Here’s another case of a restaurant with a stellar—and under-appreciated—cocktail menu. Applewood, which opened in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood in 2004, is a cozy spot (complete with working fireplace) that specializes in locally sourced ingredients prepared well. But why don’t the six or seven barstools fill up as fast as the tables? Be grateful they don’t, because it means there’s room to try bartender Justin Briggs’ imaginative cocktails.
Briggs, who also tends bar at James in nearby Prospect Heights, has natural instincts for mixology and, unlike many of his peers, will not cut corners for speed or fruity-ness.
I tried the Puebla cocktail last October and quickly went to work recreating it at home. Here’s what I came up with:
2 ozs. Tequila (I used either Cazadores or Herradura)
2 quarter-inch slices of jalapeño
1 tsp agave nectar
lots of fresh cilantro
Pack a third of a large lowball glass full of cilantro leaves. Squeeze the juice of one lemon into the glass. Add jalapeño slices (the more seeds you leave in, the hotter). Muddle. Add tsp of agave nectar to sweeten it, then add two ozs of tequila.
Shake everything in a cocktail shaker and strain into a large lowball glass with three ice cubes and garnish with cilantro.
Notes: It’s easier to muddle in a short glass, rather than a cocktail shaker. Lemons seem to work better than limes in this drink. Honey may be reasonable substitute for agave nectar, but I haven’t tried it. The true amount of cilantro will vary by taste, but aim for about one loosely packed cup. Using better tequila will be rewarding.
(Photo by Morgan Sheff.)