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"I'm a firm believe in templates," says Philip Ward, co-owner of Mayahuel in New York's East Village. "They're like blueprints you can take apart and put back together in different ways." For the Good Cork, Ward sought (loose) inspiration from the Fancy Free, a classic cocktail with a two-parts booze to half-part liqueur plus bitters ratio.
"Besides templates, I like to split hairs, so instead of two parts of one spirit, you have one part each of two different spirits," Ward explains. Here, he subs the Fancy Free's bourbon for one part Redbreast whiskey and one part Del Maguey Vida mezcal.
Whereas the Fancy Free is made with maraschino, the deep, autumn-fruit essence and spice of the whiskey, plus the smoke of the mezcal call for Benedictine. "Benedictine tastes like so many things at once; there is no on dominant flavor," Ward notes. It is this dynamism that makes it what Ward calls "really good glue."
With cognac, citrus, saffron, vanilla and honey all getting facetime in Benedictine, the liqueur plays well with the booze's smoke and spice. With a couple dashes of Peychaud's Bitters, Ward emphasizes the spice and herbs. Ward stirs the foursome and pours it over ice, garnishing with a slice of apple for aroma.
"Peychaud's, Benedictine, and apple are practically a holy trinity," he swoons, "And the Irish whiskey and mezcal go well with apple as well."
Super smoky but far from fiery, the Good Cork is a stiff, whiskey drinker's cocktail with a welcome twist. Its flavor shifts subtly, the aggressive spirits slowly giving way to the fruitiness and spice underneath.