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Highlander Margarita

Drambuie in a Margarita?!? Sacrilege!

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Yes, scotch drinkers the world over will harass me for this one, but honestly, does anyone really think of Drambuie as scotch? It’s like saying Grand Marnier is brandy. Get over it, and if you live in the northern hemisphere use this special blend of cold/warm weather spirits to chase away the cold as you contemplate the inevitable onslaught of mud season.  That’s the best part of making margaritas: there are endless variations and they all taste damn good. Once warm weather arrives, I’ll probably flood the blog with tons of my favorite margarita recipes, including an off-the-cuff concoction made with grapefruit, but until then we’re gonna keep it low key and spicy, not fruity.

Drambuie is an odd flavor that tastes familiar, but you just can’t place it. It’s sweet but not syrupy, and spicy but not strong.  I’ve tried it in a few recipes, but none of them stood out enough to make me want to repeat them. Still, I am resolute and when I ran across this recipe I thought it was worth trying and seemed like just the trick for a cold but sunny winter day.

There were actually two “Highlander” recipes that I sort of blended together. The actual Highlander Margarita called for blanco tequila, which didn’t seem right to me and was a little thin on flavor.  I noticed that a similar recipe called the Highlander Cocktail used mezcal, but also used scotch instead of Drambuie and really wasn’t a margarita. I’d had enough of scotch cocktails, so I kind of mixed the two in various proportions until I came up with this current recipe. If you are really not sure about the Drambuie, you can use only ½ an ounce, but I figure if it’s in there, you should be able to taste it and with mezcal the smoky flavor is a bit overwhelming so I doubled the Drambuie to compensate. If you use the original version of this recipe margarita and you use blanco or silver tequila, then definitely stick to a ½ ounce Drambuie, but what the hell are you afraid of?  Tequila is fine, but mezcal is the bomb! And don’t you DARE use triple sec or Cointreau! You need the brandy influence of Grand Marnier to balance it out:

  • 2 oz. Mezcal

  • 1 oz. Drambuie

  • ½ oz. Grand Marnier

  • ½ oz. fresh squeezed lime

  • lime wedge for garnish

  • coarse salt for glass rim

Do I really have to explain how to make a margarita? Okay, fine. Shake all the ingredients with ice in a shaker or cup. Use a husk of lime to rim the glass and dip in salt. Fill glass with crushed ice, pour, garnish, drink and savor that salty, smoky, spicy, sour goodness – in that order!



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