Bar None is part of a part of an ongoing series that explores local bartenders' favorite ingredients, familiar haunts, tipple of choice and "scientific" methods.
Aidan Demarest knows what he likes. When Demarest opened his own bar - Neat in Glendale - he specifically chose to make the spirits the stars of the show, serving them neat with the ingredients for a classic cocktail on the side. Regardless of this focus, he also appreciates a well-made mixed drink. And his perfect poison is the Medicina Latina created by Marcos Tello, his partner in Tello Demarest Liquid Assets.
What's the recipe you ask? Demarest is cagey on that one: "The way I make it is, "Marcos, can I get one of those ginger situations?'" And Marcos works his magic.
As a team and individually, Demarest and Tello have been behind some this city's most innovative cocktail menus. Tello first created the Medicina Latina in 2008 when he was still at the Doheny. His inspiration came from Sam Ross, one of the original bartenders at New York's groundbreaking speakeasy Milk and Honey (and who, not coincidentally, trained many of L.A.'s current influential bartenders). Ross rocked the modern cocktail world with his drink the Penicillin, a combination of blended Scotch mixed with ginger-honey syrup, lemon juice and, finally on top, a misting of smoky Islay scotch.
Tello's agave riff, as he calls it, originally used tequila in place of the Scotch, ginger-agave syrup instead of ginger-honey, lime instead of lemon juice and a misting of smoky mezcal in place of of Islay scotch. The version that people know today is the one that Tello created in 2009 while at the Varnish; the drink then settled on the cocktail list at 1886, where Tello consulted, and has since dotted cocktail lists across the city, including Blue Plate Taco and SoHo House. Tello's newest version, the Medicina 3.0, uses no tequila, only a new mezcal called El Silencio. Tello's reasons for this are quite logical, as he explains: "This mezcal is lighter in profile and possesses both the smoke you expect out of a mezcal and the herbaceous qualities you get out of a tequila."
For Demarest, who first (and frequently) enjoyed the drink when he was working with whiskey day in and day out, this drink has always been a breath of fresh air. "The Medicina Latina is a ginger forward drink that clears your palate and has a kick," says Demarest. "It's an eye-opener in the middle of a busy night or hot day. Also, the combination of the lemon and ginger is great for allergy season." Who needs Claritin when you have this?
Happily, Tello has provided the recipe below so that now we can all get "one of those ginger situations" at home whenever the fancy strikes.
Medicina Latina Cocktail
From: Marcos Tello
1 part ginger juice
1 part sugar
1. Stir until dissolved.
3 parts honey
1 part hot water
1. Stir until dissolved.
For the cocktail:
2 oz. El Silencio Mezcal
3/8 oz. ginger syrup
3/8 oz. honey syrup
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1. Make the syrups.
2. Combine all ingredients into an ice-filled mixing vessel and shake vigorously.
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3. Strain over fresh ice into an ice-filled rocks glass.
4. Garnish with candied ginger.
Lesley blogs at 12 Bottle Bar, tweets at @12BottleBar and is the author of the book "Gin: A Global History." Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.