Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | December 20, 2008

Mapping Recipe Creation

It looks like I’m continuing my inadvertent “Bar Pilar Week” at A Jigger of Blog…oh well.

A few weeks ago I was at Bar Pilar and I asked Adam Bernbach to make me a cocktail with Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal in it. I was up for something original and I figured he could do something interesting. He came back with a deep-red colored concoctation that he said had amaro, red wine, and orange bitters in it. As expected, it was something I never would have thought to order. It started out with a heavy smokey flavor from the crema de mezcal. As the drink progressed the smokiness seemed to subside and the amaro balanced out with the sweetness of the wine and took a coequal place with the crema de mezcal. It was a delightful, unique drink and the evolution of the flavors as the drink progressed was a statement of its complexity.

After finishing the mezcal cocktail I asked Adam to make me a Martinez. He laughed and asked why I ordered a Martinez. I remarked that it’s recently become one of my favorite cocktails and I’d been making them for myself at home with some regularity and I merely had a hankering for one. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Oh, well you pretty much just had a Martinez.” I not so politely expressed my disbelief. A Martinez is made with gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino, and orange bitters. It had no real similarites that I could discern with the crema de mezcal based drink Adam had just made me. Adam insisted that the drink I’d just had was in fact a variation of a Martinez and promised to draw me a map explaining how he got from the Martinez to the unnamed crema de mezcal drink I’d just had.

When I was at Bar Pilar this week for the Tuesday Cocktail Session, Adam offered up the chart below, which showed how he started with the ingredients and flavor elements of a Martinez and evolved to the crema de mezcal drink. He said the process took him over six months to perfect and there were many, many failed versions along the way. What you see below is by no means a simple process, only a reproduction of the top-line notes on the movement from one cocktails ingredients to another’s. With that disclaimer (hopefully-adequate to Adam’s concerns), here’s the chart:

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I want to thank Adam for drawing this up for me. I do now believe that the crema de mezcal cocktail he made me a few weeks back is, in fact, a relative of the Martinez. I hope that the chart can stand out to readers of this blog as a testament to how creative a bartender Adam is. I encourage you to try this drink next time you’re at Pilar, though I don’t know what it’s called.



  1. […] challenge though: much like Matt Browner-Hamlin showed us in terms of the Adam Bernbach’s “taste of a drink evolution” post, the actual inspirational heritage of a drink can be greatly […]

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