For the final party at the Key West Literary Seminar we decided to pull out the stops and make a really dazzling, seemingly improbable cocktail as the grand finale. Over the 3 days of the Seminar our little cocktail table had gained something of a faithful following, with repeat visitors who sought us out and even one group that referred to themselves as our "groupies", which was flattering. I was struck by how this sophisticated, literate crowd of (as I like to refer to them) lifetime New Yorker subscription holders found the notion of specialty cocktails to be quite novel. It's easy living in New York and being within this whole cocktail scene to forget that this boozy renaissance has not quite hit outside of urban centers--there are certainly exceptions around the country, little bars and restaurants that take the craft of the cocktail seriously, but there's plenty of room for education and better libations.
So when we began serving the molé margarita minds were promptly blown.
It's gone by different names since Mark Buettler created it in the fall at Dressler, after challenging himself to find a way to use Ovaltine in a cocktail. When German bitters outfit Bittermans came out with their Xocolatl Molé Bitters, he saw a way to crack the code. The resulting neo-margarita was called Puebla on the Dressler menu, but I called it Y Tu Molé Tambien when I first wrote about it. We re-dubbed it the Tarnished Halo at a party for James Rosenquist where Mark did the cocktail catering and renamed the drink after one of the artist's pieces. But for for the purposes of the party I simply referred to it as a "molé margarita"....and the crowd went wild. I'd batched it by sense rather than measurements---I had the luxury of having had many, many of the originals from Mark's hands. And in lieu of using store bought Orgeat Chris Otten of Bad Boy Burrito made a batch from scratch, toasting almonds for a couple hours, then cooking them down with a quite a lot of dark agave nectar--he did it using his considerable cuisine kung fu, dispensing with anything resembling a recipe, so I can't tell you what he did. But Torani makes a perfectly fine Orgeat (here). Like with the Bennett punch we made a big batch, shook individual drinks with ice and strained into glasses, topping with the bitters as a final touch. These glasses were rimmed with the crowning touch--a combination of Ovaltine, almond flour and Murray River Flake Salt. I'd recommend starting small and making individual drinks before jumping up to the punch version--get to know the flavor and you'll be able to tweak the big version to your taste. Here is the original recipe:
Y TU MOLE TAMBIEN/TARNISHED HALO
2 parts almond flour
1 part sea salt (Mark used Fleur de Sel de Guerande, we used Murray River Pink Flake Salt)
Happy literati, suffused in a molé and tequila glow.