Hi, Friends of Cocktails! When was the last time you tried something for the first time? We were sent a bottle of Aged Sotol a few weeks ago from a Patron of the channel. Well, we tried it and we loved it, so today we’ll look at this spirit - what it is, a bit of its history and how it plays in 3 loved classic cocktails: the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan and the Moscow Mule. As you read, try to guess which one was my favorite, and which one you would love to try! With that said, let’s begin, it’s Cocktail Time!
So, what exactly is sotol? It’s one of Mexico’s signature spirits and in the words of David, the Patron who sent us this bottle, “It is similar to tequila but much more interesting”. Sotol is made from the sotol plant, also known as Desert Spoon, which grows wild in Northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States. It resembles agave, so it’s usually thrown in the same category as its more famous cousins, tequila and mezcal, and it’s also made in a very similar process.
Sotol was once considered a liquor for the drunks and peasants, but has enjoyed a resurrection in the last few decades. It can now legally only be made in 3 states in Mexico - Chihuahua, Coahuila & Durango - but it’s also made in parts of the US, like west Texas. David is from Austin, Texas and he generously gifted us this beautiful bottle from the local Desert Door Distillery. So with all due respect to Mexico and their Sotol, this is what we’ll be using today.
Unaged sotol is typically described as tasting bright and grassy, with earthy, vegetal and slightly funky characteristics, but the 100-proof Desert Door Oak-Aged bottle we received has been put in new American Oak barrels and left to mature for up to a year. That gives it pleasant notes of vanilla, caramel and wood. It sits somewhere between tequila, mezcal and young whiskey - wonderful! Again, thank you for the bottle, David. Now it’s time to make a few cocktails with it, starting with a twist on the original cocktail, the Old Fashioned.
● 60mL (2oz) Sotol
● 7.5mL (0.25oz) Amaretto DiSaronno
● 1 barspoon agave syrup
● 5 dashes Cocktail Time House Bitters
● 2 drops saline solution
With this sotol being slightly aged an Old Fashioned twist was the first thing that came to mind, so begin by setting a clear ice block and leaving it to temper in the serving glass. Separately add your ingredients into a chilled mixing glass filled with ice and give it a stir to chill and dilute. Now drain the water from the glass before pouring the cocktail over the clear ice cube and for garnish express the oils from an orange peel and place it on top.
You may remember the House Bitters from the IKEA Old Fashioned episode, but if you want to make some at home it is as easy as mixing 1 part aromatic bitters, 1 part chocolate bitters and 0.75 part orange bitters. I also added Amaretto to get some almond notes, and since I used DiSaronno, it seemed fitting to call this cocktail DiOld Fashioned. Before we make a Sotol Manhattan twist and a Texas Buck let’s take a sip of this. Cheers!
Orange aroma is followed by a boozy sip that leads with pine and almond. Sotol is the main player, supported by the amaretto and the bitters. There’s a lovely aftertaste of cedar too, I’m really happy with this one. For the second cocktail we’ll see what happens when you place a Manhattan in Texas. Based on a quick Google search on which Texas city is most like New York, I’m calling it the Houston Cocktail.
● 45mL (1.5oz) Sotol
● 15mL (0.5oz) Cocchi di Torino Sweet Vermouth
● 7.5mL (0.25oz) Pedro Ximenez sherry
● 2 dashes Cocktail Time House Bitters
● 2 drops saline solution
We’re serving this in a coupe glass without ice so make sure it’s chilled before you make the cocktail. Just like the previous cocktail, add your ingredients to a chilled mixing glass, fill it with plenty of ice and stir. Finally strain and garnish with a brandied cherry - classy and beautiful - now let’s give it a try! Sotol is in the forefront even on the aroma with this one. That’s then complemented by flavors of ripe stone fruits and a nutty undertone from the sherry and vermouth.
The House Bitters add the finishing touch, with the same woody finish provided by the oak-aged sotol as with DiOld Fashioned. You could say that Houston gives Manhattan a run for its money.Now onto the final cocktail of the day, the Texas Buck.
● 45mL (1.5oz) Sotol
● 7.5mL (0.25oz) Ancho Reyes
● 7.5mL (0.25oz) Lime juice
● Ginger Beer to top
This is the easiest of the three cocktails and is built straight into the glass. Begin by adding some Tajín to the side of your glass - thank you David for that too - but if you haven’t had it yet, it’s a popular brand of Mexican seasoning, made with mildly spicy dried chili peppers, lime and salt. To make it stick to the side of the glass you’ll want to rub the glass with lime and sprinkle tajin on that part. Now add ice to your glass and add the ingredients with the ginger beer as the last one.
Lift the cocktail with a barspoon, to gently mix the ingredients without agitating the ginger beer too much. Now for the finishing touch place a bouquet of mint on top and don’t forget to Spank the Mint to release those aromatic oils from the leaves. You’ll smell the mint even before you pick up the cocktail, but you can also sense the spiciness on the aroma. Sotol is the perfect spirit to put into the mix with the spicy combination of ginger beer and Ancho Reyes, it even brings out the subtle smoke from sotol, and together with Tajín it’s a real treat. With a kick!
I really enjoyed these cocktails and there’s space to explore sotol in many more drinks, but if you want to know which one was my favorite you’ll have to check out the full episode on YouTube. Meanwhile, since we started the episode talking about our awesome Patrons, I’m super happy to be able to finish it with a new Patron joining the Cocktail Time Wall of Fame: Hokky Tio! Hokky Tio became the newest top-tier Patron and we couldn’t be more grateful.
Welcome to the set, Hokky. I hope you all get to try sotol, and these cocktails. It’s fun trying something new, especially if it’s this good. And if you’re looking to try out something else - How about making your own, homemade bitters? I’ve shown many ways and flavors, but you won’t want to miss this Non-alcoholic Aromatic and Orange ones. Cheers!
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