Oyamel // Washington D.C.
In case you hadn’t noticed, tequila is not what it used to be. It’s gone upscale, and we mean that in a good way. From 100% blue agave tequilas to the smoky Mezcals, the world is starting to realize there’s more to the agave plant than a few shots and a nasty hangover. So if you’re late to the party, drop in to Oyamel in Wahington D.C. Joseph Cleveland knows his tequila and before you know it, you’ll be sipping a mix of strawberry, avocado, jalapeno, and yes, tequila.
I walk into Oyamel for the first time. Do you have a signature cocktail that I have to order from you?
The “Oyamel” (margarita). Its José Andrés’ personal favorite with Siembra Azul blanco, Luxardo Triplum, fresh lime juice and salt “air”
We had the martini trend. The single malt scotch trend. The single barrel bourbon trend. The high-end tequilas. What’s next for 2011?
I hope its Mezcal! With a wide range of brands like Ilegal and Del Maguey, there is something for everyone. At Oyamel, we love using Mezcal in margaritas to cut the acidity and add a smoky complexity or in place of scotch in classic drinks.
What were some of your favorite cocktails served at the Tequila & Mezcal festival?
The Monstro Verde. I love anything green. This drink is made with Centenario Plata, Del Maguey Vida, Green Chartreues, fresh lime juice, chipotle syrup, and cilantro. It’s a great, well balanced drink that hits every part of your tongue, and a great introduction to mescal. The Crusta Noble; made with Casa Noble Anejo, Creole Shrubb, vanilla syrup, lemon and pineapple juice. The Tangelo; made with tangelo and fresno chilie infused El Tesoro Reposado, Benedictine, maraschino, pineapple and lime juice.
With spring and summer quickly approaching, are there seasonal ingredients you’re looking forward to using?
Yes. We just created a strawberry and avocado drink with jalapenos, yellow chartreuse, and fresh lemon juice. Another drink in the works is flavored with huitlacoche, a Mexican corn truffles from Roy Burns Farm. And there is a drink inspired by the pancita de puerco al pastor taco (Seared house cured pork belly in a sauce of tomatoes and guajillo chiles, served with pineapple, onions and cilantro).
Light cocktail this, diet cocktail that. A lot of bar guests are asking for a “lighter” option. What do you serve ‘em?
We believe that by using healthy, fresh, locally sourced ingredients, there is no need to count calories. However, we are happy to make a guest the Sagrado Corazón. It’s a tequila gimlet made with Chinaco verde blanco, cilantro & toasted coriander served over a hibiscus ice sphere.
We assume tequila is number one. So, what’s your second favorite spirit to work with?
The obscure. Using brands like Fernet Branca, Chartreuse, Averna, Lillet, Campari, and Crème de Violette.
Looking out for our rookie bartenders at home; are there any tequila/mezcal brands or recipes that you’d recommend they use/play around with?
Easy. Siembra Azul Blanco and Mazcal Vida by Del Maguey. Both are great and affordable, and mix well with everything like in an El Diablo.
Someone asks you what you do for a living. Your answer – bartender or mixologist?
Why not both? You can’t have a bar without bartenders and I would hate to lose touch with the guest. However, I love to mix and learn about all kinds of spirits, so mixologist works. And why not add bar chef to that?