TDN Casa Noble Tequila: The Tlaquepaque Cocktail
I managed to make it to another Thursday Drink Night last week, in which cocktail nerds, a few bartenders and occasionally an honored guest such as a distiller converge in The Mixoloseum Bar chat room, discuss that week’s sponsoring spirit or theme, geek out and come up with some new drinks.
Our sponsor last week was Casa Noble Tequila, and we were lucky enough to have José “Pepe” Hermosillo, a founding partner of the distillery, joining us from Jalisco, Mexico (unfortunately, by the time I got home he was just logging off). The samples that were sent out were their blanco tequila, which they call “Crystal” — 100% agave, slow-cooked and only the hearts and cores are used in fermentation. I have yet to try any of their other varieties but I loved the Crystal. It had a rich, profound agave flavor, nicely vegetal and spicy, some black pepper and citrus rind. I don’t normally sip blanco tequila but I enjoyed sipping this one, and it occurs to me that this would make a pretty tasty Improved Tequila Cocktail (not that Jerry Thomas had tequila in the 1860s), which I’ll try next. (It’s also got a pretty bottle, so hush.)
I wanted to play up the vegetal and spice qualities in my original cocktail for the evening, and I was inspired by a terrific drink that Brian Summers of the Library Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood made for me back when he was at Bar Centro at The Bazaar by José Andres a year and a while ago called the Archangel. That was gin and Aperol with a little cucumber, which was my launching point. I thought cucumber and Aperol would work really well with this tequila.
The Aperol’s low alcohol content smooths out the spirit’s edges and gives a nice, gentle bitterness, and the orange flavor complements the tequila’s citrus notes. I wanted to bring that up a little bit more with the Créole Shrubb without making it too sweet. I also wanted to bump up the bitterness a tiny bit, so I used Cynar, hoping that the artichoke enzyme cynarin would help make the sweet elements taste a bit sweeter without adding more liqueur. It seemed to work pretty well, although it took a bit of tinkering. One barspoon wasn’t enough, two were too many and 1/4 ounce — a barspoon and a half — was just right. The cucumber adds another vegetal element, again gentle, and helps tie everything else together and make them play nicely. I’m really happy with this one, and I think it’d be a good aperitivo for a Mexican meal.
The name comes from a town in Jalisco where my old friend Luie was born. It was near Guadalajara, but the town’s own growth and Guadalajara’s massive growth caused it to be swallowed up by the greater Guadalajara metro area, and it’s now considered a neighborhood of Guadalajara. It’s from the Nahuatl language, sort of pronounced “tlah-kay-PAH-kay,” and it’s really fun to say. Even more fun to drink.
2 ounces Casa Noble Crystal tequila, or other blanco tequila
1 ounce Aperol
1/4 ounce Clément Créole Shrubb
1/4 ounce Cynar
2 slices cucumber, about 1/4″ thick, for muddling
2 thin slices cucumber for garnish
Muddle the cucumber slices in the spirits, add ice and shake 10-12 seconds. Double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with two thin cucumber slices.