Folk heroes exist in every culture. Their fame, or sometimes notoriety, varies.In the United States some of our mythical figures like Davey Crocket or Daniel Boone are lauded for their pioneering character. Others like Billy the Kid or Calamity Jane capture the outlaw spirit of the Wild West. In Mexico one the most infamousfigures is Jesus Malverde.
Malverde, a bandit from the northernMexican state of Sinaloa, is often compared with the British legend of Robin Hood. Known as “the Angel of the Poor,” or “The Generous Bandit” Malverde was known to steal from the rich and give to poor, making him popular among the region’s underprivileged highland residents. Due to his renegade reputation, Malverde has also been adopted as the patron saint of drug traffickers and is often dubbed the “nacre-saint.”
While Malverde is not recognized by the Catholic Church, Mexicans pray to him for help or healing. Busts, necklaces and scapulars featuring Malverde’s thick bushy mustache and trademark white shirt and black tie are seen throughout the country. In shrines in Culiacan and Mexico City, Malverde’s followers line up to give homage.
Washingtonians looking to pay their respects to Malverde have the unique opportunity to toast him with his own self-named tipple. At Bandolero, M Street’s latest hot spot, one of the best cocktails on the menu, and perhaps one of the best agave-based drinks in DC, shares it moniker with the celebrated Mexican outlaw.
The Jesus Malverde, created Bar Manager Sam Babcock., is an astonishingly refreshing mixture of mescal, lime, cilantro, agave nectar, cucumber and Pork Barrel Hellfire Bitters.
In a case of which came first, like the chicken and egg, Sam confirms that this delightful drink was born before its name came about. He was researching Mexican gangsters when his interest was piqued by the story of Malverde. And since he had already created a badasscocktail with a cool green hue, he realized that his new drinkliterally fit the Spanish translation of the surname Mal (bad) Verde (green).
Imbibing in Babcock’sluscious concoction is a multi-layered experience for your taste buds. “The smokiness from the mescal and the spice from cilantro and the bitters really play nicely with the fresh cucumber and agave, “ Sam says, “ it starts off nice and fresh and clean tasting with a little bit of sweetness and finishes with a nice little punch from the smokiness of the mescal and the heat of the bitters.”
For me sampling this cocktail is like taking off on airplane, the flavor starts rolling down the runway with the first breezy sip and then really takes off with a bracing smack from the liquor and bitters. The peppery Pork Barrel Hellfire Bitters are produced locally by DC mixologist Owen Thompson, of America Eats Tavern.
While Bandoleer’s cocktail list concentrates heavily on tequila and mescal-based drinks, Babcock would like to stress that Bandolero is an excellent spot for craft cocktails of all spirits
“It’s not just a tequila bar where you go to get shots, he says . “We do lot of craft cocktails with tequila and mescal, but I want people to know that they can come in here and my bar staff will be able to make any cocktail regardless of what spirit it is.” In fact, Sam recently updated the drink menu to include a wider variety of classic cocktails. He has also added a few new gin, rye and pisco drinks, just to switch things up a bit.
So the next time you seeking a little irreverence with your cocktail, make a toast to a Mexican desperado at Bandolero.
1.75 oz mescal
1.25 oz. cucumber juice
.5 oz fresh limejuice
.5 oz agave nectar
2. sprigs of cilantro
4 dashes Hellfire Pork Bitters
Mix ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Double strain, pour into glass and garnish with the sprig of cilantro.