I know that I opined a bit about 4-equal-parts cocktails when I was disappointed in rather quick succession by the Peralta and the Curse of Scotland, so I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring with one based on mezcal. I’ve had this bottle of Los Danzantes reposado longer than I should have – although, without empirical evidence, I’m not willing to accept that glass (a mostly volatile-impermeable material) bottles really lose enough volatiles over a year to render the liquor inferior – so I wanted to base a drink around that.
Also, I have a big bottle of what Imbibe Magazine refers to (euphemistically, I sincerely hope) as rhubarb bitters. I can’t find the full recipe online, but basically it’s an infusion of rhubarb, cinnamon, and orange peel in neutral spirits. Not bitter. Also, not strong enough to use in dashes, but too sour – obvsly – to use in larger amounts in non-citrus cocktails. So not really a winner as bitters.
Let me just get sidetracked for a minute, here, and ask, right out: has Imbibe just basically pointed themselves downhill with amusingly cartoonish Acme rockets strapped to their backs? I mean, in the most recent issue there are only 9 cocktail recipes, of which 4 require ridiculously, uselessly obscure ingredients which must be either purchased or made specifically for one drink. This is the kind of mixology (and I only use that word with a grimace and eye-roll) that is increasingly mocked everywhere. I want drinks that any reasonable bartender with any reasonable selection of bottles can make or approximate. I do not want three articles on craft beer (here is how to learn about craft beer: find craft beer, drink it), articles on coffee and wine (there are other magazines for that), or profiles of bartenders who will never make me a drink. The question I find myself asking, with the glossy ads and the here-is-a-range-of-products-for-you-to-buy “articles” is this: when did someone swap out my Imbibe subscription for fucking Bon Appetit?
Ahem. Why did I make their rhubarb bitters thing, then? Well, it started with the wildish rhubarb I found growing in my backyard, which, after I decimated it with pies and crumbles and preserves, still insisted on thrusting its full, reddish stalks, waving gently in the breeze, up from the earth at me, begging to be used. Also, people keep insisting on sending me vodka in the mail, to review, which is nice, but which I really only use for making bitters and other infusions (hear that, vodka marketers?), so I needed to find some use for… Level, or something? Maybe? It is literally impossible to tell. Right, so I made some rhubarb “bitters”, and now I need to use them up before they turn brown or precipitate or explode or become sentient and start fights with my bottle of rum possessed by a zombie pirate. Thus: this drink.
The Last Chance (mine):
- 3/4 oz mezcal (Los Danzantes reposado)
- 3/4 oz Pimm’s
- 3/4 oz rhubarb “bitters” (if your rhubarb bitters are actually bitter, this might not work)
- 3/4 oz grapefruit juice
- 1-2 barspoon(s) raspberry syrup
Shake all ingredients angrily with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.
Do you like the name? I’m embarrassingly pleased by how it references the Last Word while simultaneously evoking an uncomfortably stereotypical Once Upon a Time in Mexico vibe. The rhubarb “bitters” add the sourness that grapefruit often lacks, and their cinnamon and orange goes really well with the mezcal’s smoke. The Pimm’s is a natural pairing for the mezcal, a fact which I first encountered in Art of the Bar‘s Oaxacan. If you have a sweeter grapefruit you might be able to skip the raspberry syrup, but my relatively dry white grapefruit demanded some more rounded sweetness.
All things considered, this drink is delicious, complex, and impossible to make unless you have a stupidly obscure ingredient. Two can play at that game, Imbibe Magazine.