A mezcal- and chile-infused concoction from Manhattan’s Empellon.
Mat, bar manager
230 W4th Street, New York
So, what are we drinking?
It's called The Darkest Corner of Oaxaca.
Why is this the drink that everyone should drink this weekend?
It's a very simple cocktail, but it's immensely flavorful and the complexity of it is very interesting. Mezcal is a very misunderstood spirit. A lot of people won’t even put mezcal in a cocktail, or they’ll use a splash of mezcal, kill it with tequila, and then call it a mezcal cocktail. This is a 100% pure mezcal cocktail with orange juice and chipotle mora. It's very unique, because as you're drinking, it will evolve and adapt to the flakes. So your first sip and last sip will be completely different.
So does this go along with anything specific to eat?
We have this salsa called Salsa Borraca, which also has chipotle mora, mezcal, and orange juice so it fits right together.
So Salsa Borraca and the Darkest Corner of Oaxaca work for a date night. But what about a pretty girl at the bar? What kind of drink would you send her?
I would actually make something on the fly based on her personality, or what she likes to drink.
You can tell a girl's personality just from looking at her at the bar?
Just by the way she’s dressed, by the way she carries herself.
Okay, so I'm a cool person and I’m wearing a dress. What would you send me?
Something light and very clean. Probably with mezcal, ground sugar cube, cava, an orange peel, and macadamia-nut bitters.
Sounds complicated — just like me [laughs]. Is it on the menu?
It is not.
Is there anything that people should be embarrassed to order?
A glass of blue curacao.
What about an appletini?
Appletinis have really fallen out of vogue. I don't think anyone has actually ever ordered one.
Can you tell when a date is going wrong at the bar, based on what the people are ordering?
It's tough to say. I try to not impede on people's space. I don't like when bartenders try to get up in everyone's business, trying to be the mediator.
Has anyone ever tried to pick you up?
Do you wish they would?
No. I'm probably the only bartender in the world who hasn't used this job to try to get a date.
Well, you're an honorable man. What can someone order that will really impress you?
It depends on the scene and the situation. If we're super-busy, it would be kind of annoying if someone came in and ordered a mojito. It's kind of nice when say, a lady comes in, and I think she's just going to order a cosmopolitan, but then she orders something with mezcal. I'm more into that than someone ordering a frou-frou drink. We can definitely accommodate anything, but it's nice when someone cares about what they're drinking.
Darkest Corner of Oaxaca
2 oz. Fidencio Clasico Mezcal
2 oz. fresh orange juice
About 1 tbsp chopped Chipotle Mora chile (de-seeded)
Build the cocktail over ice in large rocks glass. Scatter Chipotle Mora over cocktail when finished. The cocktail will change over time; as you sip it, the chile will impart more flavor and smokiness as the drink sits. Enjoy slowly.