I’m ashamed to admit it, but my first time actually having a cocktail at LARK on the Park was to see what “Lord of the Liquids” Matt Orth concocted for a private tasting of Montelobos Mezcal and Ancho Reyes chili liqueur. I’m a fan of the smokiness of mezcal–it almost makes the spirit mysterious if I had to personify it, so I was eager to check out the cocktails.
Montelobos Mezcal Joven Brand Ambassador, Camille Austin explained that the agave for the spirit is grown in the shadows of Montelobos, a mountain in Oaxaca’s Sierra Madre range. It is made from 100% espadin agave, a descendant of the well-known blue agave used to make high-end tequila, cultivated by five generations of family “mezcaleros” and prepared in the traditional way including fire pit roasting, crushing by a mule drawn stone wheel, and then distilled in small wood fire copper pots. Talk about keeping it authentic.
Each of the three cocktails Matt presented at the event featured Montelobos, and my favorite was the Nectar of Oaxaca which also included something I never thought I’d like–chili liqueur.
I have an odd relationship with spiciness. After a lifetime of not eating anything more potent than Gulden’s brown mustard, I was suddenly game to introduce a little heat to my palette. Still, a spicy cocktail would confuse me because it was hot and I wanted to drink something, but not really more of the cocktail because that was what started the fire in my mouth. I’m glad to report that Ancho Reyes is less about sheer fire than it is about flavor.
While it definitely has a kick (I sampled a shot of it solo), it’s also smoky with caramel notes and cinnamon spice. Roberto Hildago, managing director of Ancho Reyes, told us all about the warm reception the liqueur has received since its Texas launch last fall.
Nectar of Oaxaca is on LARK’s cocktail menu this season. Matt was gracious enough to share that recipe as well as those of his other two mezcal creations, Curious Jorge and Death of a Maiden. Now that I’m on a first name basis with the bar staff, LARK has made the shortlist of my favorite haunts.
Nectar of Oaxaca
1.5 oz. Montelobos
.5 oz. Ancho Reyes
.25 oz. Agave Nectar
2 dash LARK on the Park’s Housemade Orange Bitters
2 dash Chuncho Amargo Bitters
Stir, pour in chilled coupe, garnish with orange and cherry twist.
Death of a Maiden
.75 oz. Montelobos
.75 oz. Lime Juice
.75 oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
.75 oz. Green Chartreuse
Shaken with Basil, pour over fresh ice in rocks glass, garnish with basil flower.
2 oz. Montelobos
.5 oz. Martinique Creole Shrubb
.5 oz. Vanille De Madagascar
2 dashes Orange Bitters
2 dashes Fee Brothers Plum Bitters
Stir, pour in coupe, garnish with blackberry cherry fan.