Serious Eats: Recipes

Drink the Book: The Dahlgren

[Photograph: Marleigh Riggins Miller ]

As always with our Drink the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Food & Wine Cocktails 2011 to give away this month.

It's coming on summer, which is the time of year—at least for me—when tequila becomes ubiquitous. Phil Ward, bartender at New York's renowned Death & Co. and now the agave-focused Mayahuel, was tapped by Food & Wine to curate the tequila chapter in Food & Wine Cocktails 2011.

The focus of the program at Mayahuel, which opened in 2009, is entirely on tequila and mezcal, tequila's smoky cousin. The cocktails Ward selected for the book range from refreshing, citrusy classics like the Paloma and Margarita to contemporary originals that pair bitter Italian amari, vermouths, or sherries with fresh fruit and the spicy, smoky notes of tequila and mezcal.

The Dahlgren is a long, tall number with strong spicy notes underscored by the subtle richness of tawny port. A Ward original, he took his inspiration from the classic Diablo, a combination of tequila, lime, créme de cassis and ginger ale; Ward substitutes tawny port for the black currant liqueur and uses a spicy homemade ginger syrup instead of ginger ale. If you really love ginger, you can make this drink extra spicy by using the ginger syrup and your favorite ginger ale or a more robust ginger beer instead of club soda.

Shopping tips: I like the blanco tequilas made by Milagro or Corralejo for mixing; if you're looking for a blanco with a bit more oomph for stand-alone sipping as well, try Partida or the vintage, single-estate Tequila Ocho. For the port, Yalumba Antique Tawny and Graham's 10-Year are excellent products that are relatively easy to find. (Once open, keep port in the fridge; like vermouth, port is a fortified wine and can spoil if left out.)

About the author: Marleigh Riggins Miller writes and photographs for SLOSHED!, a website about cocktails, spirits, home bartending, and entertaining.

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