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Tequila in 10: Viva la Phil Ward

Some matches just work — Bergen and McCarthy, Steve Young and Jerry Rice and of course strawberries and chocolate. In each case, it would seem impossible to imagine one without the other and so today we find ourselves in a similar situation.

More often than not you will likely find that tequila-based drink recipes utilize a “sour” formulation.  As mentioned earlier, my personal belief is that this stems from a desire by many (but not all) recipe developers to tame the bold, assertive flavor that is tequila and in a “sour” formulation this is handled easily.  As it is in cooking, a master chef knows how to get the best out of his or her ingredients.  In many cases, said master knows that often the best strategy is to put the proper ingredients together, do little to them and let these characters speak for themselves.

Phil Ward is just such a cocktail master (you may recall me mentioning this wizard a few times in the past) and today he takes a go at mixing tequila into something all-together fantastic. How does he do it? He mixes a keen awareness for his subject matter, selects the right ingredients and mixes them in proper proportions. That is it.  I’m a huge fan of Phil’s work, first at Death & Co. and then later at his bar/restaurant Mayahuel and if there is one person who understands the depth and beauty of tequila and mezcal it is surely Phil (just check out the tequila section of Food and Wine’s Cocktails 2011).

Phil’s Suro-Mago is a text book example of proper balance between ingredients. It is a wonderfully complex sipping drink — sherry and tequila were just made to go with each other.

Suro-Mago    
Recipe created by Phil Ward (taken from Food & Wine Cocktails 2011) and adapted by theSpeakista

•    2 oz reposado tequila
•    3/4 oz manzanilla sherry (Osborne Amontillado sherry was used)
•    1/2 oz St-Germain elderflower liqueur
•    1/4 oz mezcal
•    1 dash orange bitters (Regan’s was used)
Garnish: grapefruit twist
Glass: double rocks glass (or coupe, in our case today)
Tools: mixing glass, bar-spoon and julep strainer

Assembly:  Rinse the chilled serving glass with the mezcal and discard the excess (by drinking it of course!). Mix all of the remaining ingredients in a mixing glass with plenty of cracked and non-cracked ice until the drink well chilled and pour into the serving glass. Pinch the twist over the top of the drink to express the oils and discard.  

You can count on Phil to provide needed sustenance to a weary traveler.  Next up Tequila in 10 stumbles its way out of the subterranean cavern that is Phil’s bar/restaurant, and taking in a few deep breaths of chilled winter weather makes its way over to First Avenue and up to St. Marks Place in route for a hot dog and a great drink.

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