Montgomery’s Cheddar Meets a Scotch Cocktail

Mark Twain and MontgomerysHave you ever nibbled a morsel of clothbound cheddar and considered pairing it with a cocktail? Until about a year ago, I used to reach for a nut brown ale or a grapefruit-y IPA. Perfectly acceptable. And delicious. Especially for a ploughman’s lunch. But lo, then I sipped a Mark Twain.

A Mark Twain is a cocktail made with Scotch, lemon, and bitters — and when I tasted it, after reading Mark Twain’s account of it in a letter to his wife back in 1874 — I whispered, “Oh, yes. Oh yes yes yes.” And then I went to the crisper and withdrew a bit of Montgomery’s cheddar to let it relax on the counter.

I could taste the pairing in my mouth before I ate them together. The cocktail was bright, a little man-spicy (thanks to those bitters that smell, to me, a bit grandfatherly), with a touch of musty earth from the Scotch. A good clothbound cheddar is, in a word, a grandfatherly cheese: it conjures tweed — slightly damp and musty — but also sweetness, nuts, and citrus zest.Montgomerys Cheddar and Scotch Cocktail

Surely, I thought, such a pairing deserves a special pair of people to enjoy it!

And so, I offer this pairing as a Valentine’s pick for Kim Duty of Cheese+Provisions in Denver, who pre-ordered a copy of The New Cocktail Hour for her partner, Steve. Kim and Steve, may you steal away somewhere secret and enjoy Mark Twain and Montgomery’s Cheddar together with a side of Tom Sawyer.

“Here was a gorgeous triumph; they were missed; they were mourned; hearts were breaking on their account; tears were being shed . . . This was fine. It was worth being a pirate, after all.”

Tom Sawyer, Chapter 14, pg. 91

Mark Twain Cocktail

Mark Twain Cocktail

2 ounces Scotch (Dewar’s or Famous Grouse)

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

1 ounce simple syrup (see below)

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

lemon peel, for garnish

Instructions: Shake Scotch, lemon, simple syrup, and Angostura with ice. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. To garnish, twist the peel over the surface of the cocktail to express the oil. Then, drop the peel into the drink.

Simple syrup: combine equal parts sugar and water in a small jar. Shake until the sugar dissolves. I like to use Demerara sugar (or sugar in the raw), which is best dissolved in hot water. Let the syrup reach room temperature before making a drink.

Montgomery's Cheddar

Look at this gorgeous raw-milk hunk from Somerset!

Want Madame Fromage to pair a special cocktail with your favorite cheese? Pre-order a copy of The New Cocktail Hourand send the receipt to, along with the name of your favorite hunk.

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6 Responses to “Montgomery’s Cheddar Meets a Scotch Cocktail”
  1. Hunter says:

    That might be the most beautiful wedge of Monty’s I’ve ever seen! Was this from the batch you selected specifically for Di Bruno Bros? If found those wheels to be a bit brighter than the standard selection, which would probably lend itself to the lemon in the cocktail.

    • tdarlington says:

      Hi Hunter, I know, right? Amanda cut it for me at the Franklin store. I thought it tasted brighter than other wedges I’ve bought in the past.

  2. mike says:

    agreed, the moment I saw this image, I thought “damn, she hit the lottery” on that cut. 🙂 Love the idea of the customized pairings. Hope to see more!

  3. John Peris says:

    In our cheese shop we have been doing scotch and cheese pairings for many years. We work with two Scotch clubs for their cheese/cigar/scotch events. We have also been doing regular Rum/cheese pairings as well as beer/cheese tastings. Customers will take a small wheel of Bayley Hazen blue and carve a moat on the top, then soak it with scotch. We also use aged Gouda and Cheddar.

    • tdarlington says:

      Whaaaat? John, this sounds wild. I’m curious how the Bayley Hazen moat works. Does it soak right into the cheese? Thanks for the comment. I love this!

      • John Peris says:

        Hi tdarl, You just gently dig a shallow moat near the outer edge of the wheel, the pour in the scotch and let it soak down through. The amount to use would vary depending on how depth of the wheel. We do small disc cuts, maybe 5″ deep. This works with many blue cheeses, I prefer the Shropshire.

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