MxMo MexMar

MexMartinez 016

That’s short for Mixology Monday Mexican Martinez… obviously. This month’s theme as chosen by Tristan at The Wild Drink Blog:

This month’s Mixology Monday is all about twists on classic cocktails, that for one reason or another do an even better job than the drinks upon which they are based.

This could be as simple as a classic Margarita with a dash with a special touch that completes it, or maybe as complicated as a deconstructed Hemingway Daiquiri with a homemade rum foam/caviar/jus/trifle. It might be taking a classic like a Manhattan and using Tequila instead of Bourbon?

Substituting tequila into a classic cocktail is exactly what I’m up to this month. A while ago I mentioned that the pairing of tequila and rhubarb bitters had potential, but I wasn’t quite sure what do with it. Lately I’ve been playing with these ingredients in a variation on the classic Martinez cocktail. Covered in greater detail here, the Martinez is made with gin or Old Tom gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters. Making a few substitutions, I’ve lately been enjoying this variation I call a Mexican Martinez:

2.25 oz reposado tequila (Chamucos)
.5 oz Dolin Blanc vermouth
1 bar spoon maraschino
2 dashes Fee Bros.’ rhubarb bitters

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a slice of orange zest expressed over and dropped into the drink.

The Dolin line of vermouths is suddenly readily available here in Portland and I couldn’t be happier. The Blanc is a sweet, floral, melony vermouth that’s absolutely delicious on its own. It works well in cocktails too, rounding out the tequila in this one while letting a little bit of lingering heat to show through. The Dolin Blanc complements tequila better than other vermouths I’ve tried, but if you can’t find it in your area experiment with other sweet vermouths. I expect you’ll find tequila makes an intriguing twist on the venerable old Martinez.

Update: What madness is this, two tequila and rhubarb cocktails in one Mixology Monday? It’s true. Michael Dietsch at A Dash of Bitters posts a Margarita variation working in Cynar, rhubarb bitters, and orange flower water. I’m sipping on one right now and can vouch for its tastiness. Check it out here.

One more drink for the road

This morning I’m making attempt number two at flying out of Portland, but before I go I’ve got one more item to take a look at. The latest bottle to slide across the bar here at blogging headquarters is Sandeman 10 year old tawny port. I love port and don’t enjoy it nearly often enough. That’s party because of the price, but mainly because I worry about oxidation. The lifetime of an open bottle of port depends on a variety of factors, including style, age, temperature, air exposure, and personal taste. Buying a 750 ml bottle without guests to share it with requires making a commitment to drinking lots of port in the following days or weeks. Oh, such a terrible burden!

For those reasons I was happy to receive a sample of this Sandeman bottling. It has a thick, viscous mouth feel, appealing hints of raisin on the nose, and both raisin and vanilla flavor notes. I just glanced at the bottle, incidentally, and those are the same flavors the label writers highlight — a rare case where I tasted exactly what the marketers thought I would. It’s a delicious port that’s been calling me back for glass after glass and easily worth its $30-40 retail price. (By the way, the 10 year old designation for tawny ports is based on the average age of wines blended into them; they’re not made from grapes aged exactly 10 years.)

As much as I like this port on its own, this is a cocktail blog and I was sent this bottle with the intent that I’d mix some drinks with it. The first one I tried is the classic Coffee Cocktail, which, weirdly, doesn’t actually contain any coffee:

1.5 oz port
1.5 oz brandy
1 tsp simple syrup
1 egg
1 dash Angostura bitters (optional)

Shake well with ice, strain, and garnish with grated nutmeg. This is a fine dessert drink, but I didn’t find it very exciting.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with cocktails composed entirely of spirits, which can be more challenging than using sweeteners and juices and forces one to focus on harmonizing the flavors of ingredients. I’m not quite prepared to call the combination below a finished recipe, but it comes together nicely:

1.5 oz Cazadores reposado tequila
.50 oz Sandeman 10 yr port
splash of Benedictine
1 dash Fee Bros. rhubarb bitters

I’m especially happy with the tequila and rhubarb bitters combination. I picked up this new offering from Fee’s several months ago and it’s been sitting on my bar taunting me ever since. It has a wonderful flavor — so good that I’ll often dash some on my hand just to give it a taste — but I’ve been clueless as to what to do with it. I think the pairing with tequila has potential, the tart sweetness of the bitters just standing out above the spirit. If anyone else plays with the recipe above I’d be curious to hear your feedback.

Samantha Harrigan offers Sandeman port cocktail recipes from some other bloggers at Cocktail Culture. Robert Simonson suggests using the rhubarb bitters with Cynar; when my movers deliver the rest of my liquor in a couple weeks, I’ll have to give that a try.