It's not yet officially autumn, but for many drinkers the passing of Labor Day means it's time to put away the white booze along with the white shoes and to break out the dark spirits for the cooler months.
Last winter I wrote about a classic scotch cocktail, the Rob Roy; consider the Arnaud's Special the Rob Roy's southern cousin.
As Ted Haigh writes in Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails (this drink is from the expanded selection in the 2009 Deluxe Edition), the Arnaud's Special was the signature cocktail at Arnaud's restaurant in New Orleans during the 1940s and '50s. The drink is essentially a Rob Roy with Dubonnet Rouge substituted for sweet vermouth, and with orange bitters in place of Angostura. Dubonnet and sweet vermouth are close cousins, but the nuanced differences result in a somewhat brighter drink. With the orange bitters, the Arnaud's Special has a crisp edge as compared to the Rob Roy's ponderous gravitas.
The Rob Roy and Arnaud's Special are both lovely drinks well-suited to the advance of autumn.
- 2 ounces blended scotch whisky (Famous Grouse is a good option)
- 1 ounce Dubonnet Rouge
- 3 dashes orange bitters
- orange twist, for garnish
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir well for 20 seconds; strain into chilled cocktail glass. Twist piece of orange peel over drink and use as garnish.