End of Days
Man, I love a good India Pale Ale. Bitter is better, I say. And I’m not alone in this sentiment – it would seem that the entire beerscape has shifted towards hop-forward, higher alcohol beers over the past few years. It appears that everyone – at least those breweries with some business acumen – makes an IPA nowadays.
Me? I’m pleased as punch and spoiled for choice in my neck of the woods (relatively speaking, of course – a friend in Bend, OR keeps reminding me that there are something like 21 microbreweries in his quaint hipster town of 70,000, each one of them making at least one IPA). The liquor store regularly carries Central City Red Racer, Muskoka Mad Tom, Duggan’s #9, Nickel Brook Naughty Neighbor, Amsterdam Boneshaker, Beau’s Beaver River IPeh?, Flying Monkeys Smashbomb – the list goes on. If I’m honest, I actually avoided all products from Nickel Brook due to a weird subconscious false association with Nickelback; I just assumed that the beer sucked as much as the band – an embarrassing error on my part: it’s quite delicious.
Wait, what the hell is all this beer talk about? Isn’t this a cocktail blog? Yes, dear Reader(s) – it is. Unsurprisingly, bartenders have been tinkering with cocktails that incorporate the assertive, yet balanced, bitter-fruity flavours of a well crafted IPA. The cocktail, for which I am featuring today, adds IPA to a mix of tequila, Campari and lime. Hell yes.
The “End of Days” cocktail was created by Chris Elford, who at the time was bartending at Saison in Richmond, VA, to celebrate the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012. I came across this cocktail in an Imbibe article penned by Jeffrey Morgenthaler on the subject of IPAs in cocktails, and it has since become a personal favorite.
It is always prudent to throw an End of the World Party; ya know – just in case. This particular eschatological event is related to the end of the 5,126-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican “Long Count” calendar, which was used in Central America prior to the arrival of murderous Europeans. December 2012 marked the conclusion of the calendar and some, perhaps those having “party pooper” tendencies, interpreted the end of the calendar as a forecast of impending doom and apocalypse. In Michael Coe’s 1966 book, The Maya, he writes the following:
“…there is a suggestion … that Armageddon would overtake the degenerate peoples of the world and all creation on the final day of the 13th b’ak’tun. Thus … our present universe [would] be annihilated [in December 2012] when the Great Cycle of the Long Count reaches completion.”
Gadzooks! That’s terrible news! Seems like a bit of a leap, but I’m no Mayanist scholar. Speaking of Mayanist scholars, many went on record stating that the prediction of Armageddon 2012 was a flagrant misrepresentation of Mayan history and culture, and in no way represents doomsday. Since we’re still here today, I’d say they were bang on. Perhaps the Mayans were predicting that “Gangnam Style” would become the first video to reach one billion views on YouTube, thus confirming that humans are a doomed race.
I need a drink to clear my mind of that disconcerting truth.
Add everything but the beer to a shaker along with a pile of ice. Shake with cataclysmic, devastating force. [WARNING: if you mistakenly added the beer to the shaker, the shaker has most likely detonated and you have been blown to kingdom come.] Strain over a large ice cube into a chilled rocks glass. Add the beer and give it a quick stir to combine. Garnish with a grapefruit twist. Optional: perform ritual reenactment decapitation of the Mayan maize god by the Mayan death gods.
Mr. Elford’s intent was to use an American style IPA, i.e. a hop-dominated, explosively citrusy IPA. The closest thing that fits that description that is readily available to me is Red Racer IPA (aka Red Betty in the US), which happens to use three potent American hops: Centennial, Amarillo and Simcoe. These hops supply the beer with wonderful grapefruit, pine, orange blossom, and other floral flavours. Perfect.
The “End of Days” cocktail combines the sharp, cooked agave flavours of a good blanco tequila, sour lime, and a bitter combo of Campari and hops, resulting in something that is really refreshing and damn delicious. It’s interesting – you’re really able to differentiate between the two types of bitter flavours. Fantastic. If this were my last drink before annihilation, I wouldn’t complain.
I’ll leave you with a quote from that fun little story about a Dad and his son on a journey of self-discovery and male bonding:
“You have to carry the fire.
I don’t know how to.
Yes you do.
Is it real? The fire?
Yes it is.
Where is it? I don’t know where it is.
Yes you do. It’s inside you. It was always there. I can see it.”
– Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2006)
I think he was probably referring to 100-proof blanco tequila. Either that or the everlasting hope and human resilience necessary to confront the bleak future of a post-apocalyptic world. Hard to say.
May the gods not smite you. Peace out.