Champagne’s hegemony over the New Year’s Eve toast will not be disputed here, but there are plenty of boozing hours before it’s time to crank up “Auld Lang Syne.” And with best-of lists choking the interwebs, we’d like to put forth a personal favorite from the year that was 2010. Compass Box—the innovative London whisky maker responsible for a stellar range of “vatted” malts (blends of single malts procured from different distilleries)—released a bewitching dram, called Flaming Heart, in celebration of their 10th anniversary. (10th anniversary, 2010: dig the numerology.) It’s a redux of an earlier release by the same name, though this anniversary edition ($100 a pop, limited to 4,186 bottles) surpasses it in presentation and taste. French oak-aged Highland malt meets peat-reeking Islay malt in a smoky sweet jubilee (there are seven whiskies total in the recipe) that would make Reese’s envious. Best of the year? For people more credentialed than us to say, but it’s a dandy; the blending and fiery fruitiness recall the compromises and bittersweet character of the past year. ‘Course, you might not want to glug out the precious stuff into every lifted glass tonight. We thought of that, too.
To whit: a New Year’s Eve cocktail, MANual-approved, that riffs on the themes articulated above: campfire smoke for the ashes of 2010, and allspice sweetness to represent our hopes for 2011. The alchemists at Huckleberry Bar in Williamsburg (a neighborhood fave) mix an outstanding single malt cocktail called Faith and Fortitude. Seeing as how we could all use a little of both, they’ve lent us the recipe, with a couple tweaks to make it our very own. Heck, they’ve even dropped some bubbly into it. Making it New Year’s Eve toast-approved.
Fortune, Faith and Fortitude
1 ounce Laphroaig 10-Year*
1 ounce Falernum*
¼ ounce fresh lemon juice
5 thin cucumber slices
3 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounce of champagne (for float)
In a mixing glass, muddle cucumbers with dash of Falernum and Angostura. Add other ingredients (save champagne), and ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Float with champagne. Garnish with cucumber wheel.
*If this tacks sweet for your gathering, adjust Scotch and Falernum levels.