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Inside Don Julio Tequila's Branded Booze Lair

By Roger Kamholz in Food on Dec 8, 2010 8:00PM

The high point of our week thus far took place on the 34th floor of the Hard Rock Hotel. It was there that we became acquainted with a new kind of hotel suite with no beds, only bars. Don Julio Tequila
has taken over that floor of the Hard Rock and remodeled it into a series of intimate event spaces complete with agave-centric artwork on the walls, shelves lined with drinking material, plush furniture, and enough candles to endure a month-long power outage.

On Monday, some of the Don's people hosted a showing of their new drinking den. Their plan is to use it mostly for swanky private cocktail parties, which is a shame because we probably won't see much more of it. A New York bartender named Brent Lamberti was flown in to give the place a proper christening; he dispensed several specialty shots from the Don Julio playbook. They all had flair - one got a fiery kiss of orange zest - but one in particular actually delivered on flavor, too. Many tequila cocktails seem bent on masking the base spirit's heat and bite with syrupy sweetness, but this shot goes for the opposite.

London-based mixologist Salvatore Calabrese is credited with creating the (cringe) Snap, Crackle, Drop. Aromatic bitters and fresh black pepper accentuate the gifts of a good tequila, giving subtle notes like spice, oak, vanilla and toffee extra oomph (aged varieties are kept in bourbon barrels, after all). The result is hot and gnarly but somehow smooth - the kind of beverage that can give the coldest day a warm glow.

Snap, Crackle, Drop

1 1/2 ounces Tequila Don Julio Reposado
7-8 dashes Angostura bitters
4-5 twists freshly ground cracked black pepper
Lime wedge

Stir Angostura bitters and pepper on a saucer until it turns into a paste. Coat on side of a lime wedge with the paste and serve on the side of the drink. Pour Tequila Don Julio Reposado into shooter glass.

Bite on the lime and then shoot.

The Hard Rock Hotel is located at 230 North Michigan Avenue.