The Third Rail: Maker’s and Cuervo Go Shot for Shot

Not all bar fights get settled outside. Unfortunately, some go to court. That’s what happened to Maker’s Mark and Jose Cuervo not once but twice. The Maker’s Distillery sued because they think that the classic red-wax covering on their bourbon has been copied on bottles of Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia (translation: “Jose Cuervo keeps it in the family”). The first suit is scheduled to go to trial in November, but Maker’s apparently enjoyed the experience so much they ordered another round already. But will anyone other than the oldest drunk or youngest teenager really confuse the two? Are there any drinks that could use either bourbon or tequila?

The answer is “yes” for Phil Ward, co-founder of Mayahuel, who seems able make anything with tequila if you ask, just like the Dallas State Fair will deep-fry anything. Try out an Oaxaca Old-Fasioned, which he created while still at Death & Company. Try this variation, from Cocktail Chronicles: “1 1/2 ounces reposado tequila (D&C recommends El Tesoro; I’m using Don Julio), 1/2 ounce mezcal (they say Los Amantes Joven; I’ve got Los Danzantes), 1 teaspoon agave nectar, Dash of Angostura (me: add to this two dashes of Bittermens’ Xocolatl Mole bitters). Stir with ice then strain into ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange twist — flame it if you know how.”

Then, assuming you don’t mind mixing your liquors: try a Bourbon Old-Fashioned, this from the Times: “First a dab of sugar syrup in the bottom of a glass followed by a couple of dashes of bitters (hardcore Old Fashionedistas mandate the physical crushing of a sugar cube, possibly with a swath of orange or lemon peel); then a measured dose of bourbon or rye whiskey, depending on the mood; a quick stir for everyone to get acquainted in the glass, followed by large chunks of ice and, for that inner five-year-old with maturing tastes, a single bottled Italian wild cherry for color, rinsed of any cloying syrup.”

There are dozens of variations (as I’ve mentioned before, and one of the Old-Fashioned’s strengths is that it could stand well with almost any type of liquor, not just tequila or the more traditional bourbon or rye whiskey. Often, the older the recipe, the less picky you can be about what type of spirit can possess it. Those bars on the American frontier drank what was available. Test out a few variations with Imbibe Magazine’s recipe for a Daisy: “2 oz. base spirit (gin, rum, brandy, whiskey, vodka or tequila), 1 oz. fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp. grenadine, 1/2 tsp., simple syrup, Ice (cubes and cracked), Chilled seltzer or club soda. Combine spirit, juice and syrups with ice cubes in a shaker. Shake and strain into a Julep cup filled with cracked ice. Top with soda and garnish with fruit or mint.”

Of course, if you’re going to start testing a cocktail with every type of liquor, there ought to be a name for it. So good luck on becoming a Living Long Island Ice Tea, just don’t end up like this type of Long Island.