Welcome to local writer-spirits guy Andrew Bohrer’s ongoing series charting the signature concoctions of esteemed local bartenders.
The Drink: The Suffering Bastard
Made By: Rachel Marshall
Clever engineering. Recycled materials. Innovation, efficiency, and balance: These are all words a slick voiceover actor uses to describe a luxury sedan, but they are also the adjectives for one of Seattle’s better bar programs. Montana looks like the type of bar that plays both kinds of music (country and western) and a place where you can throw peanut shells on the floor (sadly the place has no peanuts). But what is really special about Montana is the bar’s cocktail-on-tap system, curated by mastermind Kate Opatz and ginger beer baroness Rachel Marshall.
You may have seen Rachel and her Rachel’s Ginger Beer at farmers markets around town. She sells an amazing product, now available in mini growlers or "growlettes." But at Montana the team prebatches cocktails and pours them on draft. How? "It doesn’t have a fancy name, I just use my homebrew equipment," Rachel says modestly. But when, as a dude, I started grilling her about the logistics of regulating Co2 pressure, she had an answer for everything, like a seasoned technician.
Rachel fills 5-gallon, cylindrical cornelius kegs with various cocktails; the salt-rimmed Chihuahua (tequila and grapefruit) was a fan favorite this past winter. It featured fresh-squeezed grapefruits, hand-selected by Miles Thomas of Scrappy’s Bitters. After he removed both peel and pith as fuels for his bitters, Thomas passed the grapefruits along to Montana for their second tour of duty. After making large batches of cocktails, Marshall and Opatz then treat their creations to a Co2 charge that varies by recipe; some reach pressure levels of 90 pounds per square inch (as opposed to beer’s 20 PSI). The Chihuahua might be a perfect drink for enjoying wintertime citrus, but lacks the establishment’s signature ginger beer.
The Montana crew makes great use of Rachel’s Ginger Beer by reviving the Suffering Bastard, a 1950s tiki drink, created at the Shepheard Hotel in Cairo. The Suffering Bastard, conceived by globetrotting barman Joe Scialom, combines gin, bourbon, bitters, lime and ginger beer. Marshall says the drink sold out in two days at Montana because, "Cap Hill likes weird shit." Classic shit too apparently.
All of this prebatching and planning also makes Montana the quickest draught (wordplay!) in town. A new batch of Suffering Bastard hits Montana’s taps today. It appears intermittently; if it doesn’t happy to be on tap when you stop in, you can have one bastardized right up for you by asking for Rachel’s on tap spiked up with gin, bourbon, Angostura and lime.
The Suffering Bastard
1 ounce Buffalo Trace
1 ounce Plymouth Gin
½ ounce freshest lime juice
2 dashes Scrappy’s Aromatic Bitters
4 ounces Rachel’s Ginger Beer
In tumbler with ice, combine first four ingredients. Stir in RGB, and pour, unstrained, into Collins glass. Garnish with mint and an orange slice.