18 November 2017
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The Tale of the Pink Margarita

Prejudices run far and wide in the libation department. There are wine snobs, beer snobs and mixologists all rigid with certitude in their superiority. For some of these self-proclaimed “experts,” the margarita conjures images of intensely hormonal coeds on spring break throwing back cheap, blended bastardizations of the stuff while waiting to appear on Girls Gone Wild. Another misbegotten prejudice: The pink cocktail calls to mind ladies who jumped on the Cosmopolitan bandwagon after a certain HBO dramedy shot to the top of ratings charts. For these reasons alone, it is important to remember that prejudice is dangerous; there will always be exceptions to the rule.

Enter ‘El Diablo Nuevo,’ the nonsensically named variation on the margarita theme served up seven nights a week at one of DC’s most popular Mexican restaurants, Oyamel. A brainchild of José Andrés (proprietor of ThinkFoodGroup; his other restaurants are Minibar, Jaleo, Café Atlántico and Zaytinya), Oyamel opened at  401 7th St., NW, in 2007 after having been originally located in Crystal City (a loss for that stripe of bridge-and-tunnel crowd, but a boon to Washington’s foodies!).

Back to the drink. El Diablo Nuevo is a genius cocktail – refreshing, relaxing and satisfying. It contains Siembra Azul reposado (high-end blue agave tequila from Jalisco, Mexico); house-made cassis (a dense liqueur, originally French, made of black currants and typically found in the Kir and the Kir’s haughty cousin, the Kir Royale); fresh lime juice (no syrupy Rose’s Lime here, just fresh limes squeezed nightly for their acidic nectar); and a fascinating, beautiful topper of ginger beer froth.

As Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.’ The sweetness of the cassis balances perfectly the tartness of the lime juice, and the tequila is mellow and intense, with that signature je ne sais quoi vying for your attention. The finishing touch – the ginger beer froth – adds a touch of heat to the otherwise smooth cocktail. With some crisp tortilla chips and tasty homemade salsa, you’ll be saying ‘te amo’ to the nearest stranger before the night is through. It’s just that good.

It’s a margarita, but you’re not elbowing your way through gaggles of sticky freshmen on an anonymous tropical avenue in April. It’s pink, but you’re not a single gal looking for love a la Carrie. It’s an intelligent drink for intelligent drinkers. Cheers!

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