Pocket Flask: For a spirit creeping on the overproof world, Odd Society's Mongrel is disarmingly smooth

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      As a valuable public service, we crack open spirits from B.C. to Bahrain and beyond, and then give you a highly opinionated, pocket-flask-sized review.

      Today’s free pour

      Odd Society Mongrel Unaged Rye Spirit

      Their words

      “Lurking in the shadows is a beastly spirit just waiting to strike. Straight off the still, and unaged, Odd Society Spirits Mongrel is made from 100% Canadian rye. This juvenile spirit is unadulterated and thirsty for discipline. Taming it in a drink is well worth the effort. Its spicy nature may leave you howling at the moon, but its creamy chocolate undertone won’t maul your cocktail creations, rather protect and nurture them with a primal obedience. While Mongrel may seem like a savage beast at 100 proof, it’s a loyal and true companion for your bar.”

      Tasting notes

      Talk about packing an above-average 50 percent ABV punch. The fine print on the bottle notes that spirits in the vein of Mongrel were, during prohibition, referred to by the common rabble as “white dog, white lightning, or just plain old moonshine.” (Common rabble, by the way, is our term for friends, family, and the next-door neighbour, not the words of Odd Society's.) In other words, don’t go expecting subtle notes of suede, tobacco, Albanian grass fields, and your great grandfather’s Sunday smoking jacket. The simplicity of Mongrel comes with skipping barrel aging; the 100 percent-rye-based-liquor goes right from the still to the bottle. That explains why the East Van-distilled spirit is as clear as the air in Dawson Creek, which is where the rye is sourced from.

      Close your eyes and inhale deeply, and instead of caramel, Rocky Mountain pineneedles, and a Costco-sized box of Pot of Gold chocolates, you get a bouquet that's almost agave-like.

      For a spirit that falls just a little shy of overproof territory, Mongrel is surprisingly and disarmingly smooth—almost creamy even— with no unpleasant afterburn. Odd Society suggests you'll taste upper-shelf chocolate, which is totally accurate, but hands up if you’re convinced that kirsch morello cherries and ‎Moroccan black pepper somehow wrangled an invite to the party.

      Cocktail time

      For pure pop-culture perfection, few things on this planet will ever match the retro-riffic brilliance of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Take two munchies-obsessed stoners (Shaggy Rogers and Scooby), a bespectacled riot-nrrrd (Velma Dinkley), a Lady Miss Kier prototype (Daphne Blake), and an ascot-wearing Adonis (Fred Jones) and you’ve got the greatest Saturday morning cartoon's cast of all time. (Sorry card-carrying fans of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and Rocket Robin Hood.)

      So great was Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! that its characters remain Halloween-costume staples 50 years after the series debuted on CBS. Obsessed adults also go to insane lengths to turn vintage Econoline vans into real-life copies of the fabulous Mystery Machine.

      And speaking of the Mystery Machine, here’s a drink recipe, delivered in the own words of Odd Society’s Spirits' bar manager Olivia Povarchook. Fittingly, given Halloween is almost upon us, the cocktail is named after the van that launched a thousand adventures where, inevitably, the groundskeeper would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those damn kids.

      Mystery Machine, come to life.
      Pat Loika/Wikimedia Commons

      Mystery Machine

      Zoinks! Look’s like we’ve got another mystery to solve. Despite its innocent name, the Mystery Machine is one deceptively strong cocktail. Odd Society Spirits Mongrel is 100 proof but like the iconic cartoon vehicle, it has the uncanny ability to adapt to any given situation. Mix this unaged rye spirit with crème de cassis, a dash of bitters and some tonic and it becomes one smooth operator. Enjoy a couple of these and soon you’ll be chasing ghosts and apprehending monsters soundtracked to a groovy pop song.

      1.5 oz Odd Society Mongrel Unaged Rye Spirit
      0.5 oz Odd Society Crème de Cassis
      2 dashes Angostura Bitters
      Tonic, to top

      Build in a Collins glass with ice. Garnish with a lime wheel!

      — Recipe courtesy of Odd Society Spirits Bar Manager, Olivia Povarchook