flavor?
We decided to start by making a bourbon-based butterscotch sauce to add rich caramel-y flavor, then combined that with black rum and vermouth. This created a rich drink where the sweetness from the butterscotch and the caramel of the rum is counterbalanced by the herbal notes and slight acidity from the vermouth as well as the rum’s smokiness.
You may note below that we shake rather than stir this, despite there being no juices involved. Given the heaviness of the butterscotch sauce, shaking is key to emulsifying it adequately so that it blends well in the drink.
- 2 1/2 oz black strap rum
- 3/4 oz Imbue Petal & Thorn vermouth (if you use something else, use something that leans towards bitter)
- 1/4 oz bourbon butterscotch sauce
Shake vigorously, strain, garnish with a lemon twist.
We have two black rums in our liquor cabinet. The Maui Dark Rum from Haleakala distillers in Maui and the Cruzan Black Strap. Both of these rums are distilled from fermented molasses instead of sugar cane juice. These types of rums tend to have a smokey quality and bitterness on the finish.
- Nose: Creamy lemon, vanilla, a little bit of smokiness.
- Palate: Burnt molasses and sweet tropical fruity notes on the open, underpinned by faint tart acidity from the vermouth. Creamy caramel and fig on the mid-palate moves into a bitter and herbal finish, with the butterscotch appearing again as an aftertaste. Fairly light body given the ingredients. More caramel and cola notes as it warms up.
Cruzan Black Strap:
- Nose: Lemon peel, smoke, vanilla. More pronounced than with the Maui Dark.
- Palate: Caramel, coffee, smokiness on the front and throughout the drink, more so than with the Maui Dark. Nice brightness on the mid-palate, bringing up a bit of the lemon peel along with herbal and floral notes from the Imbue. There’a a light anise-like flavor, followed by a bitter bite. Finish is cleaner and smokier, not as butterscotch-y. A little bit of sourness develops on the front as the drink warms up.
Both versions of the Black Lei are delicious, but we preferred the version with Cruzan by a hair. The Maui is lighter and more delicate, with less smoke and bitterness. More of a hot weather drink. With the Cruzan, you get a substantially bolder but still well-balanced drink, where the characteristics of the black strap really speak up. We hope you will try whichever version maps best to your taste.