The Friday Fermentable: The New Mexico edition

This week's focus: What to do with all of that extra tequila lying about, especially during a nationwide heat wave.

Well, I've been out of touch with PharmMom and PharmStiefvater as of late, so this edition of The Friday Fermentable is dedicated to them in their new, year-round home in the Land of Enchantment, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, the posting of The Friday Fermentable is also being posted on New Mexico time, roughly two days late.

Regular readers of Terra Sig know that I am a big fan of The Wall Street Journal because of their tremendous commitment to science, pharma, and biotech writing. With regard to the FF, the WSJ is already home to one of the best wine columns in the US, Tastings, by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher.

These highly experienced folks and authors of wine books nevertheless also consider themselves wine enthusiasts rather than experts. Dorothy and John have done a tremendous job of humanizing the wine appreciation experience and have instituted the Open That Bottle Night (OBTN) in February, where all readers are encouraged to open a bottle of special wine they've set aside but never found the time to open. They are loved in the blogosphere and I know of no other wine writers capable of giving a spot-on recommendation of a wine to enjoy with Southern boiled peanuts (coming, of course, from their north Florida heritage!).

Well, the WSJ launched a weekend edition back in September. In this expansion of content, they added another outstanding writer, Eric Felten, to write How's Your Drink?, a column dedicated to the fine points of drinking more potent, distilled alcoholic beverages. I'm personally not fond of anything stronger than port, but Mr Felter has done a terrific job over the last year on the history of cocktails and provides uniformly superb, innovative drink recipes from his various travels.

Back on 29-30 April 2006, Mr Felter had a column on tequila drinks that are not the Margarita, arising from a road-trip taken on "the high-desert badlands between Santa Fe and Taos, NM," the week before Easter. He noted passing many folks on the traditional Holy Week pilgrimage to a small church at the village of Chimayo, the Santuario de Chimayo.

Eric's "less exalted" but equally life-enriching pilgrimage was to the birthplace of his favorite drink: the Chimayo Cocktail (recipe below). Invented in 1968 at the Rancho de Chimayo by owners Arturo and Florence Jaramillo, the Chimayo cocktail was an entrepreneural attempt to capitalize on the abundance of apple orchards on the Jaramillo property whose hacienda was built in 1890 by Arturo's grandfather.

As Mr Felten relates:

Florence Jaramillo says that in 1968 her then-husband spent several nights with local apple growers experimenting behind the bar after closing. She laughs that coming up with the Rancho's signature drink wasn't exactly the hardest work they ever did at the restaurant.

Experimenting, indeed. Note below that the use of very raw and opaque apple cider is key to the recipe. I did my own field testing with 365 Organic Apple Juice from Whole Foods but I look forward to repeating the various permutations when fresh apple juice comes in here in the Fall.

The second cocktail recipe presented by Mr Felten came from his travels back into Santa Fe proper to the Pink Adobe whose bar, The Dragon Room, is across the street from the San Miguel Mission. Felten considers their Black Dragon cocktail a less imaginative advance on the Margarita than the Chimayo's great leap forward, but imagine the fun you'll have with friends comparing the standard Margarita to these two new tequila cocktails in your repetoire.

What I like particularly about the Black Dragon is the use of more prominent use of Creme de Cassis, a French liquer made from black currants. As my goal here is to focus on adding joy to the lives of the monetarily-challenged grad student or postdoc, I should stress that an inexpensive bottle of Creme de Cassis should be available at all times, particularly if a guest on Saturday night should happen to stay into Sunday morning.

Creme de Cassis is that extra bit of class that is added to even the least expensive Champagnes or non-Champagne sparkling wines to create the Kir Royale (add five parts Champagne on top of one part Cd'C).

Anyone can serve Champagne at Sunday brunch, but the most discriminating yet cost-conscious host will add a splash of Creme de Cassis and speak of one's desire to share such a drink with the morning guest someday in Paris, all while explaining the source of the drink. My finest Kir Royale was enjoyed at Altitude 95 in La Tour d'Eiffel while on honeymoon with my lovely wife.

Using a non-Champagne sparkler like Cristalano ($6-7 at Whole Foods) more correctly creates a Kir Petillant, but imagine the points you'll score with your guest showing that you know the distinction. Live a little, my dear readers, and dream.

One last note, the simple syrup quoted in the Black Dragon recipe is made by boiling one cup of water with one cup of cane sugar for 10 min, cooling for 30 min, then storing at 4 C in an autoclaved vessel (only kidding, a freshly washed bottle will suffice). Don't let Archer Daniels-Midland sell you that high-fructose corn syrup crap.

Chimayo Cocktail
-courtesy of Rancho de Chimayo and the WSJ

1.50 oz tequila
1.00 oz unfiltered apple cider
0.25 oz fresh lemon juice
0.25 oz creme de cassis

Stir in glass, garnish with unpeeled apple slice.

Black Dragon
- courtesy of the Pink Adobe's Dragon Room and the WSJ

1.50 oz tequila
0.75 oz Cointreau
0.50 oz fresh lime juice
1.00 oz simple syrup
0.50 oz creme de cassis

Shake all but the cassis with ice and strain into a salt-rimmed highball glass with ice. Float the cassis atop the drink, letting it settle gently without stirring.

Other notes:
For the graduate student, Cointreau is a French orange liquer that is worthily but wicked-expensive ($36 for 750 mL) and would make for a nice stocking stuffer from the folks at holiday time. I have substituted successfully 1.50 oz of cheap Triple Sec (

Gents, you'll ultimately want Cointreau around to make Cosmopolitans for your lady friends and, more importantly, to show their mothers that you are a gentleman of class beyond your pending PhD...but that is for another day.

More like this

Um. I cant understand the expence of Cointreau - as an undergraduate in Ireland we used to drink Cointreau and 7-up. A nice drink, if I remember well.

By John Lynch (not verified) on 06 Aug 2006 #permalink

Two weeks ago I had a Chile 'Rita at La Posta in Las Cruces.

An exotic blend of "Besito Caliente" blackberry Habanero sauce, lime juice, Hornitos 100% agave tequila & Coutreau served on the rocks in a hand-blown "chile" stemglass. Hot stuff for cool people.

Quite an experience. It is actually quite good, but you do not have to worry about drinking it too fast.

Is that tequila plata, añejo, or reposado? Seems most cocktails use plata, but there's a huge difference between the three.

Abel, I LOVE bold peanuts. Although I must noted that you spelled them wrong (boiled) when it is obviously "BOLD," as any hand-painted sign along the Florida highway could tell you.