“Nosotros los españoles sufrimos de una enfermedad del corazón que sólo el oro puede curar”
“We Spaniards suffer from a sickness of the heart that only gold can cure.”
– Hernán Cortés
Conquistadors, from the Spanish/Portuguese word meaning “conquerors”, were murderous, disease-spreading bastards operating under the guises of “adventurers” and “explorers”. These Spaniards and Portuguese systematically assimilated, exterminated and/or sold into slavery much of the Incas and Aztecs throughout the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, claiming territory and opening important trade routes for their homeland empires. In summary, these people were just the worst. Especially Francisco Pizarro… but, especially Hernán Cortés.
So why name a cocktail after a group of genocide-committing assholes? Well, I don’t think Sam Ross, the creator of the drink, anticipated such irate historic cynicism – the idea was that the sharp, penetrating bite of the tequila would be conquered by the other ingredients in the drink. So, perhaps I’ll just take a chill pill. And wash it down with this lovely combination of aged rum, tequila, and citrus. Mmmmm, subjugation…
Add everything to a shaker tin, but hold your horses on the ice. We want to shake the hell out of this without ice to emulsify the egg white (aka dry-shake). Now, I was previously sealing my Boston shaker as I normally would, which would more often than not result in wee bits of egg white boogers being flung from my shaker tin. Of course I would play it cool and pretend that there wasn’t globs of egg white and precious booze flecked all over my stoic visage. Nope, it wasn’t until I made it to the “Dairy & Eggs – Adding a Layer of Texture Through Foam and Fat” section of Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s superb new book, “The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique” that I realized that I had to modify my method.
Given that there’s no ice, the contents of the shaker isn’t particularly cold. As such, the shaker won’t contract to form the tight seal necessary to keep liquids where they belong. So rather than using the Boston shaker in the typical fashion, i.e. with the pint glass/top tin seated in the bottom tin at an angle, you need to align the two halves “perfectly, dead center”, and give the top half a goodly smack with your fist. Once this is done, shake furiously with your mind at ease. Note: if you’re a new Dad, you’ve probably become accustomed to having flecks of food, drool, vomit and other myriad discharge on your clothes, neck and face, so maybe a bit of egg white and liquor won’t bother you. Proceed as you wish.
Alternatively, you could emulsify the egg white using Jamie Boudreau’s preferred method, i.e. using a milk frother for about 15 seconds or so. Mr. Boudreau calls this the “lazy man’s way to incorporate egg into your cocktail” and claims that it is much more effective and faster than dry-shaking. I suggest you try it both ways.
The Conquistador has a definite Tiki/tropical feel to it, which I find ideal for summer sippin’. Aromas of citrus and tequila greet you on the nose, and upon first sip, creamy, rich lemon/lime flavours arrive, quickly followed by rum funkiness and subdued tequila. The double-spirit and double-citrus combos work very well together. If this cocktail’s raison d’être is to suppress the tequila, then this is achieved – the aged rum conspires with the egg white to balance and smooth its savagery… arguably too much so – I, for one, like the sharp agave bite of a tequila blanco.
Speaking of subduing one ingredient with others, perhaps I’ll fashion an original cocktail using Underberg and Cachaça… maybe I’ll use, say… a 7-to-1 ratio of Underberg-to-Cachaça. The Underberg would, of course, completely overpower the Cachaça… it would be an utter humiliation for the Cachaça. The Cachaça would suffer an outright flavour collapse. It will be hard to drink, but somehow satisfying… oh yes. Perhaps I’ll call it… Belo Horizonte… or maybe a cocktail with Genever and Cachaça at a 3-to-0 ratio! Wait, that would be absurd.
Alright, until next time – Saúde!