The Drink: Hot Whiskey Sling

A simple, winter hot one.  Don't even need to stir it.

I’m not averse to putting in some work for a good cocktail. Most of the time, though, after work when I really want something to drink, I don’t feel like putting in much effort. After eight or ten hours of shaking, stirring and muddling, when I’m finally home I rarely do more than pour some rye over ices cubes and hit it with a splash of water.

In the middle of winter though, when an ice-cold beverage is as appealing as shoveling snow in flip-flops, I have another option: the Hot Whisky Sling. Basically unchanged since the 1700s when it was heated by plunging a red hot iron directly into the tankard from which it would be consumed, the hot whisky sling is dead easy to make, and as delicious as it is simple. Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 oz single-malt scotch
  • ½ oz 2:1 Demerara sugar syrup
  • 6 oz Hot water
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

While you wait for water to boil, put the syrup in your mug first, then pour in the Scotch. Top off with the hot water. Do it in this order and there’s no reason to dirty a spoon to stir it. Grate some nutmeg on top. Use a Highland single malt instead of a smoky Islay malt. I usually use Aberlour 12 year old. At first glance, six ounces of water and a half ounce simple syrup might seem like a long way to stretch two ounces of liquor, but keep in mind that the liquor is being served boiling hot. It takes a lot to keep everything in balance.

For the syrup, put 1 cup of water in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and stir in 2 cups of demerara sugar and 2 pinches of salt. Turn heat to low and whisk until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Keep it in the fridge and it will be good to use until well after the zombie apocalypse.

About our Bartender – Michael Bowers is the Head Bartender at the Modern Hotel and Bar in Boise, Idaho.  His patrons know him for the uncanny precision with which he tends his bar.  Michael’s cocktails have been noted by, among others, Food and Wine, Sunset Magazine, GQ, and the New York Times.  See more in The Drink archive.