By Matthew Belanger (Death & Co LA, 2021)

Cloak & Dagger

The flavor of this cocktail was very much inspired by tasting Empirical Spirits habanero spirit (also known as “F*ck Trump and his Stupid F*cking Wall”). It’s a pretty interesting expression of habanero because the heat doesn’t survive the distillation process, so all you’re left with is this intense, floral fruitiness that you don’t normally notice in habaneros (because your mouth is too busy getting scorched by the capsaicin). Anyway, not too long after tasting that spirit I had the idea of habanero + peaches + bourbon in an old-fashioned template. I think I wrote the original spec down in 2019 or 2020, but it didn’t really line up with what we needed on our menu until 2021. The drink basically wrote itself after that; I think I tried one or two configurations before I found one that I liked: high-proof bourbon for structure, a little mezcal for some smoke (and because it made it a no-brainer order for our guests), and the combo of habanero spirit and crème de pêche bringing fruit but also a weird savory acidity. It was a top seller on that menu.

1 ounce Stellum x Death & Co Dark Matter Bourbon (see Note)
¾ ounce Empirical Spirits Habanero
¼ ounce Mal Bien mezcal
½ teaspoon Giffard Crème de Pêche
1 teaspoon Cane Sugar Syrup (2:1 cane sugar to water)
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
Garnish: 1 lemon coin

Stir all the ingredients with ice, then strain into a single old-fashioned glass over 1 large ice cube. Express the lemon coin over the drink, then place it in the drink. 

Note: This special bourbon was a collaboration between us and Stellum Spirits. Any high-rye, (ideally) cask-strength bourbon will make a good substitute.