Procrastination is a thing. You know this. In fact, science has shown that there is a 86.753% chance that the only reason you are reading this right now is that you are avoiding doing something else. In fact, only .09% of you reading these words actually set out to listen to me ramble through some thinly veiled commentary about life under the guise of making you a drink, or teaching you to make your own drink, which is way more efficient, if current angling models are to be believed. Anyway, the thing is, I have been putting off making this drink for a while. There is never going to be a right time to make this one, but today stars aligned partly and the time is mostly right, so join me as we stand and make, the Aggravation.
I wish I could give you an inspiring tale but the history on this one is pretty sparse. It appears that no one, I mean no one, wants to take credit for this delicacy. What does exist, seems to be mostly comprised of two camps. The first is full of people, we will call them the Doubters, asking why you would ever make this drink in the first place. The second is filled with fans, also known as Zealots, who brighten up at the mention of this drink, but then get wary and look at you all side eye and ask, “Which one?” menacingly. We will get into that in a minute. First let us deal with the more common response, why are we making this one? Reason the first, my actual brother, a Zealot, keeps lobbying for its inclusion. Second, I found a dusty, old bottle of Dewar’s in my parent’s pantry this weekend, so I had the Scotch called for by name in the recipe. Well, at least I have it now, since I stole it, continuing that long tradition of children surreptitiously taking ownership of their parents alcohol, pre-probate. Thirdly, it is Bret’s birthday. He is a spiritual brother, who enjoys a fine Scotch occasionally and who will appreciate the fact that we are not ruining a fine scotch in this abomination of a cocktail. Once, in a parking garage in Louisville, he taught me the difference in single-malt and “fine” blended scotch and my life has been enhanced by that lesson. Plus, I feel like if he were here he’d choke this one down with me, just so we could laugh about it later.
As mentioned previously, there are two versions of this drink, so grab your tins and let’s make the classic one first. Start with 2 ounces of Dewar’s 12 year Blended Scotch Whiskey. I am a Scotch fan, but my tastes tend toward Islay, which is nowhere near the flavor profile of this Dewar’s. Next toss in 3/4 ounce of coffee liqueur, I went with Indiana’s finest Songbird coffee liqueur, chosen for it’s stalwart midwestern values. Follow that with 1/4 of an ounce of simple syrup. Not too bad so far, let’s ruin things by adding 3/4 of an ounce of half and half and 3/4 of an ounce of milk. Shake well with ice and strain into a rocks glass over a single cube. Garnish with some freshly grated nutmeg, toss a cherry on top for kicks and serve to an unwitting rube.
Honestly, it is not that bad, but it is not particularly good either. A less interesting White Russian? Imagine ordering the tiramisu but instead of getting a light fresh espresso rich confection, you get the hastily thawed version from the frozen foods aisle. It’s fine, yeah, just fine.
That was the “classic” recipe, but my brother, the zealot, prefers the second version. It was a favorite drink of a friend of our father and I include it here for posterity, in a nod to nostalgia.
Edited for accuracy:
(“correct” recipe submitted by Brother Brian, the Zealot) “I was a bit off on “Brian’s recipe” 1 part Scotch (he uses Monkey Shoulder) 2 parts fine chocolate milk (he uses Fairlife) over ice (he uses an unnamed but lovingly handcrafted, artisan, small batch, product from the south of Bedford, that I probably haven’t heard of it.) stir and serve.”
Honestly, I may try this sometime with a smoky, peaty Islay Scotch, those flavors might play nice. On some level, the scotch and chocolate milk thing does work. I mean, it is not terrible, but it is not good either. You know it is going to suck, so when it is kind of palatable, you call it a win. Kind of like when you bite into a chocolate chip cookie and it turns out to be oatmeal raisin, it’s not that bad, only imagine you thought you were biting into a sawdust and cockroach cookie, so it’s better than you expected. Don’t mistake “better than I thought” for good. A lot of people end up married that way, not me, I was lucky. Not you either, obviously, but if most Victorian romances are to be believed a lot of people went the oatmeal cookie and/or milk and scotch route.
So there you go, I guess I’ve done Aggravation now. I don’t really feel any better for completing this task. Like most of my adventures all it cost was a little time and dignity. I feel kind of empty, maybe a bit dead inside. Speaking of dead inside, nice segue huh, while you are enjoying this drink you might want to pop over and read one of my favorite zombie stories, “Rural Dead“. Bret wrote that and it would be nice of you to check it out, maybe leave him a comment, for his birthday. He’s a decent fella, he’d appreciate that. It’s a quick read, with an interesting perspective. You read that and I’ll go sanitize my bar tools and meet you back here tomorrow for something more fun, and palatable. Till then, stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.