New Cocktail: Mitchum’s Scam

I’ve been reliably informed that Robert Mitchum apparently has a credible fifties rockabilly hipster outlaw vibe in the real world.  Who knew?  I live, I’ve been informed, a sheltered life.

Anyway, Mitchum’s son has capitalized on his cult classic Thunder Road by opening a moonshine distillery of the same name in Tennessee.  Coming home from Virginia last month, we stopped and got free tastings; I ended up buying a basic moonshine and their rye, which is completely raw, i.e., this stuff has not spent a second in a barrel of any kind.

As such, it has presented a challenge, a challenge that I decided to tackle yesterday.

Given the raw, even nasty, nature of the stuff, I decided to fight fire with fire.  I pulled out the Montenegro Amaro, which I’ve never quite developed a taste for, and went to the herb garden.  Next year perhaps I’ll have a better grip on angelica or vervain or valerian and how they might work, but for this drink I chose lovage, one of my favorite herbs, for its strong peppery flavor.

I thought about whether lemon or lime juice would help take the edge off, but my mental taste buds couldn’t see it doing much good.  Maybe grapefruit might be worth a shot in the future, though.

Finally, I thought, this thing is going to need a strong undergirding of bitters to make it through the aftertaste.  I used 18•21 Bitters’ Tonic and then, at first, their Havana & Hide Bitters before settling on their Saffron & Tart Cherry Bitters.

And here we are.  I figure it may be an abortive attempt; if upon a second one I find that it’s still not quite delicious, I may adjust the proportions, or toss it altogether, but for the time being:

Mitchum’s Scam

  • 2–3 leaves of lovage
  • 1.5 oz Thunder Road Runner’s Rye
  • .5 oz Montenegro Amaro
  • .25 oz 18•21 Bitters Tonic
  • 10 drops 18•21 Bitters Saffron & Tart Cherry Bitters
  • lemon peel for garnish

Muddle the lovage with all the ingredients.  Stir with ice, strain into a coupe.  Garnish with the lemon.

As I said on Facebook, this drink is not my best, but it’s not my worst either.  It has the potential to become a cult favorite on its own.  My first assessement — “The herbal nastiness of the Montenegro is rounded out by the unbarrelled nastiness of the rye, with nice floral notes from the bitters and a lovely overall pall created by the lovage” — may need to be adjusted.

More work is required.

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