|Tequila drinks at Hecho en Dumbo|
Over the past few years, the growing popularity of more refined labels have changed the game - which is now about high-end cocktails and sipping tequilas. To delve into the spirit of Mexican week, we sat down with Ethan Smith, co-owner and beverage director of New York's Hecho en Dumbo and Salón Hecho, to chat about the different kinds of tequila drinkers that pass through the bar.
With the disclaimer that the city is filled with of all sorts of unpredictable crazies that should not and cannot be rightfully categorized, we prodded Ethan to free associate and make some stereotyping generalizations to tell us: who drinks what kind of tequila? We also threw mezcal into the mix, as it hits the other agave-based spirits that aren't tequila.
Hipster guy, in a plaid shirt with a beard (not unlike Ethan)
Cocktail: Tres Vidas
Mezcal is the trendy esoteric spirit right now, recently gaining market share in cocktail circles. It feeds into all of today's trends: it's made organically in small batches, so it supports the environment and small business. It's perfect for guys that want to sound like they know what they're talking about even if they don't. They'll often say something like, "this is made from a different kind of cactus, right?" (It's made from a different agave plant but agave is not a cactus, it’s a member of the lily family).
Ingredients: Smoked Chile Meco and Fresh Bell Pepper muddled with De Leyenda Mezcal Oaxaca, organic Agave Syrup, and a dash of freshly-squeezed lime juice, served up in a frosted cocktail glass.
Wall Street Guy, in a suit, probably on a date
Spirit: Tequila Anejo (aged) on the rocks (not how it's traditionally served)
Tequila Anejo satisfies all the Wall Street Guy's requirements: it's expensive (read: impressive), high quality, brown and it looks and smells like scotch. He's the newer version of the manly man who only drinks scotch (an updated Mad Man, if you will). For the cocktail, he'll either order a martini without looking at the menu or order a margarita, which, Ethan finds, men will order if they're expensive enough, but think are girly if too cheap.
Ingredients: 100% Agave tequila Herradura Blanco, freshly-squeezed lime juice, Cointreau, and a dash of cane sugar, served on the rocks with a salted rim.
Fratty dudes, probably in a big group, probably pregaming a big club night.
Spirit: Will ask for Jose Cuervo, with lime and salt, so they'll recommend their house tequila Herradura Blanco since they don't carry Cuervo. Sorry, dudes.
Cocktail: Tequila shots
Line 'em up - these guys are just looking to get juiced up and ready to go. The Hecho staff will even break out shot glasses for this kind of a group to satisfy the request. Generally served in small tequila snifters, they'll pour the Herradura into real shot glasses to dress this nicer tequila down.
Girly girls who usually order cosmos or, if they're trying to cut back, vodka sodas. These are the girls meeting up later (but not dining with) the fratty dudes above.
Spirit: Also looking for Cuervo or Patron, end up with Herradura Blanco
Cocktail: These girls will order the Coctel Sangria, not read it, not like it and tell the waiter they ordered sangria. When told they actually do not have sangria, they'll exclaim in disbelief, "what kind of Mexican restaurant doesn't have sangria?!" Then the waiter will suggest Flor Morada because it's vodka (safe) and is kind of like a Cosmo (w tea of flower petals instead of cranberry). They'll take a shot at the end of their meal, and out come the shot glasses again.
Ingredients: Coctel Sangria - Los Altos Malbec red wine floated over organic Crop Vodka with locally-Bottled boylan's soda and a dash of lime juice and cane sugar, served on the rocks; Flor Morada - organic Crop Vodka and hibiscus flower tea with a splash of Combier and freshly-squeezed lime juice, shaken and served up in a frosted cocktail glass.
Foodies, genuinely interested in learning and sampling
Spirit: Tequila flight
A bartender's favorite because they ask questions and are genuinely interested in learning and sampling, so they'd try a flight. They'll like the Esmerelda cocktail because it's very green and gardeny with the basil, complex with mezcal and gin, and produced locally and organically. It feels like a farmer's market.
Ingredients: Muddled organic cucumber and basil leaf with Farmer's Botanical Gin, Illegal Mezcal Joven, and a dash of fresh lime juice served up in a frosted cocktail glass.
Tequila buffs or purists, people who really know their stuff.
Spirit: Siembra Azul or Siete Leguas (the original Patron before it was mass produced)
Why?: These two tequilas are the most perfect of tequilas, the tequila lovers' tequila. They're both organic, artisanal tequilas with all the right breeding, everything in their makeup, where it was grown/harvested/etc is ideal and tastes exactly what should taste like.
Cocktail: Tequila con Sangrita which is 100% Agave Tequila Cazadores Reposado served neat alongside house-made Sangrita, a traditional spicy tomato accompaniment to sipping tequilas, though these folks specify the different kind of tequila.