Tuesday, March 8

Drink Spotlight: Tequila Old Fashioned

I really like the "Old Fashioned" family of drinks, so much so that I decided to take a brief detour away from the Old Mr. Boston to look at this drink in particular. As with any particular foray, this one wasn't without cause; I've been in search of a good Passionfruit syrup as for some reason or other I've gotten it into my head that I needed to make a Hurricane for today, Mardi Gras. Which is, incidentally, an overly Catholic holiday representing one last chance to get all of your sin out before Lent begins. So it's a great day to be Catholic, so much so that the rest of the world took it upon itself to have a hell of a party for pretty much no good reason at all. But I guess everyone's Catholic on Mardi Gras....

Anyway, back to the task at hand. Passionfruit syrup is proving very difficult to find in St. Louis, MO in the middle of March, so my quest took me to all manner of hippie-style organic grocery stores, all to no avail. However, I did manage to pick up a few random things that I've been wanting to try out: coconut water, Q brand Tonic water (which I've heard great things about, and am scared that it's going to live up to the hype so I won't be able to buy the $0.99 stuff anymore) and Agave syrup. These are all odds and ends in various esoteric drinks, but I wanted to give at least one of them a shot before my drinking habits devolve slightly over the next 40 days. Not that that's my Lenten thing, just doesn't seem to be right to be boozing it up like crazy during some of the most solemn days of the year. So, to the point, the Tequila Old Fashioned.

The Old Fashioned is a venerable cocktail that I haven't gotten around to yet, so here's the brief rundown. Basically, it came about when someone would say "I'd like a whiskey cocktail, in the old-fashioned way" at a bar, the term "cocktail" originally meaning a drink consisting of some sugar, some spirit, and some bitters. That's all that you had to have to be a "cocktail", and yet it's amazing the number of "cocktails" in existence today that can't even satisfy those basic requirements... But regardless, the Old Fashioned Cocktail came to be known as a whiskey drink (or a brandy drink in some parts of the country), whereas the original Old Fashioned Cocktail was just any spirit with sugar and bitters. And I love whiskey, but this particular drink is a great way to explore other spirits and enjoy different tastes. Behold:

Tequila Old Fashioned: 
  • 1 tsp. agave syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 oz. tequila
Combine agave syrup and bitters in an old-fashioned glass. Add ice and stir to mix ingredients and start ice melting. Add tequila and stir some more. Garnish with lime peel, expressing oils over glass.

It's a really simple recipe that really lets you get creative. Note that the spirit in question is all-important in this drink, so use quality tequila. This is not the time nor the place for Montezuma. I used a reposada, 100% agave gold tequila, but anything that is 100% puro de agave will do. The agave syrup is a twist on the standard sugar cube, and it helps to keep tequila's flavor nice and forward as the drink dilutes. What I noticed immediately is that tequila is a surprisingly mild product. I've certainly had my share of bad tequila, and I would never call myself a "tequila" man, but I was expecting harsh, intense flavors. What I got was mild and complex, and it really let me discover what this particular tequila is really all about. I can see why some people compare great tequila to a great scotch. There's the smokiness at first, but also the depth of flavors. I could easily imagine premium, single-malt-style tequilas that have all kind of different flavors hiding beneath the agave notes. I wonder if that's a thing? The sad thing is, probably not, because the dominance of good old Jose Cuervo has ensured that any Americans that might be in the market for such a product were long ago turned off on tequila as a bad experience.

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