I've got a list of cocktail recipes a mile long that I would make if I had the right bitters. There are so many different kinds I'd like to buy. They're much cheaper to invest in than spirits, but their effect in cocktails is also more subtle, so it feels like a bit of a trade-off. Since I'm on a budget, I try to think hard about what I can buy for my bar that will give me the most mileage.
So I was pretty thrilled when I found out that Scrappy's sells sampler packs of their bitters. I generally don't make a big dent in my bitters bottles, so buying tiny sizes in a variety of flavors seemed perfect. When I took a trip to the Boston Shaker the other day, I snapped up the pack with grapefruit, chocolate, lavender, and cardamom. (I also bought the nifty coupe in the photo!)
I've definitely learned that it's worth buying better bitters. I used to stock up on Fee Brothers because they were cheap, but there was a specific cocktail that changed my mind. I made the Means of Preservation with their celery bitters a few months back. Then I had the same cocktail at Backbar with Scrappy's celery bitters instead. It was an entirely different drink. I liked it with Fee's, but I loved it with Scrappy's. I was a convert.
The Sherlock & Watson was first on my list of recipes to make with my beautiful new bitters. Scotch, lemon, and an Earl Grey honey syrup are given a spicy, aromatic boost with cardamom bitters. It's perfection. If I had been creating this recipe, I probably would have reached for bourbon or rye, but I always tend to forget about Scotch as a cocktail ingredient. Here, it provides a delightfully subtle smokiness, the intensity of which will depend on what you use. The original recipe recommends American single-malt whiskey or Highland Scotch. I can just imagine making this cocktail with a rich Scotch like Highland Park - it would be even more dreamy. But the only single malts we have in our bar at the moment are the peat-bombs my husband is currently into, so I used some Johnny Walker Red that inexplicably found its way into our possession following a weekend with friends. It still worked well. But the better the whiskey, the better this cocktail will surely be!
History: The Sherlock & Watson was created by Kenaniah Bystrom at Essex in Seattle.
Sherlock & Watson2 oz. Scotch or American single-malt whiskey
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. Earl Grey honey syrup*
2 dashes Scrappy's cardamom bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
*For Earl Grey honey syrup: Pour 8 oz. boiling water into a saucepan. Add an Earl Grey teabag and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bag and add 16 oz. honey (or, if you want to make less, use a ratio of 2:1 honey to tea mixture in the desired quantity). Heat the mixture on medium heat, stirring until the honey is dissolved. Let cool completely before using.
Recipe from Food52.