Summer has been playing a long game of hide and seek this year, either cloaked in warm rain or simply peeking out as intermittent sunshine. This hasn’t stopped the flow of car and cruise ship traffic and the bars and breweries of the North Coast have again been running at full capacity.
Eric Bechard, the chef behind the bar at Albatross & Co. at 14th Street and Marine Drive in downtown Astoria, took a moment during the busy season to offer up one of the bar’s off-menu cocktails they have been pouring a lot of lately.
At first glance, the Green Thumb looks a lot like a refined and renovated margarita, but Bechard traces its inspiration back toward the pre-Prohibition elixir, The Last Word, a classic example of a four-part cocktail. While The Last Word is gin-based, with a pour of green Chartreuse and more for good measure, the Green Thumb arrives on a foundation of Mezcal.
Mezcal, once considered the ugly stepsister of the agave family, complete with bloated, disintegrating worms sunk like shipwrecks at the bottom of the bottle, has finally caught the attention of bartenders north of the border over the last decade. Often smokier and more complex than your basic tequila, these days Mezcal is also more controlled than its more popular cousin, similar to the way wine and cheese are regulated by regional labels in Italy, France and elsewhere to protect quality and product recognition.
Mezcal must be made from at least one of 11 varieties of agave cactus native to the state of Oaxaca where most of this spirit is also produced.
So the single-origin Vida brand Mezcal from Oaxaca, which Albatross sources from the Warrenton Liquor Store, is the difference between using Parmigiano-Reggiano and whatever Wisconsin sawdust Kraft is packing into plastic jars.
The Vida Mezcal holds up just fine on its own, but the addition of the Poblano liqueur enhances the smokiness and depth the Mezcal is thinking about while only adding the impression of heat. Some smack off the lime juice against the sweet and floral notes of the spruce honey also bring more to the party that your taste buds will be talking about between sips.
Complex enough for a rainy day, but also cool and breezy and well-suited to tame a sunny afternoon, the Green Thumb is the perfect drink for our summer’s swinging moods. Get one at the Albatross & Co.’s outdoor tables or recreate your own.