I am all about side quests. Seriously, I always have several low level goals running in the background. Whether it’s getting the chance to drive a train, seeking out a vintage Corgi Jr. Batmobile or playing pool with a person of note, I have this whole list of stuff that is on my radar, just not a priority. Well, not a priority unless good fortune suddenly opens a door and moves something to the top of the list. One of those perpetual side quests is the never ending search for new ingredients. Whether for our home kitchen, the test kitchen at work or our cocktail bar, I have a whole list of stuff that I am quietly searching for and I recently received a bottle I have been chasing for quite some time. So, in the spirit of those goals that keep us chasing the horizon, won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Eloté Cocktail.
I heard about Nixta Licor de Eloté a couple of years ago, and I have made several decent attempts at getting a bottle. It is only distributed in a few states in the US and the last time I was in New York, I narrowly missed scoring the last bottle in Brooklyn, allegedly. Every time I have traveled somewhere that might have it I have given it another shot only to come up empty handed. Life is always a little more challenging when you live in a state where liquor cannot be shipped, technically. Through a bit of love and luck, the wife worked with my nephew to acquire a bottle in Illinois and have him bring it home when he visited for Father’s Day. So, I finally have that gorgeous maize shaped bottle of Mexican street corn liqueur. That’s right. That’s what I said, street corn liqueur. What does it taste like? Well, it is sweet and very corn forward. Kinda like fresh cornbread slathered in butter, only smoother or buttered popcorn, with a caramel undertone served with fresh corn silks. I mean it is amazing, but I haven’t figured out just how to use it yet. Well, beyond just taking little sips, closing my eyes and moaning a little.
I’d love to give you a wonderful provenance for this drink, but as far as I know, I made it up. The best I can go with for inspiration is, I often group alcohols by the region where they are produced and seeing these three liquors from Mexico sitting together made me think, I should put them in a glass and see what happens. So, you get what we have here today, which is the way he wants it.
Grab your tins and pop in 1 ounce of Nixta Licor de Eloté, 1 ounce of mezcal, I chose Del Maguey Vida; 1/2 an ounce of Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, 3/4 of an ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice, 2 stabs of Angostura Bitters and a pinch of Sal con Gusano Worm Salt from Oaxaca. Add some artisanal ice and give it a good shake to the beat of “La Pistola y El Corazon” by Los Lobos. When well chilled strain into a coupe, sprinkle a little Taijin chile lime salt over the top and garnish with a dried chile and some lime peel, artfully trimmed, of course. I really wanted to work some Cojita cheese into this one, if only as a garnish, but that felt like too much, so I showed uncharacteristic restraint. You’re welcome, citizen.
Well, that’s tasty. I love the spice from the ancho and the smoke from the mezcal playing together. The corn gets lost a little bit, but it is there providing this really lovely buttery undertone. It really is the Dude’s rug in this one. You may not notice it upfront, but you would miss it if it were gone. I like the salt in this too, it helps balance some of that sweetness. It could be better, but not bad for a first shot. I’d serve this one proudly, but I might bump that Nixta half an ounce to make it more prominent. All in all a nice sipper for a hot afternoon.
I can now move Nixta over to the vintage Corgi Jr. Batmobile having, train driving, playing pool with a remarkable selection of folks side of the column. Another side quest, completed. That brings me a bit of joy and a bit of sadness, like most of the things worth doing in life. As that great philosopher Mr. Spock once said, “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical… but it is often true.” That Vulcan got it. Once a quest is completed, the place it occupied is left empty, so the fulfillment of one desire simply creates another. Oscar Wilde never traveled to the stars, but he still understood better than most, “There are two great tragedies in life. One is not getting what you want… the other is getting it.” I like that and I like getting what I want, only to find that solving one quest leads to another, ad infinitum, in our eternal quest to see what lies just beyond the next horizon. I mean, if you are into that sort of thing. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.