Herbs & Wine

Broken Spur, as served at Herbs & Rye, $9

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Boasting not one but two wine-based spirits, the Broken Spur sounds far more rustic than it actually is. In fact, it couldn’t be more opposite. I will never use the term “smooth” in relation to spirits themselves, but I have to declare this to be the smoothest cocktail to ever kiss my lips. While egg white does lovely things to a cocktail—giving it some texture and developing a nice foam—egg yolk is downright naughty, imparting a sensual mouth-feel that can only be declared smooth.

Little more is known about the Broken Spur than that it appeared suddenly in a number of cocktail books in the late 1920s and early 1930s, says Nectaly Mendoza, owner of Herbs & Rye (3713 W. Sahara Ave., 982-8036, HerbsAndRye.com), also an avid collector of cocktail history, recipe books and vintage bar equipment.

At Herbs & Rye, Mendoza faithfully re-creates classic cocktails to the letter and lets the customer decide whether they like it or not; he sets ego aside and refuses to tweak recipes to suit modern tastes. Don’t like it? Perhaps that’s not “your drink” then. You don’t have to like everything on his menu.

“We know it is a very risky cocktail to place on our menu due to the egg yolk,” Mendoza says. “But we figured if we can get our guests to trust us to give them something amazing every time, no matter what we put in it, then we are doing a good job.”

The Herbs & Rye menu rarely mentions brand names, however, I saw that Mendoza prefers Osborne white port, Oxley classic English dry gin, Dolin sweet vermouth and Pontarlier Anis, although he favors Bols Anisette for personal use. Combined, the effect is like a set of canary-yellow satin sheets to both the eye and the palate.

“It is one of those drinks that is tough to put together in your head, but it is amazing once you try it,” Mendoza says. It’s hard to turn down a cocktail recommended by Mendoza. When he was 13, he made it rich (by childhood standards) selling his aunt’s pomegranate moonshine in Zapotiltic, Mexico, for 15 pesos a bottle. So he’s quite the salesman—smooth, even.

Directions: In a cocktail shaker, combine ¾ ounce gin, ¾ ounce sweet vermouth, 1½ ounces white port, 1 teaspoon anisette and the yolk of one egg. Add ice, shake and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg over the top.

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