You guessed it. Tequila.
I'd wager not a few of you, dear readers, have had a run in with some spirit or another that you consumed in, shall we say, "injudicious amounts" and that you vowed you would never drink again. For me, and for tequila, it wasn't so much that I drank too much of it, it was just between the rotgut that passes for tequila on many college campuses, and the ridiculous salt-lick-lime ritual, I did not see any redeeming qualities in the stuff.
But, as so frequently happens, I read more and more articles about it and wondered if perhaps I'd been too hasty in shutting it out. Reposado tequila, which has been "rested" in oak barrels, sounded intriguing, because who doesn't want a well-rested drink? Also nifty-sounding was añejo tequila, "aged" for between 1 year and a day shy of three years, also in oak. Then you start getting into über-premium tequilas, ones that I could never hope to afford, ones like extra-añejo, aged for more than three years. Considering that'd make it much older than this blog, it's quite understandably out of my range. But my friendly neighborhood Costco, believe it or not, had a store branded, 100% Agave, añejo tequila for a quite reasonable price, and I thought it might just be time to see if my dislike of the spirit wasn't maybe a bit irrational.
Well, the spirit by itself is really something. It's sort of like bourbon after being aged in those oak barrels, but a little sharper, a little black peppery, even. Tasty, and nothing like the colorless lighter fluid I sampled in college. Clearly my old grudge was founded on a simple misunderstanding. This was not some paint-thinner suited only for washing down cheap beer (I'm looking at you, Milwaukee's Best!) but something that was quite suitable for sipping on ice with nothing to sully it at all.
But you all know that I like mixing stuff! So I dug around for some drinks that used añejo tequila. And believe it or not, most people don't want to sully it by mixing it! But I found a few that used a minimum of ingredients, chosen to let the spirit shine through. And the one I'm sharing tonight is a variant on a great, much-beloved classic.
Añejo Tequila Old-Fashioned
3 oz añejo tequila
1 teaspoon agave nectar
4 dashes Peychaud's bitters
3 spritzes Urban Moonshine citrus bitters (or 2 dashes orange bitters)
2 dashes Jamaican bitters (or grapefruit bitters)
Stir all well with ice, strain into ice-filled double Old-Fashioned glass. Garnish, if desired, with a strip of grapefruit peel.
Damn, that's a smooth one. That peppery character pokes out, but it's tempered by the agave nectar (a natural fit in this drink) and the citrus and grapefruit really lift it up and give it a clean, fresh character. I'm utterly ashamed for having misjudged tequila for as long as I did, and I hope my Scrooge-on-Christmas-morning mindset may extend to other things.
But it probably won't. Bah humbug.