Don Amado Mezcal and the Sealed Deal Cocktail

don amado rustico mezcal

If you aren’t already aware, mezcal is an increasingly popular liquor among the craft cocktail crowd. It’s distilled from agave, like tequila, but while all tequila is mezcal, not all mezcal is tequila.

Let’s differentiate mezcal from tequila. You remember hearing about a “worm” in a tequila bottle? Some brands of mezcal do that, but I don’t think tequilas do. From there, the flavor is where you really start to tell a big difference.

I hadn’t tasted mezcal until recently (hear us taste Don Amado for the first time on the podcast). Compared with agave-brother-tequila, mezcal is much smokier. Much smokier. I heard someone say “mezcal tastes like a campfire,” and I think that’s a great description. From what I’ve read, that flavor has to do with the way the agave is baked to prepare for distillation. There is less muggy-ness to mezcal, too, as the smoke is predominant. If you like smokier scotches, mezcal might be an interesting liquor for you to try.

sealed deal cocktail

Traditionally just served on the rocks, mezcal is appearing on cocktail menus now, and there is a lot of ways to experiment with it. At Tales of the Cocktail, we tried the following cocktail. Tasted alone, it was overly smoky, but that smoke paired perfectly when the drink was served with ribs.

Sealed Deal (by Ivy Mix)

  • in a shaker, add:
  • 1 1/2 oz Jägermeister
  • 1/2 oz mezcal
  • 1/2 oz orange juice
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz maple syrup
  • a dash of bitters
  • shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, top with a splash of champagne
  • garnish with an orange twist


Brandy Presidente and the Brandy Crusta Cocktail

brandy presidente

Brandy is one of the 5 base spirits that most cocktails are based on (the others are vodka, gin, whiskey and tequila) For some reason, I don’t have much brandy in my home bar. In fact, I currently have 1 bottle, Presidente, pictured above.

Brandy is the result of distilling wine, though brandy can be made from grapes too, like in Grappa or Pisco, even (almost) Ciroc vodka, though Ciroc’s not aged, so it’s not quite brandy.

The bottle of Presidente I have, a gift from a friend who traveled to Mexico, is the most popular spirit in Mexico. Surprised? Yeah, me too. It’s by no means a complex spirit, and you can get a bottle for around $10 here in the States, which is a great value for a 3-year-old aged spirit. The taste of Presidente is mild (it’s only 35% abv), a little sweet, and pretty pleasant with just a little touch of cheap-liquor-burn. It’s easy to drink straight from a snifter and like I said, you can’t beat the value for a sipper or a cocktail base.

brandy crusta cocktail

The Brandy Crusta is a classic cocktail in every sense. Recipes for the drink appear somewhere near the mid-1800s, and it’s the inspiration for what’s probably the most popular brandy cocktail today, the Sidecar. Try this one out at home:

Brandy Crusta

  • in a cocktail shaker, add:
  • 2 oz brandy
  • 1 tsp triple sec
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 dash bitters
  • shake with ice and strain into a sugar-rimmed cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lemon twist


Podcast 53- Tales Tally and La Quintinye Vermouth Royal

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Coming down from our New Orleans high. Lisa’s googling “rent-a-father.” Complete Tales summary page. Tales tally. “If it’s Hotmail, I don’t trust you.”  Check out our vermouth page. We taste 3 types of La Quintinye Vermouth Royal. “Last night I made you a gin Martini.”

Download Episode 53.

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Hornitos Plata and Hornitos Reposado

hornitos reposado and plata

Over half a century ago on Mexican Independence Day (September 16), Don Francisco Javier Sauza (yeah that same Sauza), created Hornitos tequila, an aromatic 100% blue agave experience that’s sweet and calming with a little bit of bite.

Hornitos Plata. This is Hornitos’ unaged tequila (“plata” is Spanish for silver). Plata has never made contact with wood barrels, so it’s a clear tequila. Because of its young age, Plata is more of an herbal and floral experience in the smell and taste. This is agave at its purest: very sweet, crisp and clean.

Hornitos Reposado. This “rested” tequila has an aromatic rush of blue agave, unexpected and exciting. The sting in the air that is immediately present in the nose of other tequilas is non-existent here. Instead, a sweet, calming waft of blue agave gets your attention. The flavor is mellow and very smooth, with a bit of welcome spice. Not a tequila I would associate with taking shots, Hornitos Reposado is smooth enough to sip, and enjoy the warmth in your chest of a nice, aged tequila.

Hornitos Reposado will run you $25 and Hornitos Plata, $20. The flavors of both are subtle, and though they’d be fine cocktail tequilas, I will likely enjoy Hornitos Reposado more often as a sipping tequila. The Plata is a little more floral and herbal than I’d prefer.

Tales of the Cocktail 2015 Recap

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For the first time ever, Lisa and I went to Tales of the Cocktail! Tales is the world’s premiere cocktail event – about 20,000 people head to New Orleans for the week-long annual show in July. Attendees are usually bartenders, writers, liquor brand reps, craft cocktail enthusiasts, public relations folks, marketing people, “founders” of the craft cocktail movement – even restaurateurs or hospitality folks.

Though we had a good idea of what to expect from the event from the schedule we’d received, it’s hard to summarize the vibe of Tales until you’re in the midst of it. For 5 days, we learned, partied, ate, and drank our way through the conference, and here’s what I thought of the experience:

My Favorite Parts

  • Because we were podcasting daily from the show, we had a great excuse to talk to some of the biggest names in cocktails, like Dale Degroff, David Wondrich, and Chris McMillian. They couldn’t have been kinder to us.
  • It was great connecting with other liquor writers, many who I admire very much, like Leslie Jacobs Solmonson of 12 Bottle BarCocktail Whisperer Warren Bobrow, Bit by a Fox’s Prairie Rose, Camper English, Fred Minnick, and Natalie from Beautiful Booze.
  • I had a great time working together with Lisa and discovering New Orleans with her as first-time visitors. If we met you at Tales, I’m sure you’ll agree that Lisa is much more fun to hang out with than me.
  • Interviews that were unforseeably and awesomely well-timed. We talked to Ivy Mix, who won “American Bartender of the Year” at Saturday night’s Spirited Awards, and we interviewed Sean Kenyon, whose bar in Denver won “Best American Cocktail Bar” (Kenyon himself won Best Bartender last year, too).

My Biggest Surprises
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Tales Podcast 4- 7/19/15

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In our fourth and final podcast episode from Tales of the Cocktail 2015, we interview Sean Kenyon (owner of the Best American Cocktail Bar 2015), Alex Stein of Monkey 47 Gin, Natalie from Beautiful Booze, Brian Weber from Bartender Journey, Darren Geraghty, and Neal from Cure.

Download Episode 4.

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Tales Podcast 3- 7/18/15

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Greg and Lisa podcast from Tales of the Cocktail 2015! In this episode, we interview Camper English, Tanya Cohn, Ivy Mix, Dale Degroff, Prairie Rose, and Philip Dobard. WHAT A DAY!

Download Episode 3.

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Tales Podcast 2- 7/17/15

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Greg and Lisa podcast from Tales of the Cocktail 2015! Interviews include Ted Breaux, Derrick Schommer, and Andrew Marin, plus we do a little bit of the “usual” New Orleans stuff!

Download Episode 2.

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Tales Podcast 1- 7/16/15

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Greg and Lisa podcast from Tales of the Cocktail 2015! Interviews include Erick Castro, Chris McMillian, David Wondrich, Warren Bobrow, Konrad Kantor, and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson.

Download Episode 1.

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