The Dead Man ~ A drink of Don Julio Reposado and molé negro garnished with fried crickets.... just a little part of the Don Julio Tequila 70th Anniversary dinner at Writer's Room in Hollywood. featured post *tasteologie

The Dead Man ~ A drink of Don Julio Reposado and molé negro garnished with fried crickets.... just a little part of the Don Julio Tequila 70th Anniversary dinner at Writer's Room in Hollywood.

November 25th, 2011

Don Julio is approaching its 70th Anniversary and is celebrating with a special new tequila.  They invited us down to Writer's Room in Hollywood to take a sip and join them in celebration... and also eat some of the fried crickets. It was a great tequila infused dinner and drinks and a great education on the many nuances of the spirit.  The next time someone offers a shot of tequila, skip the salt, the lime, and just take a sip first, especially if it's from Don Julio

The first trick to Writer's Room is finding it. While there is no password nowadays, the former speakeasy has turned into a speakloudly. It's entrance is around the back of Hollywood's oldest restaurant, Musso and Frank Grill. If you get lost look for this graffiti on a neighboring building.
They have a lovely outdoor patio that you walk through before descending into the main bar, keeping it safe from the prying eyes of any prohibition agents wandering by from Boardwalk Empire.
Inside the bar is filled with many period touches, maintaining its long (for Los Angeles) history. It is an interesting combination of old and new, with modern spirits, toile wall paper, and a DJ's Macbook Pro.
We started the night off with an amazing Nance Tequila Punch. I couldn't help staring at the fog rolling off the punch bowl. It was a delightful mix of Tequila Don Julio Reposado, mexcal crema, orange juice, pineapple juice, juice from the nance yellow cherries, and a splash of agave nectar and lime.
Then it was on to a guided tasting with Don Julio Brand Ambassador Kevin Vanegas. He taught us that one of the secrets to balancing out your palate is to smell your hand before taking a sip from the glass. Tequila has a great deal of nose to it and by manipulating the glass and how you hold it to your face you can experience different parts of the spirit.
We sampled a flight of 3. In the middle is Don Julio Blanco. This is the rawest and most floral of their offerings. It is full of citrus and agave notes. The finish is smooth, but definitely the harshest of the 3. To its right is their Don Julio Añejo it's aged and wooded so it takes on a lot of darker smokier notes and color from the barrel. The last tequila is actually their newest and the one we tried first. I found that my impression of Don Julio 70 had changed once we came back to it at the end. It's an añejo like the bottle on the right, but it has been filtered to both dial back the smokiness and make it as clear as the Blanco. It's not quite a combination of them both, but you definitely experience the floral highlights of the Blanco and some of the wonderful oakiness of the Añejo. It's an impressive well-balanced spirit.
It wasn't all drinking though! Dinner was lovely... especially this scallop dish. It was a delicious way to soak up some of the alcohol.
And then there were crickets. Writer's Room's Daniel Nelson put together this fascinating drink. The Dead Man is flavored with molé so it had a rich spicy character to it, but what caught everyone's attention were the crickets on top. The squeamish looked away, but I found them to be a nice little crunch with a burst of lime flavor. They were a great accompaniment and helped cut through some of the heavy spice of the drink. If nothing else this drink proved that tequila is versatile, there is so much more to it than the margarita. The refined nature of Don Julio only opens up more opportunities for creative mixology, but that should not overshadow the simple joy of a great sipping tequila served neat.
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