We haven’t done tequila for a while, so we thought we’d throw that into the mix this week. Conveniently enough, we recently received a bottle of Hornitos Black Barrel as a sample. Is that good, bad, or indifferent?
We’ll admit it – Hornitos is a brand we haven’t used before, mainly because the name seems way too targeted at the dude-bro market and makes us roll our eyes. It seemed unlikely to be something we liked. Imagine our surprise when we tried the Black Barrel and found it quite tasty. It’s a solid anejo, with good agave flavor, barrel wood, a touch of smoky mesquite, and a ton of cracked pepper. That last is really what made it stand out from the usual for us.
With that flavor profile, it’s no delicate flower, and we thought we could pair it up with some other strong ingredients for some interesting cocktails. We tried a number of liqueurs and vermouths to see what it would go well with – here’s a pro tip, don’t use curacao, the combo tastes like baby aspirin – and found that the strong herbal/spicy flavor of green Chartreuse paired very well. We then added some saffron simple syrup to up the spice even more and round out the mouth feel. An orange twist adds citrusy bitterness to what is a rather sweet drink for us.
- 2 1/2 oz anejo tequila (We used the Hornitos Black Barrel)
- 1/2 oz green Chartreuse
- 1 tsp saffron simple syrup
Stir with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
- Nose: Orange, black pepper, saffron, mint, green bitter wormwood, hint of thyme.
- Palate: Saffron, orange, mint and thyme to start. Black pepper, caramel and barrel wood in the middle. More pepper, bitterness from the Chartreuse, plus vegetal agave on the finish.
Next up, we thought we’d try a very bitters-heavy drink, like some of the classic cocktails we’ve come across. The lemon paired well with the spicy, savory flavors of the tequila, then we used the absinthe and some simple syrup to sweeten it up and bring some herbal flavors to the mix.
- 2 1/2 oz anejo tequila (Again we used the Black Barrel)
- 1/2 oz lemon bitters (We used the Black Lemon from Scrappy’s)
- 1 tsp absinthe
- 1/4 oz simple syrup
Stir with ice, strain into a glass. Enjoy!
- Nose: Lemon hard candy, anise, black pepper, little bit of mesquite.
- Palate: Sweet lemon and anise to start. Lemon peel and pepper on the mid-palate as well as a slight funky vegetal taste, but not in a bad way. 😉 Anise, faint cardamon, and a lot of bitter on the finish. More of the barrel notes on the mid-palate as it warms up.
Both of our drinks turned out pretty strongly flavored and spirit-forward this week, so probably not for the faint of heart. That said, they both have a lot going on with spicy/herbal/bitter flavors, so if you like that sort of thing, they’ll be your cup of tea.