Mixology Monday: Cola de Lagarto: Return of the Lizard (Tail)

I’m glad I checked into my google reader today. New mixology Monday post before the due date this time for me.

This month Jacob at the Liquidity Preference blog thought up Retro Redemption (full post here). The first drink that I thought could use a makeover was …shudder. The Cosmopolitan. That too sweet, chemical-bottled taste (obviously I’ve had some bad ones folks) of that 90’s staple (and for certain people I know still a staple) drink. But there’s no cranberry juice in the house and I’m not making a special run just for that.

So instead I opted to peruse Gourmet Magazine’s stockpile of drinks they’ve put into their magazine over the years. Did you know they’ve been around since 1941? What’s Gourmet? Never mind.

Two things were imperative to tonight’s drink. 1. I had to be actually interested in trying/drinking the cocktail. 2. I had to have the ingredients on hand (this is after all a short notice posting for me since it’s due tomorrow). After weighing my options, and being grossed out by many more, I decided to try the Cola de Lagarto (tail of the lizard). This is from a 1974 cocktail recipe via Gourmet. Here’s their description:

This drink is probably called “tail of the lizard” because of its green color—not because, like a tail that falls off and grows back, it’s easy to have another, and another. Wine cocktails have been unfairly tainted by their association with overly sweet wine coolers, but the renewed interest in classic cocktails has also brought this category back from the brink of disaster. The ingredients in this version may seem a bit strange, but they actually go together quite nicely.

In a shaker combine 3/4 cup dry white wine, 1/3 cup vodka, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon each of fine granulated sugar and green crème de menthe, and 4 ice cubes. Shake the mixture vigorously for a few seconds and strain it into a chilled tall glass. Makes 1 drink.

Ok, first off, with the amount of liquor that they’re pouring into this thing, if you had several you’d be dead from alcohol poisoning by the fourth (maybe not dead, but DAMN). The recipe measures in cup sizes, which should have been a warning. It’s considered a ‘wine cocktail’, but 3 oz of hard alcohol in there too makes this awfully potent. Anyway, I’m killing two birds with one stone in this post as I am subbing out the dry white wine with Lillet Blanc (checking off another bottle this week from the ‘forgottens’), and I’m getting a Mixology Monday post done. Gold star.

Ok, so I’m taking a lot of liberties here by subbing or leaving out ingredients. But all for this drink’s redemption. I’m saying goodbye to vodka, fine granulated sugar and green crème de menthe, and adding in gin and Fee Brother’s Mint Bitters. Although, yes, technically there IS a green dye in the bitters (looking for another bitters as you read this), it is nowhere close to that alarming green color that was in the original article. But to play on the drink’s original name, I added a lime peel spiral inside the drink for the ‘lizard’s tail’. I made two versions of the drink, with the first using closer proportions to the original. However it made a huge drink with left overs in the shaker. It tasted really strong too (this, also, was the version my husband preferred because it ‘tasted strong’). I tweaked the second, reducing the proportions of the main two ingredients and adding in 1/2 oz of unsweetened pineapple juice. Overall it’s a bit tart and definitely tastes wine-like. And those mint bitters? Well, like the original recipe, the mint works here. Albeit very subtle, those bitters just add the right touch of a finishing note. Here’s my updated version:

4 oz Lillet Blanc
2 oz Bombay Dry Gin
1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz unsweetened pineapple juice (this one came from a can)
3 dashes Fee Brother’s Mint Bitters

Garnish:
lime peel spiral (to make, use a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife and peel a spiral from a large-ish sized lime. It’s best to start from the pointed end and work your way around. Be careful that your peeler/knife is sharp as this makes cutting the lime easier, as well as your finger. Ouch.)

In a shaker filled with ice, combined all ingredients and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled Collins glass with a lime spiral fitted around the inside of the glass.

This was a fun post idea. It makes me wish I could stumble upon a dusty old pile of cocktails books with secret ingredients like herring and jello that call for a touch of nutmeg. Can’t wait to see what everyone else came up with.

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