Monday, September 9, 2013

Beer Mixology 101: El Jimador Tequilas and beer unite!

H. Harper Station’s award-winning mixologist Mercedes O’Brien discloses her beer cocktail recipes using Mexico’s top-selling tequila.

Cocktails with Ale!

I am beer purist and typically love to sip ales and lagers in their original form, but I’m always open to explore new ways the world’s best beverage can be enjoyed. Beer cocktails are one of the most burgeoning trends in the libation industry, and mixologists are becoming more experimental with fusing beer with gin, rum, vodka, whiskey and in this case, fine tequilas by El Jimador, Mexico’s top seller.
I got the chance to pick the brain of the lovely Mercedes O’Brien who flaunts her mixing genius regularly for H. Harper Station, one of the most revered culinary destinations in the city that’s particularly known for their extensive list of hard-to-find spirits and craft beer.
Mercedes roamed the U.S. at an early age and thanks to her dad’s military affiliation, she had the opportunity to travel throughout the U.S. before setting up shop in Atlanta to study journalism and photography at Georgia State University. After dabbling in the bar scene and gaining invaluable work experience under the guidance of who she amicably terms “H. Harper’s owner, scholar, and libations sophist” Jerry Slater since 2010, Mercedes has found her calling. “My love for cocktails spurs from a lifelong love affair with food, and washing down meals with other curious people working in the industry,” she says. “After many bottles, books, shifts, and years, I still love learning about the craft.”
Mercedes became so gangster at making cocktails, she won the Peach Jam 2013 Cocktail Competition this past June using El Jimador tequila. “My winning cocktail was called the ‘Helmet and the Feather’ [1 oz. El Jimador, 1 oz. Peach De Provence (sous vide local peaches in honey and Herbes de Provence), .75 oz. aperol, .5 oz. Dolin Dry, .25 Yellow Chartreuse, .25 lemon, garnished with a rosemary sprig and sea salt]. It was based off a favorite poem and painting of mine, ‘The Lady of Shalott.’”
Showing off more of her concoction mastery, Mercedes gave me a private tasting using three different craft beers fused with three different El Jimador tequilas at H. Harper Station’s popular bar. “I chose El Jimador Tequila for these cocktails because I fell in love with the history of the ‘jimador’ and his quest for these beautiful tequilas. You can see him on the front of each bottle, digging up and harvesting the agave and piña [pineapple]. The story of these three cocktails is based on the jimador working to marry his life with the agave, and ultimately create something out of love and dedication.”
I captured the experience with my trusty Canon and, of course, got my sip on to make sure everything was on point. Trust me, she gets busy behind the bar! Here are the three cocktails she crafted that afternoon, along with a breakdown for us all to enjoy and appreciate.

Cocktail #1: Amanecer (Dawn)
1 oz. El Jimador Blanco
.5 oz. Aperol
.25 Orgeat Syrup
.25 Lemon
.25 Simple Syrup
Shake and strain into coupe. Top with Brooklyn's Sorachi Ace and lemon peel 
Mercedes says: “I chose to pair the Sorachi Saison with the Blanco because it represents the beginning of a day’s work. Saisons were brewed for farmers to drink out on the field to get them through the day. The jimador, working in the agave field, needs something to jump into a day, hence the refreshment and brightness of the ‘Amanecer.’”

Cocktail #2: Siesta de Las Palomas (Nap for Doves)
1.5 El Jimador Reposado 
.5 oz. Strega
.5 oz. Lime Juice
Shake and strain into salt crusted Collins glass, add rocks. Top with Lagunitas IPA and a lime wheel.
Mercedes says: This recipe is a take on a classic, the "Paloma." Another insignia of the El Jimador distillery, the Paloma or Dove is a sign of prosperity. Usually made with grapefruit and soda water, the citrus, light hops, and effervescence of the Lagunitas IPA was perfect to mimic the rejuvenating qualities of the classic. Perfect for sipping during a midday break, Siesta de Las Palomas will reawaken the jimador's afternoon haze.”

Cocktail #3: Recompensa Final (Final Reward)
1.5 oz. El Jimador Añejo
.5 oz. Averna Amaro
.5 oz. agave nectar
.25 oz. Lemon
2 Dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate bitters
Shake and strain into rocks glass, add cracked ice. Top with Red Brick’s Brick Mason - The Lost Years
Mercedes says: “Aged in Jim Beam barrels, the American Strong Ale of the Lost Years was a no nonsense match for the age of the Añejo. Right off the bat, the hazelnut and chocolate of the Lost Years spotlights the caramel of the Anejo. A slight bitterness of the Amaro and the spice of the Aztec chocolate bitters makes the Recompensa Final a well-deserved treat for the jimador's work.

All of the cocktails were pretty damn tasty and truly embraced Mercedes’ reasoning behind each one using exotic ingredients and the notes of three fantastic beers. I gave her a toast and made sure she informed us on what’s next for her. “Now that the seasons are changing, a new set of plans are in motion,” she replies. “One is helping create a new fall cocktail menu with the rest of the crew at H. Harper Station. Since I grab a lot of inspiration from food, I can't wait to sample the fresh local ingredients from the neighborhood farmers markets and use them in our cocktails, such as muscadines, apples etc. I also volunteer with Community Farmers Markets, so prepping and enjoying the market during my favorite time of year is something I'm looking forward to. More updates and drinks to come!”

Make sure you stop by H. Harper Station and sample some of Mercedes’ ingenious concoctions. Special thanks also goes out to H. Harper Station, Jacinte, Tiffany, and El Jimador. I had a blast!
Stay tuned for more beer cocktails in the future.

Cheers!

Ale

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