This morning we went to the farmer’s market, as we do most Saturdays. It is nice to see folks, get some great stuff and support our local economy. Plus the dog gets to go, so it is wins all the way around. This time of the summer is great because of all the fresh produce and our weekly menu is always influenced by what we can find. Today, there were lots of tomatoes and peppers. Such good peppers. I bought several types and could not wait to get home and make something with them. So, join me now as we stand and make the Last of the Oaxacans. 

This is yet another riff on The Last Word, this time with smoky mezcal and some heat. I am a huge fan of a nice cool cocktail with a spicy element. I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise coming from a guy who makes his living making hot sauces, pepper jellies and glazes. There is something so interesting about an ice cold drink that leaves a little burn. It is a hard balance to hit, but when you get it right, it’s like nothing else in the world.

Grab your tins and pop in 2 roughly quarter inch coin slices of fresh cayenne pepper. Honestly, almost any pepper you like will work, I bought these red beauties this morning so cayenne it is. Add 3/4 of an ounce each of fresh squeezed lime juice, green chartreuse, maraschino cherry liqueur and mezcal, I went with Illegal Mezcal. Two dashes of El Guapo Fuego Bitters and half a barspoon of habañero shrub, add ice and you are ready to shake. Shake it hard to the beat of “The Kiss“ from the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack and double strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with another pepper, it helps if you cut discreet slices in it to release the aroma, and serve. 

Oh my damn, folks. This is seriously good. It hits all of my spots. Laura said it was like a smoky, spicy margarita, and it is, only with more depth. The spice and smoke is all there, but the chartreuse and luxardo bring a deep herbal bottom note to all that limey brightness. Make this drink, it is amazing. 

It wasn’t just the serendipitous peppers that brought this one to mind this morning it was also a chance hearing of the Main Theme to the Last of the Mohicans that had this one percolating before I ever stumbled into the peppers. I have a mostly love, little hate relationship with that song. Way back when the world was young, I made my living doing production design and construction for live theatre, some concerts, venues and a lot of theme park work. Not that I worked with a lot of parks, I just did a ton of scenic stuff for Opryland, including the hotel. I was there as a contractor right up to the end, when I got to see projects bulldozed that never really saw the light of day. It was a fun time in life, wearing decent clothes to production meetings over at Gaylord, then changing into work clothes to go to sweat in the park. One of the projects we worked on was a new entrance from the hotel into the park. I spent several weeks doing decor, hanging half boats and moose racks, building primitive campsites and the like right between Chaos and the Grizzly River Rampage. As a guest, you probably never realized it, but every piece of music in the park is on a loop, usually 12-15 minutes. Of course, each area has different music, so passing through you don’t ever hear or notice the repetition. When you work an area for a while, you notice it. You really notice it. If I never hear “Big Iron“ by Marty Robbins again, that’s just fine. Anyway, two of the three songs for the Grizzly River Rampage are from this truly wonderful soundtrack and I love them, but I also don’t want to hear them “too” much, if you get my meaning. I usually worked there in the middle of the night to avoid guests and the music ran all the time. Side note, it is fun to drive in the park and even more fun to pretty much have all access after hours. The midnight strolls through the park was a nice perk when out with a special lady friend. Those were the days. So, last night as I was working out plans to build plexiglass dividers for Laura’s classroom, YouTube roulette delivered up “The Gael“ and I had to laugh. Here I was once again figuring out how to build something to “public interaction” specs while listening to this music. That may not sound like much, but I once watched video footage of a guy using a dime to back out a three inch screw to try to steal a horseshoe from the park. People are the worst. Not you, obviously, or your friends, but the rest of them are just so bad. 

That’s a long way around to get to why this drink was on my mind and probably why I was drawn to the peppers in the first place. Hey, it is not like I know why I do the things I do. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the drink and the music. You might even want to check out the movie, it was filmed mostly in western NC around Asheville and is truly beautiful. We’ve hiked to several of the film locations over the years, not in our Leatherstockings, but it was still a good time. There you go, a good drink and some pithy words, nice and easy. I didn’t even point out that we are designing, buying the materials and building shields for the classroom ourselves because the state and county have not. Who wants to hear that kind of negativity anyway? As long as someone solves the problem, who cares how it gets done, am I right? The important thing is these kids will be back in the classroom on Monday, ready to learn. Lord have mercy, this is where we are. No wonder I drink every day. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.