Variations on a Theme

Before I’m accused of being unspeakably lame for blogging about a cocktail that:

  1. has been featured on the menu of one of the world’s most talked-about cocktail bars for the better part of a year, and
  2. has already had more than its fair share of press coverage, and that going back nearly a year as well,

let me say in my defense that:

  1. I live 3,000 miles away from said bar, and
  2. OK, maybe I am that unspeakably lame.

But I’m bringing up this drink for a few reasons (more fun with bullet lists!):

  1. it sounds (and is) really good, and I’ve had the piece of yellowing newsprint novelty-magneted to my refrigerator since the day I ripped the recipe out of the New York Times;
  2. I finally got around to stocking one of the necessary ingredients, so making this drink is now possible in my home;
  3. I recently made snippy comments about the Times‘ “Shaken and Stirred” cocktail column that appears in every other (or thereabouts) Sunday Styles section, prompting an e-mail from the incredibly talented, patient and polite columnist who was wondering why he’d incurred my passive-aggressive wrath, so now I feel like a schmuck and need to highlight one of the drinks he covered that I did find really engaging (see point #1, above); and
  4. I have to — it’s Mixology Monday, our host Jimmy Patrick has chosen Variations as the theme, and this tasty, tasty concoction certainly fits the bill.

Mixology MondayWhile it could be argued that the Oaxaca Old Fashioned isn’t actually a variation, since Old Fashioned Cocktails were originally made with whatever booze happened to be lying around, enough time has passed that the drink is now in the mixological lexicon as a whiskey cocktail (actually, so much time has passed that the Old Fashioned is now typically thought of as a whiskey / fruity mess / club soda cocktail, a point I’ve already bitched about but is one that still depresses me so thoroughly that I’m going to end that discussion right here).

I should also point out that the recipe below is actually a variation on a variation — hah, try to keep up with that! — in that I’ve taken D&C’s published recipe and tweaked it ever so slightly, deciding to supplement the Angostura bitters with a couple of dashes of the Bittermens‘ luscious Xocolatl Mole Bitters, which I just can’t get enough of.

Ooh, this is so good — the mezcal gives the drink a really rich smokiness, which the tequila kind of tempers yet maintains with its own gentle peppery character, and then the deep spice of the bitters just rattles around in the glass. The Old Fashioned is one of the oldest of cocktails, but with this side trip to Oaxaca, the old dog has learned a spectacular new trick.

Oaxaca Old Fashioned

  • 1 1/2 ounces reposado tequila (D&C recommends El Tesoro; I’m using Don Julio)
  • 1/2 ounce mezcal (they say Los Amantes Joven; I’ve got Los Danzantes)
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • Dash of Angostura (me: add to this two dashes of Bittermens’ Xocolatl Mole bitters)

Stir with ice then strain into ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange twist — flame it if you know how.

No pictures, because tonight I’m running even later than Jimmy, but head on over to his joint for the roundup in the next day or two.

5 Responses to Variations on a Theme

  1. Very interesting drink and I might overseen this cocktail in the Times – so I am lucky, that you took this drink!

    However (as I am opinionated…) there is one question: Could you do this drink only with Mezcal and not with Tequila and Mezcal?

    I would favor the “one base spirit” concept…

  2. Marleigh says:

    This sounds just divine, but I have no mole bitters at home. Sigh.

  3. nex0s says:

    You did NOT “tweak” D&C’s recipe – the recipe calls for Bitterman Bitter’s Mole Bitters. It’s mentioned on the damn menu – it’s just that until recently Bitterman’s Bitters were not available to the general public. So, D&C published the recipe using Bitters that regular folks were able to get.

    Get over yourself.

  4. Paul says:

    Well, hey there, sunshine!

    You’re still probably toasting yourself for your sharp rejoinder, but since you apparently skipped right to the comments section without reading the damn post, let me point out a couple of things:

    1) The post is from early 2008, more than two years ago. Way to keep on top of things.

    2) As I mention — here we are back to that whole “reading the post” thing — the recipe listed is what ran in print, in the NY Times. Am I changing what they had? Of course — and I’m being open about the changes, as I should.

    3) Also as I mention, I live 3,000 miles from D&C, so as of Feb ’08 I hadn’t seen the menu, nor tried their version in person. But again, you’d probably have to read the post to get that.

    4) And finally, as I mention, I am, indeed, unspeakably lame.

    Anyway, back in early ’08, when Avery Glasser sent me a sample of the mole bitters, he mentioned how dandy they were in tequila cocktails, and the great stuff that Phil Ward was doing with them at D&C. Without knowing if Phil had used the mole bitters in this particular drink — here we are coming back to that “3,000 miles away” and “back in ’08, before I knew Phil or had been to D&C” part of the deal — I figured this sounded like a reasonable candidate to knock some of Avery & Janet’s bitters into.

    As I did, and mentioned in this post, but not wanting to mislead anyone by printing the recipe I used while there was another recipe for the same damn drink floating around in print, I mentioned that I’d made a tweak, trying to be responsible and all. So for the past two years, I’ve lived my life thinking I did the right thing in not altering a recipe that had appeared in print without due notification so as not to cause misunderstandings for the bartender and/or journalist involved, and what do I discover tonight? That I’m somehow stuck up, or whatever it is that I need to get over.

    Thanks, nex0s, for pointing that out to me. Don’t be a stranger! And please, stop trolling the Internet and get a fucking life….

  5. [...] of many a bar, the drink earned praise not only from major newspapers but also many a cocktail blog.  There is a reason this drink has earned such accolades and in case you haven’t tried it, and [...]

Leave a reply