"You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find it," Revel Room bartender Robbie Guevara said, shaking his head. Challenged by Nick Ostapczuk (Bangers & Lace) to make a drink with Cheez Whiz, he'd scoured the city before finally locating some of the processed cheese spread (not to be confused with Easy Cheese, the spray-on stuff) at one particular Dominick's.
Things didn't get much easier from there. Apart from its viscosity—"It just does not blend, no matter what you try," he lamented—Cheez Whiz has such a distinctive processed taste and smell that Guevara found he simply couldn't mask it. On the other hand, he didn't want it showcased. So he went for a "savory, salty" profile to try and complement the cheddarlike flavor, arriving at what he called "a Bloody Mary without the Bloody Mary."
That didn't just mean no vodka. A Bloody Mary, Guevara explained, has "tons of Worcestershire, tons of hot sauce, maybe horseradish, a lot of tomato juice" and "these days, a crazy garnish." His riff on the drink tones down the seasonings while drawing on the smoky, peaty qualities of scotch to "round out the characteristic of cheddar. I hope."
He started with the tomato juice. Since he didn't want it to have "too fresh of a flavor," he used whole peeled canned tomatoes, cooking them down with rendered bacon fat, some caraway seeds and fresh basil, and a little red jalapeño. For his spirit, Guevara went with Scottish Leader, a blended scotch that's "balanced, not superpeaty or supersmoky," he said.
But the real key to the cocktail is technique: you need to shake vigorously and double strain "as best you can," he warned, because "the cheese does solidify." Best drink it up quickly, too.
Cheez Whiz Bloody Scotsman
1/4 oz lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Heavy dash of Tabasco
Two dashes Worcestershire sauce
Heavy bar spoon of Cheez Whiz
1 1/2 oz seasoned tomato juice
1 oz scotch
Mexican-style chile powder, bacon, and jalapeño slices, for garnish
Combine ingredients, add ice, and vigorously shake for about 15 seconds. Double strain into a ten-ounce rocks glass filled with ice, pressing down with a spoon to force the Cheez Whiz dregs through the strainer. Garnish with a sprinkling of the chile powder and a skewer of bacon and jalapeño.
Guevara has challenged his coworker Rachael Smith, also of the Four Seasons, to make a drink with sardines, "reason being she has a tattoo of one on her wrist," he said.