The Scots who make Laphroaig know it’s not everyone’s cup of… Scotch. Made in Islay (pronounced EYE-lah), an island off Scotland’s western coast, since 1815, the spirit has a peaty, smoky taste reminiscent of—as its fans say proudly in this marketing video—“a bog.” Others pronounce it redolent of “sweaty workmen and tar” … but not in a bad way, mind you.
Those who love Laphroaig really love it, and when mingled with other ingredients it lends a certain smoky effervescence to a cocktail. Here are six great recipes featuring the scotch from American bartenders who love it.
The Velvet Smoking Jacket
The Gander, New York, NY
Smoky Mezcal and peaty scotch are a match made in heaven when done right. This cocktail is amped up with Velvet Falernum (a Caribbean liqueur similar to orgeat) and a dash of citrus bitters.
1.5 oz Mezcal
.5 oz Laphroaig Scotch
.5 oz Velvet Falernum
Dash orange bitters
Lemon peel, to garnish
Shake all ingredients together with ice. Strain into Nick and Nora or coupe glass. Serve neat, garnished with lemon peel.
Neal Bodenheimer, Cure, New Orleans, LA
New Orleanian Bodenheimer tells us that this cocktail—an unexpected mix of scotch, tart lime juice, and sweet watermelon—has become a “cult classic” among his friends. This recipe originally appeared in the book Beta Cocktails.
.75 oz lime juice
2 oz Laphroaig 10-Year Scotch
.75 oz simple syrup
2 1.5" cubes of watermelon, plus more for garnish (optional)
Add egg and lime juice to shaker, and shake together without ice. In a separate mixing tin or bowl, briefly muddle watermelon with scotch and simple syrup. Add watermelon mixture to shaker. Shake with ice until cold, and fine-strain cocktail into a Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with small piece of watermelon, if desired.
Gabriel Kreuther, New York, NY
Scotch can be wonderfully comforting and cozy, when served correctly, and this drink is both, with bittersweet notes and a citrus overtone that takes the edge off a brisk fall or winter day.
1.5 oz Wolfamer Orange Liqueur
.75 oz Grand Marnier
.75 oz Laphroaig
Orange peel, to garnish
Stir all ingredients together with a large ice cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Serve on the rocks, garnished with an orange peel.
The Islay Word
Vic’s, New York, NY
This riff on the Last Word cocktail is tart, sweet, herbaceous, smoky, and wonderfully easy to make.
3/4 oz Laphroaig
3/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz Chartreuse
Lime wheel, to garnish
Shake all ingredients together with ice until cold. Fine-strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lime wheel.
Drop it Like It's Apricot
Jon Feuersanger, beast + bottle, Denver, CO
Smoky thanks to both scotch and matcha, this delightfully bright yet balanced drink gets a punch of tartness from lemon, sweetness from honey, and fruitiness from apricot liqueur.
1.5 oz Laphroaig
1 oz fresh lemon juice
.25 oz Apricot Liqueur (such as Giffard)
.75 oz Honey
1/4 teaspoon Matcha Tea Powder
Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin with ice. Shake well, and fine-strain into a highball glass filled with ice.
Percy Rodriguez, The Vine, New York, NY
This unusual, refreshing twist on the classic Michelada employs a spicy Mexican chile liqueur, a splash of Laphroaig, plenty of fresh lime juice and pineapple juice, and a touch of molasses.
1.5 oz Ancho Reyes chile liqueur
.25 oz Laphroaig Scotch
.75 oz Lime juice
.5 oz Molasses
1 oz pineapple juice
Chromatic Ale (or similar pale ale)
Rim a pint glass or beer can glass with salt. Shake all ingredients together with ice and strain into glass over five cubes of ice. Top with beer.