It’s okay — you can put down the G&T now.
It’s fall, East End imbibers, and it’s time to get a little spicy.
At Sag Harbor’s Bell & Anchor, barman Carl Pilcher has got just the thing: the Olé Spice. But while your mind might be heading to the world of whiskey this time of year, we like Pilcher’s transitional touch of agave-based spirits, employing both tequila and mezcal in this autumnal easy-to-love cocktail.
While “margarita” might be the only thing that comes to mind when agave-based spirits are the topic of conversation, their innate earthiness (and, at times, super artisanal methodology) make them perhaps some of the most versatile spirits from season to season, be it in a refreshing Paloma or a Oaxaca Old-Fashioned.
There are a few reasons to dig Pilcher’s presentation. For one, it uses that familiar combo of tequila/mezcal with lime juice, but brings it into the pre-wintery months via a simple syrup rife with baking spice notes, and the addition of China China, an amaro made from, among other lovely things, macerated bitter orange peels.
And then there’s the part that you can only get if you go visit Bell & Anchor: the barrel aging.
“We barrel age Noble Coyote Mezcal and Casamigos Reposado tequila in three liter charred oak barrels for three weeks,” Pilcher says. “The result is a much smoother drink with a touch of caramel from the charred oak. He also adds just a tiny hit of habañero tincture (his go-to is from Flavor Frenzy).
If you want to give it a try at home and don’t have a barrel handy (and, well, let us know if you do!) or the habañero tincture, no worries — the cocktail is still a fall stunner. But if you’d like the full pro-experience, go on into Bell & Anchor and Pilcher will happily mix one up. Cheers, friends.
- 1 oz Casamingos reposado tequila
- 1 oz Noble Coyote mezcal
- 1/2 oz China China amaro
- 1/2 oz cinnamon-allspice syrup (see below)
- 1 lime, juiced
- 4 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 orange peel, for garnish
- 1 whole star anise, for garnish
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 10 allspice berries