Pre-prohibition cocktails and modern twists on classics

Scorched Earth

Scorched Earth


1oz Mezcal (Del Maguey Vida)

1oz Cynar

1oz Campari

1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters

1 dash Urban Moonshine Maple Bitters

Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub (optional)

Orange Twist

Add the Mezcal, Cynar, Campari, orange bitters, maple bitters  and habanero shrub (if using) to a chilled mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled rocks glass over a large ice rock. Garnish with a flamed orange twist.
This is essentially a Negroni variation, substituting Mezcal for Gin and Cynar for sweet vermouth. Strong orange citrus nose. Like Campari, this one is sweet upfront and then changes to a potent smoke filled bitter finish, tinged with maple. Closer to a Boulevardier than a Negroni thanks to the heavier smokey mezcal and Cynar, but still very refreshing. If used, the Habanero Shrub really adds nice heat, furthering the scorched flavor. It significantly changes the dynamic of the drink, so try it both ways.

Scorched Earth 2


For anyone who has been following The Straight Up for a while, or even if you just look through a few pages, it’s obviously no secret that the Boulevardier and Negroni are two of my favorite cocktails, both of which share one of my favorite ingredients, Campari. While the end product of this concoction is a variation, it started out a bit different. I was playing with the great combination, of Mezcal and Cynar. I wanted to add a little more body to the mix. As most know, a few ingredients are always on my mind (Campari, Chartreuse, Fernet, Cynar, etc) and Campari seemed like a great one to try, effectively turning this combo into a Negroni variation.

While on paper, Scorched Earth doesn’t sound a lot different than some other negroni variants, the combination of Mezcal and Cynar are particularly magical, resulting in a very herbal smokey and earthen taste, that is enhanced by the addition of bitter orange Campari.

Many have suggested substituting Cynar for Campari in a Negroni or other recipes, as the both have great bitter flavors, and allow for a different take. Meanwhile as a bitter lover, I like to use Cynar in place of vermouth in recipes. While more bitter, Cynar is still a bit sweet, making for a great substitute for vermouth in my mind.

Throwing in the optional Habanero Shrub, really changes the taste, adding heat but taking away some of the sweetness, and is great depending on your mood. I like the drink enough both ways to recommend trying it eitherway. Plus you can say you tried a spicy Negroni.

So while I have seen many substitute Mezcal for gin, and Cynar for Campari in a Negroni, I haven’t found any recipes that use this particular combination. The three ingredients tie together very well. As far as bitters go, experiment with what you like if you don’t have the bitters recommended.


Check out Negroni. More to come.

9 Responses to “Scorched Earth”

  1. SJA

    The description you wrote is a big hook…I would like to try this someday

  2. En Fuego | The Straight Up

    […] smokey drink. I’ve made him spicy drinks before, such as the Albuquerque Old Fashioned and Scorched Earth, both of which feature Bittermens excellent Hellfire Habanero Shrub. He has also tried some of my […]


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