Drink of the Week: The Mariposa Avenue

The Mariposa Avenue After taking a break with last week’s post, today I finally complete my trilogy of cocktails made with Mariposa Agave Necter Liqueur.

I debated what to call this drink, but something about it brought me back to my days, oh so long ago, living in the Mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles adjacent to Koreatown. I remembered the name of the street, and the fact that the local Latino kids used the term “mariposa” — which literally means “butterfly” — as a kind of mild insult. Then, the other night I actually found myself on Mariposa Avenue not from L.A.’s very cool R Bar and the die was cast.

As for the drink itself, I basically just borrowed the proportions of a Manhattan and figured that the Mariposa liqueur would bring out the agave flavor of tequila. I was right, so you’ll kind of need to enjoy the flavor of agave for this one to work for you.

The Mariposa Avenue

2 ounces white tequila
1 ounce Maripose Agave Necter Liqueur
1 dash orange bitters
1 maraschino cherry (garnish)

No surprises here. Just combine the tequila, liqueur, and bitters in a cocktail shaker. Shake like crazy, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the maraschino cherry for an extra dash of sweetness.

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Since this one is my own creation, I hesitate to judge it. I did make it for some random people, not cocktail aficionados, who seemed to think it wasn’t disgusting. I will say that I personally enjoy the agave flavor. I had good luck making this with fairly generic regular Sauza and also Sauza Blue, which is 100% blue agave and produces an intriguingly strong, mildly astringent flavor.

So, give this one a whirl and see what you think. Will this drink go down in history, or will it just go down my throat on occasion? It’s up to you dear, readers.

  

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Drink of the Week: The Aperol Americano

The Aperol Americano What kind of drink do you want on Labor Day? Something so strong it’ll make you lose all ambition and forget you even have a job? Maybe you’d be better off with something so delicious and sweet it’ll make you glad you have some hard-earned sheckels and can actually afford some decent booze, but not so heavy duty with alcohol it’ll dehydrate you in the late summer heat or blitz you out to the point that you’re going to have to call in sick on Tuesday morning.

So, we turn to a variation on a genuine cocktail great, the Americano. This version substitutes Campari with Aperol, another liqueur from the same Italian manufacturer which only recently has become widely available on our shores but which I understand has been delighting Europeans en masse since some time not long after Benito Mussolini was given his eternal walking papers.

Aperol is something like a kinder and gentler lower alcohol variation on the super-sweet and super-bitter one-two punch of Campari. While I love it’s more potent cousin, Aperol is, on its own, a drink with just enough bitterness to underline its delightful sweetness.  Using it in an Americano turns into a super refreshing beverage that’s as user-friendly as anything, but just complex enough, I think, to placate a not-too hardbitten cocktail snob. It’s worth a little labor, but making this drink is about as easy as drinking it.

The Aperol Americano

1 ounce Aperol
1 ounce sweet vermouth
Club soda or seltzer water
Orange slice (highly desirable garnish)

Add the Aperol and vermouth to an old fashioned glass with plenty of ice in it and maybe an orange slice or chunk. Top off with soda. Now here’s the difficult part — stir. You might consider toasting the hard working members of organized labor who helped you get that weekend you’re currently enjoying so much.

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When I wrote about the Americano just slightly under a year ago, I described it as “a perfect drink for lightweights” despite the fact that I also noted it’s the first drink ordered by none other than James Bond in none other than the first James Bond novel, “Casino Royale.” Considering that lower alcohol content of Aperol vis-à-vis Campari, I guess this would be an even more perfect beverage for lightweights.

If that’s a little too perfect for you, it’s perfectly acceptable to do what I did and increase the Aperol and vermouth to 1 1/2 ounces each and make the drink in a somewhat larger Tom Collins/highball glass. It’s way good and it still won’t remove you from the workforce.

  

Drink of the Week: The Great Migration

The Great Migration

Today we present the second part of what’s going to be trilogy of posts featuring the beguiling and bewitching new Mariposa Agave Nectar Liqueur. Last week, I discussed the seductive sweetness of the concoction in context with the Mariposa Mojito.

Now, we move on to a sweeter territory with a drink that’s been heavily promoted by Mariposa’s masters over at Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. It’s something like a gin sidecar, but slightly more sugary — that’s not always a bad thing — and using a liqueur that I personally dig more than most. I have to admit the historical connections of the drink’s name have me at something of a loss, however, though it’s clear there was more than one great migration. Some of you might also want to have more than one of the libation of the same name.

The Great Migration

1 1/2 ounces dry gin
3/4 ounce Mariposa Agave Nectar Liqueur
3/4 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4  ounce simple syrup
Turbinado/raw sugar
Lemon twist (garnish)

Rim a cocktail glass with raw sugar — It’s very possible that the plain old white stuff might work almost as well — by wetting the edges and dipping it into a plate full of the sweet stuff. Take your rimmed glass and stick it in the freezer to get it nice and chilled while you make the rest of the drink.

Combine all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. If you don’t have simple syrup on hand, you can probably dissolve some superfine sugar in a little bit of room temperature water and use that instead. Shake vigorously and strain into your now well chilled rimmed cocktail glass.

Engage in the magical process old school/artisanal bartenders call “expressing” the lemon twist which is crucial to drinks like the Sazerac. It involves twisting a very thin — as in rind-free — strip of the lemon’s skin; the act of twisting is thought to spritz a tiny but notable amount of lemon oil into the drink. Drop the skin into the drink and sip away at the sweetness.

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If you like your drink very sweet indeed, you can make the accidental alteration I did while preparing this drink for some cooperative test subjects. Having forgotten the complete recipe, I actually doubled the amount of simple syrup to an entire half ounce — but I forgot about the turbinado rim. That made for a somewhat less complicated beverage that, for me, wasn’t as good as the recipe proper. However, it went really down really well with my willing guinea pigs and might work better for a lot of people who are less frequent boozers.

  

Drink of the Week: The Mariposa Mojito

The Mariposa Mojito

There was a time many weeks back when I began to ask myself a question pregnant with meaning: “What happened to all the free booze?” It’s not that I’m greedy, particularly. Believe it or not, I actually spend a little money subsidizing this column. Of course, I get to drink those subsidies, but a guy still likes to make a profit on something he actually works on, so those freebies do help a bit.

In any case, in recent weeks the very nice freebies have been coming fast and furious and the latest is something pretty much completely new to me. Mariposa Agave Liqueur is made from the very sweet nectar produced from the agave plant, the not so sweet booze produced by the blue agave plant — I think they call the stuff “tequila” — and also some vodka. If you have a bit of a sweet tooth like I do, I have to say the stuff is not bad on it’s own over the rocks and with a splash of water. It’s kind of like drinking really good, boozy honey.

Anyhow, the Heaven Hill people who produce this stuff have been promulgating a few cocktails. Since we’re just seeing the end of a truly hellish week of record breaking 105+ plus temperatures here in vivacious Van Nuys, I went for the coldest, most refreshing choice available. This one is icy and relatively low on actual booze which, as you know, actually makes you feel warmer. (Of course, it also makes you care less that you too warm.) In any case, I rather like it.

The Mariposa Mojito

1 ounce Mariposa Agave Liqueur
1 ounce white (aka silver) rum
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
2-5 springs of mint
Club soda (roughly 2 ounces)
1/4 ounce agave nectar (optional)
Lime slice (optional garnish)

Combine all the ingredients except the club soda and the garnish lime slice in a cocktail shaker. If you’re going for the extra bit of sweetness with the agave nectar — this is my addition and not included in the original recipe, by the way — then you’ll first want to shake it without adding ice. Agave nectar has not only a honey-like taste but a honey-like consistency and it needs a bit of work to become properly dissolved.

Next, add lots of ice and shake like crazy. Strain into a large-ish Collins glass or something similar filled with fresh ice (i.e., not the same ice you used in the shaker). Top off with club soda, stir and remind yourself that the agave plant is actually not, as you might have heard, a member of the cactus family. Cacti are succulents; agave is a monocot, which I gather is closer to the yucca plant and, no, I don’t know the first thing about horticulture, except what Dorothy Parker said about it.

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I’ve not much more to add to this drink except that I like it as a less labor intensive, somewhat less boozy, muddling-free spin on the classic mojito. I tried, however tweaking it a bit by adding more rum. Despite the fact that I was using some of the excellent Denizen Rum I have left over from when I was using to make such great classic drinks as the Mary Pickford a while back, the larger amount of booze really didn’t help the flavor at all and only diluted the already diluted sweetness of the Mariposa. A little extra sweetness from the increasingly popular cocktail ingredient of agave nectar was quite welcome however.

Those looking for a boozier drink to make with Mariposa however, won’t have long to wait. Stay tuned.

  

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