Sunday, December 4, 2011

My (Bitter) Amigos

There's a whole tequila thing, I'm finding out. On Queen Anne, the latest place is called Mezcaleria Oaxaca, a distill-your-own sister to Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard. Jay Friedman reviews it, favorably, on Voracious.

There's a lot of cactus out there, just waiting to be distilled, and not just in Mexico.The cactus in the photo, in case you're wondering, was growing in Italy, on the limestone plateau called Murgia, in the region of Puglia (the heel of the boot). Those catci, they're everywhere! Just like grapes.

Sure, there are minor differences, but when push comes to shove, basically, the cactus gets chopped up, boiled and distilled. (I can hear the purists hissing.) The Italians stick with grapes, but in Mexico, the firewater called tequila has always been a point of pride.

The folks at Riazul were kind enough to send me a vial of their Reposado, along with a recipe sheet.

What caught my eye tonight was a cocktail called the Bitter Amigo, equal parts reposada, dry vermouth and (this is the part I noticed) Campari. Shades of the classic Negroni! The traditional Negroni is made with equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. Here, because the Riazul Reposada is already on the sweet side, the less aggressive dry vermouth is called for.

I'm a purist when it comes to cocktails, but I could get along with this one just fine.

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