B.A.F. ($15) at Death + Company
Scotch and sherry together—makes sense, right? The B.A.F. is a polished, beautifully integrated cocktail featuring Macallan 10 Year and Lustau "Don Nuno" Dry Oloroso Sherry, which contributes gentle nutty notes that linger in the background. Aperol and Gran Classico round out the sweet-bitter balance.
Mah-Johng ($15) at Macao Trading Co.
Essentially a Chivas Regal Rob Roy, stirred with Carpano Antica along with an infused Mandarine Napoleon—the infusion's vanilla and ginger gently peek through, with Macao's own five-spice bitters as an accent. Smooth, integrated, interesting.
Good Morning Milan ($15) at PDT
A Scotch drink with real levity. Black Grouse rides on a canvas of lemon, egg white, and mascarpone—a creamy but light base for the flavors of sage, honey, and lavender to come through. Herbal but gentle, floral but only gently so, it unites the above flavors beautifully.
Apple Turnover ($12) at Clover Club
Speyburn Single Malt, Daron Calvados, Berentzen apple schnapps, ginger, cinnamon, and a lemon slice floating on top. Uncannily tastes like an apple turnover, down to the warm spices, baked apple sweetness, and slight tartness from the lemon.
Fedora Dorato ($13) at Fedora
"The taste of the West Village!", Fedora's cocktail menu proclaims. Well, we wish we could find drinks of this caliber all over the neighborhood. Famous Grouse is the backbone for this stirred, properly chilled concoction of Scotch, Cynar, and Cocchi Americano. It's smoky and herbal with an expected bitter kick, but lightened by the crisp, lively Cocchi—perfectly balanced.
Scotch Michelada ($10) at Dutch Kills
The peat and brininess of Islay Scotch makes Dutch Kills' michelada a whole new kind of awesome. There's the tart lime you expect and tomato juice bolstered by clam liquor, but then there's the Scotch, its malt mimicking the sweetness of beer but with added complexity, and a dose of smoke for good measure.
The Wildest Redhead ($14) at Raines Law Room
In which we see Scotch become downright refreshing. Meaghan Dorman takes the base of a "Wild Redhead" (lemon and Cherry Heering) but shakes it up with blended Scotch, along with a touch of allspice dram adding warming winter notes. The result is a lively, bright drink with Scotch mellowing out in the background. (Also available at Lantern's Keep.)
Grandyman at Amor y Amargo ($12)
You go to Amor y Amargo for strong, bitter, funky cocktails, and the Grandyman is no exception. Here, Famous Grouse joins Banks 5 Island rum, two blend-friendly spirits made herbal and downright savory through Salers, Amaro Nonino, and Bitter Truth's Creole bitters. It's a drink you sip again and again and never quite get a handle on—and I mean that in a good way.
The Barrymore ($16) at The Rum House
Up in the Theater District, Kenny McCoy (also of Ward III) named this drink to honor John Barrymore, and the Barrymore Theater across the street from the Rum House. An experiment to unite Scotch and an amaro, the cocktail starts a rinse of Yellow Chartreuse that's flamed in the coupe, with the stirred Bruichladdich 10-year and Ramazotti poured in, a flaming orange peel garnish. Powerfully smoky on the nose, but balanced by the amaro and citrus oils.