The Domino at Hopscotch Disguises Scotch

The cocktail of the month puts scotch with blackberry, jalapeño, lemon, and amaro—and it works.


Scotch with blackberry, jalapeño, lemon, and herbal amaro, The Domino at Hopscotch is something to shout about.

Photo by Lori Eanes

Let the games begin! At uptown Oakland’s Hopscotch, November is all about winning, and the first points are scored when you order The Domino. A fiercely flavor-forward blend of scotch, blackberry, jalapeño, lemon, and herbal amaro, the cocktail offers a delicious layer of smoke along with a subtle trace of sweetness. The creation breaks the rules known to traditional scotch drinkers. “People like it because it’s unique,” head bartender Ava Anderson noted. “So many scotch-based classic cocktails are really strong and can be less complex, so The Domino is a little more playful.”

This is what owner and beverage director Jenny Schwartz had in mind. She began with a scotch base and “from there I sort of followed a road map to locate aspects of the flavor profile I was looking for. The jalapeño was to play off the smoky notes of the scotch, which led to the blackberry to add a touch of sweet with some tannin, which lead to Averna, an amaro, to create some depth and a touch of bitterness. The lemon was the final touch to give it a little acidic brightness. The final product was a bit of a surprise, but a very good one.”

With deep coloring that is somewhere between blood orange and cranberry, the drink is a wonderful combination of fruit essence and barrel-aged oak. It is indeed a surprise, much like realizing your hand of dominoes includes double twelves. When asked why she dubbed her concoction The Domino, Schwartz explained, “I love playing dominoes and yelling out upon winning. The creation of this drink was a sort of eureka! moment, and the expression of victory seemed appropriate.”

Agreed. It’s worth offering a “cheers” to this discovery and also the revelry of game nights spent around the table with friends, scorecards, and cocktails. This month, Oaklanders are invited to raise a glass to toast these favorite memories. Especially the drinks.


The Domino

1 blackberry

3/4 ounce housemade jalapeño syrup

1 ounce Lemon Juice

1/4 ounce Averna Amaro

2 ounces Bank Note scotch


Muddle the blackberry with jalapeño syrup and lemon juice. Pour into a cocktail shaker and add Averna and Scotch. Give it a shake then strain through a tea strainer. Garnish with a lemon slice and serve in a coupe.

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