Montgomery’s Cheddar Meets a Scotch Cocktail
Have 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.
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
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.
Want Madame Fromage to pair a special cocktail with your favorite cheese? Pre-order a copy of The New Cocktail Hour, and send the receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with the name of your favorite hunk.