As somebody who believes that full disclosure can (more often than not) help one avoid uncomfortable situations in life, I am going to come clean with you. Prior to the most recent edition of the AGO’s monthly event, First Thursdays, I had never heard of or drank Drambuie. Being an ex-Montrealer, I have consumed things all across the bottled spectrum (read: Molson 40s in university… not so proud… okay, slightly proud) and yet somehow in my boozy travels I never came across this fabulous liqueur. Clearly, I should have drank more.
Drambuie Canada has recently launched their “Taste of the Extraordinary” campaign, which hopes to bring the scotch-based, spiced liqueur to the attention of more of us young Canucks. Most visibly, if you’re ever around Queen West, you’ve probably seen a London-style cab in zebra print offering people free rides. Yeah, that’s them. Having ridden in it myself, you pretty much feel like a mix between Bowie and Beetlejuice, which, in my opinion, is never a bad thing. And you’re also the coolest person you know on Instagram for five minutes. Win? Win.
Besides that, Drambuie was also serving up some tastes of the extraordinary at the AGO’s most recent First Thursdays, and I had a chance to chat with their head mixologist, Anthony Caporale. Having learned from him some seriously cool facts about the liqueur, I’ve put together a kind of “Drambuie’s For Dummies” so that my fellow philistines can have cool things to talk about at parties… And educate themselves…
FAQ: How do you pronounce “Drambuie”?
Correctly, it’s pronounced “Dram-BOO-ee” though many people incorrectly pronounce it “Dram-BYU-ee.” It comes from the Scottish Gaelic phrase “an dram buidheach” which means, “The drink that satisfies.”
FAQ: What’s the story behind the booze?
It originates from Scotland, around 1745, when Prince Charles Edward Stewart was hiding out there with the local clansmen after attempting to lead an unsuccessful rebellion to reclaim the English throne. As reward for keeping him safe, the Prince gave the clansmen some of his court wizard’s “Elixir of Life.” In actuality, it was essentially an awful scotch whiskey but, if you were surrounded only by sheep, mountains, and gingers, you’d have probably drank it too.
Fast forward 100 years, and John MacKinnon (the leader of the clan) passes the drink down through his family leading Drambuie to first being served to the public at the Broadford Inn in Skye, and the rest is history…
Or the whole thing was made up by some 1800s marketer to sell the drink better. Who knows?
FAQ: How do you make a drink with Drambuie that brings out the flavour without being too sweet?
Because Drambuie is not just spice and scotch but also sweetness, you don’t want to mix it with something inherently sweet already. Instead, mix it with something that you want to sweeten like coffee (um, on ice it’s better than Baileys for real), and things that naturally already pair with dark spirits. Best thing to pair it with though? Beer. Seriously. Whatever drunken Scotsman came up with this struck gold. Try a pint of Rickard’s Red with an ounce of Drambuie and you’ll have found a better pairing than wine and cheese. Or get fancy with a Naughty Kilt, a cocktail made with Rickard’s Red, Drambuie, a little Tabasco, fresh lemon, and chili salt on the rim.
FAQ: For the ex-Montrealer who still buys all his mix at the depanneur (aka corner store) on the way home, what’s the best mix on the cheap?
FAQ: Drambuie is sweet… Let’s be real, how bad is the hangover?
Actually, not bad. Because the scotch, sweeteners, and spices are all high quality and natural, you’re not getting a tonne of crap mixed in there on top of the desired ethanol. Best way to avoid the hangover? Not to drink too much of it.