Mrs. Mai Tai often orders a Shirley Temple in lieu of a cocktail but sometimes you want this kind of drink with alcohol included. This alcoholic “Dirty” Shirley Temple riff is named after Garbage and Angelfish singer Shirley Manson, a native of Scotland. So, naturally the featured spirit in this cocktail is Scotch Whisky. Given the difficulty of balancing the high cherry content in a boozy highball you might understand why I worked on this on and off for over a year until I finally got it where I wanted it.
Noteworthy is the use of Ginger Ale rather than 7-Up or Sprite; true Shirley Temple aficionados will agree this is the correct soda mixer. The use of Maraschino Cherry Juice is potentially controversial but is the key ingredient to provide the flavor notes that’ll remind you of your favorite childhood version of this drink. I tried Luxardo cherry juice while prototyping but it was too thick and didn’t lighten the already heavy flavors from Cherry Heering liqueur.
(Dirty) Shirley Manson ½ oz Maraschino Cherry Juice ½ oz Cherry Heering Liqueur ½ oz Cointreau 1½ oz Scotch Whisky 1 dash Cherry Bitters (optional) 3 oz Ginger Ale\ Fill glass with crushed ice or small cubes. Build in Collins glass and stir lightly. Garnish with three cherries on a pick.
I went around with some different styles of Scotch and am not officially designating a specific brand or type. If you like it peaty, then choose a beloved Islay brand. Although the peaty flavor isn’t my favorite I do feel like a little bit of it in the cocktail will provide authenticity and a good counterbalance to the sweet cherry notes.
When I make this at home I use 1 oz The Glenlivet 12 year and ½ oz of Johnnie Walker Black Label, providing just the right amount of that smoky Scotch flavor along with the Speyside Scotch’s predominantly floral notes.
Mrs. Mai Tai suggested trying this speakeasy cocktail bar again, so we were pleased to score a last-minute reservation right for opening. The Blind Rabbit is located in the Anaheim Packing District venue, and seems to have relaxed a lot of the “rules” that previously were enforced. We had a lot of delays getting our Lyft and were stressed we might miss the 15 minute grace period.
In the end, we arrived right on time to find … ourselves as the only customers inside the bar! As such our server was quite attentive, even after other guests started to arrive. The hostess kept a tight ship, shooing out some guests who walked right into the bar without first checking in.
The Blind Rabbit’s menu is fairly small and features some cocktails with ingredients such as Mezcal that aren’t in my wheelhouse. While I know that the staff can go off-menu, we do like to try from the cocktail menu.
Icy Colors Change – Gin, Elderflower, Lemon, Pomegranate. I enjoyed this light cocktail, though my light did not change.
Ardbeg Your Pardon – I’m not a fan of peated Scotch, so I asked the server about this cocktail with Ardbeg Scotch, Rye, and spiced syrups. Ardbeg is indeed peated, but I took and chance and found that it didn’t overpower thanks to the Rye.
For my last drink I did go off menu to ask for a Rum Old Fashioned with Jamaica Rum. The bartender prepared this wonderfully and it’s always wonderful to savor my favorite style of rum.
Mrs. Mai Tai enjoyed a Zombie variant called Happier than Ever and served in a cool Viking skull mug. She also got an off-menu cocktail the server recommended for its similarity to a Pacific Cooler Capri Sun.
After drinks, we ate dinner at The Iron Press upstairs where we had absolutely fabulous Pretzel Bites and a Simple Burger. So great.
Looks like we are headed for the British Isles for vacation this summer. Specific dates/plans are still TBD but most likely a tour starting in late June with some extra days in London.
I haven’t been to Trader Vic’s there (stupidly, didn’t even consider it the last time we were there 5+ years ago – before I got back hard into Tiki), but it’s gonna happen this time. Some other good tiki bars there too, and I’m looking forward to trying some Scotch and Irish Whiskeys too.