There are a lot of really great drink blogs already; I’ve always had trouble starting one because, well, what do I have to add? Nevertheless, if I don’t write something I’ll never realize my ambition of replacing the absolutely worthless Jonathan Miles as cocktail columnist at the New York Times.

This is all dedicated to my friend Alex, who last year at an office Christmas party ordered a Martini, and, when the bartender asked him what sort of vodka he preferred, calmly responded, “No, I ordered a Martini.” A true hero for these dark times.

Anyhow, the whole point of writing is to share the cool stuff I’ve been drinking (and to get to participate in Mixology Mondays), so… a Modern ‘Martinez’!

Modern ‘Martinez’

  • 2 oz blanco tequila
  • 1 oz Lillet blanc
  • 1/4 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 2 dashes orange bittersStir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a strip of orange zest (flame it if you are feeling extra trendy).

See, this drink is very, very well-named (goodness, I am clever), because it is based on the classic bone-structure of the Martinez, but with tequila as the base, which is Mexican, and Martinez is a vaguely Hispanic sounding name, and… did I mention how clever I am?

Seriously, though. This is my current favorite after-work relaxer because the Lillet and St. Germain conspire to bring out the lovely floral notes of a good blanco tequila, and you get something that tastes at once instantly classic and very approachable. It also incorporates a couple of my favorite mixing tricks: using Lillet instead of a vermouth, for a start, and also substituting St. Germain for the Maraschino found in a traditional Martinez. After confessing to my bartender that, although it shamed me deeply as a drink snob, I couldn’t stand the taste of Maraschino, he suggested using St. Germain as a substitute. Despite a complete lack of common ground (except a certain unidentifiable funkiness that both liqueurs share), it’s a substitution that, more often than not, works brilliantly, and on its own can update a classic cocktail in new and really exciting ways.

It goes without saying that this works only with a good tequila, and good should always mean 100% agave, just as a baseline. I use Sauza Hornitos Blanco (their Reposado and Añejo are also very worthwhile), but most any mid- to top-shelf 100% agave blanco should do the trick. Sauza tequilas tend to be sweet-ish and a bit soft, so I find that they mix very well.

Lastly, flaming the orange zest. I assume everyone knows how to do this but, just for posterity, cut a strip of zest about twice as long as it is wide. Light a match over the drink (note bene: bad idea with anything with a high-proof, like 151, float) and squeeze the orange peel over the drink, through the match’s flame, so that the oil briefly bursts into flame and then settles on the drink. Drop the peel into the drink. I love doing this, but it seems kind of wank-y and pretentious, so I don’t want to make it a requirement. It seems to taste better but, hey, as a food scientist, I’m willing to be that’s mostly because it looks really cool.