The magnificently named Copper Monkey is a creation of Bek Allen, in-house bartender at Saltbox and the other half of Erin Williams’ Hush Cocktails. On paper, it looks like it has the potential to be the most offensive drink ever made. It features not one but three distinct ingredients that are found revolting by a significant cross-section of Americans. The Bols Genever with its malt & agricole funkiness, the briny smoke of Islay scotch, and of course the Vida mezcal, with all its lovely notes of smoked gasoline.
I’m crazy about scotch and mezcal and I tolerate genever, but even I wouldn’t imagine they would taste very good together. And I was, of course, wrong.
Del Maguey Vida mezcal
Highland Park scotch
“Ginger” (Canton ginger liqueur)
I asked for the proportions, and was rebuffed. Rebuffed! Apparently they don’t do that, which is kind of lame. It’s against my professional philosophy to keep recipes secret, but I do more or less understand. Also, Bek herself wasn’t there, so perhaps I can grab it from her personally next time I see her, seeing as she invented it and all.
For all of its bizarre and intimidating ingredients, the cocktail was surprisingly approachable. Faint genever and Bénédictine on the nose, and the first impression is strangely one of sweetness. It’s not a trivial amount of Bénédictine – probably 0.75 to 1oz – and the sweetness serves to make it complex instead of abrasive with a sweet, long finish.
The scotch shows up on the finish, along with a hint of the mezcal. Honestly I expected to taste the mezcal a lot more, making me wonder if it’s just a rinse. The agricole from the Bols Genever forms the backbone of the drink, with some fresh orange notes from the bitters along with a whisper of cinnamon here and there (I assume from the “highland bitters,” which are new to me). The only sensation that really steps out from the crowd of ingredients is one of sweetness. Aside from that, it’s a terrifically balanced and inventive cocktail.