Smoked leather hanging in a cool citrus grove overlooking the Pacific is how I describe this cocktail to patrons when they are ordering it for the first time. Actually, I just say smoky leather (the rest of that is for posterity). Some people jump on it and drink two more, others are turned away at the description and ask for the opposite of that- people like what they like.
Anton Chigurh is the main character in Cormac McCarthy’s novel No Country for Old Men. The Coen brothers adapted the book to the big screen in 2007- this is the version that most people are familiar with- and the material I will be referencing throughout this post.
I have delayed writing about Anton Chigurh for months. I had trouble figuring out a way to lighten the mood and have fun with it. Anton Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem, is a ruthless killer- a real life psychopath. He kills almost everyone he comes in contact with- sometimes letting the simple flip of a coin decide their fate. He does not make jokes. He does not empathize. He does not eat tacos. He is an empty shell of a person. *SPOILER ALERT* He does not die.
Why would I name a cocktail after a ruthless killer? Well, I didn’t. The owner of the bar I work at, let’s call him “Brett”, suggested it after my name failed. The original name of this cocktail was “Dani’s Pants.” Let me explain… There was a busser who worked at the bar at the time. Let’s call her “Dani”. “Dani” wore tight leather pants- all the time. At least every other day. On the night I worked out the final recipe of this cocktail, she was wearing her black leather pants. For some reason, I chose this night to ask her if I could touch them- not in a sexual way mind you- I just wanted to feel how real they were and how thick they might be- I was in the market for a pair. She allowed me to, so I grabbed a couple of folds by her knee between my thumb an my index finger and explored the texture and thickness- my god these were thick, and they were real. I can only imagine how hot were they to wear running up and down stairs for six hours. That night I felt a real sense of accomplishment- I figured out the recipe, and I touched Dani’s pants- So I married the two leathery experiences together.
Sometime that week “Dani” learned of the new cocktail and it’s name- she sort of laughed it off and didn’t concede any feelings for it. A few weeks later it appeared on the menu as “Dani’s Pants”. I then began hearing rumors that she did not like the name and I began feeling bad about it and worrying what her boyfriend was going to say to me when he saw it (he loved the name by the way). I apologized to her full-heartedly but could not understand why she was not a little proud that there was a cocktail named somewhat after her. “Brett” and I decided the name would be changed on the new menu and we began brainstorming some ideas… That, is how the cocktail Anton Chigurh was born.
Back to Anton Chigurh- The Character…
When Cormac McCarthy visited the set of No Country for Old Men, one of the questions actors asked him about was the significance of the name, Anton Chigurh… He replied simply, “I just thought it was a cool name.” The Coen brothers built on the idea that Anton Chigurh could be from almost anywhere and left it up to the viewer to decide on Chigurh’s heritage. The combination of his looks and accent do not help confide in his past.
So, yeah, he kills people- fourteen in the movie to be exact. The first murder is a pretty captivating strangulation. There are quite a few deaths by gunshot. But Chigurh’s more creative murders are done with a captive bolt pistol. A captive bolt pistol is a stun gun commonly used to slaughter cattle. Compressed air pushes the bolt out at a fantastic speed and then it is recoiled instantly by the tension of a spring.
Anton Chigurh didn’t look too cool walking down the street carrying his compressed air at his side but I’m not sure he was worried about his looks- I mean look at his hair- that hair!
The Mop-top Bowl Cut
Anton Chigurh’s hair was modeled after a photo taken of a brothel patron in 1979. The Coen brothers thought it was a perfect “strange and unsettling” haircut for a sadistic killer. When Javier Bardem saw his haircut for the first time he said, “Oh no, now I won’t get laid for the next three months.”
The bowl cut has been around forever. It is aptly named for the haircutting technique once used to create it’s defined shape- One would put a bowl over another’s head (or one’s own) and cut the hair that remained lower than the lip of the bowl. It is an easy cut and very low maintenance and can be done for free at home. For that reason it was once associated with a low income household. A Mop-top usually refers to a bowl cut that has outgrown it’s bowl, remaining shaggy- like a mop. Think of four guys from liverpool singing about eggmans, walruses, and yellow submarines- Goo goo g’ joob!
The mop-top bowl cut is really a child’s haircut- I had one until I was five years old. But then I came home from kindergarten one day and asked my mom if I could get a real boy’s haircut. I’m pretty sure a little bit of her heart broke that day.
The rest of her heart broke when I was a senior in high school and had this haircut. Hey Biebs! I had this haircut when you were two years old- You better Belieb it sucka!
Sorry- back to the topic at hand- the mop-top bowl cut. So it’s cute on kids- I mean, it hides their huge heads. But on an adult male, it is unsettling. I will even go as far as saying an adult man with a mop-top bowl cut is not a man you can trust- in fact, maybe you should downright fear him. Let’s explore this theory…
Let’s start soft, with just some simple untrustworthiness… Pete Rose. His bowl cut competes with gymnast Mary Lou Retton’s mop-top for one of the most famous bowl heads in sports history. Although being one of the most prolific players in baseball, he was a grown man with a bowl cut and betrayed the sport by gambling on games- including games he was managing at the time. This image is not a super defining example of his bowl, but I couldn’t pass up this package.
Uncle Rico. Let’s just say if your grandma breaks her coccyx, you don’t want this guy taking care of you. He might try to sell your girlfriend breast enhancements and say it was your idea- or he’ll just throw a steak at your face while you are riding a bike. “Man, back in ’82…”
One more? How about Kim Jong-un, Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. I know, it’s not exactly a bowl cut like we think of- but it kind of is- he just wears it so high on his head- drop it down and BOOM- bowl cut.
*Side note! Did you know his brother was actually expected to succeed his father as Supreme Leader? But then he was caught with a fake passport trying to sneak into… wait for it… wait for it… Tokyo Disneyland! Really! Because of his shenanigans he fell out of favor and now doesn’t get to rule his own country all because he wanted to ride in some spinning teacups- tough family.
I admit, it’s a pretty loosely threaded theory. And you are probably thinking, “Yeah, but what about The Beatles, they were great guys right?”
Well, let me tell you about The Beatles… They fall into this category also. They are the mop-toppers of shaggy topped mops! Tell me which way your trust leans when that shaggy headed rock ‘n roller guy with an accent who openly experiments with drugs comes over to pick up your daughter for a date. “Don’t worry,” he says, “We’ll just be taking a stroll through some strawberry fields.” What’s not to trust? Oh, by the way- these lyrics fell out of his pocket when he was walking away with your daughter…
Yellow matter custard
Dripping from a dead dog’s eye
Boy, you’ve been a naughty girl
You let your knickers down
How about that Cocktail?
Anton Chigurh, the cocktail… In all honesty, I cannot fully claim this cocktail as my own. My buddy “Andy” was in Portland and had a cocktail made with some of these ingredients. He sent me a list of what was on the menu and I got to work trying to figure out proportions without ever tasting the original. So, somewhere in the world there exists a perfect idea of this cocktail, but for now this is pretty damn good. It has tequila and Del Maguay Vida Mezcal, St. Germain and Amaro Montenegro. The four of these combined with lime juice creates an aged leathered umami that will make you want to suck on your belt when you get home.
If you want any further information on St. Germain, click here– I wrote about this floral syrup with deep roots in the post where Chuck Norris and Daniel San go head to head. I plan on elaborating on tequila and mezcal in an upcoming post- they command a little more attention than a few sentences. Amaro Montenegro on the other hand, as much as I love it, probably only needs a quick shoutout.
Amaro Montenegro is a gentle and soft amaro. She, yes she (you’ll see why in second), is almost like a matured Tuaca- maybe more like Tuaca’s secretly promiscuous older cousin. She has the vanilla and orange but doesn’t flaunt it, but you know she’s got it. Coming in at 23% ABV she is modest when she needs to be, but penetrates at just the right time. As unassuming as she can be with others, she may be the backbone of Anton Chigurh. Amaro Montenegro was born in Bologna in 1885, but didn’t get her name until 1896 when King Victor Emmanual III of Italy married Princess Elena of Montenegro. (That is a country, you American). This amaro was plentiful in the wedding celebration and received it’s name after Princess Elena’s homeland. Is it just me or is there an uncanny resemblance between the bottle and the princess? Weird.
Oh Yeah, That Recipe…
In a shaker, combine…
The juice of half a lime
1oz El Jimador Tequila (or better reposado if you desire)
1oz Amaro Montenegro (that’s the princess stuff)
1oz St. Germain (don’t worry, it won’t be too sweet)
A happy splash of Del Maguay Vida Mezcal
Add ice and shake it like you mean it. Strain into a half salt rimmed cocktail glass
Toast to Anton Chigurh and enjoy
Cheers! And thanks so much for stopping by…