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Properly Sauced: At the Pawnshop

By Roger Kamholz in Food on Jan 12, 2012 8:40PM

2012_01_11_pawnshop-cocktail_V2.jpgOn a number of occasions (such as here, here and here), I've brought news of cocktails featuring one of my favorite new spirits to hit the market over the past few years, Del Maguey's more affordable mezcal, Vida. The stuff is smoky like a fine Scotch whisky, yet can be fruity and spicy like its close cousin, tequila. In some ways, it can function like bitters—adding a kick of smokiness and rich depth to a drink with just a scant amount. My latest encounter with Vida once again proved its versatility. And although this drink hails from outside the city limits, it would be right at home warming you up on a chilly winter's evening in Chicago.

While doing some light cocktail reconnaissance on the West Coast over the holidays, I was introduced to a dimly lit, speakeasy-style bar in Los Angeles called the Roger Room. If my name were, say, O'Brien, maybe this discovery would not have been so cool. But, needless to say, I was giddy. "At the Pawnshop" was among the bar's featured cocktails. And it would appear that when I see "Vida" on a drink menu, I've developed a kind of involuntary, Pavlovian reaction and just order it without thinking.

At the Roger Room, At the Pawnshop is mixed up with Plantation Rum, from the Caribbean, but at home I've been using an aged Venezuelan rum called Pampero Anniversario to pleasing effect. Overall, At the Pawnshop is luscious and spirited on the palate but not overly sweet—a result of just a touch of syrupy maraschino liqueur on top of the burnt-sugar flavors in the rum. It's fruity yet smoky, a combination I can't get enough of.

At the Pawnshop2012_01_11_pawnshop-cocktail.jpg

1 1/2 ounces Plantation Rum (Pampero Anniversario works well, too)
1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 ounce Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
2 dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashion Bitters
lemon peel

Combine rum, maraschino liqueur, mezcal and bitters in a mixing glass. Fill with fresh ice and stir. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass containing one oversized ice cube (or two to three small cubes). Squeeze lemon peel over glass to express its oils, then drop into glass as garnish.