There's something inspired yet oh-so-logical about putting together mezcal and horchata. That's what Gracias Madre's beverage director Jason Eisner has done in his El Guey Aguanta. Translation: The Dude Abides. After one sip of this smooth, creamy and spiced concoction, you too will abide.
Eisner's inspiration for El Guey is both clever and comical. "I'm a huge fan of the Coen brothers' film The Big Lebowski. Throughout the film, Jeff Bridges' character The Dude constantly drinks White Russians. I've never been a White Russian guy, but realistically what's not to love? It's creamy, semi-sweet - and it gives you wings. Sold."
Eisner blends homemade milk horchata, vanilla cinnamon syrup and grated canela in this sweet, but not too sweet sipper. 21st White Russian? Absolutely. But you could almost call it a Mexican-style Brandy Milk Punch, similarly creamy and delicately spiced but highlighting the smokiness of mezcal in place of the brandy kick.
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It's a bit of a trick to create what is simultaneously a dessert drink (that was Eisner's intention when he first created the recipe) and a potential pairing with one of Gracias Madre's spicy appetizers, such as the cashew crema and salsa de arbol-accented Totopos, dense fried corn tortilla triangles (a far cry from generic tortilla chips) that hail from Oaxaca. The coolness of the horchata tames the heat of the salsa, while the aromatics of the cinnamon spice create a bridge to the more savory elements in the dish.
"The pairing of Mezcal and Horchata just seemed obvious," Eisner says. "I originally planned for it to be a boozy paleta [an ice pop common in Latin American countries], but then I decided to put it on ice. The Dude would have wanted it that way." And, if anyone gets too close to you and your cocktail, a simple warning, Dude-style, will suffice: "Hey, man, there's a beverage here!"
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.