How to butterfat-wash Scotch for a boozy apple cocktail that tastes like Christmas

The It Is What It Is cocktail garnished with apple slices and cinnamon at Pinky's, a new bar in Los Feliz.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The palm trees on the wallpaper and the backlit glass blocks behind the bar at Pinky’s, a new cocktail bar across the alley from Atrium restaurant in Los Feliz, give major “Miami Vice” vibes. The bar is named for Pinky, a once-famous dancing flamingo at Busch Gardens in Florida, who, sadly, was killed in 2016.

Pinky’s is the latest in a slew of new bar openings turning the Los Angeles nightlife world into a first-rate cocktail town. Some of the drinks at Pinky’s are served in Capri Sun-like pouches; others come topped with a cinnamon bubble that dissolves into smoke. And one of the drinks is adorned with a shard of house-made candy that tastes like a Jolly Rancher.

For the record:

3:50 p.m. Dec. 11, 2019An earlier version of this recipe omitted the Jim Beam in the recipe.

Jordan Young, the 26-year-old who runs the drinks program at Pinky’s, said he created each drink “with care and an inherent campy yet fun flair.”

The It Is What It Is cocktail is a combination of Jim Beam, Pimm’s No. 1, Giffard Banane, burlesque bitters and brown-butter-washed Harleston Green, which gives the drink a viscous, luxurious texture going down. The name is a nod to the uncertainties of life and the need to stop focusing on the little things.

“Life is what it is,” Young said.

The cocktail tastes like a boozy apple cider with hints of banana, crisp apple and spice.

1816 ½ N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 763-0351,


It Is What It Is

5 minutes. Makes 1 cocktail.

Though “washing” the Scotch here with browned butter — a process that imparts the fat’s flavor into the liquor — may seem unnecessary, it imparts a velvety smoothness to the Scotch and, thus, the cocktail, tying together all the many ingredients in this chilled wintry drink. If you don’t have a spray bottle for the cinnamon tincture, you can dip a spoon in the tincture and gently flick drops of it on top of the finished cocktail.


  • 1 ounce brown-butter-washed Scotch (see recipe below)
  • ½ ounce Jim Beam bourbon
  • ½ ounce Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur
  • ½ ounce apple juice
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce amontillado sherry, preferably Yuste
  • ¼ ounce banane du Bresil liqueur
  • ¾ teaspoon maple syrup
  • 5 drops Bitterman’s “burlesque” bitters
  • 1 ounce tonic water, preferably Q
  • Cinnamon tincture spray (see recipe below), for serving
  • 1 thin slice apple


  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the Scotch, Pimm’s, Jim Beam, apple juice, lemon juice, sherry, banana liqueur, maple syrup and bitters. Add ice, cover and shake until well-chilled, at least 15 seconds.
  2. Strain the drink into a chilled bucket or old-fashioned glass, fill with ice and top with the tonic water. Spray the top of the cocktail with the cinnamon tincture and garnish the glass with the apple slice.

Brown-butter-washed Scotch


  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 cups blended Scotch whiskey

Melt ½ cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, continue cooking and stirring often, until the butter smells nutty, starts to foam and the solids on the bottom of the pot turn golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Immediately pour the browned butter into a high-sided bowl. Add 2 cups blended Scotch whiskey and whisk constantly for 2 minutes to combine. Transfer the bowl to the freezer and let chill until the butter and Scotch separate and the butter solidifies, at least 1 hour. Remove the solidified butter, then pour the chilled mixture through a coffee filter or moistened paper towel set in a fine-mesh sieve set over a clean bowl and let drain to remove all the butter. Transfer the Scotch to a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 2 cups.

Cinnamon tincture spray
Heat 1 cinnamon stick in a small skillet over medium-high heat until it smells fragrant and is lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Place the cinnamon in an airtight container and pour in 1 cup 100-proof rye whiskey. Cover and let steep for at least 1 day. Remove the cinnamon from the whiskey and pour the whiskey into a small spray bottle. Store at room temperature. Makes 1 cup.