Now, we here at Drink of the Week hated to see El Taco Tequila Taqueria close. Despite having some awesome tacos, some of the hottest habanero salsa we’ve ever tried, and offering horchata with dark rum (for cheap!), they couldn’t make a go of it and closed earlier this year. What has opened in its place, American Ale, an extension of Union Ale on lower State, has been going gangbusters with its simple menu of burgers and fries, a long list of draft beers, and old-fashioned cocktails with a hipsterish twist. The burgers are pretty darn awesome, we agree, but DOTW returned a few days later to try the cocktails.
The menu, designed by co-owner Matt Jameson-Chrestenson, is extensive but not silly. It’s meant to please itself, not every single taste. And all the drinks — beer included — come in a variety of Mason jars, with large chunks of ice.
We tried an American Mule, a variation on Moscow Mule, which replaces vodka with Everclear grain alcohol, and mint with basil. Cock & Bull ginger beer completes the drink and yes, my my my, the Everclear takes no prisoners. However, it was also surprisingly light. The Very Old Fashioned features Buffalo Trace and a mix of bitters, one being Fee Brothers’ whiskey-barreled-aged bitters. This was all about the taste of bourbon and just a hint of sweetness. But we finished, and loved, the Rye Grin, which combines Fernet-Branca bitters liqueur with Templeton Rye whiskey and honey. We knew immediately this would be our Drink of the Week: amazing complexity, with the Fernet opened up and mellowed out. See you there, cocktail lovers!
4 chunks lemon (1/2-inch cubes)
6 mint leaves
‘ ounce honey syrup (combine equal parts honey and water; use instead of simple syrup)
2 ounces Templeton Rye whiskey
1/4 ounce Fernet-Branca bitters liqueur
Lemon peel, for garnish
Muddle lemon, mint and honey syrup. Add rye and Fernet, and shake with ice. Strain into lowball glass (or 8-ounce Mason jar) after running lemon peel around the inside. Garnish with peel and add 1 large cube of ice.
Yield: 1 drink
14 E. Cota St.