Mezcal Tonique

Mezcal ToniqueThe other night I was at Backbar and very much enjoyed their drink of the day, the Mezcal Tonique. I’ve written before about the joys of stocking tonic syrup, but it had never occurred to me to use tonic syrup in a cocktail by itself without soda water; I am definitely going to have to play with this more as a stand-alone ingredient! This is my recreation of the drink from Backbar’s menu description, so the ratios could stand a little more tweaking. The one thing I didn’t have was Yuzu Bitters, so I substituted some homemade Buddha’s Hand Tincture* to fill the exotic citrus role.

1.5 oz mezcal (Vida)
1.0 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz tonic syrup (Tomr's)
1.0 ml Buddha's Hand Tincture

Shake with ice and strain.

This reminds me of an Ultima Palabra with a strong citrus sip and smoky nose. This is far less sweet, though, with just the tonic syrup adding sugar. It’s fairly sharp with lots of bright citrus, but the tonic syrup and mezcal give it enough weight to keep it balanced. This strikes me as primarily a warm-weather drink, so I’ll probably put off tweaking the recipe until the spring, but I wanted to make sure I got this up before I forgot it!

* Fill a small jar with thin slices of buddha’s hand peel, add grain alcohol to cover. Wait at least a day or so; keeps indefinitely. Use sparingly.

Dry Margarita

Dry Margarita

The other day a coworker told a story of when she went to a restaurant and ordered a margarita. The server returned to ask if she wanted it dry or extra dry. Wisely, she opted for a beer instead. This got me thinking, though, what would a “dry margarita” actually be? I decided to apply the proportions and technique of the martini to the ingredients of the margarita, but Sasen took the idea the other way, suggesting more martini-like ingredients with margarita prep, so that might be a future post…

2.5 oz reposado tequila (Distinqt)
0.5 oz orange liqueur (Cointreau)
Lime peel
Kosher salt 

Stir and strain into glass with half-salted rim
Express lime peel and float as garnish

This actually came out pretty well, it had the strong boozy character of a dry martini, but with the some of the flavors of the margarita. The salt rim is mostly for show, as without the sourness of the lime juice you don’t actually want that much salt. I’d also probably go for a more complex tequila with this, the Distinqt is fine for mixing, but doesn’t really shine as the star of the show.

Benjamin Barker Daiquiri

Benjamin Barker Daiquiri

This drink comes from the absolutely gorgeous book Absinthe Cocktails, which credits its creation to Brian Miller of the bar Death and Company. It starts with a dark rum daiquiri and then adds a splash of Campari and absinthe, two favorites of mine, so I was curious.

2 oz aged rum (Appleton Estate)
0.5 oz Campari
0.5 oz lime juice
0.5 oz simple syrup (turbinado)
0.125 tsp absinthe (Pernod)

Shake and strain.
Garnish with a floated lime wheel

This was a little bit of a disappointment. The initial taste is good, with the bitter Campari playing well against the rum and the lime and the absinthe subtly tying things together (it’s being used in bitters quantities here), but the aftertaste is no good. A sharp bitter lime aftertaste is not particularly pleasant. There are some good ideas here, but this doesn’t quite work.

Cinnamon About Town

Cinnamon About TownThe last several years we’ve thrown a New Year’s Eve party with a theme ingredient for both drinks and food (look for more of these drinks in future posts). This year’s theme ingredient was cinnamon, which proven as versatile as we’d hoped. This drink is a twist on the Boulevardier (from which the bad pun name derives), itself a variant of the Negroni.

1 oz cinnamon whiskey (Fireball)
1 oz Campari
1 oz sweet vermouth (Punt E Mes)

Stir and strain
No garnish

This is a bracing cocktail with the sharpness of the cinnamon initially clashing with the bitter of the Campari and the Punt E Mes, but actually working together quite well. It’s not exactly smooth, but it stays interesting even after it warms a bit. Fireball cocktails tend to be a bit one-note, but this manages to be more of a discordant chord, including that you might want to resolve the evening with a more harmonious chaser.