Renée Comet
Owen Thomson (center), lead bartender for José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup, along with Oyamel gm Michael Iglesias (left) and lead bartender Joe Cleveland (right).
magnify Click image to view more.

Advancing Agave

Jeffery Lindenmuth / June 2012

Quick: Name a Tequila cocktail other than the Margarita. Veiled by the success of this signature, agave spirits rarely get the creative cocktail treatment. “When we opened Oyamel [Washington D.C.], we offered a lot of Tequilas, but guests were resigned to Margaritas,” says Owen Thomson (pictured, center), lead bartender for José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup. Working with Oyamel gm Michael Iglesias (left) and lead bartender Joe Cleveland (right), “We created the Tequila and Mezcal Festival to challenge that idea.” Following its fourth year, the month-long fête has contributed over 40 drinks to the lexicon of agave cocktails. Drinks like the Oaxacan Swizzle, made with Ruby Port and orange bitters, seem ripped from the cocktail book of an alternate universe, where Tequila was a Prohibition-era spirit.

El Bahio
• 2 oz. Sombra Mezcal
• 1/2 oz. roasted pineapple juice (see below)
• 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 oz. cardamom syrup (see below)
• 1 grapefruit twist
• 1 sprig cilantro
• 1 sprig mint
• 1 leaf epozote
• 1 pineapple leaf
• micro marigold flowers

Combine mezcal, roasted pineapple juice, lemon juice, and cardamom syrup in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a rocks glass over one large hand chipped ice cube. Garnish with the grapefruit twist, fresh herbs, pineapple leaf, and marigolds.

El Pescador
• 3/4 oz. Herradura Blanco 46
• 3/4 oz. Herradura Reposado
• 3/4 oz. Herradura Añejo
• 1/2 oz. honey syrup
• 1/2 oz. orange Curaçao
• 1/2 oz. Maraschino liqueur
• 1/2 oz. Velvet Falernum
• 1 oz. grapefruit juice
• 1/2 oz. lemon juice
• 1 grapefruit slice
• 1 lemon twist

Shake all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Place the grapefruit slice into a chilled cocktail glass; strain the cocktail into the glass. Place the lemon twist on top. Honey syrup: 2 cups honey dissolved in 2 cups warm water.

Mexican Tailor
• 6 basil leaves, plus 1 for garnish
• 3/4 oz. honey syrup
• 3/4 oz. lemon juice
• 2 1/2 oz. apple juice
• 1 1/2 oz. Ginquila (see below)

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the basil with honey syrup and lemon juice. Add ice to the shaker with Ginquila and apple juice. Shake vigorously; double strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a spanked basil leaf.

Oaxacan Swizzle
• 1 oz. Mezcal Vida
• 3/4 oz. ruby Port
• 3/4 oz. fresh pressed apple juice
• 3/4 oz. lime juice
• 1 oz. ginger syrup (see below)
• 2 dashes orange bitters
• 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
• 1 compressed apple chip (see below)
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1 sliver sugar cane

In an ice-filled Collins glass, combine Mezcal, Port, juices, ginger syrup, and bitters. Swizzle by spinning a swizzle stick or bar spoon in the glass. Add more ice as needed and garnish with apple chip, cinnamon stick, and sugarcane sliver.

Salt Air Margarita
• 1 1/2 oz. Siembra Azul Tequila
• 1 oz. Luxardo Triplum
• 1 1/2 oz. fresh sour mix
• salt air (see below)

Combine ingredients, except salt air, in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well; strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Place whipped salt air foam on top using a spoon. Sour mix: 1 cup fresh lime juice, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar, dissolved.

Additional Recipe Components
Ginger simple syrup:
• 2 medium-size ginger roots (about 375 g)
• 1/2 L granulated sugar
• 1/2 L hot water
• 2 jalapeño chiles (about 25 g)
• pinch of salt

Chop ginger into small pieces; place in a pot with sugar and water; bring to a boil. After 15 minutes, reduce heat and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from heat to cool. Blend, then strain.

Compressed apple chips:
• 1 to 2 large apples
• 3/4 oz. Ruby Port
• 3/4 oz. fresh pressed apple juice
• 3/4 oz. lime juice
• 1 oz. ginger syrup

Slice apples across the core into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Place slices into a Cryovac with Port, apple juice, lime juice, and ginger syrup to compress and leave overnight. Remove slices and place in a food dehydrator for two days at 135°F.

Roasted pineapple juice:
Makes 2 cups
Wrap pineapple in foil and roast on an open flame for 20 minutes; turn and roast other side for an additional 20 minutes. Wrap in plastic to steam as it cools. After cooling, extract juice using a juicer.

Cardamom simple syrup:
• 1 L hot water
• 1 L granulated sugar
• 60 g cardamom pods

Place ingredients in a pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat to cool. Strain.

Ginquila:
• 12 L Azul Centenario Blanco Tequila
• 1 g cinchona
• 1 g gentian
• 1 g calamus
• 2 g angelica root
• 1 g quassia
• 1 g wormwood
• 2 g chamomile
• 2 g dandelion
• 30 g mango
• 25 g fresh mint
• 2 g annatto seeds
• 12 g thyme
• 4 g epazote
• 1 g cilantro
• 8 g marigold
• 85 g poblano
• 265 g cucumber
• 110 g honey
• 3 g clove
• 2 g aniseseeds
• 4 g caraway
• 1 g lavender
• 70 g coriander
• 250 g ginger
• 7 g cardamom
• 2 g allspice
• 40 g orange zest
• 300 g juniper
• 55 g canela

To Tequila add next 8 ingredients; let sit for 6 hours; strain. Add remaining ingredients. Stir daily for six days, then strain.

Salt air
• 1.4 g Texturas Sucro
• 1 cup cold water
• 1/2 cup lime juice
• 2 Tbsps. salt

Whisk Sucro into cold water; bring to 70˚C (158˚F), whisking the whole time. Allow to cool; add lime juice and salt; refrigerate. When ready to use, place into a large open container; blend, using an emersion blender until foam forms.