The number five seems to be enjoying its day in the sun lately. In his book In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan put forth some basic rules of eating. One memorable rule is “Avoid Food Products That Contain More Than Five Ingredients.” Soon after, clever, manipulative products and ad campaigns followed, most notably Häagen-Dazs’s Five line of ice creams featuring only five ingredients and Lays Classic Potato Chips boasting that they are made with “three simple ingredients” – neither of which are particularly healthy foods.
And in an unrelated but locally relevant example, there’s Five restaurant down the street.
Anyway, we didn’t necessarily set out to have five ingredients in Cinco de Mezcal, our special Cinco de Mayo cocktail, but that’s what we ended up with nonetheless: mezcal, lime, pineapple, chartreuse and hoja santa. The first three are no doubt familiar and require no explanation. Chartreuse is a French liqueur made by Carthusian monks since the 1740s that includes over 130 herbal extracts (there seems to be a long tradition of monks making all manner of spirits, but that’s for another time). Hoja santa is an oft-used herb in Mexico, whether for tamales, wrapping whole fish or mole verde. It is a plant with heart-shaped leaves that grow up to a foot in size and have a complex flavor, with notes of sassafras, mint and anise.
Matt Campbell’s idea for Cinco de Mezcal evolved from the Mexican flag, but we didn’t want to make a layered drink with cinnamon schnapps. The Chartreuse, lime, pineapple and hoja santa mingle to create a nice balance between earthy and fruity, and the mezcal adds some smoky intensity. The ‘flag’ on top is comprised of mint for aromatics and a pineapple chunk dipped in a salt of morita and guajillo chiles and tomato powder. As barman Matt says, “A little spice alongside a good amount of lime and mezcal is exactly what I want to beat the heat this weekend. It’s a good sweat. I’m starting to sound redundant but this drink is meant to be refreshing and quaffable-on the patio or in paradise-oh wait, it’s both.”
Hope to see you at Comal on this momentous weekend that includes both our one-year anniversary (on Saturday) and Cinco de Mayo.