Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Mezcal, mi corazon

Photo courtesy of Jenn Larsen
Mezcal cocktail, American Ice Company
courtesy of Jenn Larsen

Friday Happy Hour is back! Every Friday we’ll highlight a drink we’ve recently enjoyed. Please share your favorites with us as well.

Mezcal is made from the heart of the maguey plant. Never one to skip over symbolism, dear reader, I find it interesting that since recovering from a heart infection, mezcal is one liquor I can tolerate without issues. Traditional uses for mezcal include as a treatment for hypertension, so obviously I’ll have to continue my informal medical research for your benefit – a trip down to Oaxaca, Mexico, where mezcal is predominantly produced, may be in order.

The plant is also known as agave, while mezcal is also spelled mescal. Knowing that will not affect your drinking, however. The maguey hearts are roasted in underground pit ovens, which results in that earthy flavor distinctive to mezcal. Though there’s a similarity to the smokiness of some whiskies, it’s not quite the same taste. After being mashed up and allowed to ferment with water, the liquid is distilled in clay or copper pots, and can be aged for a few months or several years.

That rich smoke flavor makes mezcal a tricky element in a cocktail. I do enjoy drinking it neat, but many local bartenders play with it in unexpected ways. Yesterday I visited Patrick Owens at American Ice Company for a second glass of a cocktail he crafted for me last week with mezcal, Punt e Mes, St. Germain, and walnut liqueur. When he first told me the ingredients, I was a tad skeptical that all the boozy elements could mix in harmony. Yet the resulting cocktail was incredibly smooth and well-balanced. The earthy quality of the mezcal was complemented by the rich walnut, and set off by the sweet vermouth and floral notes. Asking for a repeat performance is rare for me, as I usually get tempted into ordering something new, but this one definitely hit my heart the right way.

As with tequila, stick with makers who use high quality, artisanal production methods. That’ll go a long way towards saving you the next morning!

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Friday Happy Hour: The Garden

Photo courtesy of Jenn Larsen
“The Garden” cocktail
courtesy of Jenn Larsen

After almost two weeks of struggling with being sick and exhausted, my disco nap this past Wednesday night was in danger of becoming an early bedtime. Then the tweet came through from Fedward with the magical phrase, “There is a bottle of Gran Classico behind the bar and a drink including it on the menu. Somebody’s holding out.”

I bolted out of bed and dashed over to American Ice Company. Yes, it was a race of mad cliches. That’s what “bitter love” does to the granddaughter of a Torinese during an aperitivo shortage.

Spirits in Black happens roughly every month at American Ice and has quickly become my favorite recurring event in the city. Patrick Owens just plain rocks as he mixes drinks inspired by heavy metal while head-banging and air-guitaring with abandon, and I’m always impressed by Ashley May’s ability to keep everyone happy and in line. Joined by a guest bartender and a metal DJ, it’s a night that brings out the best in the DC drinks and music scenes – people are talkative, friendly, and enjoying themselves.

And then there are the drinks. Continue reading