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What: ODB with Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, house-made chipotle syrup, and Scrappy’s Chocolate Bitters
Where: Taco Bamba, 164 Maple Ave. W, Vienna, VA; (703) 436-6339; tacobamba.com
What You Should Be Drinking: This cocktail is big, bold, and badass, yet it’s not named for the Wu-Tang Clan-founding rapper (and Fugees producer) plagued with legal woes during his short but influential life. Beverage manager Amin Seddiq’s play on the name of Rick Bayless (whom he refers to as Ol’ Dick Bayless) pays tribute to the chef’s contribution to Mexican cooking in the U.S., including the Michelin-starred Topolobampo in Chicago. Seddiq boils chipotle peppers in adobo and water with piloncillo—minimally processed Mexican brown sugar—removes the peppers, freezes the mixture, scrapes off the top layer of fat, then melts what’s remaining into a syrup. It’s stirred with Del Maguey Vida Mezcal and Scrappy’s Chocolate Bitters. “It’s a compliment to our big, spicy flavors,” he says. “You have this great smoke and spice.”
Why You Should Be Drinking It: What could be a more simpatico sidekick for a spirit distilled from agave roasted in an underground fire pit than chile peppers that have been dried over smoke? Even if you typically pass over mezcal as one note (it can actually be way more nuanced), embrace the smoke in Del Maguey’s most popular offering, an organic, single-village spirit made from 100 percent Espadin agave. The brown sugar used for the syrup adds caramel and sweet sherry notes, while the bitters—made in Seattle from organic cacao nibs—lend dark chocolate, spice, and oak. The overall effect is an Old Fashioned by way of Oaxaca that’s quaffable with any of Taco Bamba’s messy, satisfying carne tacos like the one combining skirt steak and chorizo.