September 27, 2023 2:41 pm

A Crazy, Wild Ride

Well, ‘Rona has thrown us all for a loop.  I’m pretty sure our way of life will survive this crisis, but just in case it is the End of Days how about we make a great cocktail? 

This is a perfect libation celebrating a culture that knows all about the Apocalypse (Mayan Calendar, anyone?). We survived disco; we sure as hell will survive this.  Now, if disco starts making a comeback…all bets are off.

Seriously, though, be safe out there in the world.  Use this period of self-quarantine and social distancing to rediscover the zest of life.  Focus not just on the stresses and tribulations, but instead view it as an opportunity to spend time with your loved ones, read great books, listen to soul-stirring music, or make decadent cocktails.  Just don’t listen to disco.

The Conquistador

Flavor Profile: smokey and savory


  • 1 oz Lagavulin 16
  • 1 oz Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal  
  • 3/4 oz Calvados brandy
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Benedictine
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • 2 sugar cubes

Preparation:  Muddle both sugar cubes and bitters in the bottom of a mixing glass.  Fill mixing glass with ice.  Add remaining ingredients into the mixing glass and stir with a bar spoon for approximately one minute.  Strain into a small rocks glass if served neat, or a large rocks glass if you prefer ice. 

Garnish: Skewered apple twist and chorizo 

My Take:

This is a Yard Sale riff which was originally served at the Horn & Cantle Saloon located in Big Sky, Montana.  What I wanted out of my version was to find a way to make two of my favorite spirits work together; peated scotch and mezcal.  Since the original Yard Sale is an amalgamation of disparate ingredients, I was encouraged that it could indeed be done by using the original’s basic, but tweaked, formula. 

Lagavulin is one of my favorite scotches, and I never am without some kind of bottle from the Islay distillery on my shelf.  Del Maguey makes some of the best mezcals in the world.  The two spirits married together perfectly; the salty, smoky nature of the mezcal finding itself right at home with the peaty, smoky profile of the scotch.  I cut the amount of vermouth from the original Yard Sale, and substituted a little Benedictine in its place.  A bit of Benedictine gives my version a little herbal spice.  Finally, the two sugar cubes give the cocktail just enough sweetness to round out the overall smoky and savory nature of The Conquistador. 

I take my glass and put on Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s album, “So It Is” (Legacy Recordings).  One of my favorite jazz numbers is “La Malanga” from this album; a crazy, wild ride.  Like The Conquistador there is nothing subtle or sacred here.  The song is a mutt combining Latin, Caribbean, and traditional New Orleans jazz styles into something really special. 

"Whisky is liquid sunshine."

George Bernard Shaw

“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass – an agreeable interlude.”

James Joyce

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